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Blog 96 - Oysters to Cloisters

It will take all your imaginative powers to connect oysters and cloisters! Quite simply, the link is my scarf! It’s silk, with hand sewn hems, an interesting colour scheme of pale peach, cream, lilac and bears the name of one of France’s most famous Art Deco poster artists Rene Vincent, better known for his designs of classic cars, cocktails and racy ladies in tennis gear. The scarf is definitely vintage and previously loved. A few weeks ago my sister Dorothy expressed a wish to walk on a beach, her husband Michael a desire to eat oysters. Overnight accommodation was booked at Whitstable renowned for these molluscs since Roman times. Little did they know on booking that a storm would crash in and the planned Spring beach stroll would become a Herculean task. Their refuge in the charity shops of this old Kent town was unplanned. All praise goes to my brother in law for spotting this unusual scarf…..and having read my blogs, he also knows about the hand rolled edges. He certainly deserved his oysters. You will be interested to know that the medium sized cost £2 each and the large ones £4. He tells me the Rene Vincent scarf cost him the princely sum of £2! I am now immortalising the efforts of these little silk worms; alas, his oysters have gone!

So there you have the oysters of the title. How did these cloisters creep in? Well, I wore my scarf from one town in Kent to yet another…..Rochester, rich in past history with a wonderful old Cathedral. It was good to see the familiar face of our U3A, University of Third Age, coach driver, albeit we had a hair-raising trip with him before, (see Blog 12 DITCHED in Series 1) We all survived our coach landing in the ditch on that occasion and being rescued by firemen en route for Charleston. Reassured that we had all escaped Covid and that adversity some few years ago, we set off from Richmond. Yet my heart was heavy last week with worry over a close family member’s health. On arrival I was a little disappointed that Restoration House was closed. This is the fictional home of Miss Havesham, in Charles Dickens’ story GREAT EXPECTATIONS. On a previous visit, I had seen an old fashioned rose bush there with abundant flowers and wonderful perfume. I wanted to find its name so I might buy a bush for my own garden. Instead, I headed for the Cathedral and had an unexpected surprise.

My heavy heart lightened as I walked through these ancient cloisters in the second oldest cathedral in England after Canterbury. There in the Quire was the surprise. Five thousand of them…..steel sycamore maple leaves, each bearing the incised word HOPE, scattered over the floor leading to the high altar….an amazing work of art by sculptor Peter Walker. The steel had rusted to autumnal dark reddish brown. The sculptor created this artwork THE LEAVES OF THE TREES to represent the autumn of the Covid pandemic, the word HOPE heralding Spring. I wrote five private words on a blue paper sycamore leaf which would be placed in the Crypt at the end of the day. My heart felt lighter. I spent some hours sitting quietly in the Cathedral garden enjoying my picnic. It was a day of quiet reflection.

Thank you, dear brother-in-law for this gift. I was so pleased with the delicate colours I bought a matching bracelet and necklace of polished agate. Shall we now add up the cost of your ten oysters, my hand knotted polished natural beads and very substantial bracelet!…….Oysters to Cloisters is now in the luxury range! As I started to write this today, I watched a tv programme with Gordon Ramsay, and where was he with his cookery contestants? Searching for oysters, not in Whitstable, but in Essex on Mersea Island. I didn’t know a thing about the worth of these creatures until you gave me the scarf. I am still not going to eat one!

Ps. And yes, the sycamore leaf with my five words destined for Rochester Cathedral Crypt that day seems to have brought hope to my family.

Busy Bee, Scarf Face!

Series 2, Blog 96.

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