Well my dears apart from Wednesday being a bit of a low point in poor Charlie’s calendar –he spent the whole day mopping around the pub wearing a roll neck jumper and burst into tears when Doris the barmaid told one of the locals “you’d lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on!!!” – We’ve been having a rather lovely time here. Moony and I went on a tinsy cruise down the Nile since Christmas, we got back on the 15th of January to find a little card pushed through the door which announced in shiny red letters.
Moony licked her lips and looked enthusiastic. I could not believe that I had forgotten our annual Wassail, Mrs Bagshott-Smyth and her women’s group will never forgive me. It’s one of their pet concerns and they prepare seriously to welcome the spirit of the harvest into our orchards. I usually enjoy this quaint village tradition provided that in driving the evil spirits out of my house none of my priceless figurines suffers (you know who you are “the duke of Brunswick” and I think that’s a ludicrous title for such a little monster.) Moony was looking even more excitable but I explained to her that unless she collected up the saucepans this year I simply wouldn’t be taking her, not after the last time. When I caught her eating the toast that Ida Batwing and dear little Mary had left as an offering to the apple trees, I can scarcely describe the embarrassment I felt! I must say I felt a little naughty at having come back the day before and in such a state, I had sand in everything! But I doubt you wish to know about that. I popped across to Charlie and Henny’s house just as soon as I thought that the coast might be clear, Charlie opened the door in his little “I’ve been executed and all they gave me was this crummy apron!” umm Apron. He was in very high spirits, covered in pastry and smelt suspiciously of cider. He giggled as he explained that he’d been baking, yes my dears and I expect that he’d found it necessary to sample the contents of his famous wassail pasties (they may taste innocent my dear but they are the devil in disguise). Henny was perched by the radio laughing at some comedy or other; I think it might have been called the Goons or the Gones or something. When I came in she giggled and wiggled her legs as she turned of the dial “Ohh Mrs Nutto Ze has ziz radio progam an ze does… Umm how you zay ‘is fallon in ze vater!’ an ann and Bud and Min!!!! Is zooo vunny ! Like you and moses Moony!!! Vous like it Chillie non???” Charlie pulled a chair out for me and nodded. “Ochh Aye very like the lassies ehh!” I have no idea what they meant bless them but Henny quickly noted my newly acquired tan. “Ohh Mrs Nutto Vous has gone all like a man on zee telly… Ohh wat ze call ze tan.” I was awfully flattered of course, I'd spent quite a while out on the deck playing coits to get that darker green... I had to confess to them that I had quite forgotten about our little merry making amongst the trees and as a result I wouldn't have much to contribute to the general food and drink side of things. "Ohhh but vous must as some off our lambs wooool what Chilli pot in zee what is it called solar downstairs... Umm non Cellar..! But are ze non zee zame zing?" Frankly I wasn't at all sure that Henny had the right end of the stick or in fact any sort of clue at all. "No no Henny" I said "I dont think that wool will make any sort of substitute for a nice punch even if it is merino." Ohh my how they laughed, poor Charlie fell of his armchair laughing and didn't seem to be able to regain his composure. It turns out that what they intended me to give my guests was a spicy, bubbly, cider drink to which you just add heat. I left them with a lighter heart and a considerably lighter step after Charlie gave me a practical demonstration. I took the long way home so I could get the paper and spied Ida and Mary by the duck pond, they were dusting down Idas considerable collection of wassailing cups. They invited me to join them but I sweetly declined. Frankly Ida has explained her collection to me before and I don't belive that I've spent an odder afternoon in anyone's company. Moony was attempting to scour the cellar for any old cordials, fruit wines and preserves that we might have laid up last year, she had found a few bottles but many of them seemed suspiciously half full and Moony smelt of sloe's and damson. Still as they told me so often at my school "it's the effort that counts Juanita." or in this case it was Moonys effort that counted. We tried to get a good nights sleep but one can hear Moony's snoring so awfully through our rather thin little walls. I should say that I was up and about at a delightful hour the same can not be said for poor dear Moony. When Charlie came over with the car however she was mercifully up and dressed, so interestingly was Henny. I might add that its not interesting that Henny was dressed but what she was wearing. A dress that captured the essence of christmas tradition, or a walking Christmas tree I couldn't decide. The villagers were setting off from the town hall as usual, although the Mayor can't really come due to his health problems. Harlot stays behind to keep him "company".
The going door to door only had one little hitch we were all outside it turned out so of course there was no one to let us in. Sadly we only realised the problem after the third house we tried when Mrs Cuthbert remembered that that was her house and she'd have to go back in to let us in. And we had thought that all our neighbours had suddenly become rather impolite. Ohh well as long as we remembered to let ourselves in we were alright. Thankfully Moony and I had taken the precaution to take all our ornaments down to the basement or I shudder to think what might have happened.... We entered into the spirit of the thing banging our pots and pans (le Creuset excepted) and shouting our heads off. On the way up to Farmer Ramsbodie's farm to bless his lovely orchard, we met up with Mrs Bagshott-Smyth who had managed to array herself in an awful lot of what appeared to be plaster-of-Paris apples some terribly familiar looking curtains. I think I saw Mrs Arbathnot-Nut donate them to the charity shop only last month, not of course that I said anything she can be terrible sensitive. But as she will always tell you she is sensitive to so much more than the rest of us, i'm not so sure about that. She does not know that we find her performance art deeply boring, in fact I noticed that several people turned back muttering "Remember that Winter thing? Never again!" Ahh well I'm a girl who will just hang on in there as our G.I's like to say. We got up to the apple Orchard and discovered Farmer Ramsbodies and his mysteriously fluffy wife sitting on a set of deckchairs with what I might call the worlds largest barrel of Cider. Moony kept very close to it even talking about Mrs Ramsbodies knitting so as to be close to it (that dear lady never runs out of yarns but I've never seen her in the yarn shop how odd?). The rest of us got to work, singing the songs our grandparents taught us, sadly my grangdma only taught me to sing "Iwish I'd looked after my teeth". So I am always at a disadvantage.