Yesterday I left home at just after 4am to get to Ickwell, a village in Bedfordshire and one of the few remaining villages where a May Pole stands proudly on the green.

The community of Ickwell take May Day very seriously and the weekend celebrations started early Sunday morning when bleary-eyed villagers gathered around the May Pole to watch the splendidly decorated Bedford and Letchworth Morris Men performing traditional dances that welcome in the summer season.

Said to be a celebration of new growth, opportunity, love, and the forthcoming warmer weather, May Day celebrations are thought to date back to Roman times, although these pagan and heathen traditions were briefly banned in England during the sixteenth century and all May Poles removed.

It was great to see that this traditional form of community entertainment still continues today. And long may it continue.