England to me is personified in 3 words; beauty, history and a touch of the surreal. There really isn’t quite a country like in the whole rest of the world. (I could write thousands more words on this Island – and have done – but let’s stick to 3 for the sake of this post not topping out at 18,000 words.) Enter stage right the annual Kington Langley Scarecrow Competition.
From intrepid explorers conquering the globe, to the sheer satisfaction taken in a well-made cup of tea England is a nation that has fascinated me for over a decade now(!), not least for the curious festivals that you find.
I’ve shared before some of the brilliant things that we’ve done (I’ll link them for further reading at the end of this post) but this one I noted in my calendar months beforehand, thanks to a tipoff by the fabulous Keri from Ladies What Travel.
When I’m an old* lady**, I definitely want to look back on a life that looks like a patchwork quilt, embroidered with tales of adventure, contrasted with silver stitches of quiet reflective moment and panels of laughter. I want to explore stories, live in escapades and make my own kind of history. And, when I’m an old lady, I want to be able to say that I lived life to the utmost in my own unique way*** free from competing with the Jones’ and full of contentment.
* I’m also going to be a crotchety old lady
** By which I mean older than I am now
*** Terrible grammar and all
It was, of course, the annual Kington Langley Scarecrow Festival down Wiltshire way.
We hopped on a train from Paddington to Chippenham (it was only just over an hour) and made our way through the countryside armed with a much needed coffee, fresh croissant and good book to read.
This year the theme was books and with over 80 scarecrows crafted by local families, we were entertained for hours by their clever ideas.
Especially this one – a bible subset featuring the 3 wise kings: Melchior, Caspar, and er, Elvis!
The village itself is a prime example of chocolate box England, and is only missing a friendly pub full of local dogs.
The Scarecrow Trail is centred around the village green and around 1.5miles in total length (generally flat and wheelchair/buggy friendly, some lanes are without footpaths, refreshments and entertainments on the village green which is a bit bumpy.)
The festival is way to fundraise for the various charity and community projects based in and around Kington Langley. Through sales of programmes and refreshments they have raised over £35,000 over the years, benefiting organisations like Kington Langley DeFib units, Langley Fitzurse CofE Primary School, 1304 Chippenham Air Cadets as well as the village WI, church, chapel, croquet club and playing fields.
Oh, and have a good neb around their neighbours front yards which I thoroughly approve of.
The sweetest moment was listening to a 3-year old singing the incy-wincy-spider outside Charlotte’s Web…
…and the tractor cruising along the main common. It brought back many memories of rural New Zealand, that’s for sure!
This was one of my favourite scarecrows by far – such a clever take on Jack & the Beanstalk, complete with marauding giant about to clamber to earth and Jack sharing his magic beans.
Plus Moby Dick with an interactive water spout….
…and a Roald Dahl Big Friendly Giant, with dream jars and a hilarious farting noise machine (blame the silly snozzcumber diet.)
There was even a ode to Terry Pratchett –
The Pancake Races at Easter, the Easter bun tradition in London’s East End, the apple harvest festival in Borough Market, or burning the wicker man at the Beltane festival in Hampshire. This country is really very special.