Welcome to the world of Worm Charming!

Did you say “Worm Charming”?

On Saturday 5th July 1980 local Willaston farmer’s son, Tom Shufflebotham amazed a disbelieving world by charming a total of 511 worms out of the ground in half an hour. True, there had been rather dubious unsubstantiated reports of a similar activity in Florida, USA some 10 years previous, but this was the first time a true competition with strict rules had been held. The village of Willaston, near Nantwich, Cheshire has been the venue for the annual World Championships ever since.

A regulatory body of control was formed to compile and enforce a total of 18 rules governing all aspects of Worm Charming. The International Federation of Charming Worms and Allied Pastimes (IFCWAP) not only exists for Worm Charming, but will look after the interests of other zaney sports such as indoor hand gliding, underwater Ludo and ice tiddly-winks (similar to curling but the tiddles go further).

The International Committee of IFCWAP is formed by Mike Forster, Chief Wormer and Mr Gordon Farr, Former Headmaster of Willaston School, who now enjoys life long Presidency and meets only once a year and at other times of national crisis. For example, when the New Zealand flat worm was discovered a number of years ago in some parts of the country, the threat to the common earthworm was of great public interest in Willaston and volunteers from the village still regularly patrol the site of the Worm Arena for at least 8 weeks prior to the event leaving no stone unturned, for that is where this hideous creature preyed on “Willy Worm”.

Top 3 Rice Cooker Brands

rice dishesBeing a connoisseur makes you go from ‘Yumm!!’ to ‘Eww..!!!’ in just a few seconds. The job has its own perks and is really a blessing for me. I have always relished the rice dishes my mother made while I was a kid. After having eaten it once, I used to store away another helping in some corner of the kitchen and relished it after a few hours. Rice had been my favorite since time immemorial (Just for Laughs). While I was growing up, I heard a lot of alarming voices say that I am going to be a huge person as I just devour rice. But, my genes kept me thin and my mother kept me satisfied with rice dishes. Finally, after graduating in ‘Food and Nutrition’ I got a lot of career choices before me. It was at that time, that I saw an unusual advertisement. It was about hiring a connoisseur for rice.

For a few minutes, I was like, ‘Isn’t this the best job ever?’ After discussing in my family, I went for the interview and there I was the next day. Tasting different varieties of rice, cooked in different rice cookers, with different spices, and in different textures. Now, I used to have my favorite food daily and that too without having to make it. Having worked in the industry for more than 2 years, now I find myself highly rich of knowledge of various rice types, cookers, cooking methods, and what not. Recently, when I changed the office from being a connoisseur on site to occasional testing, I thought to share all I know about rice and it’s cooking with all of my readers.

Recently I got asked about the Top 3 brands of rice cookers and here are Chef Brazil picks – Aroma, Zojirushi, and Panasonic.

Aroma rice cookerAroma has been into rice cooker making for a long time and knows how to cater to the customers with changing preferences over the time. From the very basic and simple models to the high-end ones, Aroma has it all. The cookers are sleek, durable and come with a rich and varied range of the settings and functions. You can make rice (a lot of types), porridge, cake, soups, and steam the vegetables in it. I have given it a preference over the Zojirushi not because it excels in terms of features or technology, but because it is an ideal cooker for the people with an average budget and an affinity for simpler machines.

Some of the good choices from Aroma are the Aroma 8 cup food steamer and rice cooker, 6 cups pot-style rice cooker and 20 cups digital rice cooker.

Zojirushi rice cookerZojirushi has got it all – technology, complexity, features, class, quality, taste, variety and every other thing you can think of. The brand has been into rice cooker making for ages now and Zojirushi offers some of the best rice cookers you can lay your hands upon. From simple cookers to the ones with the neuro-fuzzy logic (newer sibling of fuzzy logic). Zojirushi will not let you get bored or tired of the choices and variety.

Panasonic rice cookerPanasonic is the brand for the persons that want to avail a lot of features on a tight budget. The company manufactures good products and has earned very good reputation in terms of customer satisfaction. The rice cookers from Panasonic are very affordable and come with the guarantee of serving you without any problems for a long time.

The Panasonic steamer is yet another product which is worth buying.

Things you never knew about Worm Charming!

The Worm Charming event was first devised by Mr John Bailey who was the deputy headmaster of Willaston County Primary School, Nantwich, Cheshire from 1961 to 1983.

It was designed as a fund raising event incorporated into our School Fete in 1980.

The Rules were compiled by John Bailey in 1980 but over the years the size of plots has been increased from three yards square to three metres square to bring us in line with EEC requirements.

We have also increased the number of squares from 100 to 144 to accommodate additional competitors who compete on behalf of various charities.

The first Worm Charming World Record was set in 1980 by Mr Tom Shufflebotham who raised 511 worms from a three yards square plot. This remained unbroken until 2009 when Miss S and Mr M Smith charmed an incredible 567 worms from their plot!

Competitors compete for a trophy in the shape of a golden rampant worm which is awarded to the person charming the most worms from their plot in thirty minutes. The title is held for one year.

The competitor charming the heaviest worm holds the silver worm trophy for one year. The heaviest worm recorded weighed 6.6grams and was charmed by Mr J. Overstall in 1987.

Rules are available in over thirty different languages and the organisers are always interested in adding to this total.

Because of fierce local competition and all year round training by worm charming fanatics, the trophy had never left the village of Willaston until, in 1996, father and son team Phil and David Williams from Wiltshire won the competition with a total of 157 worms. Willaston managed to forgive the Willliams team, however, when it was revealed that they had lived in Willaston for a number of years prior to winning the title and were still Willastonians at heart.

There had not been a tie-break situation at the end of the allotted 30-minute Charming time until 2003 when Richard and Rodney Windsor (Plot 131) and Lea Clark and Robert Oltram (Plot 134) each raised 167 worms from the ground. A further five minutes Charm Off was held in accordance with Rule 17 after which Richard and Rodney Windsor were declared Champions having raised a further 14 worms, beating their rivals by just one worm.

The most succesful method used so far is that of hand vibrating a four tyne garden fork inserted approximately 15cms into the turf, now known locally in South Cheshire as ‘twanging’.

The 18 Rules of Worm Charming

For the Rules in other languages, please scroll to the bottom of the page.

  1. Each competitor to operate in a 3 x 3 metre plot.
  2. Lots to be drawn to allocate plots.
  3. Duration of competition to be 30 minutes, starting at about 2pm.
  4. Worms may not be dug from the ground. Vibrations only to be used.
  5. No drugs to be used! Water is considered to be a drug/stimulant.
  6. Any form of music may be used to charm the worms out of the earth.
  7. A garden fork of normal type may be stuck into the ground and vibrated by any manual means to encourage worms to the surface.
  8. Garden forks to be suitably covered to prevent possible injury when being transported to and from the competition. No accidents please!
  9. Each competitor to leave his/her fork in allocated plot on arrival.
  10. A piece of wood, smooth or notched may be used to strike or ‘fiddle’ the handle of the garden fork to assist vibration.
  11. Competitors who do not wish to handle worms may appoint a second to do so. The second shall be known as a ‘Gillie’.
  12. Each competitor may collect worms from his/her own plot only.
  13. Worms to be handled carefully and collected in damp peat and placed in a suitable, named container provided by the organising committee.
  14. A handbell to be rung about five minutes before the start of the competition.
  15. Competitors to keep clear of competition plots until given the instruction “Get to your Plots”.
  16. The competitor who ‘charms’ the most worms to be the winner.
  17. In the event of a tie, the winner to be decided by a further five minutes charming.
  18. Charmed worms to be released after the birds have gone to roost on the evening of the event.

International competitors: Copies of The Rules are available in 30 languages, including Tibetan. These are currently being added to the site and are available as pdf files via the links below. Alternatively contact Mike Forster for further info.