A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile........Does that happen to you too? Songs constantly pop into my head (and out of my mouth, for which I can only apologise).
Anyway, a long, long time ago is (of course) when it all began. The life I lead now is purely accidental, and it all started with some goats, or, to be more precise, with a neighbour who had some goats. On moving into our first house, the very next day, our new next door neighbour appeared, uttering those fateful words, “You need to borrow our goats to eat your garden.” So we did. And, for reasons now lost in the mists of time, there then followed a life filled with goats, chickens, ducks, herbs, polytunnels and bees, leading in turn to tree-planting, sheep, wind turbines, compost toilets, but I digress.....
Amidst all the peripheral activities, what emerged clearly in my mind was a belief that connections were important, by which I mean connections to the earth, to the planet, if you will. The idea of producing and using materials became immensely important to me - eggs, honey, milk, cheese, yoghurt, vegetables, herbs, candles, polishes, wood - all these things I produced were intimately connected, actually physically connected, to the place I inhabited.
Then came wool. Initially, my interest in wool was entirely related to wanting to make my own sustainable coffin. However, this flourished into an overwhelming enthusiasm for feltmaking, making practical things (useful AND beautiful!), some of which people actually wanted to buy, and the very best thing about growing my own wool was that it enabled me to rescue wonderful sheep along the way.
And the hats? I always enjoyed making felt hats, but as a huge fan of craftsmanship and excellence I felt that these hats had limitations. With a clear idea of the hats I wanted to make firmly in my mind, I undertook a millinery summer school, after which I spent a year developing the hats you see today.
My good intentions of sharing with you the minutiae of life here on the smallholding have gone the way of all good intentions.
For now, I am busy making hats, and hoping that some of them will find homes in the south, when I take them to the Festival of Crafts at Farnham Maltings on 27th and 28th October, and in the north, when I take them to Crafted by Hand, Masham on 3rd and 4th November.
So, two excellent opportunities to try a hat. I much prefer people to try them on rather than order online. Honestly, you can have no idea how anxious I get about them not fitting when someone just sends me their head measurement (and about the possibilities for hats getting squashed in transit.....).
Anyway, I know what you really want to see are photos of my sheep, but today all I have to offer is a hat.
I thought this might be a good way to keep you up to date with some of the antics of the inhabitants of my smallholding. It’s not going to be easy. This software is absolutely not user friendly, but we’ll see how we get on. In the meantime here (hopefully) is Neil......