Welcome to the Wolds.

Welcome to The Wolds, in Meddling parish, Leerhamptonshire with its 6 villages, couple of pubs, the odd country estate and much laughter.

Anyone is welcome to join the conversation, make friends, move into and work in the parish and/or help with our new project on the Porker… watch this space…  See the “Join in” menu option for more details and ground rules.  We hope you like it – thanks, and enjoy!

Posted in Lady Goodwinge, Lawnder Hall, Meddling Parish, Parish Council, Rare breed pigs, Sir Fred Goodwinge | Leave a comment

Of Fat Cats and Mysterious Felines

Hallo Sheila, could I have a coffee, please? Ooh, I’m glad you’re open, I wasn’t sure if you would be. I decided it was time to come out of hibernation and get the circulation going with a bracing walk – but having set off, I found it wasn’t quite as nice a day as I thought, I was even glad of my windproof, waterproof layers. And then I remembered Lady G’s dramatic feline sighting… and one thought led to another… and a stroll along the river and back to the village seemed quite enough. Especially when there seemed to be some rather large pawprints in the mud. So here I am.

How are things with you? I know you’re not one to gossip, but what’s the news around and about? I don’t seem to have seen anyone lately, I expect we’ve all been wedded to our fires, duvets and computers. Is there any more news about the, er, “panther”?

And most of all, this is rather naughty of me, but I keep wondering whether [whispers] our Sir Fred is still Sir? And what would it mean for Lady G? I don’t really feel I can ask her directly, do you? But has anyone said anything, or is it mentioned in the Weekly? I mean, if one Fred loses his title – or, as I saw it somewhere, is “sircumcised” – what about his alter ego, is he similarly altered? I keep hoping all will become clear, but so far there’s just a tactful silence. And you know me, never one to remain tactfully silent for long 😉 Do tell, if you’ve heard anything!

Posted in Lady Goodwinge, Sir Fred Goodwinge, Wolds Weekly | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

If you go down to the woods today…

So the morning dawned, with the overnight rain turned to ice.  Not a day to be out, I thought, until early sun thawed its way through and it looked pleasant enough for a walk.  I set off across the estate, heading for the woodland on the eastern edge.  Nadezhda chose to accompany me, whist the hounds lazed in front of the conservatory doors, sunbathing happily.

Nadezhda is still rather a youngster, and her body hasn’t quite caught up with her paws yet.  So she lollops rather than runs, but does it with an oddly genteel, though cheerful, air.  I think she will be a beauty when she is fully grown.  She takes exception to my elderly hat though, and looks askance whenever I don it.  One would think that an animal brought up on an estate regularly visited by Maddie in all kinds of extraordinary headgear would be used to such things; it seems not.  (Maddie and headgear will now always make me think ‘Carmen Miranda’.  A veritable fruit bowl….).

So Nadezhda and I strolled, or rather I strolled and she gambolled, darting off here and there when some interesting scent or another reached her extraordinarily sensitive nose.  We’d entered the woodland, following the most-worn path, and had reached the point where there’s a very large clearing on the left when, springing from the trees on the right and cutting straight across our path, came a roe deer.  It proinked across the clearing and Nadezhda gave chase – very briefly.  Suddenly, it was as if she struck an invisible wall.  She stopped, and one could almost see her front legs stiffen in an attempt to brake.  The wind was following the deer, and Nadezhda had obviously scented something else on that wind.  I watched her closely, until something caught my eye, approaching from the spot where the deer first appeared.  And suddenly, there it was, some fifteen yards away, and following the deer’s path.  A cat.  A black cat.  An enormous black cat.  An enormous, not-a-domestic-black-cat.  I froze too.

Now darlings you know me well enough to be aware that I’m neither fanciful nor foolish when it comes to animals.  I was close enough to this beast to assess its size against the surroundings, and it was no moggy.  I’d put its size at about that of a puma or jaguar, and what completely convinced me that I wasn’t imagining things were its ears – proportionately smaller than a domestic cat’s and rounded.  So where is my photographic evidence?  Where do you think?  Confronted with this, my main aim was to remain of absolutely no interest to the creature, and I could only hope Nadezhda felt the same way.  The animal moved fluidly into the clearing, still following the deer’s path, and was swiftly and silently gone.

Nadezhda turned to look at me, and there was something in her eye that said, ‘Can I?  Shall I?’ to which my answer was a emphatic, albeit hushed, ‘No!’  I felt oddly shaken and disturbed by the whole episode, and rather than continuing through the woods, we turned and came straight back to the Hall.  But what I now need to know is, has anyone else seen it?  Has anyone lost any livestock in unusual circumstances?  And who, if anyone, do I tell?

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The Battle of Lissa (1866 or 2012?)

What a week! Imagine, there you are minding your own business when suddenly you stumble on the fact that not only is there an island that shares your name but there have been three great sea battles – near that island – which share it too. An honour or a shame? It’s not at all bad, mind you: Lissa is apparently a small islet in the Adriatic; known as Vis in Croatian, it’s one of the Dalmatian chain, though nothing doggy or spotted about it. And I can think of many worse locations to be lazing in a calm azure sea. Mmmmm.

As for the Battles of Lissa, well the most famous one appears to have been in 1866, between the Italians and Austrians – guess who won!

For this Lissa, however, last week’s battles were on a smaller scale: to get going after the New Year, and to try for theatre tickets to see Mark Rylance in Jerusalem in its final week in London’s West End. Why do we leave these things till the ultimate days? It’s so predictable – you make a token gesture towards going sooner but are easily distracted. And by the time it’s now or never, the only hope is to queue for day tickets. In the spirit of great sea battles, I was undeterred by the start of the cold snap – though I did draw the line at camping out overnight, as I found some people had. Since I was in London anyway, I turned out bright, breezy and far too early for my taste, the sky shimmering like the Adriatic at dawn, to find a sizeable queue well established. Well, I was there, so I might as well wait and see. In the nature of queues – think Soviet bread lines? – more people followed. We took it in turns to count those in front and calculate the odds, and it soon became clear we weren’t going to get tickets. And yet… and yet… very few of us actually walked away.

Then came the drunks. Wandering the clear morning streets, brandishing a bottle yet chilled to the bone, seeking conversation and cigarettes. What were we queuing for? Was it Shakespeare? What was it about? Why did we want to see it if we didn’t really know?

Most we spurned, but there was one diminutive young man (of subcontinent ethnicity, if that’s an acceptable way to put it!) clutching a bottle of Southern Comfort and cranberry juice who proved persistent – and talked sense. Clearly not sloshed as such, just enough Dutch courage to probe his fellow humans about every aspect of their lives. “I’m a Muslim,” he declared. “I split up with my girlfriend and I’ve been in the casino all night. She was Russian, Orthodox Christian, and my mum was furious that I was going out with her. But most girls nowadays… they’re not intellectual like you [waves arm], they don’t have any common sense. I’m 22 but I want to have kids in time to know my children’s children. My dad says life goes much more quickly when you’re over 30 – is that true? Is it?” And so the queue became a debate on Life as the cold of the paving slabs seeped through my boots.

“You know,” said our philosopher at length, waving his Southern Comfort bottle, now nearly empty, and chortling at the memory, “in the casino they thought I was a terrorist when they saw me holding something by my side, but it was just this!”

By then the box office was open, the overnight campers were emerging triumphant – and the tickets ran out eight people in front of me. Lissa had been soundly trounced in this particular battle! Yet I left with a spring in my step. Mr Southern Comfort, meanwhile, was happily pitching up to the counter. “Can I have a ticket?” he asked optimistically.

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So that was 2011!

Isn’t it nice to know that we are not the only ones remembering Nigel’s departure! In case you missed it, to hear that scream again listen to today’s Now Show – I mean News Quiz (thanks Sheila) – just aired on Radio 4!

I’m glad to see you’re open today, Sheila, I wasn’t sure you would be. Could I have a strong cappuccino? Thanks.

Any plans for New Year’s Eve? I’m aiming for a quiet time – Tronda permitting 😉 I still have some family around but I think we’re going to raise a glass gently at home. Well that’s the idea – but who knows if it will remain gentle once we get going….

Happy New Year, everyone!

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The Wolds Waits…

…will be carolling around the villages at intervals from now until Christmas Eve, or at least until they are insensible from a surfeit of mince pies and mulled wine.

At their first halt they are singing:

Shepherds Arise

The Friendly Beasts

Past Three  O’clock

…That seemed to go down well, and the glass of mulled wine made a good start to our carolling.

Santa will have no trouble finding this next house – it’s Christmas lights can be seen from the other end of the village!. Let’s give the family here a few really rousing carols, starting with
Joy To The World

Deck The Hall

finishing with
Ding Dong Merrily On High

We have the children from St Sebastian’s Sunday School with us this afternoon, and they are going to treat us all to two of their favourites:

Away In A Manger

The Rocking Carol

Christmas Eve

Tonight is a good time for a few traditional ones I think, so we’ll start with
Hark The Herald Angels Sing

and then let this little group do their acapella rendering of
The First Noel

I’m so pleased that the Leerhampton Salvation Army Band have been able to join us on this special evening, and they are going to finish tonight’s carolling for us with two  that I am sure you all know:

O Little Town of Bethlehem

In The Bleak Midwinter

You’d like just one more before we go?
Well, we really shouldn’t leave this one out, so for our final carol, and with thanks again to the Salvation Army Band:
O Come All Ye Faithful.

Goodnight, and a Happy Christmas to all

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Costume Drama

Email to Lady Godiva; Rosie;  Lissa; Maddie; Sheila and six others.

Not a ‘drama’, I hope, but a chance for those who would like to borrow a costume for next Friday’s Victorian Soireé at Lawnder  Hall to view the ones I have borrowed from LAOMTS, and to try on the ones they fancy. I will just about have time to make any alterations needed, as long as there aren’t too many, and they are not extensive.

I have brought back five of the Lovesick Maidens’ dresses from Patience, in various muted colours. They are all basically the same simple, easy-fitting style from the  Aesthetic Era, with slightly different floral embellishments. I have also brought three more elaborate costumes, with bustles, for those who would like to try their luck with lacing corsets (they  are more generously fitted than the genuine article, so you won’t need an 18″ waist)

You can see them at this address: http://tinyurl.com/cx53q2w

(if aynone cleverer than me knows how to put that in as a link, please do so!)


Posted in events, Lawnder Hall, Much Grumbling in the Wolds | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

It’s Behind You! … Oh Yes It IS!

That’s right: pantomine season is upon us. Exuding, as usual, slapstick humour for little ones and double entendres for their worldly escorts. Pantomime season seems to mean there are suddenly more roles available, and would-be thesps can find an in. And so I have found myself rather bizarrely hosting the student-actress daughter of a friend for the last few weeks as she rehearsed The Wizard of Oz and A Christmas Carol with a troupe based in, of all unlikely places, Castle Falling. I know, hardly the West End, but apparently there’s a retired director living nearby who likes to get together a group each year and take them on tour round a variety of schools, village halls and a general ragbag of venues.

So, not only was I providing lodging and an indulgent ear to a rather volatile young starlet – mark my words, we’ll see her name in lights one day – but I was also roped in, of course, to find the right screwdriver to tighten her tap shoes, coax her out of bed on days when her confidence plummeted, and test her on her lines. Unfortunately the linguist in me couldn’t leave it at that. Oh no. Half way through the Tin Man’s complaint that he had no feelings, I was interrupting, “But if he hasn’t any feelings how can he be so upset?… This is really badly edited, you know, why not say it like this….”

By the time we got on to Christmas Carol, I had the bit between my teeth and no martingale to hold me back. Matters were confused by the fact that each actor played several parts. Even so, we got through Tiny Tim with only minor additions to the pathos, and all would have been well had we not been inspired by the Spirit of Christmas Present. There was something about the rounded, avuncular tone of the “Ho ho ho” and “Did I already say that?” which convinced me that the man – ghost? – was three sheets to the wind. (S)he might be a 20-year-old blonde, CRB-checked in preparation for performing in schools (yes, they have to) and dressed as Father Christmas, but there was no doubt about it: liberally plastered, overdone the sherry. So I made equally liberal amendments to the text, adding slurs and hiccups as the fancy took me. It was a work of genius, I’m convinced, and my young accomplice was suitably enthused. We needed, of course, to supply a wine bottle for her to wave around, which meant emptying one I happened to have just started… and the quality of our creation improved by the minute.

To my great surprise, the veteran director did nothing next day to dilute our devilment. And today they set off for the first of their performances…. I wait with bated breath for outraged teachers and parents, scornful critics, devastated Dickens aficionados (or maybe not the latter; Dickens was a jokester, wasn’t he?). True, a sozzled Santa could be confusing for the young, but hopefully they’ll soon put it BEHIND THEM. And in terms of quintessential slapstick, double entendres and an unforgettable – if not exactly glamorous – stage debut, it’s perfect.
“Oh no it isn’t!”
“Oh yes it is!”

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