Once we left Tom and Lyn Lewis and the narrow boats, we headed north to sing for the Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles Region 13 in Cheshire. It was an exciting day. We sang in the afternoon, and were able to enjoy the morning presentation by Vivian Finch, the past editor of The Quilter, the magazine of the Quilters’ Guild. She spent 17 years endearing herself to quilters throughout the UK through her wonderful work. She told us of her office underneath the stairs of her home, and all the quilters she worked with. She also had the gift they presented to her upon her retirement – a quilted book, with contributions from many of the people. It was a real treasure.
The next day we were invited by Judy Wilson, the Region 13 coordinator, for a tour of Chester. Originally a Roman fort, Chester has been inhabited constantly since the first century. It is famous for its city walls and for the central shopping area from Medieval times, called the Rows. The original fort is long buried, but there has been excavation to reveal a portion of the amphitheatre. Judy, being a local, knew of many surprises not found in normal tourist visits, like the Roman hypocaust in the basement of the Spuds shop, and the Medieval frieze work in the sofa shop! We had coffee in the basement cafe with the Crypt overhead. So many layers of history in the city of Chester. It was a marvellous day.
We’ve been spending some time with family members, and we’ve seen four of John’s cousins in our travels. Many of them live in small towns in charming places, and we’ve enjoyed sampling local wares (like the yummy Somerset cider in Ash). There is a large area of Somerset that used to flood regularly. They have it mostly under control now, but there remains a willow industry. The willow shoots are harvested yearly, stripped and dried and made into beautiful baskets. If we get a chance someday to linger longer, I would like to learn more about this ancient craft.
Our next two performances were in the south – in Farnham, Surrey and Basingstoke, Hants. We spent a few nights with a friend of John’s from Kingston days. Ruth lives on a large dairy farm in a very convenient location for those two appearances, and she was able to attend the Basingstoke show. Every morning we watched the cows wander to and from the milking barn, and we relaxed entirely. The weather has been sunny and autumn-like. Leaves are turning and gardeners are starting their fall cleanup.
Our Basingstoke show had an incredible amount of Canadian content: our hostess is a Canadian married to an Englishman. They visited us in Victoria during the summer, and it was great to see them again. After we sang, many people talked to me about family living in Canada, visits they had made there, and quilting connections. One told me about visiting her sister in the Vancouver area in 1982. Her sister had comitted her to speaking to the Fraser Valley Quilters Guild the next night! As a result, there was a swap between the North Hampshire Quilters and the Fraser Valley group, with each having a quilt made by the other. It is a small world – we’ve now sung for both groups.
Tonight we sing for the Village Quilters in Leicester. We rise early tomorrow morning and drive up to Morpeth in the north for another regional day in the afternoon. We are covering a lot of territory on this trip!
More later, the next time I have an internet connection.
Here are some pictures from Chester: