Just over two months ago I met the target I set myself for blogging about tea towels: I achieved 450 Tea Towel Blogs covering 577 tea towels, before the end of the year. I couldn’t leave it at that so I reset the targets – to complete 500 Tea Towel Blogs by 31 December 2017, covering 625 tea towels. I reckoned that was achievable, much less than a Blog a day. Got a bit distracted by holidays but with three days recently, writing two Blogs a day, I have achieved it. Stourhead, a fabulous National Trust property, is Blog number 500; it is also tea towel number 633 that I have written about!!! I’ve done it!! Can’t believe it. But there couldn’t be a better tea towel to end the year on, because it was designed by Pat Albeck, my favourite tea towel designer, a great artist who sadly died this year. If I had had a wish granted it would have been to meet Pat Albeck, to interview her and to have seen her tea towel exhibition at Norwich Cathedral or her last art exhibition in London. You can read about these things, or see photographs, but it isn’t the real thing. She designed over 300 tea towels and I have so few of hers; I am now always on the look-out for hers in Charity Shops.
Today is 31st December, the Seventh Day of Christmas when my true love sent to me seven swans a-swimming and on the lakes of Stourhead are swans a-swimming, maybe not seven but some may be hiding in the rushes. Spiritually, seven swans a-swimming represent the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. 31st December is not only New Years Eve but also the Feast of Pope Sylvester I who died in Rome in 335 AD on 31 December; he was Pope for 21 years and laid the foundations of the Christian Roman Empire; he didn’t die some gory, murderous death.
If you look at the painting on the tea towel you can see ‘blocks’ of green all around with the lake in the centre. Pat Albeck was exactly the right artist to design this tea towel; she exactly captures what was envisaged in 1740s by Henry Hoare ‘The Magnificent’, an 18th Century ‘gentleman gardener’ who wanted to create his own personal landscape. He said “The greens should be arranged together in large masses as shades are in painting: to contrast the dark masses with light ones, and to relieve each dark mass itself with little sprinkling of lighter greens here and there.” Stourhead has been described as a ‘living work of art’. The centrepiece of the garden is the lake which dictates the path you take and the views you enjoy. I remember going to Stourhead 25 years ago; we spent the whole day wandering around the gardens, following paths, coming across small temples and follies but always coming back to the lake. Stourhead is a very popular place but once you are walking the grounds you can feel that you are alone to enjoy the beauty. Stourhead is one of those gardens where you can actually feel, and touch, the beauty; a place to return to time and again. Each season offers a different perspective, a reason to return. I am so glad that Pat Albeck included the swans a-swimming so that Stourhead could be the 500th Tea Towel Blog and the last one to appear in 2017, a fitting tribute to a wonderful artist.
My Wrendale Christmas decoration for this day is a single swan with her her six signets, a delightful image.
As the year ends, it is good to think back on all the memories I have of the tea towels that I have blogged about and the Seventh Day of Christmas is one when you can look forward to all those tea towels that will be blogged about in 2018. Happy New Year to All My Readers!!! Thank you for your support.