OUR cider apples should surely be abundant this year, if the annual wassails are anything to go by.

There was a big crowd at Westons Cider's orchard in Much Marcle for the centuries-old ceremony to 'awaken' the apple trees from their winter slumbers.

This year Leominster Morris held its annual wassail at the Bell in Tillington, with a torch-lit procession to an orchard.

The crowd watched the ceremony, the ring of fires and morris dancing before heading back to the Bell for the performance of the traditional 'Mummer's play', often staged at times of celebration.

Wassailing is traditionally held on the Twelfth Night after Christmas.

Here in Herefordshire it sometimes involves placing a cider-soaked piece of toast on the branches of the apple tree and sprinkling cider around the roots, before lighting torches, dancing and singing the Wassail Song to ward off evil spirits and ensure a good crop of apples for the year ahead.

Sometimes shouts or loud bangs are required to ensure that the bad spirits are driven off.