More embroidered roses, this time on a navy T shirt

Navy T shirt for a 10 year old with roses (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Last week I ended my blog with the slightly panicky realisation that my jury service had been changed from Gloucester to Cirencester. With no time for another dry run I trusted to Bus No 51’s online timetable and waited at the bus stop outside Montpellier Gardens and opposite the rotunda (formerly where the spa waters could be taken but now occupied by a branch of The Ivy restaurant where we’d had such a good time in last weekend) – a very pleasant place to start one’s journey into the unknown. The bus arrived on time, I got on and settled myself down with my newspaper. At first I was curious to know the route the bus would take out of the town and my paper hung half open but unread as we did a big sweep round the town and passed in front of Cheltenham’s splendid General Hospital with its pedimented and pillared stone frontage and on to the London Road. We soon left this for a brief meander through the built up village/suburb of Charlton Kings and then, in no time at all we were up a hill and out of the bowl of land in which Cheltenham sits. By now my newspaper was limp and I gave up trying to read altogether as our journey had become far too interesting. Within minutes, skeletal forms of winter trees rising on either side of the road offered tantalising glimpses of the countryside beyond  – a view invisible for most of the year. On my left, to the east, the land sloped down to stone farmhouses and fields flecked green by the first hint of spring growth. To my right, the hillside rose dotted with intermittent banks of snowdrops,  a few crocuses and the odd patch of daffodills.

Detail: Navy T shirt for a 10 year old with roses (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Then came a brief blip in delightfulness where the A 435 to Cirencester meets the A 436 to Gloucester at Seven Springs, a busy junction with several lorry-filled lay-bys which felt  just a little incongruous in this rural setting. Quickly through the traffic though, the A435  resumed its quieter tree line route, zigzagging along  the western slope of the valley of the River Churn, whose course we then followed almost all the way to Cirencester. On a spring morning, with or without low morning sun (one day it was raining heavily) it’s utterly gorgeous. Almost every building is in weathered stone – not the very yellow honey coloured limestone of further north in the Cotswolds but its much more workaday relative which looks slightly darker and greyer. At this time of year the leafless trees tantalise with glimpses of substantial  buildings – fine farms, little manor houses, mills and rows of stone cottages. It seems such a sleepy rural route, it’s easy to forget that this area has a long history of human settlement.  Coberley, near Seven Springs has 2 long barrows from the Early Neolithic period and the remains of a Roman villa complex. Another Roman villa was sited to the south of the next village, Colesbourne, near Ermin Street (aka Ermin Way linking Gloucester and Cirencester and not to be confused with Ermine Street which was the Old North Road out of London to Lincoln.)   Most villages get a mention in the Domesday book of 1085. My favourite houses are the little C17 farm and manor houses, though it’s true not many have survived without alteration. In North Cerney a fine row of recently built stone semidetached houses in vernacular style promise to age well and show what can be done to increase housing in rural places – although I suspect they’re too expensive for locals and will be owned by those working elsewhere, especially as this little valley of paradise is such a short distance from the centre Cirencester.  Happily for me, the bus stop in the centre of town was a gratifyingly short distance from the court. When I spoke on the phone to the Court Usher last Friday he said he could see my bus as he spoke to me and now I know he wasn’t exaggerating (though that was the bus stop for the return journey). So far all much easier and more pleasant than a trip to Gloucester with the bonus of  being able wander round a  pretty town I hardly know at all during my lunch break.

Detail: Navy T shirt for a 10 year old with roses (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

But, let me go back to Seven Springs for a minute which I was pretty rude about above.  Once home, a bit of an internet search revealed it’s actually somewhere really very special. Off one of those maligned lay-bys, a flight of stone steps descends into a little wooded dell where the eponymous and very real seven springs bubble up out of the earth to begin a journey down through the River Churn, on to Thames and in the end out to the North Sea, for  these  springs are one of the two acknowledged headwaters of the River Thames. The other source of the river, known as Thames Head, near Malmesbury is now dry ( although a small seasonal spring has appeared elsewhere nearby) and has lost its statue of Neptune to a site near a lock in Lechlade, so perhaps Seven Springs should now be regarded as the main source of the river. Seven Springs adds 14 miles to the length of the Thames compared to the Malmesbury site, which, at about 230 miles, puts it The Thames neck and neck with the River Severn for the title longest river in England. Now that should teach me about not being disparaging about an innocent lay by!

Still boring on with my Christmas T shirts! And aren’t I glad  I have this stock of finished garments to blog about! The papers for jury service suggested we weren’t to take knitting needles to use during waiting times. I rather threw the usher by asking if that meant sewing needles too – obviously no one had ever asked that before. He hummed and haaed and I think I could have pushed him to permit my embroidery in the jury room but by then I’d set myself up to read the paper instead and anyway hadn’t managed to prepare something ready to sew after a hectic weekend.  Maybe for my second week.

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  1. Posted February 27, 2022 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you have such a nice journey (mostly), and Seven Springs sounds well worth a visit!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 27, 2022 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      After passing by seven springs every day for 10 days, I shall probably never go anywhere near it again! but I should!

  2. ceci
    Posted February 28, 2022 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    It sounds like your jury service is on-going! And I especially like the leaves and buds on the rose – against the dark background they are very effective.


    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 28, 2022 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Yes, starting my second of two weeks today.

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