Looking back – John Fielden Tadcaster

In our little hamlet there are two occasions in the year when we all get together and celebrate on the village green.

The first is a recent resurrection of a mediaeval Moor Kirk Fair, which has been transformed into a village fete. It grows in popularity each year with almost 1,000 people coming with their children. It has all the traditional village fete stalls and attractions but with little local extras like the wonderful re-enactors of the Battle of Towton (1461). They come clanking in their armour around the stalls and supping tea in our garden, before performing valiant sword fights and letting off small cannon. There is also a mini model railway, donkey rides, clay pigeon shooting and a Classic Car Rally that brings 50 or so glorious old vehicles rolling through the park on to the green.

Sadly of course it had to be cancelled this year at heavy cost to the beneficiary, the local church.

The other event was meant to take place last night- a celebration of the New Year. It involves the creation by the organiser, a local farmer, of a huge bonfire made of all his choppings and thinnings over the year. He then creates a circle of hay bales to sit around the fire and brings on an old wagon which becomes the focus for dispensing drinks and loud music. Little family groups form to dispense champagne and a notoriously strong home-made plum brandy. The noise culminates in the Bongs of Big Ben which is the signal for lots of hugging and best wishes and a magnificent display of fireworks.

As we are relatively law abiding participants in Tier 3, the event did not happen. However the farmer was determined not to break a 20 year tradition (which he started) and held a private family celebration with the bonfire and a few spectacular fireworks (left over from a grandson’s birthday party). We watched from our bedroom windows overlooking the green; while the bonfire blazed under a bright full moon, consuming 2020 in flames but kindling all our hopes for a better 2021.

This is my last blog and I would like to send huge thanks to Anne Chappell and Brenda Gourley for inviting me to join this wonderful group of people.

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