Odney – photo – mine
Funny how the idea of a work road trip brings up such mixed emotions. Elation at a day out and leaving the desk, and familiar mouse to gather a few hours of dust. Panic – shit, who will I sit with on the bus? I don’t know them all that well. I’m not a great small talker, will I by virtue be bored shitless? Clothes, can we ditch the uniform for civies? How joyous to not wear my Business Dress shirt that likens me to a member of a local ten-pin bowling team. As in too big, in need of darts all over, and how can I forget the official shade of blue.
As it was the bus was OK. All official with its logo. Instructions to buckle up before we drive off, and even stronger instruction for no moonies on the motorway – jeepers who do I work with?! Everybody took up position, rabble in the back, graduating to the quieter ones and our leader up front with the driver.
We were off to the company Heritage Site, about an hour and a half away. Our leader having been there before, relayed how deciding to not leave her doggie at home, booked her into a local doggie day-care – at great expense. Lovely dog was provided with paw massages and facial, and our leader was provided throughout the day photo updates to her mobile of lovely doggie running freely amongst fields and orchards.
Heritage site – photo mine
Along the road, newly married and about to be married colleagues shared how they were/would be ovulating during respective Honeymoons completely unaware of how their voices were travelling across the bus. Needless to say, much laughter and blushes when I turned back and said, “Thanks for sharing, Ladies.”
“Members Only,” the signage said at this beautiful place we arrived at.
Heritage site, though small, holds a wealth of information along with an extensive fabric library, items conserved in various methods, physical and digital. And if you were looking for bedtime reading, they have copies of the company magazine that’s been going for over 100 years and is the longest running in-house magazine – I stand corrected but think our lovely Archivist said in the world.
Like a little boat trip – photo mine
As you enter there is a memory of the Oxford Street branch, bombed during WW11 – a small tin mangled, chared, with coins melted to the bottom. Very poignant.
We saw print blocks used for fabrics. An example piece called Tree of Life is on the wall. This beauty required over 300 blocks to produce and needed well over 3 years to complete. As you can expect these were pricey items, not for the regular man in the street. Jeepers one of the blocks I could hold was so heavy. Apparently, the printers knew exactly which block to use in sequence. Any mistakes, well the fabric was discarded at huge cost.
The entire place, not only the Heritage Site, for it is on a private members only estate, is idyllic. There are walks along the Thames, footbridges to take you across to further lush and extensive grounds, rowing boats available, accommodation, spa, the lot. You can even take your dog, and indeed we saw a furry friend swimming in the Thames, the ducks oblivious.
Back to the Heritage site, our Archivist – Hannah – was wonderful, sharing great snippets of company founder’s links to the Zoological Society and how after taking on a pair of gibbons to assist with breeding, founder managed to create quite an upset with his local villagers. Apparently while he believed gibbons do not swim, he’d overlooked how they do wade, and in fact did so, deciding to take a pleasant stroll through the village.
We also saw some items pertaining to Queen Victoria, one being a rather solemn black, bejewelled funeral bonnet. The other was far more romantic. When she was sent a fabric print to agree to for Balmoral, Vicky added the silhouette of herself gazing across the printed forget-me-nots towards a silhouette of Albert. When the example was returned, these were incorporated into the print run, and yes, there they were, feint, but there.
We left in glorious sunshine, all keen to return. Let’s hope we do.
Time to say farewell – photo mine
Might have cheated here a bit, this was written on the bus and needed a bit more than 15 minutes.