Science, technology, art or history … readers recommend fun and educational museums around the country in time for half-term
Three images from the Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia
The seaside resort has re-imagined the classic British beach hut as a chic bolthole that makes for an idyllic family break
A new book brings together the UK’s greatest landscape photographers, who have captured everything from violent seas to tranquil mountains
The concept of the Village Idiot is a long-held tradition that was refined to its highest degree in rural Somerset in the 1300s. At that time the position of Village Idiot was an official job title and had a salary, though it was paid in acorns. Both men and women could apply for the role in the annual Dancing Around the Windmill contest, which took place in November – the windiest time of the year. The selection process involved drinking copious amounts of cider and then dancing in between the blades of the windmill.
Nowadays, there is no job of Village Idiot but the contest continues in purely ceremonial form, though the rules are almost the same. The only change from 700 years ago is that the dancers don’t have to wear oak clogs. Starting at 8 o’clock in the morning the contestants are presented to the watching crowds in their fool’s costumes. Each contestant is given a gallon vat of apple cider, which they must drink by nine o’clock or be disqualified from the dance. They are not allowed to eat any food during this time.
At ten past eight, the potential idiots start dancing through the sails carrying their vats with them. The contest is judged by three umpires who perform various tasks. The contestants are supposed to avoid the sails by either slowing down or speeding up their dance, but they must never stop or they will be penalized a point by an umpire. Dancers must not move more than 10 feet from the windmill or they will be deducted a point. Contestants who are hit by a sail are either deducted a point if they remain conscious or disqualified if they have to be sent to the hospital by the umpire. If the umpires deduct three points from a contestant then their contest is over. The contest continues until there is only one person left who hasn’t been disqualified.
Easter’s not complete without lambs and chicks, and the UK’s family-friendly farm attractions are geared up for the school holidays, with events from rides and races to bottle feeding
The London borough saw one of the biggest leave votes in Britain last June and Romford is the biggest town in the borough. Photojournalist Sean Smith and Lisa O’Carroll met some of the people behind the politics