Being ‘rural’ doesn’t always mean rummaging the hedgerows or wandering the woods, gun in hand. Occasionally the committed countryman is required to don a dress and uphold an ancient tradition or two!Whether this statement does anything to excuse the fact I spent all of yesterday dressed as a woman, scaring children with a pig’s badder I don’t know, but it was worth a try.
5.32am May 1st saw me standing on Goudhurst High Street with the other Weald of Kent Morris men welcoming the first sun rise of summer with the traditional song ‘Hal and Toe’ and never has saying farewell to winter felt so welcome! By 7 am the first pints of beer were being consumed over a hearty breakfast and then it was on to the local primary schools to entertain the children. Young kids are unaffected by being ‘cool’ and given half a chance will get into the spirit with gusto. Twice the final dance which consists of me leading the whole school in a long line around the grounds descended into chaos. With no real concept of what a bladder was, the object I brandished was soon renamed a ‘pig’s booby’ and I was surrounded, ten bodies deep with screaming children leaping to catch the thing and lifting my skirts to laugh at my frilly bloomers. I was struck with a similar feeling to when I feed the pigs, that if I tripped up, it would all be over!
On May day eve we ate wild garlic pizza and reedmace shoots. To say that they rival asparagus is no exaggeration. The tender morsels are delicately flavoured and simply wonderful.
The refreshing dry bitterness of bramble tip tea is too good only to enjoy in spring, so I have gathered a bag for drying.