I write my blog the day before you get it at 8am each morning in Britain....of course readers elsewhere in the world, you may be getting annoying pings on your phones or computers as you get an alert at other times of day or night. As I write now, it is St.George’s Day and I remember my English grandfather. My DNA shows I am predominantly Celt with an exciting mix of North European, East European and Iberian, but not a drop of English blood, yet I had three Scottish grandparents and one English!
Anyway, I celebrate St.Andrew’s day, St. George’s and if I knew the other national days of my bloodline, I’d do them too.
The silk scarf today shows the red rose of England and is by Richard Allen.
Two years ago as my birthday present, I was taken on a trip to Blenheim Palace with an overnight stay at the delightful old inn, the Marlborough Arms in Woodstock. My English grandfather was born in a tiny hamlet near Blenheim Palace and had worked as a stable lad at the palace. It has been my lifelong ambition to visit the great house and see where he worked. I had wondered how this grandfather, from humble beginning, had travelled to Chantilly in France as a teenager, but of course he was tending the Duke’s racehorses. He had worked his way up to become a coachman and it must have taken a lot of courage to leave his familiar local area and go to Brechin Castle in Scotland to work as coachman there. The motor car took over from coach and horses, and Grandpa was the first man in town to drive one, learning on the job! I see that Savilles are now marketing Brechin Castle for sale and offers over three million are invited. It has been in the Earl of Dalhousie’s family for centuries. Sad. I don’t think selling all my scarves on Ebay will raise enough to buy the stable block or even the chauffeur’s flat, although it would be nice to have a home in Scotland again.
But, back to Blenheim, you can imagine my excitement at finding the old stables there in excellent order, but now as a museum. The horse is not real! My daughter Lorne was very generous to me that trip, driving me in her snazzy sports car, treating me to wonderful meals, including champagne afternoon tea at the palace and even indulging me in a quick visit to the charity shops of Woodstock. Of course, I found a scarf!
The visit had an odd end.
I had taken this daughter as a baby to the village of Long Handborough, my grandpa’s birthplace and we had five generations together, including her great-great-grandmother, the mother of the former stable lad. Remembering this, I wondered whether we might find her grave on this trip. We found a cemetery but it was a new one, so without much information, we gave up. The sat nav was not working, so we blindly took a left turn from the cemetery and came to Church Handborough. I had never heard of this village. On impulse, we stopped at the church and wandered round the churchyard. My daughter, quite by chance, saw a gravestone erected in MDCCCXXI......I’m not very good at working out Roman numerals but it’s a long time ago. It had exactly the same name as my grandfather. We reckoned it might have been his grandfather. That will require research another time.
Happy St.George’s Day! Hope you all slayed a dragon!
Busy Bee, Scarf Face!