The big day is finally here – the first ever Tenbury Mistletoe Auction that’s not in Tenbury….
I’m there first, almost. At 0730 hours the place is dark, drizzly and cold. Remarkably similar to yesterday afternoon in fact (see last but one blog entry). Only Eric (one of Nick Champion’s staff) and a lone holly wreath seller in sight.
I’m here early to meet the ITV This Morning film-crew, here with their gardening reporter David Domony to film a piece about mistletoe, and supplement another one about holly. They’re due at 7.30 – but arrive at just after 8.00 – so I got cold and wet a bit earlier than needed…
Never mind, it all helps build the sense of expectation for the day, and I get to see the site fill with people and vehicles, at first slowly but increasingly chaotic from about 9.30 onwards. Holly Wreath sales being at 10.00, with mistletoe at 11.00.
ITV want me to chat with David (pictured) and explain what it;s all about and why I’m a little obsessed (?) with mistletoe. We have plenty of time and do a few takes walking up and down the mistletoe wraps laid out on the ground. But we eventually get a bit cold and inactive by about 9.15, so it’s a great relief when the crowds finally arrive. Lots of buyers and sellers – but v few of the bystanders we traditionally get at these dos – but that’s because we’re not in the middle of Tenbury.
It’s more than a little controversial, this moving out of town, and when I venture into Tenbury later, around 12.30, several shop-keepers comment on how quiet the town is and what a shame, for the town and the auctions, that the 2 have parted company for this year. There’s a lot of speculation about what this means for the future. But at least the town still has the Mistletoe Festival.
Anyway, back to the auctions – once Nick has started selling the holly wreaths and the crowds disperse away from the mistletoe I settle down to taking some pics in the mid-morning light (dunno why, i just do this every year, one day i’ll get the perfect mistletoe pic…). ITV are busy filming other bits and pieces and don’t need me anymore – but when I look up from the camera there they are again, filming me taking pics!!
Sky News turn up about this time, and run off a quickie interview about the change of location with me just before the crowds converge on the mistletoe at 11.00 and spoil the view. Reg and Alec from TEME are there, monitoring prices, and Stan Yapp is there watching to see how much his stock goes for. Prices for mistletoe are low – about 30p per pound weight, which will be disappointing to the growers, there’s just too much around this year, and its all very well-berried…
Lots of photographers about too – local (Shropshire Star) and national (London freelancers) – and with the crowds, the atmosphere is not to dissimilar to the traditional auction site in town. But where are the people with shopping bags, just popping in to have a quick look? And how much trade (snacks, lunches, coffees, papers, car-parking fees(!)) has Tenbury lost out on with the buyers all being here?.
My worries (see recent blog entries and read this) about sustainable harvesting seem very relevant to some of the lots – whole tree branches with mistletoe attached (see pic) – now that is definitely not sustainable!