Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Welsh Way

Having just had the honour of Fairford's Sub-Postmaster bestowed upon me I find myself travelling from Bibury to the beautiful town of Fairford on a daily basis.  For part of the journey I go along part of the Welsh Way, which was the route taken by Welsh cattle drovers to London.  The demand for beef in the capital was particularly high during the late eighteenth century and Wales was a valuable source of cattle. 

The 'Welsh Way' is a lane which leaves the Gloucester-Cirencester road before Duntisbourne and passes through Barnsley and Ready Token to Fairford and Lechlade, eventually joining the Ridgeway near Wantage.  It is still suitable for cattle droving [though I'm not sure anyone does], as it has very wide and verdant verges.  I often imagine a herd of shiny Welsh Blacks meandering down the lanes with Corgis snapping at their heels and the melodic cursing of the Welsh drovers.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Morris Minor

One morning several months ago I had a very good idea.  It doesn't happen often so when it does I know that I really should act quickly before I forget it.  As I am due to take over Fairford Post Office soon I thought it would be marvellous to have  a 'marketing vehicle'.  And what better vehicle to choose than a Morris Minor?  People have huge fondness for the old Moggie, as they do for the Post Office.  Combine the two and you have the perfect marketing ploy.  That's the theory anyway, and I need it to justify my recent acquisition of a 1960 Morris Minor.  It has been in a garage in Quenington for the last 20 years and needs complete restoration.  I'm not doing it myself due to my stunning ineptitude with such things, but my friend [and builder] Spike has agreed to undertake the project.  I can't wait to get the little beauty popping down the country lanes with that distinctive throaty warble.  I'm going to keep it black, but have 'Bibury & Fairford Post Offices' [or some such form of words] emblazoned down the side.

The Morris, with Spike in the background, relishing the project already.

Brancher Day

May 10th is traditionally known as 'Brancher Day'.  All the local farm workers would congregate with shot guns at a rookery and blast all the young rooks as they tentatively walked along the tree branches [hence the term 'brancher'].  Back then rooks were seen as a pest, but now they don't really make significant inroads into crops.  If anything they may even help the arable farmer by keeping slugs and other pests down.  Rook pie was also a popular dish, whereas now it is rarely eaten.  They appear to be amazing social and gregarious birds who keep an intelligent eye on everything that occurs on their 'patch'. 

If you look very carefully you might be able to see two rooks seeing off a very large buzzard in dramatic fashion.

Dawn Chorus

I was up with the lark this morning to enjoy a 'dawn chorus walk' at Chedworth Roman villa.  The walk commenced at 5.30am and was hosted by a National Trust ecologist, who was extremely knowledgeable on all things natural.  The villa site is spectacular, especially so at that time of the morning, when everything is so fresh and sparkling.

Around ten of us met and walked around the woods for about an hour with the ecologist highlighting and explaining different bird songs and calls.   We heard black birds, song thrushes, mistle thrushes, chiff chaffs, various types of warblers, black caps, and robins to name but a few, and saw a cuckoo travelling across the sky with its slow, deliberate flight.  We then had bacon rolls and coffee back at the villa. What a cracking start to the day, and it was completely free of charge as well, so thanks very much to the National Trust.

No birds, but a beautiful tree.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Midsomer Murders

John Nettles, sometimes described as the best James Bond we never had [by me].
 The shop has just been inundated by a coach load of Danish people who are on a week long Midsomer Murders tour of Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds.  Lovely people and obviously very much into their Midsomer Murders.  I'm more of a Bergerac man myself and several of the Danish visitors agreed that Bergerac may have the edge over MM.  I was at pains to explain that Midsomer Murders, although entertaining, is not true to life as we don't have that many murders around here.  Famous last words.

Did you know that the hardest phrase to say in Danish is 'strawberry porridge with cream'?  Next time you speak to a Dane ask them to say it.  Damn near impossible.

Midsomer County aka somewhere around here - would make a good teatowel, mmm...

Thursday, 5 May 2011


The cowslips are just on the way out in early May and it is a shame to see them go.  This small and delicate yellow flower is a joy and [for me] has become what spring is all about.  You can make wine from them, but I would never have the heart to pick them.  The road from Cirencester to Gloucester [A417] was constructed around 15-20 years ago and the verges were built using top soil from a housing development near Stroud.  The dormant cowslip seeds sprouted in the first couple of years of the new road's existence and now the large verges are absolutely covered in them.  It's a wonderful sight in April, but hard to take a photo of due to the fast moving traffic!

Royal Wedding

I really enjoyed the Royal Wedding.  I don't normally enjoy wearing my full dress uniform.  The epaulets make me perspire, the medals chafe my left nipple and I tend to trip over the sword.  But for this occasion it was worth it; the whole village came together to celebrate and marvelous fun was had by all.  The Wedding was also a prime commercial opportunity for the shop with commemorative tea towels and mugs selling very well and many souvenirs of the big day going as far afield as Japan and Thailand.  I also noticed an insatiable appetite for Royal Wedding comemorative stamps, with the mini-sheet of four stamps of various values selling out in one day.

The table set for the children's tea party.

The V.I.P