First Auction, usual press confusion

The first Mistletoe and Holly Auction of 2005 was held today – in the usual place in Tenbury. But this site is still due to be developed – so this really might be the last year here.

Well-attended, lots of well-berried mistletoe – the holly doesn’t look so good – not many berries this year. And Christmas tress seemed to be in short supply – but is a bit early. Next week (6th December) will probably see a lot more stock.

Usual crowds – and many of the usual buyers – familar vans from nurseries and agrden centres from across the country. This really is an institution. This year the sales have been organised by Nick Champion, formerly of Brightwells, the auctioneers who sold up last year.

But there’s lots of confusion in the media. They confuse the TEME mistletoe initiatives – which have resulted in the Mistletoe Festival, Mistletoe Day and online mistletoe sales – with the auction sales. So we get reports of TEME ‘organising the auctions’ (sorry Nick – we know they’re all yours really).

In today’s Daily Express, a ridiculously inaccurate report about TEME’s online sales – reputed to be worth tens of thousands of pounds and on sale at £1 per bunch. If only! The Express modestly calls itself the “greatest newpaper” – in which case I suggest it dismisses the reporter responsible – ‘cos what he reported was entirely made-up, not news. And readily corrected by some phone calls and a glance at the website. Must have been too busy to research it. But it is nice to be reminded about why I don’t buy the Express.

Talking of the meja, Monty Don was present filming for a story about a mistletoe grower. But unaware of the many mistletoe initiatives in Tenbury this week. A could-do-better there as well then (loyal mistletoe blog readers may recall Monty’s TV coverage of the market last year, which totally missed the key story about the threatened market closure ‘ cos it was recorded 12 months before).

Perhaps I should stop worrying about the media and just get on with preparing for the mistletoe events from Thursday…

Some pictures from the Mistletoe Ball

Some pictures from the Grand Mistletoe Ball… for those who are really interested there’ll be more on these on the Ball webpage soon.

Mistletoe place-settings.


Caption competition – what are Reg and Jen talking about??

“Lady Ponsonby” announces the imminent arrival of “Queen Victoria”…

…though she first insists on demonstrating the correct use of mistletoe.

Queen Victoria entertains…

And there is even some dancing…

The day of the Ball – and the start of the celebrations

  • “This weekend sees the start of 10 days of mistletoe celebrations in Tenbury Wells, Britain’s “mistletoe capital” and the centre of the UK trade. There’s today’s Grand Mistletoe Ball, the first of the traditional mistletoe and holly wholesale auctions (November 29) and the Mistletoe Festival. Plus visits from druids of the Mistletoe Foundation.”

A quote from today’s Guardian – ok, from my letter published today in the Guardian. A good letter I thought (natch), covering all the important points. They deleted my plug for online sales – but don’t worry you can get to that site direct by clicking here.

Ready Steady Mistletoe

‘Bout time I came clean on that BBC2 Christmas/cookery prog I’ve hinted at. Yes it’s Ready Steady Cook – with me – Mistletoe Expert, pitted against Stephen Reynolds – Christmas Tree Grower. Pic shows me, Anthony W-T, Lesley Waters and Ainsley Harriot all wearing our mistletoe – except Ainsley. Must have a word with him about that.

Due to be broadcast on BBC2 on Friday 9th December 4.30pm. Don’t miss it!

Stephen’s Christmas trees can be ordered online here.

And you too can have a mistletoe buttonhole like Anthony Worral-Thompson by clicking here.

More media etc

Lots more media enquiries this week – BBC2 for a new nature series, Independent on Sunday about Mistletoe rustling (yes, it happens!), Western Daily Press re the market and online sales, etc etc etc.

It’s not even December yet – and there’s the Mistletoe Festival next week – which should attract a lot of media interest. So it looks like a busy mistletoe media season this year.

Meanwhile, back in mistletoe country preperations for the Festival are being finalised – and if you’ve not bought your tickets for the Ball I think it’s too late now. Sorry (though I s’pose you could try…).

Am beginning to worry about the art exhibition – I’m due to put up a display of mistletoe harvesting pics and mistletoe imagery in art nouveau – and there’s so much material it’s difficult to know what to use. A task for the weekend? – sandwiched between the Industrial Archaeology meeting I’m due to be at on Saturday and Sunday, the Ball on Saturday night, and meeting Stan Yapp to finalise our talks next week… More likely a task for next week…

Mistletoe for sale online

The TEME website is now offering Tenbury mistletoe online.

A bit of an experiment, to see what the online market might be, and whether it could be used to develop the Tenbury Wells mistletoe trade.

Do take a look, and try some…

Mistletoe in Magazines

The December monthlies are now out, and I’ve been reviewing a few to see what the mistletoe coverage is like.

Period Living & Traditional Homes has a lengthy piece – pages 98 to 100 if you really want to know. Feature written by Charlotte Ewing, and pics by me (largely of previous mistletoe auctions at Tenbury Wells). The theme centres on Tenbury and covers the plans for the Mistletoe Festival etc this year.

Organic Life, a new magazine, also covers mistletoe, in a Christmas Myths and Legends section. All good stuff, and they also put in a good word for the Festival etc. But nil points for their mistletoe illustration (page 24) – which is unmistakably the American mistletoe – not our distinctively branched species at all. Leaves, berries and branches are all wrong…. Whoops! With an organic theme you’d assume they would ensure they promote the local stuff. Ok, it’s just an error, but it does grate a little with me.

Gardening Which also has a mistletoe feature – but I haven’t seen that yet. They are interested in establishing mistletoe at one of their demonstration gardens – more on that later… (sometime around February).

Back to the Salwarpe

A wonderfully cold and frosty morning, and we’re off to see the Droitwich Canal – to talk about reedbeds, conservation, habitat creation, and where to put the locks. And yes you may have read that before, sometime in last year’s blog – but these projects take time you know…

Anyway, as reported before we start down at the Salwarpe/Severn confluence – where there are some classic mistletoe-bearing willows and, at Hawford, some equally classic mistletoe poplars.

Then off up the canal, past the wonderfully wide frosty reedbeds (aren’t derelict canals great? don’t tell my boss I said that!) to view some more adjoining sites and to hum and har about what’s to be done.

All a bit busy really, but just have time to clock a good mistletoey apple tree in a canalside orchard.

BBC Glos again

So nice to be on the Beeb so often.

Monday with BBC Radio Gloucestershire talking about canal restoration, bat boxes, fallen trees, replacement bridges and funding.

Wednesday with BBC2 TV recording a Christmas-themed show… more on that later.

And Thursday back with Radio Glos, this time talking about mistletoe…

That’s Brian Bailey of Radio Glos in the hat. I’m the one with the mistletoe….

Mistletoe Dates – the Festival and Auctions 2005

Mistletoe dates for your diaries:

The Tenbury Wells Mistletoe Festival starts on Sat 26th November with the Mistletoe Ball, followed by talks, exhibitions and concerts etc from Thursday 1st December (National Mistletoe Day). A full programme can be downloaded here, or viewed here.

And then there are the mistletoe auctions – on 29th Nov, 6th Dec and 13th Dec. These are also detailed in the links above – and are organised by Nick Champion.