Simply, I bought this tea towel in the Portmeirion Factory Shop in Stoke-on-Trent. John and I went there to buy some plates in the Botanic Garden design and came back with some pasta bowls in the Pomona design!! Great start to a Tea Towel Blog!
I’ve talked about the 49ers; these are one pence pieces which I found in a navy blue, velvet pouch. Each penny piece had a number on it, from 1 to 49. Every Saturday, John would pick six numbers for his National Lottery ticket. It was a way of randomly selecting numbers, not particularly lucky. He never won anything more than £10. I had forgotten all about this ritual because I don’t ‘do’ the Lottery but I did come across them when doing some of the sorting out for the Big Move.
With this find, Liz and I decided to set up the 49ers: each number has a challenge attached to it and every Monday we take turns in picking a number and matching it with a 49er. Last Monday, Liz picked number 22 which was ‘Visit a National Trust property you have never visited before’. This was always going to be tricky because there are so few National Trust properties in, or near, Leicestershire, that we haven’t visited. However, on Sunday we were visiting Liz’s Dad, travelling on the A1. Suddenly I saw a National Trust sign to Woolsthorpe Manor. “Have you been to Woolsthorpe Manor?” I asked Liz. “No” says Liz. “We could complete a 49er, if we visited on the way back” I said. And that’s what we did.
Woolsthorpe Manor is a delightful property, not one I had heard of before. It was where Isaac Newton was born, and returned to from Cambridge, during the Plague in 1665, to work in solitude, experimenting obsessively, laying the foundations of science today. In the grounds there is the apple tree, cordoned off by a small woven fence, where Isaac Newton questioned why an apple falling from the tree always falls straight to the ground, thus developing the Theory of Gravity. He developed the mathematical science of Calculus; he worked with prisms of light. This small traditional farmhouse offers a hands-on experience of gravity and his other work. The setting is delightful, as is the cafe from where you can watch children, elders and every age in between, playing with Newton’s ideas.
I loved Woolsthorpe Manor, only to be disappointed by the fact that the shop sold two tea towels, both of scenes from Cornwall. Why would you sell a tea towel with a scene of Cornwall, at a property described as ‘the place where the world changed’. There are so many images from this property that would make a great tea towel: an image of The Apple Tree, some of Newton’s handwritten calculations, a split prism, a picture of Newton himself, an image of the house and so much more, even a picture of an apple. Poor marketing. There was no way in which I could bring myself to buy a tea towel of Cornwall from a property that has no connection with it.
Then I remembered the Portmeirion Pomona tea towel. Pomona was the Goddess of fruit and orchards; the Portmeirion design is based on this and I felt it was the nearest link I could make to Woolsthorpe Manor! I think at least one of the fruits is an apple, or at least the flowering branches. It was a great day out, maybe one day the National Trust will bring out a site-specific tea towel for this great place.