Part of what makes these winter festivals sparkle is the camaraderie, the joining together with neighbours. After our visit to Waddesdon Hall we moved on to the village of Little Horwood where everybody gathered around a bonfire on the village green to sing Christmas carols, musical accompaniment provided by the Great Horwood band in which Linda plays euphonium (think of a little tuba).
While Linda and her colleagues set up, we adjourned to the local pub, The Shoulder of Mutton. (How English can you get?) You could tell it was old just by walking inside, with rough wooden beams and uneven plaster on the ceiling. At least one beam carried a little sign saying ‘mind your head’. Englishmen were shorter back then. A log burner pumped out heat on one side, while a gas imitation did the job in another part of the room. Wine, it seems, came in one of three standard sizes – small, medium, and large. I don’t know what the actual measures are.
Back in the day you could find a pub on every second street corner in a town but now, especially since covid, many of them have had to close. It’s similar in country Australia. It’s a shame, but there it is.
Suitably fortified, we joined the revellers on the green. Some of them even sang the carols while Linda and her colleagues, swathed in blankets, played their music.
We drank mulled wine and ate a fruit mince pie or two before it all became too cold and we went back to the pub, which was by now heaving. The blokes all gathered at what was the front bar, right next to the ladies loo. You had to wiggle your way between the men (‘scuse me, ‘scuse me) to get through.
The night ended with fish ‘n chips from the local chippy, after which we went upstairs to bed to prepare for another day of excitement.
By the way, if you’ve happened upon this page by accident and you’d like to read more about the tour, go to the tour page where you’ll find the rest of our adventures.