Our local Farmers' Market in Stroud is so much more than a market, as not only does it boast award winning produce such as Hobbs House bakery, it has stall upon stall of fresh strawberries, asparagus, mushrooms, fruit and veg, meat, flowers and plants, doughnuts, cheese and vintage wares as well as musicians and craft people.
Each year in April/May, we find the lovely Anna Casserley at the market selling her beautifully crafted wooden spoons and May whistles. May whistles are an enchanting custom, they are a small whistle made from ash, sycamore or willow that are traditionally made and blown by children to ring in summer on May Day.
Anna, who was taught by her Cornish grandfather skillfully makes them in minutes in front of children who stare in awe at this magic. All around the Farmers' Market you can hear the whistles being blown by children delighting in this newly discovered ancient tradition.
The whistles are about four inches in length and about half an inch diameter, Anna cuts a mouth piece with her sharp Opinel knife and then scores around the outside, this is the magical part, she then taps all the way around the bark and it just slides off. She deftly cuts a v-shape, a shallow chamber to blow down and a chamber and then slides the bark back on before presenting it to a child to blow.
In minutes a tradition is passed down to the next generation and with the amount of shrill whistling around the market, summer should definitely be on its way!
Discover more at www.maywhistles.co.uk where there are step by step instructions on making your own May whistle.