Wool, Wiltshire and All Manner of Wonderful Things!

Archive for April, 2022

Cotswold Woollen Weavers.

This was really another Tothe. On my way to Blenheim Palace recently I have gone the scenic route, through pretty Cotswold towns, such as Lechlade, Farringdon and Burford. I noted the sign indicating Cotswold Woollen Weavers. It doesn’t actually say Tothe, but it is one..

I googled it, here, https://www.cotswoldwoollenweavers.co.uk/ and it seemed worth a visit so I went last week. It was just lovely.

Actually that’s the Ladies to the left, but ignore that.

Basically it’s a museum and a shop. But wow what a museum and what a shop. Up until quite recently cloth was woven here, but various reasons, too small , no doubt Health and Safety , etc means that actually Cotswold cloth is now woven in Huddersfield. Hurrah for West Yorkshire. At least it’s not China or India or Wherever.

Just look at the blankets and cushions, I mean just yummy.
William Morris, tea towels, oven gloves, aprons, ok so yes I bought myself a new apron, actually the blue strawberry thief one hanging up there
Into the museum.

I wish I could describe the smell here, it was delicious, sort of hessiany and woody all in one .I’d bottle it for a room freshener myself. Bit weird? Well Mr E did warn everyone about my being a bit weird. Only a bit…

So much to look at, love these clay animals, the whole shelf was full of them.

Honestly the place was full of gorgeousness .

Upstairs now, fabulous shop for little people , plus local crafts, plus books plus, fossils all for sale

and look at those enormous books, full of samples and you can handle them…

Believe me everyone was blown away by this place, fellow visitors making mental notes for their Christmas shopping, and they do online.. just saying

Random weaving on the wall, thinking felted landscape.
Loved this depiction of spinning.

I wish I could tell you what a wonderful choice of affordable goods were for sale in the main shop. How I resisted a handbag I don’t know..

You can of course buy end of run fabric and off cuts. I did choose five small pieces for 50p each, had ideas of fabric books but should have bought an even number of pieces . Might have to go back…

Outside was just as gorgeous

Did I mention cafe, cake, coffee?
Games to play, newspapers and books to read

Stone Mason too and a Shepherd’s hut

Back in the day, Shepherds stayed in the fields with their flocks during lambing season, living for weeks, months at a time in a hut which could be moved from field to field.
Apple tree in full bloom, with picnic tables.

And this picture shows just why I have planted ten fruit trees in my garden. One day the formally forlon patch will look just like this.

Ok I have waxed lyrical quite enough about this place, free car parking, did I mention? Pretty village too? Local craftspeople? Gorgeousness ?

Hope you enjoyed it, and if you are ever between Burford and Lechlade, it’s worth the detour.

Books-April 22

Some good reads this month, the last one took me a while, so there aren’t many books this time.

Kate Atkinson- One Good Turn- part of me wonders why I have taken so long to read this book, the other part of me is glad I hadn’t read it before, because it was such a good read. How to entice anyone who hasn’t read it without giving the plot away? Well it’s set in Edinburgh during the festival. And basically there is a road rage incident, so there was a victim, and the chap that helped, and a witness and oh an ex policeman, ex private detective Jackson Brodie, and one good turn causes a lot of problems, until all the protagonist’s stories come together. I didn’t see the ending coming at all. Of course this book appears on multiple lists of books to be read of mine, so huge thanks to everyone who has ever recommended it, you were right, it’s good.

John Grisham-Calico Joe. So I went to the library to return my books with the intention then to have a month of reading my own books during April. A little look round would do no harm… Silly me. I borrowed books! My son Mr B pointed out a while since that John Grisham has two basic themes, the law and Baseball . Now to most Brits baseball is just American Rounders, in England at least in my day, considered to be a children’s or girls game played in schools. I am aware that this isn’t the case. The First few pages of this book explain baseball terms, I got lost a bit in them, reverting in my head to rounders. It doesn’t matter. Joe was a promising star from a town called Calico. The narrator, the son of of another player who injured Joe, wants to talk to Joe and his own Dad and find out the truth . It’s a lovely little book about hope, aspiration, parenting and reconciliation. Thought provoking,.. If you had unresolved issues and conversations you wish you’d had with your parents you might find it an interesting way in.

Kate Hamer- The Doll Funeral- what it’s not about is spooky dolls. A story of searching for family, and who after all is our family. The background to the novel is The Forest of Dean, which lies on the border between England and Wales. Two time periods, 1970 and 1983. One for the mother and one for the daughter. Now as it happens we spent quite a bit of time in the 1980s house hunting in the Forest of Dean before finally settling in Oxfordshire. The Forest then, less so now, was a place apart. Houses were in scattered communities and there was a sense of timelessness, a mystery even magic, of rules and laws being different. We liked it very much, just didn’t find the right house for our circumstances. Oddly the people we bought from moved to the Forest. So I don’t want to say anything to spoil the plot, but it could only really have been set when and where it was. Thoroughly good read, from the writer of The Girl inThe Red Coat.

Truman Capote- In Cold Blood. This one was on my TBR list, and took a while for my request from the library to come through. Now goodness knows why it was on the list to begin with as I don’t read True Crime, which this is. I gather it was the first of its kind when it appeared in 1965. A novel based on a crime, researched and written up first as a piece of journalism and later as a novel. Now something I didn’t know was that Capote and Harper Lee were childhood friends, and that the character of Dill Harris in To Kill a Mocking Bird was based on Capote. Harper Lee accompanied Capote when he interviewed people for his book, talking especially to the female witnesses. She was hugely upset that he gave her not even a mention let alone full credit for her work. He appears to have been very jealous of her Pulitzer prize and very miffed that he didn’t get one for this book. Their friendship never recovered.

That aside the novel tells of the murder of an entire family by strangers with no apparent motive. The back story of the family and the perpetrators is told , then that of the investigation and subsequent trial. The prose is excellent. I found the first part where you get to know the family hard going, mostly because I was waiting for the event, and they sounded such nice people. For anyone interested in criminology I would say it would be an interesting book to read. I am not certain I can say it was enjoyable but it was certainly interesting and very well written.

And that’s it for April. I still have two library books to read and am determined to have more will power when I return them so that I can read some of my own books from the pile on the landing.

Have you read any of the books I read this month, what did you think?

Balance-April

It’s the last Monday in the month, so time to review my one word I chose to guide me this year -Balance.

When you loose a lifelong partner, there is a need to rebuild a life full of meaning and joy. To let go of the past and continue to grow.

Over the last eleven months I have been extremely grateful to the local carers group for the activities they arrange for carers. The walk and talks, coffee mornings and craft sessions have been wonderful. My family have been amazing with trips to London, picnics, walks, help with stuff, cutting the grass, checking up on me , all so enjoyable, in short I couldn’t have had better support or love. Whilst the family fun will continue, I need to find replacement for the carers group, as their support will end in a short while now my caring days are over.

I am really thrilled that finally the local U3A group has opened up properly post Covid. I have been to an embroidery group twice, one poetry appreciation group session and made contact to join a walk group which focuses on learning the history of a town or village. First walk for me will be in May.

I stitched this twinchie at the last embroidery group. It’s gone off to Wild Daffodil as part of a group card for Helen who has suffered recent bereavement. Helen was our stitch book tutor.

I have also kept my eyes peeled for one off workshops.

Elephant stitched in a local library workshop.

These activities have all been enjoyable and I have learned that I can do several days of going out and about, having fun meeting new people, talking laughing, but afterwards I need days at home, being quiet, resting, sleeping, reading, doing the every day domestic jobs – cleaning, tidying, phone calls, letters, emails , or even as today, attending to my health – trip to the hygienist. Then I can be ready for what next…

I have got much better now at planning my meals and sticking to the plan. Where I still need to sort myself out is on regular exercise. I potter round the garden every day, but that is not the same as a regular walk… And I don’t know why I haven’t tackled this yet,

I am not even using my membership to the local gym/swimming pool, which I joined nearly a year ago. It is very close and I chose it because I could pop out for an hour to go there and safely leave Mr E for that amount of time. Maybe now my options are wider, it’s no longer so important to me. I don’t know. And it is expensive..,mmm

OK, so what for May? Various things to look forward too, Baby P’s Christening, a theatre trip and I have opted to have a meal before hand and Miss F is singing in a concert, plus aforementioned groups and hopefully the garden project will happen (awaiting delivery of materials).

And walking…..

I wonder if anyone has tips for keeping themselves healthy in mind and body please. Love to hear from you. Or do I just accept that my body knows best and if I sleep that’s what I need, and if I don’t fancy exercise then maybe my body still knows best?

Meantime do visit Carolyn for her link up for one word posts. Here, https://youronewordblog.wordpress.com/2022/04/24/one-word-april-twenty-two/

Wordless Wednesday

Telephone Box Library,Buckland, Oxfordshire.

Imperial War Museum

My son texted me. ‘We are going to London. T has asked to go to the war museum. He’s specifically asked that you come too. Do you want to?’ I’ll be honest , my first thought was no, not my sort of thing, plus I have a hair appointment and a visit to the hygienist. My second thought was, T is 11. How many more times will Nana’s company be requested. So I said yes. All appointments changed, no problems.

My son works in London, so it made sense to drive there and park at his work. It’s a university, students all back home so no issue. We had a wander round the grounds, gardens, a little stream.. Caught a bus, umpteen tubes (underground trains), finally emerging where we needed to be.

Impressive

Now it turns out to be pretty amazing place for textiles! You seriously didn’t think this post would be about guns and stuff did you? Amazing what can be found if you look carefully. Here’s what I found as we went around the World War Two gallery. Two children very engaged by the work sheet the museum gave them, find the answers have some chocolate. Genius on my mind ,of the museum. So they were happy to stop and looked very carefully.

Japanese child’s Chanchanko

The Japanese were very proud of their nation, the feeling shown in this children’s sleeveless jacket.

Scarf depicting Germany’s expansion across Europe and destruction of Czechoslovakia.
Handkerchief bought by a British Serviceman in Iceland.

Next up is a replica house owned by the Allpress family, to show how people lived during those years.

Interior
Exterior complete with Anderson Shelter.

There was also a full sized shelter to enter. Many of the museums visitors were like ours a multi generational family. Grandparents just like me, passing on family memories, what our Dad’s did, mine was put in charge of tanks in India and Burma, he was shot and injured. Mum was an evacuee, her brother was ground staff for the RAF. It keeps everything real. Most notable when we got to the blitz photo gallery, those images of bombed cities, well the atmosphere was very quiet and subdued. All visitors like you right now, thinking why have some politicians not learned a darned thing?

Many Jewish Austrians and Germans arrived in the Uk. In due course sent to internment camps. This knitting bag made and embroidered by women in a camp on the Isle of Man.
Poster encouraging thrift.

But had you ever heard of the Squander Bug?

Hmmm maybe we need the squander bug to make a reappearance ? But not fir the same reason , just because it makes sense.

And so three hours passed, the children answered the questions on the worksheet and had a chocolately reward. More tube trains, lunch, quick visit to Hamleys, big toy shop, no purchases, then onto Trafalgar Square to see the lions and glimpse Big Ben

And so ended an unexpected day in London. I’m glad I said yes.

I wonder if anyone else has said Yes, whilst thinking not really sure, and then Yes turned out to be the correct answer. Wonder if T will ever suggest I come too, again….

Happy Easter

Buckland, Oxfordshire

Wishing you a Happy Easter, filled with joy and chocolate.

Scrap Happy Easter

So Happy Easter everyone. Nice coincidence that it’s also scrap happy day, on which we can post creativity from scraps. Firstly I finally finished these cards from the lovely woven squares from Jean.

I sponged on paint to do something about the whiteness of the cards.

Then I decided to make a couple of Easter cards.

More painting over White card and the sticker from a sheet that was a free gift in a magazine, and the greeting from some wrapping paper.

And finally a card that I have been meaning to make for years. The original idea was in a magazine called Craft Creations, published 20, yes twenty years ago. I assembled everything to make the card maybe three years ago, so this year it got made. I believe some things are better left to mature.

Scrap of Black mulberry paper, acrylic paint and googly eye.

Isn’t he cute?

Pop over to Kate for more scrap happy ideas , here https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/2022/04/15/scraphappy-april-6/

To The

So on the way home from Avebury there was a Tothe, and as I have said before I can’t resist a Tothe. In this case it was to one of Wiltshires White Horses. Basically there are a lot of chalky hills in Wiltshire so why not cut a white horse? This one is called the Hackpen White Horse and was created in 1838 . Now it is incredibly difficult to get a photo of a carved white horse on a hillside so here’s a link. https://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/things-to-do/hackpen-white-horse-p441413

The link will tell you about the other white horses. I shall try to visit more..

Anyway the sun was still shining, the skylarks were busy larking, and I was up for a stroll.

I love the clump of tress. I have noticed that the woods on the Ridgeway all have a nice curve to them… thinking needlefelting now…
and the view was incredible, solar farm below and that is indeed Swindon in the distance

Inside the wood itself someone has planted daffodils

actually a circle of daffodils.

Odd daffodils in various places, I suspect people have scattered ashes of loved ones here, maybe even the odd canine friend, it is a good spot for that, a lovely place to remember.

We scattered my Mum’s ashes in a wood that she liked to walk in near her home in Wales. My Dad’s are in a cemetery. I do miss them both…

Nice to think about them though.

Avebury Manor

The village of Avebury lies in gorgeous Wiltshire countryside. Most famous for its stone circle

said to be the largest stone circle in the world
and a wonderful place for a wander.

This time though this was not my destination. After all the upheaval of closures in lockdown, finally the Manor House was open for visitors. Now lovers of Kate Morton’s novels may recall that this house inspired Kate in her descriptions of Birchwood Manor in The Clockmaker’s Daughter.

So during that lovely week in March, when the sun shone, and the birds made whoopee, and coffee could be consumed outside I visited.

What I hadn’t appreciated was the house’s more recent history. Now Avebury Manor was the home of Alexander Keiller who was responsible for all the archeology digs on his land and the rather liberal interpretation and reconstruction of aforementioned stone circle. After he died, the house was sold, don’t ask me how often, but it ended up apparently being owned by someone who wanted to build a theme park. Clearly the druids or whoever weaved some magic and the scheme ended badly. The contents of the house were sold and the Manor fell into disrepair before being given to the National Trust. The house was empty for a while, no funds to do the necessary.

Enter quite unexpectedly the BBC. They wanted to take a house just like this, employ craftspeople to fix, decorate, and create a house through different historical periods.Thus a TV programme called The Manor Reborn was made. Sadly not available on I Player. I suspect because the Natonal Trust sell a box DVD set in the gift shop. Anyway here is a link to the programme, and I’d be really grateful if you clicked on it, as it might encourage the Beeb to make it available on I Player. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017m16v Here you can at least see some trailers.

So without further ado let’s visit Avebury Manor

Through the garden gate
The Georgian Period, beautiful elegance in the dining room

There was a lovely wood paneled Tudor room but too many people for a decent pic, however in the corner this fabulous dress, all hand sewn. I’ll leave a link at the end where you can see the room.

Clothes were just so much prettier then, not much good for doing your chores in though

I suppose they had people for chores

The Edwardian Kitchen, very Downton Abbey

Oddly the kitchen is at the front of the house in what is the oldest part. If you go back to my first pic , the oldest bit is on the right hand side , you can see the big old chimneys. I suspect that the house was very much part of the farm in which it sat, farm buildings now a museum, cafe, gift shop, etc

The glamour of the 1920’s and 30’s

As the parlour might have looked when Alexander Keiller lived here.

The staircase I seem to recall featured in Kate Morton’s book

But I might have been dreaming this

The original thought behind the TV programme was that because everything was new people could sit on the chairs, lie on the bed, etc, but B****y Covid put paid to that. Quite fancy a lie down here
It is possible, only possible that Queen Anne stopped a night here, there is evidence that she at least had a meal here on her way to somewhere else. So this room is how it might have looked for her.
and this a a siitng room fit for a Queen’s one night stop

It’s incredible to realise that all this was created by modern day craftspeople. As a society we still have the skills we just choose cheap imports.

Link for the National Trust, Avebury Manor here https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/avebury/features/transforming-avebury-manor

Oddly the volunteers hadn’t heard of Kate Morton either https://www.katemorton.com/behind-the-clockmakers-daughter/

The garden was closed still, so I shall return, plus I quite fancy walking from the Stone Circle along West Kennet Avenue to The Sanctuary.

Hope you enjoyed the visit. I know I did. Sadly I didn’t think much to my sandwich here either, definitely need to start making my own to take. They do have toilets though.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. Do you have any plans? I’m off to a football match with sons, grandsons and my Great Neice. At least there will be loos

Blenheim,a barn and me!

The post title is a fancy way of saying I went for a walk. Two weeks ago we thought Spring had sprung. 18°C it was. An old friend L, from back in the day when I lived in a small Oxfordshire village and our sons were in playgroup, and I met up to go for a walk at Blenheim Palace.

Random dog photo bombing me., but he, she is cute.

Anyway we hoofed it right round the lake, apparently it was 9.4 km by the end,13,087 steps that day, unheard of.

I was quite taken with the White cattle, apparently a rare breed and a bit of an experiment for the estate , all to do with encouraging the consumption of undergrowth and growing baby oak trees.

And just in case you think this is a late April Fool’s joke , here is the link https://www.blenheimestate.com/news/british-white-cattle.html

Well after the walk we needed coffee and a sandwich which was a bit stale. I think I shall have to start taking picnics on my outings.

L needed to go to B&Q, a DIY store, something to do with daughter E and skirting boards. And I decided to drive home the scenic route which takes me to the Barn. Now as a child my Dad refused to go point blank to anything that had a Tothe (pronounced by him just like that) signpost, you know To the River or To the Castle or even worse for him To The Museum. Which probably explains why I can’t resist a Tothe.

I had long been intrigued by a To The Barn sign which I had spied several times, it was inevitable, when I found my self actually driving past Great Coxwell Barn, that I stopped to explore, especially as it belongs to the National Trust to which I now belong.

There are barns and then there are BARNS .

It was of course originally part of some monastic property into which the harvest would be stored. It is indeed a cathedral of a barn.

Apparently William Morris would insist that all visitors to him had to come here.

Good enough for William Morris certainly good enough for me!

Old photo from the 1920s.

And that is a rather nice pond nearby.

Very atmospheric.

Link here- https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/great-coxwell-barn

It would actually be a lovely place for a picnic, no loos though! Still supple enough for a hedge though!

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