The Barrister’s Wig

Christmas over – time to start venturing out in my new home town to find some groups to join.  In early January I discovered the Kitsch Knit and Stitch group ( found it on Facebook  at https://www.facebook.com/Kitsch-Knit-and-Stitch-group-Maldon-180780608608550/ ) that meets once a fortnight on Wednesday evenings at Oak House coffee shop and bar in Maldon (www.oakhouse.co.uk). It’s a bit daunting going to a new group on your own for the first time, but this seemed a good way to start meeting people and making new friends. We’d already  found the coffee shop which is definitely worth a visit, so I was fairly confident I could find my way without getting lost! By the end of the evening I had got talking to  someone with lots of common interests and being outnumbered by sewers and knitters, I had somehow been “volunteered” to crochet a wig and been booked on the Christmas meal which was scheduled for the  second get together in January. (Not sure why it hadn’t happened in December …. but that was a bonus for me!)

Just along the high street from  Oak House is The Moot Hall (www.moothall.co.uk) which has existed since the 15th century and is believed to be the oldest, decorated, secular brick building in the UK. Owned by the town since 1576, it’s been the town hall, a prison, a courthouse, charter house, armoury, council chamber and public meeting space. Currently it’s used for various events such as exhibitions and performances and is also available for weddings. The internal brick work is amazing and from the roof there are views all over Maldon and as far as Southend on Sea on a clear day. This is where the wig comes in! From March to October there are guided tours of the Moot Hall and visitors are able to try on judges gowns and, until recently, a judge’s wig . My new friend at the knit and stitch group is one of the tour guides and was looking for someone to replace the crocheted wig which visitors could try on. At some point it had disappeared  – someone had obviously taken a fancy to it!

Visitors come from far and wide to view the Moot Hall. An Australian visitor told a guide how one of his ancestors had been deported to Australia from Maldon at the age of 18, for stealing a small amount of bread from the market. The step in the courtroom is a poignant reminder of how young children were treated very harshly and put on trial for what now seem fairly minor misdemeanours. The original prison door which stands in the committee room, as well as the brick walls surrounding the external courtyard where prisoners exercised, are covered with initials and names carved into their surfaces. We were amazed at the neat and sometimes ornate formation of the letters, when you would expect most people imprisoned there to be poorly educated. It would be interesting to find out a bit more about the people who spent time imprisoned there. If you are in the area, the Moot Hall is well worth exploring – it is  full of history.

A few weeks on and I have completed the replacement wig having found a pattern on the internet to base it on. (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/barristers-wig). The original wig is kept at the Moot Hall, but is too fragile (and a bit too greasy!!) for visitors to try on. My version is made from British wool supplied by www.naturalyarn.co.uk based just down the road in Witham. The DK yarn comes from white faced woodland sheep on the Wimpole estate in Cambridgeshire, owned by the National Trust. It proved to be a good choice – I am pleased with the result. The wig is on its way to the Moot Hall ready for this year’s guided tours.

 

Escape to the country!

An introduction

My website and blog mark the start of a new stage in my life. Up until now, life has always been about working towards something – passing exams, getting a job, bringing up the children, but now it’s changed! The “children” are too old to be called that any more and I’m taking a break from teaching in schools. Nevertheless, I like to be busy, so have decided to spend as much time as possible being creative.I love teaching and love crochet, so decided to combine the two by setting up Essex Country Crochet. I’m going to keep a record of my adventures doing new things  in a new location by writing this blog . You never know, somebody might read it and keep me company!

Escape to the Country!

Three days before Christmas we moved house! After a few years of planning, many months of research, ongoing decluttering of cupboards, sorting out the loft, the garage and just about everywhere else, our home of 15 years was packed into a very large removal lorry. I couldn’t quite believe that it had been 33 years since I’d moved into my very compact little bedsit ready to start my first teaching job in Suffolk. I’d moved from South Wales and did not know a single person. Over that time I acquired a husband, four sons and many really great friends that I’m sad to have left behind. Luckily, we are now just a short drive away so I can still get to see my gang from The Switch (i.e. Ipswich to the uninitiated).

With the help of two of the said sons and a whirlwind of removal men, we were soon installed in our new home and by the end of the first day, at least one room was looking reasonably cosy and inviting with some randomly arranged Christmas decorations. The last 20+ years of our lives have revolved around attempting to bring up four reasonably responsible, independent, self-sufficient offspring. They’ve all grown up and left for the big city. Part one of the empty nest downsizing plan complete – house sold and new location found, close enough to visit the big smoke, but somewhere pleasantly rural for a bit of peace and quiet! We’ve moved to a village close to the Essex town of Maldon and very impressed we are with it too! (More about that next time.) I’m slowly getting used to driving on narrow country roads, the total lack of streetlights, oil fired central heating from a boiler that’s on its last legs and very, very quiet mornings (apart from the loud boom from the boiler firing up …) I’ve been out and about and joined a few different groups and I’m pleased to say that it seems to be a very friendly place.

School leaving assembly – Abba reformed in my honour!

Definitely felt this was true at the end of the school year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the escape to the Essex countryside is complete and further parts of the big plan for this year are underway. But for now, I’m signing off as an England vs Wales rugby match is about to start and I need to get my voice warmed up for the shouting. I’ve had to learn to hold my own in a male dominated household and someone in this part of the world has to cheer on Wales!