He went to the town to find the coal man, but the coal man was out at the moment, so he sat on this wall:
Along came the coal man, my dad ordered the coal, and the coal man invited him in to his nice, warm house for tea, a drink, a chat... and the rest is history. Even though we only lived there for a year, quite some time ago, many Christmas cards were exchanged and visits were made across the ocean until everyone became a bit old.
Last week, I found myself in Chipping Campden, home of the coal man, and I wondered if his wife was still with us -- I knew the other three had passed on. So I e-mailed my sister from the High Street,
and asked the woman at the Lygon Arms, a known watering hole from all those years ago,
and learned that Patta was alive and sprightly and 92, and lived down the road and around the corner.
We walked by her house, thinking to scope it out for the morning, and not bother her at 5 pm... but there she was in the front window, just getting ready to do her washing up. So we said hello, she made us tea, served us homemade shortbread, showed us her garden and arranged to give us a tour of the town the next morning!
I felt sort of stupid for not thinking this through and contacting her in advance, but there you go.
And now, a brief digression.
My mother had this necklace, and now I have it.
It shows Robert Dover, founder of the Olympick Games.
After the games, in Whitsun week, is the Scuttlebrook Wake, and a May queen is crowned.
Okay, back to the present...
We met Patta the next morning and saw the town. At her house, when she had brought out tea and biscuits, she had a walker with a tray, but out and about she just used a cane and strutted along at great speed.
She would ask me if I could deal with steep stairs! Honestly, 92 didn't look so bad!
Our first stop, with the steep stairs, was the silver guild. The workshop is in an old mill building and was started around 1902, and I believe the same old workbenches are being used.
I showed them my Robert Dover pendant, which they recognized immediately. The silversmith asked if my mom had been a May queen, since only May queens got silver pendants! They also made brass ones of the same design, but only one silver one a year! So, I have no idea... Did my Dad find this in a secondhand shop? Is it a knockoff by a renegade silversmith? Was it bought in 1965 or 66, or on a later visit, like 1972?
We went for a coffee, and off to the craft museum, where we saw this poster.
In the afternoon we had a muddy walk over Dover's Hill and round about,
and the next day we went to Bath. More on that later...