Editor's comment: May 2019
PUBLISHED: 15:36 18 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:42 18 April 2019
"Onion eating, shin-kicking, puppy dog pie… there aren't many avenues of oddity that we're not prepared to go down." Editor Mike Lowe muses over some of the lesser-known traditions in the Cotswolds...
WAHEY! It's the merry month of May. The month when Gloucestershire begins to go slightly mad as the season of barmy traditions, weird events and silly games gets underway. Onion eating, shin-kicking, puppy dog pie...there aren't many avenues of oddity that we're not prepared to go down. However, despite the more well-known events and games, there are plenty more old Cotswold traditions out there. Here are just a few...
Pin the Tail on the Donkey
One from the not-so-distant past, when the hillside village of Chalford had a donkey delivery service. Local children would pursue Chester the Donkey up the hill and try to catch hold of his tail. Unlucky contestants were catapulted into the neighbouring valley by Chester's back hooves.
If you spot anyone sneaking out of a supermarket having bought that Peruvian or Mexican stuff during the ten months or so that the real thing is out of season, you're allowed to thrash them with their own spears.
Severn Sandbank Snorkelling
I have done this myself when living in Newnham-on-Severn. On the way home from an afternoon in the pub, I spotted what I thought was a salmon stranded on a sandbank about 50 yards from shore. Emboldened by bitter, I waded out (an undeniably stupid thing to do) only to discover that my “salmon” was part of an old car tyre.
Trailing the Tractor
One for the much-neglected rural community here. How many cars can you accumulate behind your 15mph tractor on the A433 before your nerve goes and you pull over? Extra points awarded if ambulances, meals-on-wheels vans or angry editors are in the queue.
May Day Ladies' Mooning
Besieged by tourists at the start of the holiday season, parking in Bourton-on-the-Water becomes an impossibility. Disenchanted local women display their disdain for people from Birmingham who are left endlessly circling the town in the people carriers by baring their arses on Mill Bridge.
A game for all the family. Stand outside your house in a quiet village and then guess how many cyclists are approaching by the volume of their conversation. The winner gets a pair of ridiculous padded-crotch shorts. In pink.
Contestants have to lurk behind the trolley huts in a supermarket car park and keep watch on the Parent and Child parking bays. When a single, unaccompanied adult decides that they're so important that they can park where they like, contestants must wait until the selfish idiot is halfway to the supermarket doors and then shout “Where's Johnny?” before letting down the tyres on the offending vehicle and running away.
Through the Garden Gate
The long game this one, lasting a whole summer. Played primarily by the residents of Bibury, it involves counting up an ongoing tally of uninvited foreign visitors to your home and garden. Finding a stranger in your garden earns one point; it's two points if they're caught unashamedly peering through the windows; and a massive five points if they actually wander into your house. The resident with the most points at the end of the season wins a Japanese Acer.
More on the Old Spot Downhill Chase and the Cotswold Lion-Taming Challenge another time.
For more of Mike's musings, follow him on Twitter! @cotslifeeditor