Sunday, 17 June 2012


Mike and I were invited to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee with our neighbours in the next village, who we've got to know well from our all-too-regular visits to the local pub. In traditional British fashion, the village threw a street party. In traditional British fashion, the weather was totally unsuitable for al fresco dining. Revellers brought out fire pits and burning logs and we warmed our hands together. Battling the elements is all part of the fun. 

Tables were set, we all shared in the food preparation, and a young lady sang a song in honour of HM the Queen to open the celebrations -

The gentleman in the picture is the Town Crier. And you thought we had antiquated jobs!

It's only a small rural village but the people are quite diverse. Besides the Town Crier we have a scuba gear scientist, a bomb disposal expert, a celebrity fisherman, a cider maker, and of course you can't throw a clod of dirt without hitting a farmer or two. It makes for lively discussions at street parties.

I inadvertently created a ghetto of foreigners when I sat down to catch up with Bridget (South African) and her husband Dom (Scottish). We were surrounded by their many children, who were taking turns dancing with their grandmother's poodle to the lively music from a local band. Dogs whose dance cards were empty were freely roaming the party, picking up handouts sneaked to them under tables.

Here's our table, complete with a spaniel -

And honoured guests -

Well, our local publicans anyway.

Of course we had to leave early so I could walk the dog pack, and Mike could check the incubators, but great fun was had by all (except maybe that poodle!)

It was another day of jubilation this week, for us and the pheasants: the annual letting out of the laying pens. All the breeding stock - i.e. pheasants which have been penned so we could collect and hatch their eggs - have done their duties, and were free to return to the woods. 

Unfortunately we can't just open the pens and shoo them out; we have to catch them, crate them and move them to their new home. Thankfully we have a great group of volunteers to help with the huge task of catching 3000 birds spread out in 35 pens -

The birds are packed pretty tightly into the crates as it's only a short journey to the woods, maybe half a mile or so. I love accompanying Mike and helping to open the crates, and giving the birds back their wild space. I videoed it so you could enjoy it too -

We make sure there's food and water in the woods, and some protection from predators. At least one hen has already made herself at home, making a scrape and laying an egg. Now it's her turn to rear some young. 

She won't need our help hatching these eggs.


Janice Bendixen said...

Loved the video, Jen! Thanks for sharing that bit of liberation.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Of all the professions in your village, I prefer Celebrity Fisherman. Does one go to school for that?

Yesterday we had to catch all of six birds, in one brooder, in order to change the litter. That was pretty hard, I thought. So 3000 birds in 35 pens is beyond my ken. Pheasant Rounder-Upper is not nearly as good a job as Celebrity Fisherman. I'm not sure you chose wisely.

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

What a fun party! It looks and sounds like it really was a good time, and I bet EVEN the poodle had fun! I also loved the video of the pheasant release. Very neat! I love that you share the "different" parts of your world with us!

Hazel said...

I was wondering about the Celebrity Fisherman too. Is it a celebrity who is also a fisherman, or a famous fisherman? Don't think I know any of them.

Your Jubilee celebrations look much like ours! Tea party, dancing...but we had our famous duck race too. And a decorated wheelbarrow competition. You see the fun town dwellers miss out on?

Actually, it was a really great weekend. The 'posh' big village next to us (antique shops and commuters to London) always organises everything to within an inch of it's life- our village is a bit more laid back and rustic. Perfect! And good to see so many villagers out talking to each other.

Jennifer Montero said...

I don't know what qualifications are required. I don't remember my guidance counsellor mentioning it as an option. Or even Town Crier. I'm not sure I'd want to be a celebrity anything, but fish(wo)man sounds pretty good.

Jennifer Montero said...

DHimC - Seems only fair after you shared all those stunning photos of Alaska with us!

Jennifer Montero said...

Hazel - I'm sure he wouldn't describe himself as a celebrity but he's a fisherman that has his own TV show. If a Kardashian can have a TV show and be famous...well...

I can't believe we missed out on the decorated wheelbarrow competition! There used to be a nettle eating competition at the local pub but apparently people came to their senses and stopped signing up to eat raw nettles. I love weird English celebrations, and as you said it brings villagers together and talking.