It’s Christmas!!

Well, here we are, Christmas Day. Mistletoe season over for another 12 months (well, not really – am anticipating a lot of mistletoe activity with TEME for Feb/March – marketing mistletoe seeds etc – and also for the London Mistletoe Action Plan, also in Feb/March planting new mistletoe colonies.

But it seems like the beginning of a bit of a rest at least. Blog regulars may be disappointed not to have found that picture in the Times in the last few days – either I missed it or it wasn’t in – but no matter, there was good coverage in the Independent’s magazine yesterday (Christmas Eve) which covered the establishment of mistrletoe seedlings at Kew. This is all due to the work of a Kew student – Masaya Tatebayashi, who has been establishing a new mistletoe colony at Kew as part of the London Mistletoe work (see above).

Er, that’s all for now. Happy Christmas!!

In the Guardian again… and up another tree…

Good mistletoe feature covering all the Tenbury Wells mistletoe issues today – you can read it by clicking here. Refreshingly accurate on most points – and not too scare-mongering. Thank you Paul Kingsnorth. Beats a lot of other mistletoe coverage (though the Independent faeture on 5th? December was good too).

And then yes its back to Tenbury again to go up a ladder for some more pics! Andrew Fox, a freelancer who’s already covered the mistletoe and druids for the Times, and who also took the mistletoe auction pic that accompanies today’s Guardian feature, is back again for the Times.

So it’s up a tree again for me. Overcast but bright – and some good pics – at least we think so. Watch out for a pic in the Times over the next couple of days…

Up a tree again

Back to Tenbury again – or nearby anyway. This time to pose for some pics showing how to harvest, and grow, mistletoe.

Photographer is Jason Ingram – a garden and landscape photographer who’s done mistletoe before – but is keen to get some more shots for a new portfolio of mistletoe pictures. Jason specialises in gardens, plants, environmental portraiture, architecture, landscapes – so mistletoe harvesting and growing ticks a lot of boxes. Click the link to go to his website.

What this means is that I go round a mistletoe-rich apple orchard, up and down a ladder, with my mistletoe-harvesting hook on a pole etc etc. All good stuff, and a beautiful sunny day too.

But all over by early afternoon – so its back to canal restoration lottery bids again…

Three men in a van (and three women selling mistletoe)

Saturday 17th December, Rathbone Market, Canning Town, London…

A TEME expedition to the capital…

On the basis that ladies are more likely to sell mistletoe than men, Reg, Alec and I sit in the van (and it’s warmer there too).

Meanwhile Caroline, Doreen and Jill try to woo the punters of the East End with hand-picked Worcestershire Mistletoe…

We’re here at the invitation of Newham Borough, who are trying to revive the flagging fortunes of Rathbone Market with a mini ice-rink, Christmas carols, Father Christmas etc etc.

A big operation for us, coming over from Tenbury early this morning with a hired van full of mistletoe – and a bit of an eye-opener.

This area is relatively poor, and we don’t get many customers, even after reducing our basic range to 50p.

But if you take a walk to the edge of the pitch there’s Canary Wharf and affluent Docklands, just a stone’s throw (ok, several stone’s throws) away. What a difference a bit of water can make.

Barking Road is full of buses, and ethnic restaurants. But not people.

They seem to be going elsewhere (check out the pic) for their ‘last Saturday before Christmas’ shopping (and why not – they’ve got the whole of London and a working public transport system to use, better than the rest of the UK! But maybe not much cash…).

A few probs during the day – which is not only bitterly cold, but subject to the occasional breeze… here’s the carol-singers’ marquee in it’s new upsidedown position above the market stalls.

The cone had a good day, not sure about Doreen…

Britain’s smallest commercial radio station and final plans for Saturday….

Another day, another radio station. But this time it’s Two Lochs Radio, “Britain’s smallest commercial radio station and community broadcaster for the Gairloch and Lochewe areas of Wester Ross, Scotland on 106 and 106.6 FM. “

Now that’s different! Hardly any mistletoe (actually none at all) in their broadcast area, and a station so small it could be mistaken for a shed (or so I’m told).

Arranged through my good friend Liz Forrest, one of their volunteer presenters. And a refreshing change from all these big stations darn sarf. Must get up there soon – haven’t seen Liz or Tom for years… will arrange a visit in the new year (and yes Liz, I know I say that every year!).

Meanwhile back darn sarf, we’re finalising arrangements for Saturday’s trip to London. It means I have to miss the office party tomorrow night (sorry Derek) ‘cos I have to drive the van down to London. We’ll be at Rathbone Street Market, off Barking Road E16 – naerest tube Canning Town. Newham Borough have warned us that several local florists are likely to visit – so come along early to get your mistletoe before it’s all sold!

New Zealand – the evening show

10 mins live on National Radio New Zealand this morning – the evening show there.

Bit odd really, talking about mistletoe crises here when they’ve got their own, albeit different mistletoe crises down there (see previous blogs).

Not my best radio interview ever – was not sure what they wanted to cover, and so it a was bit unstructured (sorry New Zealand – will do better next time).

Last market 2005 – where next year???

Last mistletoe and holly auction for this year at Tenbury today. Lots of worries about next year and the future of the site.

Media out in force (again) – Canadian Broadcasting Corporation have been here since yesterday and now Reuters are here witha film crew – with coincidentally a Canadian reporter. Went off with Reuters to an orchard up the road to talk mistletoe and mistletoe crises. Took the man from the Guardian with us too (talking of the Guardian, Jane Perrone has added a link to Mistletoe Diary 2005 from the Guardian News blog and her own horticultural blog – thank you Jane).

Lots of planning for forthcoming mistletoe selling trip to London this weekend (we’ll be at Rathbone Market, Newham, E16, on Saturday… – buy your Tenbury Mistletoe there).

Roadside sales, more Radio and the Dursley birders

Monday! Off to work again. But via Standish Churchyard, for yet another local radio interview (pretending to be in another county – that’s the great thing about radio – you can get away with more than on TV). I chose Standish for the mistletoe in the churchyard lime trees – one needs to have some reality even if in the wrong county (wouldn’t do to pretend we’re looking at mistletoe – that would be a pretend too far).

Anyway, that all went ok and I was v pleased to find an adjoining roadside mistletoe stall with an honesty box – collecting mistletoe money for charity – £2 per sprig. Not much sign of any customers yet – and I’ve already got lots in the back of the car. But hope it does well this week.

In the evening off to Dursley – to do one of my “mistletoe miscellany” talks to the local bird club. A good turn out – but that might have been for the hot punch and mince pies not me. Recently revamped the talk – to cover the Mistletoe Festival at Tenbury – which adds more to the “miscellany” – now covering:

• What is Mistletoe?
• Mistletoes worldwide
• Mistletoe legends and myths
• Mistletoe in Britain and Europe
• Mistletoe Biology
• Mistletoe distribution UK
• Where do get yours?
• Mistletoe in Art
• Mistletoe in Medicine
• Current UK Mistletoe initiatives

Seems a lot to cover – but no-one went to sleep so it must have been ok!

Weekend off ( sort of)

A canal and mistletoe-free weekend down in Dorset – did nothing all day on Saturday except sift through the backlog of mail – and resolve to deal with it next week (but probably won’t).

Sunday (today) heading back home via Mary’s (my sister) house where Harriet (a niece but not one of Mary’s) is over for the weekend. She was 18 last week. Doesn’t time fly… makes me feel old.

Anyway, en route we decide to take a walk through the estate at Melbury Sampford – where there is a big estate aroundMelbury House (canal enthusiasts note: this is nothing to do with the old British Waterways HQ called Melbury House – that was at Marylebone in London, and anyway we moved out of it years ago…). A nice, pleasant walk in the gathering gloom of a December afternoon.

Caroline suspects an ulterior motive – I often suggest walks in country house estates to, er, spot whether they have mistletoes in their lime avenues. And she was right to suspect but to my dismay there’s no mistletoe here – not many limes actually, mostly oaks and horse chestnuts.

Amazing cobwebs in the grass though – am inserting pic but it doesn’t do justice at this size – all those wavy bits in the grass between and in front of the sheep are spiders webs. (Do the sheep eat the webs? Do the webs tickle their nostrils?)

We realise after we chose the location that we’re right next to Evershot village, which is (i think) where Lesley Waters, my chef in Ready Steady Cook (see previous blogs) resides. Bit of an odd coincidence – but at least don’t meet her in the street – which would have been embarrassing… Maybe next time!

Ready and Steady (but a bit fidgetty)

Well, today saw the broadcast of that Mistletoe v Christmas tree Ready Steady Cook on BBC2 television. I thought it went well, not least ‘cos I (well, Lesley Waters and I) won. Green Peppers forever!!

But it was a bit trying watching it. I’ve done TV before but not like this. My TV work as an environmental rep for British Waterways or as a mistletoe expert chap has largely been short interviews for news or magazine programmes – and usually on site. A few studio experiences but only behind a news counter.

R S Cook is totally different – a live audience, fixed format, fixed timetable (that 20 minutes cooking time is real). But I did have the sexier subject (you can’t kiss under a Christmas tree) and the more appealing food bag (can’t go wrong with chocolate and whisky) so I did perhaps have an unfair advantage. Sorry Stephen (a reminder – you can buy Stephen’s Christmas trees online here and mistletoe online here).

I seem to be fidgetting a lot. That Ainsley Harriot got a bit friendly at times – but why not camp it up for the cameras??? (actually already geting a lot of stick on this from friends and colleagues – might take some time to live this one down)