Stourhead: 1992 (or The Seventh Day of Christmas…)


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.


Geese: 2017 (or the Sixth Day of Christmas…)


I have turned the iPod on to play the Spinners singing the Twelve Days of Christmas, for inspiration, because today’s Writing Challenge is tricky.  It’s not just the Twelve Days of Christmas that I like the Spinners singing; it’s their whole repertoire.  I remember going to watch them at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, year after year and then at de Montfort Hall in Leicester.  I loved their sound; perhaps ‘Maggie May’ was my favourite (not Rod Stewart’s ‘Maggie May’) but the ‘Wild Rover’ always sends a shiver down my spine.  I know they retired many years ago, having formed in 1958 and ending in 1989, and that Tony Davies died earlier this year, but I still have my recordings on the iPod.  What I hadn’t realised was that there was an American group called the Spinners, don’t listen to them if you are wanting to track down the Twelve Days of Christmas!

30th December is the sixth day of Christmas when my true love sent to me six geese a-laying.  Why would anyone send geese a-laying?  People rarely eat the eggs from geese; they are larger and ‘tougher’ than hen’s eggs.   I’ve never eaten goose; I’ve always been told that it is very greasy so I am put off.   I haven’t got any tea towels that could be linked to geese, except the one that I made myself, during the ‘crafting session’ with Gwyn, Pete and Liz; not particularly attractive but lovingly made by someone with absolutely no artistic talent but a lot of enthusiasm.

Spiritually, six geese a-laying represents the Six Days of the Creation, after which God set aside the seventh day for rest.  I would have to say that is probably the most simplistic description of the Creation, what I remember from school, many many years ago.

30th December is not a great day for saints with a story; actually they are all saints I’ve never heard of.  Have you heard of St Egwyn of Evesham who died in 717? No, I didn’t think so and I have no idea why he became a saint.  The Wrendale Design Christmas decoration is a simple goose sitting down, probably ‘laying’.


I am very fond of my Geese tea towel because it is a wonderful reminder of some great Tea Towel Crafting Sessions that Gwyn held in her home.  She provided the pens, stencils and tea towels; it was her enthusiasm that enabled me to put pen to tea towel.  The style of the tea towel is my own creation, multi-coloured and somewhat regimented by lining the geese up.  I like the fact that they all look the same ‘shape’, differentiated only by colour but with identical coloured feet.  In fact, all the tea towels that I created have a similar format.  I am glad that the geese met the criteria for this Writing Challenge, the numbers might not be right and they aren’t a-laying but, hey ho, you can’t have everything.  What I do know is that Gwyn’s pens are suitable for going through the washing machine and coming out still holding their colour.

Wiping up is a real joy when you use a tea towel that you, personally, have created.  Thank you, Gwyn, Pete and Liz for making those sessions so enjoyable.



London Olympics and Paralympics: 2012 (or The Fifth Day of Christmas…)

29th December is the fifth day of the Twelve Days of Christmas Writing Challenge and the fifth day of Christmas when my true love gave to me Five Gold Rings.  While the Olympic Rings are not gold (although one is yellow) there are five of them so you don’t have to stretch your imagination too much.  The Olympic flag has a white background with five interlinked rings in the centre, symbolically representing the five continents of the world.  They are blue, yellow, black, green and red; the six colours on the flag are represented in all the national flags of the world.  This Twelve Days of Christmas Writing Challenge is full of symbolism.  Did you know that each colour purportedly has a symbolic meaning?  Blue represents Europe. Why?;  yellow represents Asia. Why?;  black represents Africa. Why?; green represents Australia. Why?; red represents America. Why?; and finally white represents peace.

These two tea towels are the last ones I bought to celebrate the London Olympics, that haven’t been blogged about.  I remember 2012 being a year when you could almost trip over tea towels about the Olympics (and everything else: mugs, t-shirts, sweat shirts, hoodies, pens, coasters, bed quilts, towels, greetings cards and much more).  I think the colour scheme for these tea towels is delightful; teal is my favourite colour at the moment and with the buildings outlined in pink, they are quite dramatic.  Any tourist would know those three buildings. The fact is that it was Stella McCartney’s designs for the athletes clothing, based on the Union Jack but with a twist, that had to have inspired some of these tea towels.  Yet my abiding memory was the fiasco with the logo.  Some bright spark designed a ‘moving’ logo that ‘flashed’ and its launched caused more than three hundred people to complain that the logo had triggered an epileptic seizure.  I didn’t complain because I hadn’t seen it but if I had seen it, I would have complained.  Flashing logos and Christmas lights are a nightmare for people like me with photosensitivity epilepsy.  The day after it’s launch, the logo was amended so that it was the same image but was stationary.

The London Olympics was a fantastic spectacle, something that brought people together, gave us all something to talk about.  If you were employed it did, however, mean that you only saw highlights of some of the best moments because you were at work; no watching  TV during the day where I worked, which is why I think I got so much more pleasure from the Rio Olympics where, since I was retired, I could sit and watch the Games all day long, didn’t miss a thing; altogether, four weeks of unbroken pleasure.

And back to the Twelve Days of Christmas: 29th December is the Feast of St Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury who was brutally murdered on 29 December 1170, in the nave of Canterbury Cathedral and was canonised as a martyr.  Another gory association with the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Spiritually the Five Gold Rings represent the Hebrew Torah Law, or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.  There is debate as to whether the Five Gold Rings are actually gold rings or represent the gold rings on the neck of the Ringed Pheasant.

My Wrendale Christmas decoration shows a highland cow with five gold rings either hanging from his horns or created to represent his horns, so cute!


Today has been good to reflect back to 2012 and the London Olympics, to be thankful that Sir Mo Farah has finally won BBC Sports Personality of the Year, when his first Olympics Gold Medals were in 2012, to see Dame Jessica Ennis Hill win the Lifetime Achievement Award but still be able to clearly remember the day she won the Gold Medal in 2012.  It was the year that Paralympics took their rightful place alongside non-disabled athletes and got good air time on BBC and, of course, this year Jonnie Peacock came third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, competing on a ‘level’ playing field.  Drying up doesn’t get better than this!

Kookaburra: U.T.T.


This Kookaburra tea towel, from Australia with love, is a classic U.T.T (Unidentified Tea Towel).  Every time I have looked at my Animal Collection in the Virtual Tea Towel Museum (, I see this distinctive tea towel and I cannot recall how it came into my Collection.  I have had it for at least 14 years, because I brought it to this house.  While I have very very very distant roots in Australia, I don’t know anyone who lives there or who has been there.  It is the same style as those that David Allan gave me, from his aunt’s estate when she died.  But I have already identified five of those and I don’t remember being given any more than five, though perhaps he did.  I find it so frustrating to have, in reality only a few, tea towels that I can’t remember anything about.  Somehow it makes them really important because I want to know where they came from.  When I use this one I do spend a long time pondering over its origins.  Did it come from David?  I can’t ask him.  The moral of the story is to make sure that you record where things came from if they are important to you!

The Baking Bear (1998)

Anyone reading this Blog must be wondering what I am doing. Not only the Twelve Days of Christmas, but yesterday The Bunny and today The Baking Bear. About two months ago I realised that I was writing a lot of Tea Towel Blogs and I knew that I could reach the target of 500 Tea Towel Blogs by the end of 2017. What I didn’t take into account was that I would go on holiday twice in this period, staying in places with no wifi access so there were many days that I could not write a Blog. As we near the end of 2017, I am not going to meet my target unless I write two Blogs on three days. The best way of doing this is to write about tea towels that I am not overly fond of, that do not have a long story to them. Hence The Baking Bear! The Baking Bear was part of a set of two tea towels from Switzerland (the other, of course, being The Bunny) which Liz received from her aunts Jean, Betty and Myra. The Baking Bear is also an appliqué design, quite unusual; similarly this tea towel is made from thick cotton, almost honeycombed. Can you imagine how excited Liz was when she received this gift from her aunts when they went on holiday or perhaps how excited she was when she managed to give them both away to me!

I may not like the tea towel but I love the memories attached to The Baking Bear. Thank you, Liz.

Waddesdon Manor: 1985 (or The Fourth Day of Christmas)

This is the fourth day of the Twelve Days of Christmas Writing Challenge. This challenge is getting harder; it reached its peak yesterday when at least I had a tea towel with three hens on it. On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four colly birds. ‘Colly’ is an old english word meaning ‘black’ and is derived from the word ‘colliery’. In relation to the four birds this has always been seen to be ‘four blackbirds’. I don’t have a lot of tea towels with birds on them, and those that have are dedicated to more exotic birds; and I certainly don’t have any with blackbirds. So this is seriously stretching the imagination by linking ‘Four Colly Birds” to a tea towel of Waddesdon Manor; Waddesdon Manor is one of the few tea towels with birds on them. For any disappointed reader, I am sorry that those birds look quite exotic, absolutely nothing like blackbirds, and many more than four.

The spiritual interpretation of ‘four colly birds’ is that they represent the Four Gospels of the Bible: Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. 28th December is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, when Herod decreed that all newly born male children should be killed because he feared he would lose his throne to the newborn king of the Jews . Another happy Christmas note!

The Wrendale Christmas decoration is a blackbird with a sprig of holy!


I visited Waddesdon Manor in 1985 with John and my mother. It wasn’t long after my father died; when we used to go down to London to visit my mother we would arrange to out to somewhere interesting. Waddesdon Manor wasn’t that far away so it made a good day out. She loved the ornate decoration of the interior of the house, the history, the gardens; I liked it because it had a tea towel, unusually in pink.

My memories of Waddesdon Manor are scanty but my memories of the day out are much clearer and something to think about while doing the wiping up.

Bunny: 1998


Let’s face it, this isn’t my sort of tea towel, not one I would go out and buy myself.  It’s cute with a little bunny in one corner.  The bunny is done with a tiny bit of  appliqué, a red and white checked pattern with a few embroidered carrots.  The tea towel is made of thick cotton, almost, but not quite, honeycombed cotton.  You can see a few stains across the whole tea towel.

This tea towel was bought for Liz by her aunts, Jean, Myra and Betty, on their holiday in Switzerland.  They were very fond of buying tea towels as a holiday present.  Liz then gave me this tea towel because she knew about my collection; she would have thrown this tea towel away because it had become stained and I begged her to give it to me, saving it from destruction.  Because of its picture, it doesn’t create any memories or visions of Switzerland.

I am quite attached to this tea towel because it brings back memories of Jean, Myra and Betty, three lovely women who were hardworking, kind, generous, funny, well-travelled, busy and so welcoming.