There are many fascinating folklore traditions in Somerset County: egg shackling (fun for kids and food for the vicar!), candle auctions (not actually auctioning off candles but ending the auction when a lit candle sputters out), burning the ashen faggot (do not even ask) and many more. But perhaps the most intriguing is the Minehead Hobby Horse. Whether originally related to pagan fertility rituals or a way to ward off evil vikings is unclear, the Hobby Horse been a documented May Day event in this area for hundreds of years. Accompanied by drummers, the “horse” parades through the streets, interacting with the rowdy crowds and even battling other Hobby Horses on its way to Dunster Castle, a few miles away. Dan is somehow able to sweet talk the tough-looking bloke from the Queens Head Pub (“Normally we are very drunk when we do this.”) into bringing the horse to life and dancing vigorously for us in the town square. Amazing.
In the afternoon, Yolanda comes to the rescue and drives us waaaaaaay up past Priddy (I feel Priddy!) to Deer Leap in the Mendip Hills for Charlotte’s atmospheric 6 pm shoot complete with creeping mist devouring dramatic trees and drifting sheep. If only we could find the mysterious Priddy Circles (“probable Neolithic ritual or ceremonial monuments similar to a henge”) in all this fog! Afterwards it’s time to sample the local (what else?) cider and then on to Burrowbridge where we meet Jenny and David and Ned The Dog for dinner at their cozy house “on the main road under the mump and opposite the old school.”