Travel

Eccentricities and Traditions

My good friend (Sue❤️) at work had found a map and thought of me.

It was no ordinary map.

It was an Adventure map. The best kind.

I bought it and was immediately immersed in all the wonderful things and places that were on offer. All the things that are going on at weekends and in between when you’re sat wondering what to with yourself for the day/weekend.

I got my highlighter out, a pad and a pen and began writing all the events and places down, googling as I went (thank god for google – what the hell did we do before it???)

The list was soon long and the grin on my face was huge!! It was fabulous!! So many things to see and do but some were so far away!

But this only meant that I would have to make a weekend of it – oh well!!🙄😂

Some of the events I’d missed as they were earlier in the year, some had been cancelled, sadly. The Pooh Sticks Championship had not gone ahead this year as they didn’t have a group of people to organise it, I found this quite sad. Hopefully it will be back next year. But this just meant that I now had missions and adventures to plan for next year.

I looked at my long, extensive list and concluded that The Pea Shooting World Championships was the first one to go to and also happened to be very close, near Ely. I asked my mum if she fancied accompanying me ( I think my own mum thinks I may have lost the odd marble!), she was delighted!!

I went and picked her up and we found the village green where it was being held. I’ve got to say, it wasn’t quite as grand as I was expecting. It was a lovely village green and the targets and little fete type stalls were set up in one corner of it, near the village hall, which they should be proud of. This is where they were selling teas, coffee and cakes, which we indulged in after the five minute walk around the stalls!😂

We went back out to watch the Pea Shooting. The targets were clay and attached to giant rolls of hay. A man stood in front of the target but off to the side, he was there to see where the Pea hit and to give the points. There was a lower down target for the juniors to enter also.

It seemed to be undertaken in a very lighthearted way but you could sense the pride at stake, the right to brag for the next year that you won or your team one, so it was mainly locals taking part I felt

The banter, cajoling and rivalry going on was very amusing.

The Pea shooters (as in the equipment) ranged from a basic straw type blower up to ones that actually had laser pointers on them!! One of the men had even put his Pea shooter through a cuddly toy – so he was shooting from the bottom and out through the other end😂 Some had elaborate constructions, you could imagine the work that had gone into them, the evenings spent making and testing them, the conversations down the local, discussing tactics – brill!!

The competition continued, finalists were determined and the finals commenced. Juniors, ladies and then the mens. The lady who won obviously took it seriously, she had a special pouch for her peas – which were standard issue, no rogue ones allowed, otherwise who knows, there may have been laser guided ones made!!😂

The men had their final. I have to say and I can’t quite believe I am, it was exciting! The guy who won was wearing a helmet with horns on and used a staff to steady his shooter with the Union Jack attached to it!

Mum and I left once they had finished and went and had dinner – very lovely, don’t do it often enough.

The next adventure was the Hen Racing😂 this would involve a weekend trip to The Peak District, a little place near Matlock. A pub called The Barley Mow in Bonsall. I eventually found it! Parked (abandoned) my car and walked up a hill to the pub. It was a scorching hot day. The pub was quirky, I loved it. The Hen Racing had started, it was set up outside, the ‘track’ was only little, 20m – obviously, and you couldn’t see it for people – who knew it would be so popular!! I found a spot where I could just see enough and watched – the Racing and the people. Each owner and chicken was introduced, from all over the country. Some of the owners even had shirts with the chickens names on, some had more than one chicken and I never realised how many types of chickens there were!!

The chickens were released at one end, at the other there were people with rattles (made of pots with food in) bells (apparently whenever the chicken had been fed they used the bell 🤣) or just their voices. It was fabulous – although the bell got a bit annoying – could have gladly shoved it somewhere so every time the woman sat down the bell would ring 🤣😂

After the heats had taken place it was time for the egg smashing on heads! Two contestants sat opposite each other and took turns smashing eggs on the others head. Some were boiled, some not. Although it appeared to me that none of them had been boiled!! Very messy!!

It was then time for the finals. There was betting taking place as well, although I didn’t partake, not sure it would have been very scientific!!

In the end it was over quite quickly, the winning chicken sprinted to the end and the young boy who was the owner was last years winner also, clearly he has a knack with the chicks😃

In the end I’d had a brilliant time, I’d chatted to a couple of guys, one of which had told me about a crooked pub in Dudley – after I’d told him about my trips, past and planned. He definitely thought I was a little odd – but I’m used to that – and had a great time people watching. Everyone was happy, it’s contagious, I love it. Once the chicken and owner had done a lap of honour I made my escape and drove in my usual fashion to find my hotel.

Next came the Football in a River! This was just a day trip to the Cotswolds. It was another scorcher of a day. I wasn’t really feeling adventurous today, it depends on my surroundings. They were beautiful but after Yorkshire earlier in the year it felt quite cramped, the villages were closer together, more concentration of people, just wasn’t doing it for me. Maybe it was my mood I don’t know.

Anyway, I found where I was supposed to be – Bourton-on-the-Water – it was busy, there was traffic, it was obviously a popular event. I parked out of the town in a field that was opened for the occasion and walked in.

It was a long walk, it got busier the closer I got and when I turned the final corner it was just a mass of people. The shops were open, ice cream parlours were doing a roaring trade as were the fish and chip shops if the pile of boxes next to the bins were anything to go by! Everyone was lined up along the river – which was ankle deep and I imagine very pretty on a quiet day.

But today it was heaving, kids and adults alike were paddling up and down the river while they waited for the football – my feet were crying out for the cool water but I didn’t, instead and went and got myself a pint of lemonade and found my spot just as the game started.

What great fun it was!! The guys playing (local football teams) were obviously enjoying it, they splashed the crowd whenever they could and I mean proper splashed the crowd. Children were screaming in delight and absolutely loving it! Made me smile.

The referee was a man dressed in woman’s clothing with a long wig and a handbag over his shoulder 😂and a whistle! Hilarious to watch. Needless to say the rules weren’t followed, a bit a rugby tackle occurred at one point and the goal posts actually moved when they were landed on😁 it was great. Another feel good factor day, full of positive vibes and happy people.

The Black Pudding Throwing Championships were to be an overnight trip, Ramsbottom was too far for a day trip. The hotel I booked was in Rochdale, very nice and friendly. I listened to the football (England in the Euro qualifiers) on the radio on my way and once I’d checked in I dumped my bags and got a pint of fruity cider and sat down to watch it – after asking for something to eat and being asked if I was on my own and maybe I’d prefer it in the bar, to which I agreed🙄😂 – As I was watching I got a phone call from Rich (husband, ex, ish,) and chatted away while I waited for my food.

Once I’d finished I thought bugger it, I’m having another pint and staying downstairs, I don’t normally.

I asked a guy sat at some tables if the comfy chairs next to him were free, they were, I sat. He then proceeded to start a conversation with me, he was Irish and had had quite a bit to drink but was amicable enough. Nice guy, telling me all about his family, why he was o er here, what his last job was, how much he loved his wife – followed by photos. He even bought me another pint! Which I didn’t finish. I said goodnight to him and his brother in law. He only got up and followed me!! I thought no no no!! He asked what floor was I on, I told him the top and said again how nice it had been to meet him and goodnight. Thankfully he went to his room but it scared me a little I have to say!!😳

Next day dawned bright and beautiful. I set the sat nav to Ramsbottom but needless to say I didn’t go straight there! I ended up at Pendle Hill with the intention of going for a little walk up it – until I saw it!!! Not a chance, I wasn’t fit enough for that! I instead satisfied myself to a visit to a witchy shop (which I love) and a drive and a stroll along a quiet road to take some photos, after which I made my way to Ramsbottom.

It was packed! Roads were closed for the occasion, it was all set up in the toad outside a pub. I parked up and walked into the town. There were little stalls set up outside the church, a band made up entirely from Banjos was about to play so I stopped to listen and watch. They were fab!😄 I think most of them were over 65 and were having a really good time! Good on them, at least they have an interest that brings them together – more than what I’ve got.

I found the Black Pudding Throwing. Scaffolding had been set up quite high outside the pub. There were little platforms sticking out at different heights that had 12 Yorkshire puddings piled on each of them. The competitors had to stand one foot on a golden grate (that had been taken from outside the original pub where it had all started) and toss three black puddings up to try and knock off as many Yorkshire’s as they could. It dated back to the War of the Roses when they ran out of ammo and resorted to throwing food.

It wasn’t easy! I didn’t have a go, mine would have gone behind me!! I used to pitch for the Brit Chicks softball team when I lived in Naples but that was forward pitching, this was upwards and very different. Some people had the technique. It was only £1 to enter and there was a steady stream of people doing it for the time I was there and they’d been going since 11am!

There was a group of guys in tweed jackets, waistcoats and flat caps 😁 and it was one of these guys that won having knocked off 8 Yorkshire’s. There was a trophy and a film crew for the local news (I am in one of the film footages) and he posed for photos – his claim to fame.

Again it was another trip with a feel good factor, all the people and places I’d encountered were all pulling together with a community spirit. It’s lovely to experience it, seeing people happy is contagious. Although I tend to seek out more places without people I know I have to check in with the world every now and then, if for nothing else than to soak up some of the positive vibes these places ooze on their special days. Of course it helps that they are all a little random and quirky, it’s what makes it appealing to me…

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