Having talked yesterday about the endangered sea turtle, made me think of the red squirrel. No, you probably would not expect me to have a scarf showing one of these lurking among the Hermes, Liberty and Yves Saint Laurent! I didn’t go out looking for this, it found me in Devon, but I have shown it today draped around a painting of the Scottish mountains. As a child growing up in Scotland always within sight of at least a gentle hill, the red squirrel was not uncommon. I have not seen another in the wild since these days. Grey squirrels, yes, digging up my garden flower pots, stealing from my golf bag in Richmond Park, building a drey in the maple tree by my bedroom window. So, why did I buy this scarf? It’s not exactly a fashion item and when I have worn it, I folded it so the squirrel is hidden. Little did I think I would now feature Squirrel Nutkin at the head of Scarfaid Blog 52 during lockdown 2020.
A few years ago, I was on a short holiday with a group of Livery Company Past Masters, who were kind enough to include the widows of past masters. Small adventures have happened in Bruges, Stratford on Avon, Cardiff and on this occasion, Devon. A minor frisson of excitement as my friend and I tried to find our way on arrival in Exeter and discovered, probably with my poor map-reading, we were driving in a pedestrian/bus only area. Irate old ladies with shopping trolleys, waving sticks at us in a menacing manner. Forge on.....committed now! My friend anticipated a driving fine, but we got away with it. Next day we had been promised a boat trip from Topsham down the River Exe to Exmouth. Coach delivered us at Topsham Quay and we had fifteen minutes before our sailing time. Everyone knows about my personal challenge on these outings to find a silk scarf in a charity shop. Could I do it in the time? Never been to Topsham before. Quick question at Trout’s boatyard on charity shop whereabouts. Brilliant! Quick dash! Found shop and a silk scarf with the hand sewn hems, brand new, made in Switzerland.....well there’s a first for me, but a red squirrel???
On board now, tides not right, impossible to reach Exmouth, excited at sight of Powderham Castle from the water as I had attended a wedding there the previous year, abandoned idea of the longer boat trip and had an extended light lunch where we found a docking area. Time dragged as we waited for the water level to rise, the weather got colder and I wished my scarf was woollen and not light silk! After all, later that evening we would have a banquet in Tuckers Hall, built in 1471 by the woollen Guild which still exists today. Everyone agreed, despite having past experiences of Mansion House dinners and the like, this was the best dining experience we had ever had. The ancient dining hall seats only 26 people. How privileged we were. I thought it was perhaps time to experience having a pinch of snuff when the ancient horn was passed around the unusual shaped candle-lit table. Maybe not the thing for a lady in full evening dress to do, but it’s not every day either that I buy a scarf with a red squirrel!
You will have gathered from now, I am a collector and I now admit to my latest addiction.....fifty pence coins with interesting commemorative designs. I proudly possess Benjamin Bunny, Mrs Tiggy Winkle, Jeremy Fisher, Mrs.Tittlemouse but NO Squirrel Nutkin celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Beatrix Potter! I am told by my younger shoppers, that folding money and coins are no longer welcome in shops, so I would have little chance of finding a Squirrel Nutkin in my change. Perhaps my readers will take up this challenge to find one.......no cheating by buying on line!
Busy Bee, Scarf Face!