Tuesday 3 March 2009

On Gold Hill

It was late afternoon by the time we arrived in Shaftesbury,
an ancient Dorset town at the top of a steep hill,
overlooking the Blackmore Vale.

The soft light was warm on thatch and cob wall
and reflected in the small glass panes.

These cottages look romantic now
but would have been homes to families
living on subsistence wages
including the famous button-makers of Dorset
who made buttons from the horns of Dorset sheep.
This trade came to a shuddering halt
after the introduction of a button-making machine in 1851.
The skilled button-makers faced starvation
and 350 families from Shaftesbury emigrated to Australia
(which might explain the obsessive button-love
displayed by some of my Australian friends).

We stood at the top of Gold Hill
and wondered whether to walk down.
It is very steep and the cobbles are uneven -
perhaps it would be better to see the view from the top.

But if you walk down you can see the houses
and between them, glimpses of the valley beyond.
It was worth the walk because,at the bottom of the hill,
I found a sheltered wall covered with pale violet Aubretia

which proves that you never know what you will find
around the next bend in the road.


Thank you so much for your kind birthday wishes
which I really appreciated.
Your generous friendship means a great deal to me


blackbird said...

I'd like to lease number 12 please.

Anonymous said...

What a charming, interesting little village. I love the steep hill lined with cottages, probably not quite but almost worth breaking your neck to walk down. And happy, happy birthday belatedly.

Ali Honey said...

Belated Happy Birthday!

Thankyou for taking us with you to see that little steep corner of the world.

A time to dance said...

...I love the way you write about your travels and observations...you give everything status and make the most humble of things facinating....I emember climbing that hil when the little blessing had been living inside me for 8 months...phew....

trash said...

My word! What a hill! I shouldn't like to have to walk to the top of that because I forgot the milk ;-)

Unknown said...

I can hear the strains of Dvorak's New World Symphony playing in the background - you were so lucky with the weather - an idyllic place to spend a warm Spring afternoon. Belated birthday wishes Alice

Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to stay at number 12 or Thatch Cottage too
Now - don't you all book when I want my holiday okay! :D

Your photos look a dream as usual, and many happy belated birthday wishes too.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes - I meant to say, my very mad next door neighbour, who moved away to Dorset actually SLEDGED down Gold Hill in the recent snow.....

Mad doesn't come into it!

Gina said...

Beautiful photographs, beautiful observations and as ever snippets of information that are always of interest. Lovely post Alice. Thank you.

Mary said...

How did I miss your birthday - probably because I am way behind in my blog reading.

So belated Happy Birthday to you lovely Alice - your warmth and kindness shines through every post..


The Coffee Lady said...

What a lovely walk. I'm so glad you did it for me, because I don't think I would fancy accidentally letting go of Eldest's wheelchair on the way down

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a lovely start to my day, I just loved those images!

Anonymous said...

Loved your descriptions of Shaftesbury (and the photos!) The story about the button makers was interesting, too.

Glad you made the trip down Gold Hill. Seeing the Aubretia was definitely worth it!

Unknown said...

Oh Lovely picture Alice! It looks like it would be like walking through a dream there! Someday, someday.......

I hope you are having a wonderful trip!

Unknown said...

Oh how pretty, the light on that building is perfect. What a lovely birthday treat, clever Mr M. Belated birthday wishes to you, Mrs M.

Anonymous said...

I have just found your cosy and delightful little snug here in blogland. I very much enjoyed the little visit to Shaftesbury and learning of it's very interesting history. I look forward to reading more of your blog in the days to come.
Warm wishes

Julia said...

How neat! I just finished a book with button makers in it (Burning Bright, by Tracy Chevalier) and was trying to conjure them up in my head. Your post did a much better job at conjuring them than my imagination, I must say. Happy belated birthday and thanks for the story!