We’re spending a few days in the Wiltshire village of Wootton Rivers. Set in the middle of the ancient Vale of Pewsey, its fertile farmland has a documented history going back to the Bronze Age. But we’re not here for the history…
It’s a long way from Cumbria. The clue to why we’re here is the village’s proximity to Avebury, home of Britain’s largest stone circle, and one of the previous destinations of the Silent Eye’s summer workshops.
Two years ago, Sue and Stuart had proposed another weekend here for 2020, but Covid put paid to that. We had booked our weekend’s accommodation well ahead – a converted chapel in the village of Wootton Rivers.
The owners offered us a full refund or the option of putting the booking back for a year. We opted to postpone; a decision we are delighted with now the long winter has matured into this blazing June.
Despite our long journey from Kendal, the first thing we wanted to do was take a walk to stretch our legs, get our bearings and make sure we still had a functioning collie! Turning onto the canal path, we met the lady owner of a turquoise narrow boat (above). She had sold her home to buy it, and now lives a quiet life ‘off-grid’. She had no regrets…
The untimely death of Sue Vincent, our fellow Director of the Silent Eye, has left us all a bit numb. Bernie and I had no agenda for this trip, simply to ‘be’ in a green and gold summer landscape for a few days, hopefully at the end of the Covid restrictions, though the present trends for the so-called ‘variant delta’ places that in doubt.
The sun and the sheer exuberance of Wiltshire at this time of year have lifted our spirits… and Wootton Rivers has provided its own humour; chief of which is the ‘Wootton Crouch’
The upstairs of a converted small Methodist Chapel is bound to be a little cramped. When a chapel, there would have been only the ground floor. So the architect had to create an upper floor – two bedrooms and a bathroom – from s steeply sloping ‘v’ shape. .
In a conversion, with low bathroom height, you’re going to bump into wooden features, overhead. Once you’ve bashed your head on a new wooden frame a few times you get the hang of walking round with a C-shaped spine – the said Wootton Crouch.
The problem is the heat – which isn’t really an issue, given we spend all winter pining for it. In this warm weather, the small upstairs of the beautifully-modernised chapel gets hot, and it’s necessary to leave the three Velux windows open, horizontally, if we are to return to a temperate building. However, if you forget, you can end up the ball in a child’s bagatelle as you jerk your bewildered head from the window frame into the opening glass shower door…
Humour aside, the Old Chapel has been a great place for a break. It’s stylish, comfortable… and only occasionally challenging.
It will all be good practice for our future canal boat, should it all get too much…
©Stephen Tanham 2021
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.