Caravans: 2015

 

These are two new tea towels this year – one I bought, one was a gift; one theme, two stories.

As a child, my holidays with my parents were always in hotels – camping, caravanning, narrowboats and holiday camps were never on their ‘radar’. As soon as I had the freedom that comes with being able to drive and owning a car, I started going camping.  I seriously can’t remember how that came about – it must have been a suggestion from either Nick or Rory; one of them must have owned a tent because I certainly didn’t.  So camping was something that started at the age of 18.  Camping was almost a rebellious statement against my parents (and grandparents) who thought it was a ridiculous idea.  If I had used my common sense then I might have thought that having very bad hay fever probably meant camping was not a good idea but hey, what the heck, a few boxes of tissues and some lozenges and I was away.  I was also a favourite food source for Scottish midges but hey, what the heck, some calamine lotion did the trick.   I have to say that I loved camping even though I was rubbish at putting up a tent (and there are photos to prove that),  I was an avid camper for more than 10 years, nothing flashy, never a tent that you could stand up in, no extensions or awnings, just staying on small remote sites.  Camp sites were not like they are nowadays.  Showers were a sheer luxury and usually a remote possibility.  Clean toilets were something to get excited about.

Unfortunately, my camping career was cut short by a degenerative back condition which meant lying on the ground was almost impossible; but at least I had 10 years of utter pleasure.  No problem – my holidays changed – holidays abroad, renting cottages, the occasional hotel; I even ventured into Travelodges at one point.  The more I revisited the Scottish Islands and places like the Lake District, the more I began to yearn again for camping, the flexibility of such holidays, staying in great but remote locations.  As I planned my retirement, and my proposed odyssey of visiting all the islands around Britain, camping seemed very tempting – a ridiculous idea.

On my last visit to the island of Arran, I came across two camping and caravanning sites, in secluded areas (with toilet facilities!!).  Was caravanning going to be a compromise?  Would it provide that freedom to move around as the whim takes you, moving with the good weather?  Would it give that feeling of being in the open air, that you can rarely get with a cottage?  I didn’t know.  It was a risk.  I didn’t know anyone with a caravan to ask.  As luck would have it, the Leicester Mercury ran an offer on cheap stays in static caravans.  A static caravan wasn’t going to be the long-term answer but it did give me a chance to go and try one out (and play caravans).  It was great fun.  Next problem: how was this going to work since I didn’t have a driving licence and I did understand that it was going to be necessary to ‘tow’ a caravan.  After lots of discussions, plans and viewings Liz and I decided to go ‘halves’ on buying a caravan.  Since we often went on holiday together this made sense (possibly).  We agreed on a small, light, dinky caravan, not new since this was going to be an experiment.  We looked at hundreds of caravans (as if we knew what we were doing) – with and without showers, with and without static beds, with and without dinettes, with and without awnings, with and without motor movers.  We learnt all the right language, understood about towing weights, CRIS numbers etc.  Most importantly, we learnt about motor movers.  Now they are exciting, especially the remote ones.  None of this dragging a caravan around to get it attached to the car.  Sometimes I love technology.  Using a motor mover almost feels like driving; very daring.  I often wonder if you should be allowed to use a motor mover if you have had your driving licence taken away from you.  So having made an outline decision, the process of choosing went on for ages.  If we were both honest, we were both terrified and avoiding making a decision meant we didn’t have to admit this.  Avoidance has always been a safe policy of mine.

Then one Saturday we were at Kimberley Caravans in Nottingham, getting in and out of loads of different caravans, and suddenly saw Carrie (that is what we named her: Carrie The Van) and with no hesitation just sat in her until we could flag down a salesperson, for fear that if we left her, someone else would buy her.  Fantastic.  Very proud owners.  Liz said she was very confident about towing Carrie (but it is easy to say that when you don’t have a tow bar!).  Learning all the tasks was a nightmare.  For someone who can’t change a fuse, learning to hitch and unhitch, attaching the water, draining water, setting up the electrics, ensuring Carrie was level, was horrendous.  Fortunately, it became clear that there needed to be a division of labour, based on physical ability because there were tasks that each of us couldn’t do.  My jobs were to do with bending and kneeling which was good because they weren’t the complicated ones.  It was so exciting bringing Carrie to Leicester.  She sat in her home for four months because we were too frightened to use her.  By the time, we took the plunge for the first time, we had both forgotten everything we had been taught.  This, of course, is where YouTube comes into it’s own. If we got stuck – YouTube.

Carrie has now been to Edinburgh twice, Norfolk, Derbyshire, Stonehaven, Devon and the Lake District.  Every journey we have made, we have forgotten how to do at least one task.  YouTube.  Carrie is great; the world in miniature and she is ready to tour the islands.

So back to the story of the tea towels.  The Camping and Caravanning Show was held at the NEC – not something I would normally go to but this year they were going for a World Record in building a life-size ‘Tear Drop’ caravan in Lego with a full working interior.  Liz has a 6 year old grandson, Hamish, who is into Lego big-time (in the same way I am in to tea towels) so we agreed to take him.  They did create a World Record but I thought there would be a tea towel associated with this.  But no.  It was a great disappointment but then I found this cute tea towel covered in caravans and thought it would be a good reminder of a great day out.  The Lego Competition paled into insignificance compared with Hamish’s fascination for all the caravans and motorhomes on display, climbing in and out, trying out roof bed spaces, opening secret storage spaces under the floor.  At one point a salesman asked Hamish to climb into one of the upper storey bed spaces to demonstrate to a customer how easy it was to use.  We heard him saying to people “Have you seen this place to keep things under the floor?”.  There is no question that this 6 year old will make a superb salesperson and we will probably see him on the Young Apprentice in a few years time.  He would certainly give the current candidates a run for their money in any sales task.  Using this tea towel I can never forget that day out and Hamish demonstrating the versatility of caravans.

My second tea towel was a present from Steve who I was helping to sort out his cupboards as part of the process of decluttering.  I love helping other people declutter (and no, I am not hoping for some tea towel cast-offs).  I am not sure that I will be able to ever get any drying up done with this tea towel because I’ll never get anything done if I look at the cartoons.  They are some of the funniest cartoons I’ve seen, drawn by someone who, no doubt, has been caravanning.  No matter who you speak to, or how experienced they are at caravanning, everyone has had disasters (on a regular basis).  The caravanning community is very supportive of each other because there are some many occasions when people need rescuing – hence the artist knows about this.  It is the attention to detail that is so clever and makes them so funny. There are 9 cartoons in all.  My favourite, without a doubt, is the middle one on the bottom row: “Are you sure you don’t need a car when you have a caravan mover?”  Anything to do with motor movers is bound to cause havoc.  Rapidly followed by “Watch out for the dog, I tied him to the steps” (left hand column, middle row).  As I am writing this blog, I am still laughing at the cartoons and remembering some of my own caravanning disasters – the ‘jockey wheel’ falling off, forgetting to put the back stabilisers down, forgetting how to disengage the motor mover (everything goes back to the motor mover).  Just using the tea towel will remind me of all things caravanning but it will also remind me of the great time I am having helping Steve decluttering.  I think I probably need to reserve these two tea towels for use in the caravan alone, while I embark upon this new stage of my life.

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Cotswold Farm Park: 2013

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I love watching Countryfile.  I like seeing all the different areas of Great Britain, places I have been to and places I dream of going to in the future.  I like seeing rural crafts and hearing the debates about countryside issues – house building and lack of rural housing, badger culling, bovine TB, preservation of wildlife habitats etc.  I enjoy watching Adam Henson because the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has long been one of my interests (Tea Towel Blog for the future).  Adam Henson’s father, Joe who has recently died, was one of the founding members of RBST in 1973.  Since the RBST was founded, no UK-native breed has become extinct; this is an amazing record.  In 1971, Joe Henson opened the Cotswold Farm Park as a place where he could breed some of the breeds in danger of extinction and opened this to the public.

One Saturday, in 2013, when I had nothing else planned I was inspired to visit Cotswold Farm Park.  I had a really great day out.  Cotswold Farm Park offers a huge range of things to do and see for both adults and children, never mind the weather.  Because there are more than 50 herds of different animals, the farm covers a large area; one of the great ideas is a tractor ride round the whole of the farm enabling you to see all the animals.  The ride is covered which is good if there is inclement weather.  There is the chance to see chickens and ducks at all stages of development from egg to hatching, to little tiny balls of fluff to baby chicks.  There is an opportunity to hold them.  Depending on the time of the year, there are demonstrations of things like sheep shearing.  There is a great cafe with food produced from the farm and foods to buy to take home.  The shop of course sells this tea towel, which made it an even better day out.

But Cotswold Farm Park is more than just a good day out; it is a place to learn and understand about the issues around farming – the importance of not losing native breeds of cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and chickens and how each breed brings different tastes and qualities.  For me, the Gloucester Old Spot stands alone as the finest sausage and I can tell the difference from, for example, a Lincolnshire sausage.  Retaining diversity is so important.  Following the recent death of Joe Henson, Cotswold Farm Park is a true legacy of the work of one man’s passion that  inspired so many others.  Cotswold Farm Park is certainly somewhere I would want to return to at different times of the year.

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The Wool Journey by Herdy: 2013

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I know I have bought a lot of tea towels associated with Herdwicks and the ‘herdy’ brand; they are all very different.  I am fascinated by them and it always  takes me back to Beatrix Potter and the film ‘Miss Potter’.  I enjoy the way that the more unusual breeds of sheep are having a revival and the way that real wool is being promoted as a fabric rather than man-made fibres.  This tea towel is different from all the others in that it describes the journey of wool on a sheep’s back to wearing it as a garment of clothing. It is one of those tea towels from which you can learn about obscure crafts.

The tea towel is designed as four wood carving panels, one above the other.  The figures are as if they were carved from wood but there is an interesting combination of scenes from different centuries within each ‘panel’.  Each panel is in a different colour with an unbleached cotton background.  The top panel is coloured black and says “First gather then clip into the woolsack…”.  The Royal Show, which I used to go to every year until it’s demise in 2009, was the place to see Sheep Shearing demonstrations.  I was always amazed by the strength that sheep-shearers needed to hold the sheep steady in order to prevent them getting cut.  You certainly need to be fit.

The second panel, in orange, is probably not easy to see in the photograph: “Off to be graded then sold at auction…”.  I love the mixture of eras and ages in this panel, very clever and reminding us that these processes have not changed over the centuries.  The third panel is in crimson: “The scouring, carding, blending, spinning and weaving…”. This is where machinery comes into play although there are still a lot of craftspeople using traditional looms for weaving and there has been a big revival in this work.  I am really looking forward to going to Harris next year to see the production of Harris Tweed, using tradtional methods.

The panel, in green, says “Support wool farming. Wear wool. Knit wool. Live wool….Love wool” and here we have a woman sitting knitting, overlooking the Gherkin in London, a model in a wool suit…It is just a delightful tea towel which does inspire you to get a knitting needle out.  Looking at this tea towel, I can remember the numerous shops in and around the Lake District selling wool and wishing I was a knitter.

Clipper Teas: 2010

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Welcome to my 100th Tea Towel Blog, since the first one was published on 28 April 2015!! This is clearly not the tale of my 100th Tea Towel because I have written about far more than that. It is a momentous day because I am not sure I thought I would get this far but it is addictive.  The process has unblocked a lot of memories, from my own head but also with the help of friends and other readers.  This means that the Blogs have often become longer and longer.  Have I chosen   a ‘special’ tea towel for number 100?  All my tea towels are special but this one just came to the top of the airing cupboard pile.

This is a tea towel which is promoting Clipper Teas, the 6th largest tea brand in UK.  The question at the top of the tea towel is “All dried out?”. Clipper Teas actually produces just under 100 varieties of tea so the strap line within the image of the tea pot: “Now you can relax with one of our delicious range of teas” is very apt.  Clipper Teas was founded in 1984, and based in Beaminster, Dorset.  In 1994, Clipper Teas was one of the first three companies to receive the Fairtrade mark.  Founded by Lorraine and Mike Brehme, who were both master tea tasters, the principles of the business were “always a pure, natural product – there isn’t a single artificial ingredient in any of our products”.  After the business was sold, the strap line became ‘natural, fair and delicious’.  I always think that one of the slight disappointments about Clipper Teas is that although they produce some great loose leaf teas, they do actually make two million tea bags a day; that’s an awful lot of tea bags.

This tea towel was a birthday present from Lynn and Helen, who know of my passion for good quality tea.  They, too, are big tea fans but are also great supporters of the Fairtrade movement and therefore Clipper Teas is ‘right up their street’.  When I am using this tea towel I remember how they enjoy trying different teas and those great tea tasting sessions I have shared with them, while having a good gossip.

I have to say that this is quite an unusual tea towel in that it is very short, almost square; it is nice to have something a little   out of the ordinary.

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Rugby Union World Cup: 2015

This Blog holds the world record for the quickest turnaround – from getting the two tea towels to writing about them.  Why so fast?  At the same time as starting this tea towel Blog, I also opened a Twitter account (@myteatowels); one of the first people I followed was Ulster Weavers – because they make a huge range of tea towels and because I love their range of products, their website and their Tweets.  (I can almost hear people thinking that I am very sad).  On the day of the Argentina v Australia Rugby Union World Cup Semi-Final, Ulster Weavers ran a competition, via Twitter, during the match, with a prize of a selection of their World Cup memorabilia.  I entered the competition, I couldn’t resist if there was a chance of winning a tea towel; and ended up one of the winners.  You may ask what I was doing watching such a great match and using Twitter at the same time? I can’t really answer that; it was one of those things and I am certainly glad I did.

Today, at 11am, I was contemplating my next Blog, not really sure what to do, when the door bell rang.  A parcel, my prize, from Ulster Weavers arrived.  It was like Christmas coming early.  Amongst a number of other things were these two tea towels.  Not only two tea towels but one (the one with all the rugby shirts) that I had seen in the shops several months before the World Cup began; with this obsession, I couldn’t buy it until the World Cup had actually started and I had seen a match but by the time that happened the shop was sold out.  I’d seen the England tea towel on Ulster Weavers website several times but hadn’t bought it. Here they were in my kitchen. Wow!!  By noon, I was writing this Blog.  How come I can write it so easily, so quickly when I haven’t even used them? Easy really but it is a long story.

Rugby Union has played a significant part in my life since the age of 16 so having these tea towels brings back memories from the last 48 years.  They have brought back memories that I thought were buried long ago.  It is strange how something like a tea towel I won in a competition can draw together strands of my life that I had forgotten about.

I was an only child, quite shy and my parents thought it would be a good idea if I went to a small, local Catholic convent where my aunt (who was two years older than me) went.  It was nothing to do with the religion, more the fact that there were only 270 pupils, in total, from ages 5 to 18, all girls.  I enjoyed school, had some really good friends, did well in O Levels; I knew I wanted to go to university to do geography.  In such a very small school, the options for A Levels were very limited; in fact, there were a choice of four subjects – Spanish (and I hadn’t done the O Level and was hopeless at speaking foreign languages), maths (I got Grade 5 at O Level), history and economics (OK but not a topic I would choose). It was decided that I would do history, economics and maths.  What a ridiculous idea.  It was never going to work.  I hated maths so much and not an option to do geography.  The classes were so small; actually with only four sixth formers in total, small doesn’t describe it.  All my friends who wanted to go to university transferred to the Grammar School.  Why didn’t I? I’ve no idea; this was my parents idea, thought it would be good for me to stay in a familiar setting.  What happened next doesn’t make any sense and 48 years later it still doesn’t make any sense to me but I am, actually, very grateful for the strange turn of events.  My mother, by Christmas of my first year in the Sixth Form, knew that this wasn’t going to work.  I was very unhappy and hated the subjects I was doing; staying like this, I was never going to be able to get to university. So what she did was to use her ‘connections’ and get me a place at St Benedicts School, the all-boys, Catholic, public school down the road.  To her, it sounded simple.  This was a school with a good reputation with a huge range of subjects to take as an A Level.  The arrangement that was negotiated on my behalf (I had nothing to do with it) was that after Christmas I would go to St Benedicts to do O/A Level Geology, General Studies at A Level; I would continue with European History and Economics A Levels at the convent, taking them in one year.  At the end of that year I would transfer full time to St Benedicts and do three A levels for the next two years – which included Geography, American History and English. What were we all thinking about? The up side was that I ended up with a ridiculous, and useless, amount of O Levels and I got all the A Levels (and more) that I needed to go to university.

But this was a boys school, with a Sixth Form of 125 pupils, with no girls.  For those first two terms at the boys school I was only allowed to attend classes, not use the library, go to the Sixth Form Common Room or join any out of hours clubs.  I was terrified by this prospect.  I wasn’t accustomed to mixing with boys.  The first few lessons were horrendous.  The teacher ignored me, no one spoke to me.  It was like being invisible. My geography teacher was Elwyn James.  He came from South Wales, went to Swansea University, was passionate about rugby and was the trainer for rugby first team.  Rugby was the prestige sport for St Benedicts.  Several of the geography class were in the first team.  I decided that I had to do something to survive what felt like an ordeal; I didn’t have the choice about changing school again.  I decided that the best thing I could do was to take an interest in rugby.  There was no point in being flamboyant about this but it was going to be the only link I could make with Elwyn James; he was my teacher and I was going to need some support from him in order to get good results.  My father was an all round sportsman, played cricket for England and bowls for his county, knew everything about all sports (I have all his cups and medals to prove it).  He taught me the rules of Rugby Union.  I started going to all the first team games, home and away.  I travelled independently, didn’t have anything to do with post match celebrations but what I did have was all the details about the weekend match and it made Monday morning classes much more interesting and inclusive; they even asked my opinion on the match sometimes.  Over the two and a half years I was at St Benedicts, I went to the national Sevens competition; I travelled to Llandovery for a match and became really interested in Rugby Union in general; I even went to Twickenham.  My interest in rugby meant that I got career guidance from Elwyn James, decided to go to Swansea University and have continued with a love of rugby.

I made some good friends at St Benedicts who are readers of this Blog.  My time at St Benedicts has provided me stories that I have dined out on.  This was the first steps that St Benedicts took towards becoming co-educational, a big shock to the establishment.  I feel I played a part in that by showing that having girls around did not necessarily disrupt things.  As I use the tea towels, which I have started doing, all my school memories start flooding back.  I was fortunate to have some great educational opportunities and being thrown in the deep end of mixing with boys has had a profound effect on my working life; it has enabled me take on big challenges, mix with confidence with people from all backgrounds and walks of life, to have friendships with both men and women and to understand the importance of taking a real interest in other people, not just thinking about yourself.  Thank you to Ulster Weavers for letting those memories come flooding back.

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Yorkshire Tea (Royal Show): 1999

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I love this tea towel; it brings many memories, probably more about the numerous occasions that I have been to the Royal Show, between 1972 and the last show in 2009, than of Yorkshire Tea.  The tea towel is an exact representation of the box that Yorkshire Tea Bags are sold in (not that I would ever buy a tea bag).  There are two very special things, for me, about Yorkshire Tea: firstly, Yorkshire Tea is available as a loose leaf tea and I do really like it’s golden colour with a clear taste that does not leave tannin lying in the mouth. The second thing is that I have been to the tea estate in Sri Lanka where Yorkshire Tea is grown; I have seen the bushes, watched the pickers, seen the housing and schooling for childen and feel that I can, with confidence, drink Yorkshire Tea and not feel I am exploiting workers.  May I be forgiven for saying this but if I ever had to deliberately choose to drink tea from a tea bag, then it would always be Yorkshire Tea.  You can pay a huge amount for tea in ‘silk purses’ but the flavour of the tea could not beat Yorkshire Tea (I am not not part of the publicity team for Yorkshire Tea, by the way).

I bought this tea towel when I was at the Royal Show in 1999; the Royal Show did not have it’s own publicity tea towel so each year I tried to buy a tea towel that would remind me of the event in that particular year.  This one was on sale from a big Yorkshire Tea van which served tea and cakes, as well as selling   mugs and tea towels.  I also bought two mugs which I used for many years until they eventually both got broken.  The van had some garden chairs spread around so you could sit down and have a rest while drinking your tea.  I remember this year being warm and sunny and it was great to be able to get away from the main crowds.

The Royal Show was one of the highlights of my year.  As soon as I got my diary for the following year, I would check on the dates for the Royal Show, decide which of the four days I would go and put it in my diary.  I loved all the stuff about Best of Breed for cattle, sheep, goats etc.  As a chicken keeper, I loved the poultry section.  I liked looking at the ‘fancy’ chickens – you never see hybrids at the Royal Show – and was ususally inspired to buy some piece of new equipment for my own chickens.  I also loved looking at the machinery, all the rural crafts, cookery demonstrations and the clothes.  I know clothes don’t fit into the scenario but it was such a huge show.  I have bought some of my best boots at the Royal Show; my hand painted bread bin with a chicken on it; numerous jugs and various specialist tea towels. The Royal Show was often a big spending spree for me!

When I use this tea towel, I can take myself back to any one of those visits I paid to the Royal Show; the year I got stuck in the mud in the car park; the year I went with my friend Ann and had lunch with her parents; the year I watched the Archers make a recording of an episode…….Many happy memories and how I miss the Royal Show; I always feel there is something missing in my diary.

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Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire: 1990

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Hardwick Hall was one of the first National Trust properties that I visited after I became a member.  In 1990, Leicestershire had only one National Trust property so Hardwick Hall was one of the nearest to visit from home.  Hardwick Hall remains one of my favourite properties for several reasons: (a) I love the story of Bess of Hardwick (b) I loved the gardens and (c) I loved the kitchens which, at that time, had been converted into the original tea rooms.  Hardwick Hall is one of those properties that I have revisited time and time again.

Bess of Hardwick, or Elizabeth Countess of Shrewsbury, as she was officially called, was an amazing woman; ‘formidable’ is a word that is often used to describe her. Bearing in mind the time she was born, she was a very unusual woman.  She was married four times, the first time at the age of 14; from very humble beginnings she became the second wealthiest woman in England, after Queen Elizabeth I.  Her wealth was accumulated through inheriting properties from her late husbands.  She eventually owned a large number of properties, the two main ones being Chatsworth House and Hardwick Hall. She, and others, saw Hardwick Hall as a statement of her wealth and power.  Hardwick Hall is built on top of a hill between Chesterfield and Mansfield which can be seen from far and wide; on the top of the turrets on the front facade of Hardwick Hall, Bess’s initials – ES – can be seen from some distance; the light shines through them on a sunny day, which makes an amazing photo.  A phrase that has been used about Hardwick Hall is “Hardwick Hall……more glass than wall”.  This statement refers to the fact that the front facade is largely made up of windows; this is really important because, in 16th Century, glass was hugely expensive and therefore this was an overt demonstration of wealth.

Hardwick Hall has the largest Long Gallery in England; it has the largest collection of 16th Century embrodiery and tapestry in Britain.  Part of the reason for this is that Bess of Hardwick and her husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury, worked on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I to hold Mary Queen of Scots under ‘house arrest’.  Mary and Bess spent a lot of their time doing embrodiery together.  For someone like me, Harwick Hall is a joy because it has been largely untouched since 16th Century.  Because it was Bess of Hardwick’s second home (Chatsworth being her first home) it hasn’t been subject to masses of alterations and ‘improvements’.  Bess had an inventory carried in 1601; the inventory still exists and a lot of the items on it can still be identified.  The house is beautiful, a large stone staircase, huge tapestries on the walls, light through the amazing windows with the subtle use of curtaining to preserve the colours of the paintings and tapestries.  The house is full of relevant artefacts.

The gardens are beautiful.  To the side of Hardwick Hall was a large grassed  area, pergolas and herbaceous borders.  There was a vegetable garden, a herb garden and an orchard.  On a sunny day you can imagine the figures of the past wandering through the gardens, picking flowers, taking advantage of the secluded corners, sitting on   the   stone benches, gathering herbs.  Hardwick Hall is a very popular National Trust   property but it is very easy to find a quiet spot away from the crowds.

When I went to Hardwick Hall in 1990 with John we found the tea room  in what had been the kitchen.  The walls were totally covered in beautiful, shining copper saucepans, jugs, bowls and jelly moulds of all shapes and sizes.   There were some old wooden tables and some seating around a central pillar.  It was waitress service and while waiting for service it was a delight to look round the room to see all the artefacts; you just felt you were in the servant’s quarters and might expect Bess to ‘waltz’ in .  It is the sort of place you could sit for hours and people-watch although there was always a queue of people waiting to sit down.  John and I loved this place and came several times just to have a cup of coffee (in those days it was coffee, today it would be tea).  Unfortunately, the last time time I went a new tea room has been set up away from the kitchens, much more like a modern, self-service Visitor Centre.  It had probably been designed very much in keeping with the house, if you were a first-time visitor but as an ‘old-timer’, someone who had seen the original tea room, it was a disappointment, an anathema.

Hardwick Hall was one of the places that made me want to join the Nationl Trust in the first place; it is one of those places that I feel passionately about, that should be preserved for generations to come, a place to learn from and to understand that even, back in the day, there were very strong women who managed to succeed in a world that was totally dominated by men.  The tea towel I bought from Hardwick Hall was one of their very traditional ones, based on the building, portraying the front facade.  It has the same sort of style of several others that I own like Beningbrough Hall and Belton House; there is a move away, on the part of the National Trust, from tea towels that depict buildings to the more trendy, generic type tea towels that can be sold in all their shops, which I think is a shame.  I hang on to the ones I have, valuing the memories they create.  As I use the one from Hardwick Hall I remember that first visit and why I have wanted to return time and time again, even if a cup of tea does not come into the equation these days.  A happy reminder.

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