Thursday, 24 June 2021

The Distancing Diaries - 23rd & 24th June, 2021

 Wednesday got off to a glorious start and it was already warm when I got up and wandered around the garden. After my Wii Fit session, we had breakfast, Jon made sandwiches and we jumped into Gilbert and headed off to The Cotswolds for our weekly National Trust adventure, this time revisiting the utterly wonderful Snowshill Manor.

We'd last visited Snowshill in September 2020 - see HERE for the full history & background to Charles Paget Wade's masterpiece.

With foreign travel pretty much off-limits (fingers crossed for some good news from BoJo later), a lot more people are having to holiday at home at the moment and with The Cotswolds already a popular tourist spot, I was lucky to snaffle the last two slots when I booked our trip last week. A lovely couple on holiday from Newcastle Upon Tyne offered to take this photo of us together. It's the first wearing of this 1970s Sidgreene of London maxi dress, one of the fabulous garments my friend Cheryl gave me earlier this year. It's the maiden voyage for Jon's bostin' bird shirt too, found in the clearance charity shop at the back end of last year.

 Snowshill is a sixteenth-century house best known for its 20th-century owner, the marvellously eccentric Charles Paget Wade, who spotted the property advertised for sale in Country Life magazine whilst in the trenches of France during WWI and bought it upon his return in 1919. Fascinated by his grandmother's cabinet of curiosities, Charles made it his life's work to collect beautiful handmade objects. He used the manor as a showcase for his collections, living in a tiny cottage elsewhere on the estate.

Charles was adamant that Snowshill wouldn't be a museum. It would be a dramatic theatrical space to display his remarkable objects. He would greet visitors to the manor dressed in one of his two thousand theatrical costumes. Sadly his extensive wardrobe wasn't on public view when we visited but it's the perfect excuse to return later in the year. What a fabulous looking man and, to further add to his appeal, he was a cat-lover as well as a clothes lover!

A trained architect, talented painter and skilled craftsman, Charles confessed that he was no gardener and he wasn't interested in collecting rare and exotic blooms, he just wanted a garden that looked beautiful and gave pleasure to all who visited and he certainly achieved that.

When we'd visited last September Covid restrictions meant that we weren't allowed inside the house, although I vividly remember my visit as an eleven-year-old schoolgirl on a snowy Easter Tuesday back in 1977. Forty-four years later and the house was just as exciting as it was the first time around.

Charles wasn't widely travelled and almost all of his treasures were found in England, some picked up for pennies or rescued from destruction and others he paid small fortunes for. He spotted this collection of ancient Samurai armour hidden beneath a tarpaulin in a derelict shop in Cheltenham! 

 Charles believed exquisitely handmade objects like these held stories which connect us to the craftspeople who made and used them, a tangible link to the past that he thought should be appreciated and preserved. 

A minimalist's nightmare and an absolute dream to me! I know I've said it many times before but our £10 a month National Trust joint membership fee is worth every penny.  

We ate our picnic in the 24°C sunshine lounging on the grass in the orchard and even took a middle-aged selfie for posterity! 

We'd been invited to a bit of a soiree and were back in Walsall drinking ice cold beer in one of the neighbours' gardens within ten minutes of getting home. Having had a few nibbles with our drinks, when we got home we didn't bother with tea, cracked open the rum and watched the thriller that was France vs Portugal, staggering to bed emotionally drained shortly after 10pm.

On Thursday, after a day's respite, it was back to the mirk and gloom of earlier in the week. I'd left the bathroom plants soaking in the bath overnight and, after putting them back, did my Wii Fit workout and had a wander around the garden to harvest a few more strawberries.

After breakfast, I managed to do some deadheading, cut back the Candytuft in the chimney pot, pinch the side shoots from the tomatoes and stake some of the nasturtiums & sunflowers before the heavens opened and I had to scuttle back indoors. If the utility room sink leaking wasn't enough, we had more water problems, the tap in the bathroom had stopped working so Jon had spent the morning sorting that out. Old houses, eh? You've got to love 'em!

I spent the remainder of the morning catching up with Blogland until Jon called me for noodles. After lunch, we spent a while pottering around a somewhat damp garden accompanied by the lads.

I'm dressed from head to toe in clothes bought on my travels in India - although I should say head to ankle as my feet were bare. 

The recycled sari silk top was bought in Jodhpur last year and the organic cotton, block printed maxi skirt was from Cotton Cottage in Margao, Goa back in 2016.

After trawling through previous posts to find out how long I'd owned my skirt I spent the rest of the afternoon reading about our past adventures on my blog and giggling at how Jon nearly fainted with fright watching me scale the side of the stepwell in my bare feet for a photo (more HERE). Oh, how we miss travel - although I shouldn't really moan, it's only been 9 months since we last escaped these shores! I'm keeping everything crossed that the bargain flights to Greece I booked in a moment of mad optimism in the midst of lockdown go ahead in the Autumn.

Tea was a Spring Garden vegetable (broccoli, broad beans, leek & mint) Higgidy pie for me and a steak & ale one for Jon & Frank. Euro action returns on Saturday which means that we've got two football-free days so we'll be catching up with East European cop drama Zadasa Przyjemnosci (The Pleasure Principle) later.

See you soon!