Tom's Britain - Exploring places of interest and things to do in England, Wales & Scotland

21 January 2016

The Outwood Wassail

There will be a good cider apple harvest in Surrey this year. Your author has made sure of it. On 16th January, a small group of friends made their second pilgrimage to join locals in Outwood village in the Surrey Weald and Rampant Rooster Morris from nearby Dorking for the Outwood Wassail, a blessing of the orchard through fire, song and dance. Wassailing is a pre-Christian tradition which aims to wake the trees from their wintry slumber, and drive away evil spirits which may threaten the next year's apple harvest.

After nourishment, a jar of ale, and a chance to watch Rampant Rooster outside the 17th century Bell Inn at Outwood, those present were handed a piece of fire and set off en masse uphill past the beacon towards Outwood Mill. Behind the Mill is a small orchard, and there mulled cider and apple juice were enjoyed around the bonfire before everyone was offered the chance to drink from the Wassail bowl. As a result,there will be apples again this year in Surrey.

For more, and details of next year's event, keep an eye on

13 January 2016

Eat at the Bush Inn, Morwenstow

When you learn that the Bush Inn at Crosstown in Morwenstow, north Cornwall, has been licensed since the 13th Century - with a history stretching back to 950AD - it might seem surprising. However, when you step through the door after the long drive along winding lanes to be greeted by friendly faces and a fire smouldering in the grate you realise not a lot has changed in this corner of rural England.

The only difference is you are more likely to meet a friendly local farmer than one of the wreckers who used to haunt these wilder parts of the west of England. Today, the Fletcher family are doing a great job in welcoming all comers to Crosstown, with great food, bed and breakfast and self catering breaks on offer, and walks from the door out towards the South West Coast Path.

For more, see

8 January 2016

Attend the International Mummers Unconvention

Mummers Plays have been popular in the Cotswolds broadly since the medieval period, and though it has seen ebbs, flows and revivals, this intriguing form of traditional folk drama never quite died away. Distinctive village plays once toured from house to house and pub to pub in England, and even sometimes Scotland and Wales, and they still remains popular in some corners. Your author very much enjoyed his second trip to watch the Marshfield Mummers on Boxing Day and is disappointed to be missing this weekend's International Mummers Unconvention in that best of all towns, Stroud in Gloucestershire.

The event will see Stroud filled with Mummers, with a symposium and keynote speech today followed by a fitting trip to the pub, in this case the Prince Albert in Rodborough. Then tomorrow sees the town full of Mummers, with plays in the streets, wassails in the town centre and  at the Museum in the Park, a procession, and Twelfth Night revelry at the Subscription Rooms.

For more, see

5 January 2016

Buy the Badachro Inn

Since the puritanical Scottish Government's draconian new driving laws kicked in a little over a year ago, the life of the Highland publican has gone from "very difficult" to "virtually impossible to sustain" and so it is that many of your author's favourite rural drinking spots have either closed or been put up for sale. One such pub is the wonderful Badachro Inn found on the banks of Loch Gairloch in Wester Ross, with views over the water to Eilean Horrisdale.

It was only a year or so that the equally-brilliant Melvaig Inn, ten miles or so to the north closed down, and whilst hopefully someone will take on the Badachro, times are hard for the pub with no rooms in these parts of Scotland, even if some of your clientèle arrive by yacht. When you're trading in what was once an area of fishermen and crofters, now popular with seasonal second homers things are even harder, but with a stunning position like the Badachro, a reputation for great food, free moorings for customers, lobsters, crabs and prawns still landed nearby and available for cooking and a fine interior, hopefully someone will be able to find the nearly-half-a-million quid needed to keep this lovely pub alive.

For more, see