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Blog 64 - Bits and Pieces

My scarf today has an equestrian theme. It belonged to my mother, but as far as I know she had no strong feeling for horses, albeit her own father started life working with them, first as a stable lad, then coachman at Blenheim Palace. I can still detect my mother’s perfume on this Viyella scarf. It feels like silk, but the edges are machine stitched. Shall I hand wash to test it? I bury my face in it’s dark greenness and remember her. It washes well. It must be polyester. I fancy there is still a trace of her scent after washing.

The colours are deep forest green, black with gold embellishment. I know little about Lorinery, but it’s all these metal bits and pieces associated with horse riding. There are bits, curb chains and stirrups artistically designed on my Viyella scarf. It is very traditional. The name Viyella reminds me of little girls’ dresses which I lovingly sewed made of this long established company’s soft cotton and wool fabric. There would have been fine Chilprufe woollen vests too under these dresses. Poor kids, they probably hated being dressed alike. Let’s go back to all these bits and pieces required to control horses. I do know there is an ancient City of London Livery Company of Loriners and I have even attended a banquet with them. It has close connections with our horse loving Royal family (Princess Anne was even Master of this Company in 1992.) My memory from this scarf is more humble but precious. It takes me back to a little girl’s tenth birthday.

It was 1968 and our family were on holiday in Northern Italy. We had already marvelled at the four bronze horses of St. Marks Basilica in Venice. At that time we were allowed to see the originals on the facade, close up and no queues! They have now been replaced with replicas and the originals, maybe third century, are now preserved within the basilica. So, what would be the most appreciated gift to a horse-mad youngster and her younger sister? A day trip to former Yugoslavia to see the world famous Lippizaner white horses on her birthday. Three year before this, the BBC had run a TV series with thirteen episodes about a young girl from Belgrade who had spent her holiday at an uncle’s Lippizaner stud farm at Lipice and the adventures she had. This was a Yugoslav/German series, sub-titled in English, and renamed THE WHITE HORSES. A new theme song would be written with the same title and be the Top Hit of 1968 sung by Jackie Lee. My daughter, a grandmother herself now, still remembers the words……

Oh, white horses, let me ride away,

To my world of dreams so far away.

Let me run

To the sun……

We did indeed visit the world of a young girl’s dreams. We would see the famous white Lippizaners, watch one of the stallions rear on command, and then I would nervously watch a ten year old and her eight year old sister have turns to mount this magnificent creature. One of the grooms then led us to a quiet forested area with a lake. He must have given a special whistle. I had the spine tingling pleasure of witnessing the truly wonderful sight of dozens of mares and their foals running from their hidden spot in the woods towards the lake. It is a memory of wild freedom which will be with me forever.

Little did we know then on that sunny day in June what would happen years later in that country. Political and religious unrest, wars, massacres…… some of the Lippizaners escaped, were transported elsewhere, slaughtered for food, who knows? The actress who played the young fifteen year old heroine in the TV series sadly died at an early age. Yugoslavia is no more. I hardly know the geography of the area now with so many different new countries, Slovenia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Macedonia.

Yet, there is a happy ending. I understand some of the famous white horses were returned, the stud farm is up and running again, and maybe some other little girl will have a dream come true. I will stay well back from these powerful creatures, enjoy my mother’s scarf and just blog the memories. Mind you, I wouldn’t turn down an invitation to horse racing at Ascot. I could tie my scarf around a smart hat and have a flutter.

I wonder if you, my readers, can remember what you were doing on your tenth birthday?

Busy Bee, Scarf Face!

Series 2, Blog 64.

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