Deep in the Wilds of Wiltshire

Thatch[1]

I’ll miss Wiltshire when we leave here in a couple of days, even though I didn’t realize until last week that this peaceful little village is really a den of iniquity. Oh yes, you wouldn’t believe the goings-on here.

Sirens in the village! Being used to sirens blaring in the States, we didn’t rush outside when we heard them, and did not discover the cause until the next day when we walked to the village shop. The thatched roof on two old, connecting cottages up the road had caught fire. Fortunately, it did not spread much before the firemen raked off a lot of thatch and doused the flames. We feel sorry for the people who own the cottages who, it seems, renovated one and were living in it, and intended to renovate the second –the one which caught fire – and lease it.

This is a tiny village, and you know, or can guess, what village gossip is like. Rumor has it some teens were growing an illegal substance in the cottage’s attic and accidentally started the fire, but I can’t imagine how the residents could miss teens galumphing about in their attic. But just think, we could be in the middle of a crime zone! Is that nice neighbor a drug czar? Does everyone grow poppies simply because they are pretty flowers? Is my mum safe here?

Or is she in on it?

Also in the news – well, not exactly – we had a little adventure in the Wigglybus. Heading for home, it suddenly veered along a dirt track between fences, wound between piles of manure and into a farmyard. “If you mean to abduct us,” I said to the driver, “nobody will pay the ransom.” But it had stopped to change drivers at the Wigglybus depot. The “depot” is a farmyard, and the little buses are housed in a barn which is nothing more than three wooden walls with a tattered canvas roof. Apparently, the council which now finances the services won’t go as far as to provide somewhere for the Wigglys to sleep at night, so they’re in a smelly farm.

Everyone . . . . aw.

cottagefront-smallWhile I’m (still) talking about Wiltshire, think about coming to the Pewsey Vale if you visit England. It’s beautiful, picturesque countryside and so many interesting sites are easily reachable from here. Smaller towns like Devizes, and Marlborough with its wonderful medieval buildings. Cities such as magnificent Salisbury, and gracious Bath. Historic houses abound: Lacock, Stourhead, and Wilton, to name a few. And ancient sites such as the Old Sarum iron-age hill fort, later used by the Romans and Normans, Stonehenge, and what I think is far more interesting than Stonehenge: the stone circles and village at Avebury. Need somewhere to stay? (Yes, this is a plug.) Our boys stayed in Rushall Village at “The Chestnuts” (I had a link but it no longer works) which is a British Heritage listed building. Gorgeous cottage, where they were warmly welcomed by hosts Richard and Linda Tilbury and fed copious amounts of food at breakfast. In fact I was quite envious. They loved their comfortable accommodation and how Richard and Linda made them feel at home. And did I mention huge breakfasts? And they don’t grow illegal substances in their attic.

Our adventures continued with a few days with my sister in Newbury. After riding the train to Paddington, she courageously led us through the London underground and on buses, where we would have been utterly lost without her.  We ended up at Crouch End in London to spend a few hours with our niece. Crouch End is – IMO – a horrible name which conjures images of a grubby, gray, Sweeney Todd kind of London when it is actually lovely. The niece lives in a beautiful residential area with amazing Gothic houses only five minutes from town. The town also has many Gothic buildings, and every other building seems to be either a tempting bakery or a restaurant. Definitely my kind of place. The weather was awful, bitterly cold, windy and snowing. I had to go in a charity shop and buy a cheap hat, which I gave to Mum when we returned to Rushall. I think she looks très chic in it. Anyway, we ate lunch in Monkeynuts, fantastic food! If you happen to be in Crouch End, I highly recommend the restaurant.

And my good mate Carol came to Newbury from Motspur Park for the day and valiantly walked around Newbury despite a painful knee. Husband, sister and I did enjoy seeing you, Carol, and I hope you’ve forgiven sister for calling you Carrie. :0

We’ll be on our way back to Utah on Monday. Goodbye Wiltshire. Goodbye land of my birth. Ta ta, Mum, Sis, Niece, Bro, friends, cousins, nieces, nephews, aunt, and their families. Until next time.

6 responses to “Deep in the Wilds of Wiltshire

  1. I enjoyed your post, Linda, especially the pics of Wiltshire. I used to work with your sister in Devizes a long time ago and we’re still in touch though I haven’t seen her for ages as I moved to Wales back in 2000. I have much more time for writing these days but I do get the coracle out now and then to visit London where my son lives. He’s in Clapham not Crouch End. Great to find your website. Sending best wishes x

    • Well hello there “Toni,”

      How nice of you to comment on my humble website! Sister speaks of you often and I know she’d love to see you again. When I read your comment, I had a strong visual of you battling the waves in a coracle and a single oar. :)

      Cheers!
      Linda

  2. Carol Townsend

    Monkeynuts? Chestnuts? Any other kind of nuts? I must say that The Chestnuts looks gorgeous though.

    Esteemed reader, yes, I am she. I am Carol of Motspur Park, upon whom the character, or should I say, caricature of ‘Carrie’ is LOOSLEY based in Linda’s latest two Whisperings books. I regard it as a compliment and an honour to have a character named after me, albeit a deceased one. I am not going to reveal which of Carrie’s mannerisms and personality traits are mine, nor am I going to explain any ‘in’ jokes that may lie within the story. You will just have to wonder. Let me just say that henceforth I will always be ‘Carrie’ to Linda’s sister.

    I had a lovely day in Newbury, despite the perishing cold, and my knee was quite good-tempered that day. I feel pain, therefore I am! I am not a ghost.

    We had lunch in Camp Hopson (which is a department store, not a holiday resort, despite sounding like one ) where Linda very generously allowed me to have the very last chicken korma, with chutney and poppadoms, and Mr Linda had good old British fish ‘n chips with lashings of ketchup. He didn’t much care for the chips though as they were too thick for him, having been brought up on American fries, which as Linda said – and I agree – are like shoe laces. There’s nothing better than a fat British chip, crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, covered in salt and doused in vinegar, with perhaps the very tip dipped in ketchup.

    We then went to a pub, and, sorry Linda, but I’ve forgotten the name! Was it The Hogs Head? There we partook of some rather delicious pear cider, and I brought the entire place to a standstill by mislaying my scarf. For a heart-stopping moment I feared that some dastardly Newburian with a scarf fetish had purloined it. As if such a thing could happen in sedate Newbury! It was no laughing matter however, as the wind was perishing! (Have I said that already?) Anyhow, after turning the pub upside down, inside out and sideways, the errant garment was found skulking under the table, in all its pink and woolly glory. I don’t remember putting it there. Linda doesn’t remember my putting it there. Mr Linda and Sister of Linda don’t remember my putting it there. I can only conclude, my dear Watson, that I did NOT put it there. We are therefore left with a conundrum: who did? Is the place haunted? Sounds like a case for Tiff to me.

    Our day concluded with a stroll along the river bank, where we encountered young ‘teenage’ swans, and where we gazed at the various homes with gardens leading down to the water, debating which we would like to live in. Then back to Sister of Linda’s house for a cup of tea and a natter, until all too soon it was time for me to board the train back to London.

    Now here’s a strange thing. Ever since that day my hair has been full of static. Just like Carrie’s…

  3. Lovely! Nothing as exciting as that ever happens when I visit….not even a missing cat. Safe journey home xx

  4. Sharon Stogner

    Thatch roofs!? That little cottage is adorable! Thanks for the story. I will not grow poppies in my attic anymore to dangerous ;)

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