Sunday, 23 June 2013

Why We're Going to Wales

Last year, shortly before Esmeralda was born, my parents very kindly took us - Andrew, Sholto, me + bump - to Cornwall.  Specifically, to Trebetherick, which is my favourite place in the world.  Even seven months pregnant I had a great time, playing on the beach with Sholto (who was in heaven - from paddling at Polzeath and Daymer Bay to collecting stones on Greenaway) and making Andrew come on a sort of pilgrimage with me to all the places I frequented when younger: the tiny church of St. Enedoc where John Betjeman is buried, Port Quin where I recounted the tragic story of everyone drowning, Port Isaac where we bought lobster, Port Gaverne where the pub does the best chocolate cake ever - you get the picture.

We also went to St. Ives, to visit the Barbara Hepworth Museum (she had four children.  Four.  And still she managed to accomplish so much.  Although I have heard it said that she practiced a somewhat absent form of parenting) and the Leach Pottery, which has the most amazing shop:

Unfortunately my husband, as previously mentioned, was with me, so I couldn't actually buy all of it.  However, it did lead me to the decision that this year's holiday very much had to be booked with retail opportunities in mind.

And then I read an article in World of Interiors about a tiny little company called Blodwen that makes traditional Welsh blankets - actually, it specialises in Welsh rural craft - and oh, I love Welsh blankets.  We had them on our beds at school:

I've poached this image from the Hanford prospectus - it shows the glorious yellow Welsh blankets on the beds in one of the dormitories - Stuart, to be exact - we used to climb up that fireplace in the mornings when we were awake early, and bored . . .  (I don't know who was responsible for the not quite matching yellow curtains.  There is a chance it was my mother, who was once upon a time - but after my time - headmistress, alongside my father the headmaster and Sarah C, the other headmistress and chatelaine of Hanford, who was awarded the lifetime achievement award by the most recent of Tatler's Good Schools Guide.  Let's gloss over the curtains. And let it not stand in anyone's way of sending their daughter(s) to Hanford, for it is an amazing amazing school.)

Anyway, Welsh blankets, and Blodwen:

I so love the variety of colour ways, and the fact that there is even a plain black and white for all those fans of monochrome:

It turns out that Liberty stock them, which is is within three miles of my house, but I'm not going to even consider buying them there.  We're going to Wales, in three weeks time, so that I can justify buying them on holiday as 'local' craft.

Of course, Andrew has no idea that this is the reason I suggested that we go to Wales.  He thinks that we're going because we have to holiday in this country (due to the fact that the children don't have passports because even the idea of flying with them is too exhausting), by the sea - preferably with surf - but also by an estuary for sailing and windsurfing, somewhere neither of us has ever been so that we can discover the perfect summer holiday destination together and then go back there year and year after year.  And it can't be Cornwall because that is mine, and it can't be South West Scotland, because that is his.  Fortunately, it turns out that Wales fits every single one of the pre-requisites, and if that isn't a sign, then I don't know what is.  And when we've eventually gone back so many times that we decide it would make sense to buy a house, or at least a hut, there, I intend all our beds to be covered in Welsh blankets.  Because when in Rome . . .

(I might skip the socks.)

POSTSCRIPT - 19TH JULY 2013 - DON'T MAKE YOUR HUSBAND DRIVE THREE HOURS ACROSS WALES TO VISIT A SHOP THAT IS ONLY ONLINE. Seriously.  We drove from Barmouth to Cardigan - MILES - to find an office on a trading estate.  Blodwen is not a real shop.  My husband was very nice about it.  I did have to buy him chilli and chips for lunch in some faintly basic cafe in Cardigan, and couldn't invest in any vintage Portmerrion china, all in an effort to make it up to him though.