Would the white horse of the Salisbury Plain cut into the gentle Wiltshire hill herald a scarf find this past week? These exposed chalky equine shapes always excite me and set me thinking of past cultures. I was on my way to visit Marlborough with two daughters for a treasure hunt around the charity shops, ever hopeful of finding a hidden Hermes or the like. With Covid lockdown for two years, I had no idea if these treasure troves still existed. I was not disappointed, yet my first purchase was not a scarf but a book. What a find! A selection of hand written famous letters that shaped our world. I will share this with my letter writing salon at our next session.
Through basket after basket of polyester horrors, rails of rough woollen mufflers, I desperately searched without success. Then high on a shelf I saw the brown silk tassels and earthy colours of something promising. I tugged on it, hoping the box would not crash on my head. The satin silk beauty was in my hands. I loved it immediately. I have named it Aztec with a question mark. The design is primitive and features a blue animal like a horse. The Aztecs did not have horses as they were introduced later from the New World…..so maybe the design came about in Macclesfield, England. There is no label but it looks English, and the silk is so satiny it feels as if has been washed in the soft water of the River Bollin coming from the Peak District. The scarf is tubular in brown, terracotta, cream and turquoise, certainly Aztec colours, in a repetitive pattern, with hand knotted long silk tassels.
I wore it next day on a surprise visit to the beautiful gardens of Heale House between Stonehenge and Salisbury. The gently flowing water of Avon tributaries was a big feature of the exquisite gardens. The seventeenth century house had been bought by the great uncle of the present owners on his return from diplomatic service in Tokyo. He had a Japanese garden designed with replica red bridge and tea house over the stream. That was a surprise in the English countryside. Perhaps I should have worn my Tales of Genji scarf instead of the questionable Aztec. We watch a centuries old mulberry tree being pruned to rectify the damage from Storm Eunice. I guess we were talking to the owner but respected his desire for anonymity. It can’t be easy having strangers wandering round your grounds, especially chatty ones like me! It was a peaceful place. A swan was nesting on a reed bed in the stream. It is said that Charles the Second took refuge here at Heale House on his way to safety in France. As we are well into April, the Mad March Hare bolted across the field beyond the stream without the least sign of leaping madness. The owner’s dogs were wandering around, the news from Ukraine told of frantic runs to safety, so likewise the hare was making a direct bolt to cover.
I have had a few Easter days of refuge too….wined and dined by loving family, indulged in scarf searches and treated to views of exposed chalk White Horses as we drove around the gentle Wiltshire plains. We even had a family sweepstake on The Irish National following the fun I had the previous week organising one in my house for Aintree. Any reader would imagine I am interested in horse racing , after writing about the point to point gathering and now the biggest jump meetings. Nor am I a big gambler. The stake is never more than £2!
I look at my scarf again. Is that animal a horse, a dog or even a llama? Only the artist knows. It appears to have only three legs. Useless over the jumps!
Busy Bee, Scarf Face!
Series 2, Blog 94.