Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Wassailing @ the Ferry Boat 2014

Rec'd (via group email) from Katy Addrews

About 70 people from all around the world joined in "Apple Yowling" in the beer garden at the Ferry Boat Inn on Forest Road, on Saturday 11th January. The seven apple trees in the garden are the last survivors of one of the oldest remaining orchards in north-east London, probably planted in the 19th century when the Inn was still also a working farm.

"Apple Yowling" is the local name in South-Eastern England for "Wassailing" apple-trees - the word comes from an Anglo-Saxon phrase "waes hael!" meaning "be healthy!"

This ancient custom is carried out in England between Christmas and Old Twelfth Night (17th January), to bless apple trees - and beehives, since bees pollinate apple trees - to wake them up for the Spring and encourage them to grow and bear good crops of apples in the coming year.

The evening started by singing a Wassailing Song from Gloucestershire, wishing the Landlady of the Inn a prosperous and healthy New Year.

The Wassailers then went into the orchard and hailed the seven apple trees with a toast to each. As each tree was wassailed, a libation of cider was poured around the roots, symbolically returning some of the goodness of last year's apples to the Earth as a thanksgiving.

Hazel, aged 5, from Leyton was elected as "Tom Tit" for this year, and was then put into one tree with toasted bread dipped in cider held on a toasting fork, to be left in the tree's branches to feed the robins.

Many of the younger people present then held hands and danced around the tree singing the "Apple Tree Wassail Song" from Carhampton, Somerset.

Everyone then made as much noise as possible, to dispel any lurking evil spirits in the branches! Then Wassailers returned to the Inn for hot mulled cider and a traditional singaround session led by a folk choir drawn from across north London.

The Ferry Boat Inn is now closed until the 24th January for refurbishment and some alterations to the garden, but the apple orchard will be left undisturbed and we all hope to return for another "Apple Yowling" evening next year.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Pair

Two women in their 60s take on the challenge of going out in a small, unstable boat together for the first time. Shot against the backdrop of London’s River Lea, it documents the women’s relationship and trust of one another.

The Pair from Sasha Andrews on Vimeo.

Friday, 10 January 2014


Email rec’d from Springfield Park User Group

Come for the whole wassail, or join at one of the orchards AS ALWAYS- STOUT SHOES AND SENSIBLE WARM CLOTHING RECOMMENDED! 

12.30 Meet at the community orchard at SPRINGFIELD PARK [near the tennis courts] 

12.35 Wassailing commences 

12.55 Wassailers move off [approx 25 min walk over the marshes] 

13.30 Meet at the community orchard at MILLFIELDS PARK

13.35 Wassailing commences 

13.55 Wassailers move off [approx 25 min walk] 

14.30 Meet at the community orchard at HACKNEY DOWNS 

14.35 Wassailing commences 

15.00 PROCEED TO THE RUSSET CAFE- Wassail Russet Tree and have a glass of Mulled Cider 

T.B.C. -AFTER THE WASSAILING, SOME OF THE SINGERS WILL BE DOING A SEA SHANTY SET IN THE RUSSET [roast served till 5.30, then Mac met Cheese popup- see Russet link below] 

Our urban wassail continues the ancient tradition of singing and drinking to the health of apple trees to ensure a good harvest in the coming year. 

You DON'T need any singing experience, songs are easy and joining in and singing heartily is all the skill required. We'll teach the songs as we go. 

You can walk with us the 2 mile route and do the wassail 3 times - or just join us at one of the orchards. 

We are finishing at The Russet, where we will wassail their baby russet apple tree and hear the some of the Sea Shanty Choir perform.

Here's a recap with some useful Links- 

We will start from Springfield Park, walk via two of Hackney's community orchards, sing lustily to the young trees, toast them with cider and finish at the lovely Russet cafe and creative space on Hackney Downs for mulled cider. We start at Springfield Park at 12.30 - join us at the fenced in tree plantation at the centre of the park. From the main entrance, follow the main path leaving the White House on your left and the pond on your right, downhill towards the tennis courts and River Lea'll see us or hear us on your left about half way down.Map is here 

We'll walk down the river to Millfields Recreation Ground, where we'll be regaling the trees planted on the border with the River Lea Navigation. Map is here 

We'll then walk across Millfields and via Clapton to reach the trees at Hackney Downs in the north west corner just off Downs Road and very close to The Russet. Map is here 

We'll then repair to The Russet for refreshment and hopefully hear the Sea Shanty Choirs.