Saddleworth Longwood Thump Rushcart Festival 2011

I’ve always thought there was something a bit naff about the English Morris Dancing, all that hanky waving never really did it for me. Maybe its because I am English and I seem to think every other country’s culture is more interesting (and a bit cooler). Anyway, I have to say after going to the Saddleworth Longwood Thump Rushcart Festival in August this year, my mind did a complete about turn.

The event is a revival of an quaint old English tradition hosted by the Saddleworth Morris Men. Morris teams from all over the country come to show off their Morris skills and wave a few sticks, bells (and of course hankies!) in the folk world’s equivalent of a dance off.

Saddleworth Longwood Thump Rushcart Festival 2011 - The CoconuttersThe Saddleworth Morris Men were the stars as far as I was concerned. Their fabulous hats, absolutely encrusted with fresh flowers made them stand out from the crowd as they danced and whirled with their bells jangling and their clogs clacking and their faces smiling and laughing. You couldn’t fail but to have a smile on your face too! The cute and quirky Coconutters with their black faces, little red and white stripey skirts and flowery hoops were also highly entertaining.

The highlight of the festival, however, is the Rushcart parade through the streets and round the pubs of Uppermill and Saddleworth in Yorkshire. The thirteen feet high cart with a Morris man perched precariously on top, is hauled on poles in a lively procession accompanied by music and dancing. On the Sunday, the Rushcart is taken to St. Chad’s Church in Uppermill, where it is dismantled and the rushes are mixed with herbs and flowers and spread in the aisles.

The origins of the Rushcart are not entirely known, but the tradition almost certainly dates back to pre-Christian times, with the Church hijacking it at some point for their own purposes; the bringing in of rushes to spread on their old trodden earth or clay floors as a form of flooring for the Winter.

Find out more about the Saddleworth Longwood Thump Rushcart Festival. You can find out where else to see the Saddleworth Morris Men on their Official website. Look out for the Coconutters too on the Coconutters Official website.


Summer fiesta time!

Fiestas,vino,chupinazo y SanferminesSunny summer days are definitely the best time for a good fiesta! And the Spanish certainly know how to party!

Dance yourself to dizzy heights in Anguiano at the Stilt Dance, celebrate life in Las Nieves at the Festival of Near Death Experience, or get messy throwing tomatoes, grapes or even wine! at La Tomatina, La Raima orBatalla del Vino.

Alternatively, you could just stay at home, invite a few friends and and get fruity with our zingy Sangria! Get out your castanets (you know you have some somewhere!), put on some Spanish flamenco and you could almost be there!

More Spanish fiestas

Castleton Garland day 2011

Castleton Garland day 2011There’s something pretty humbling about watching a piece of history played out before your eyes. Just knowing that this enchanting custom has been carried out for hundreds of years (most likely having its roots in Pagan fertility rituals), and imagining all those who have taken part over time is quite overwhelming.

Castleton Garland day is as quaintly and quirkily English as they come. The “Garland King” in Stuart dress, having been completely obscured by a large flower arrangement (the Garland), rides around this historical village in Derbyshire, accompanied by his Queen, a brass band and some floral dancers.

Castleton Garland day 2011Having stopped at every pub along the way for a performance (and some ale refreshment!), they arrive at the church where the King is relieved of his burden. The heavy flower tower is hoisted off his shoulders and up the church tower on a bell rope where is is positioned on the central spire and left to wither. Then everyone gathers at the maypole for some traditional (if slightly reluctant) maypole dancing by the floral dancers (well it had been a long day and it had started to rain a little).

Some things have changed over time (the original Queen was traditionally a man in drag and previous to Oak Apple day’s existence in the 1500s the costume would most likely have been of the time), but the essence is the same. Its a celebration for the people of Castleton by the people of Castleton, something they have been doing for hundreds of years and will continue until the end of time. Its not that tourists and out of towners are not welcome necessarily, perhaps they just don’t know about it, or maybe this year it was the pretty relentless rain earlier in the day that kept the masses away.

Castleton Garland day 2011Perhaps the thing that makes it so uniquely English though, is it’s slight air of shabby charm. You can’t get a good photograph without a luminous yellow jacket (good old British health and safety at all times!), or an official in a blue anorak getting in the way. The dancing flower girls, enchanting though they were, had an air of not having had a lot of practice at this Maypole malarky, but despite last minute instructions from primary school teachers (“no, Victoria, you go UNDER Kylie, not OVER her to start with”) in their brown school trouser suits (surely they could have at least found a floral dress for the day?), there were no terrible tangles to unweave.

Maypole dancing, Castelton Garland dayThe Garland day is held on Oak Apple day (May 29th) every year unless it falls on a Sunday (like this year) when it is held either on the Saturday or Spring Bank holiday Monday.

With the ancient castle ruins, craggy rocks and gaping caverns on the green hills behind, you feel like you have set foot in a magical land of goblins and elves (or maybe a stage set for Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or a Narnia film). Castelton is a great day out even without this historic event is not going on. Overlooked by the 1,696 ft Mam Tor peak and the Norman keep of Peveril Castle, Castleton is an oldy world town packed with numerous caverns to explore,  historic pubs to enjoy great British food and quaint shops to wander round.

All in all a great day out!

Watch the Castleton Garland Day video on Youtube
See the rest of the Castleton Garland Day pictures on Flickr
Find out about Oak Apple day

A good week!

Well it’s been a good week for, this week. First off we got featured in the new tumblr spotlight directory  which brought us over 400 new tumblr followers since it went live on Wednesday (3 days ago)!

Then (probably as a result of the spotlight listing) CulturePOP featured us in their FRIDAY 5: Travel Tumblrs for Your Lay-cation. A great way to see the sights without even leaving the comfort of your couch!


Sounds like a *f@*%?! good way to let off steam!

Loving the outfits! More on the unusual (to say the least!) Kunde Habba festival on

The gods, they must be crazy seeing this abuse? Legend has it that Lord Aiyappa betrayed the tribals of Coorg on a hunting expedition aeons ago. So, on the fourth Thursday of May every year, they take “revenge”. They dress themselves up in strange costumes, shout expletives at the gods, and create a cacophony as part of Kunde Habba. Or, if you find that difficult to believe, on the eve of monsoon each year, the tribals drink, dance, tie their banians down, make merry and let go of their frustr … Read More

via churumuri

Pahiyas Festival 2011 (via Endless Chronicles)

A lovely slide show of the wonderful Pahiyas festival on May 15th 2011

Read More

via Endless Chronicles

Towel Day – Celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams (via World of author Tim Holtorf)

Is it a co-incidence that it is also Geek Pride day as well?

Towel Day - Celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams Towel Day – Celebrating the life and work of Douglas Adams. Today is Towel Day, and as the link says, it celebrates the life and work of Douglas Adams, notable for the Trilogy in several parts, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I must admit, my first introduction to Douglas Adams wasn't until 1988.  I had just graduated high school and was working a summer job in Lake Louise, Alberta.  Up at the Chateau, to be honest.  It was just on the Albe … Read More

via World of author Tim Holtorf


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