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WWI chalk emblem restored to former glory in Wiltshire

Posted on 18th September 2017

Wiltshire is known for the many ‘white horse’ chalk hill figures which are dotted around its beautiful countryside, but it is a different kind of animal carving that is currently receiving the most attention.

Members of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Created in 1916, a 100ft-high chalk reproduction of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment’s emblem – an Indian blackbuck antelope – had been neglected over the last 20 years, making it all but invisible on the hillside overlooking the village of Sutton Mandeville, where around 2,000 soldiers were based during World War One.

However, a Heritage Lottery Fund grant worth £88,300 was recently confirmed, allowing for crucial restoration work to be carried out on the hill figure, which has now been well and truly brought back to its former glory. Furthermore, a new honeycomb geotextile has been installed underneath the carving, which should ensure that it remains undamaged in the years to come.

Be sure to visit the fascinating chalk carving, and the many others which grace the county, when you next stay at one of our luxury holiday rentals in Wiltshire.

Image Credit: PhotosNormandie

Red panda birth marks another landmark for Longleat

Posted on 28th August 2017

Following the birth of a rare giant anteater earlier this month (as we reported on here), the conservation team at Longleat Safari Park are once again celebrating a very special new arrival.

Red panda cub

On Wednesday 23 August, a red panda cub named Turner was born to parents Rufina and Ajendra, marking another great success for the park’s important rare species breeding programmes.

Red pandas are solitary creatures in the wild, which has contributed to the recent population fall that led to them being officially classified as endangered in 2008. As such, the efforts of world-class conservation centres like Longleat are playing an instrumental part in the safeguarding and, hopefully, expansion of the species.

Keeper Samantha Allworthy was quoted in this Wiltshire Times article as saying: “We have been able to weigh Turner and confirm that he is a little boy and he is doing really well”.

Longleat is regarded as one of the very best wildlife attractions in the UK; be sure to book a stay at one of our luxurious Wiltshire holiday homes soon and take the chance to explore it for yourself.

Image Credit: Richard Gillin

Designer inspired by Wiltshire’s beauty

Posted on 23rd June 2017

Wiltshire has inspired many artists over the years from John Constable’s View of Salisbury to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. Now another artist has joined their ranks, recently decamped to Bradford on Avon. Helen Baker has had exceptional success with her previous collection inspired by her former home town in Cornwall, Wiltshire takes centre stage for her latest line.

Helen Baker’s Cornwall inspired fabrics

The gender neutral colours of her first collection combined with the simple and fresh graphics make a refined and young take on what can be perceived as twee. Since her move Helen is looking for new inspiration in her adopted county. Mrs Baker told the Wiltshire Times:

“I take inspiration from everything around me – even while just looking out of my kitchen window while doing the washing up.”

“I’m currently working on a range inspired by windows in Bradford on Avon. Our windows, shop windows, all the gorgeous architecture. I always take snaps on my phone while I’m walking around town, visiting all the wonderful independent shops in the centre.”

While based in Wiltshire, all of her fabric and products are available online to cater to the needs of a modern family. While Scandi chic is something we all aspire to, it can be hard to conform to the monastic standards, and though clean lines and muted colours are appealing, they soon lose their shine when coupled with the general mess that accompanies modern living.

Helen Baker encapsulates the Scandinavian aesthetic in her designs, allowing you to bring hints into your home. Her attachment to the Nordic principle of lagom is both apparent and inspirational. On Helen’s blog, she states:

“The latest Scandinavian concept to have found its way into current lifestyle trends is ‘lagom’, meaning not too much not too little, just the right amount. Our Nordic friends seem to lead the way when it comes to quality of life”

“When it comes to my fabric designs and their manufacturing, I have made conscious decisions in line with lagom principles before l even learned of this term. My inspirations come from the natural world around me, I am drawn to simplicity and efficient design, my designs are printed in the UK using eco-friendly pigments and I embrace multifunctional family living.”

Anyone staying in our Wiltshire holiday cottages is likely to come away feeling inspired and energised, but what better way to remember a holiday in this glorious county, than with one of Helen’s designs that mirror its beauty?

Image Credit: (Helen Baker)


The fun side of foraging

Posted on 25th May 2017

Recent news has brought to light the sheer amount of food waste in both homes and retail, leading to a market U-turn in attitudes towards left-overs. From Asda’s wonky vegetable boxes to the increase in left over recipes, we are moving away from mass production and looking to become more self-sufficient with our food.

blackberries ripening

There has been a similar increased interest in foraging. While many people remember scouting hedgerows for blackberries for grandma’s apple pie, few people have done more than that since. Restaurants have been busy jumping on the bandwagon of wildly grown goods and appealing to those who want to reduce the air miles as well as the food waste. Native is such a restaurant based in London that aims to allow their customers to appreciate nature. Native is uncompromising on their ethos and looks to inspire others to similar goals.

“Native looks to provide its guests with an original dining experience that encapsulates the country’s best wild food that is native to the UK through a combination of innovative cooking and country thrift. Our food looks to unite the country’s best foraged foods and game in a laid back, full flavour adventure through the British seasons.”

While you may want to direct your new-found enthusiasm to your nearest scrap of woodland, foraging requires knowledge and an inherent respect for natural spaces. While enjoying a Wiltshire cottage holiday, what better way to ease yourself closer to your foraging future than with a beginner’s course into the edible aspects of nature? The Wild Side of Life has different courses throughout the year and based in Wiltshire to initiate you into the lifestyle.

Whether it is a few wild flowers added to a salad or a meal of morels, we can all add a little more of nature’s bounty into our diets, and foraging for the ingredients can be as much fun as eating them.

 Image Credit: Living in Monrovia

WW1 training tunnels found in Wiltshire

Posted on 12th May 2017

Lark Hill has long been associated with the military, who began buying up land on the Salisbury plains after the declining wool trade left the area in an economic slump. The Boer war in 1899 saw the area readied for the military camps but these were increased by the First World War.

Lark hill artillery range

As the army look to renovate areas of Lark hill to make new housing for those in service and their families, the training trenches and tunnels were rediscovered. The archaeologists who worked on the site were delighted. This is the first time anywhere in the world that archaeologists have had the chance to examine, excavate and record such an enormous expanse of First World War training ground,” said Si Cleggett, of  Wessex Archaeology.

There are dangers involved in excavating the area – over 200 grenades have been found on the site, and roughly half of these are still live meaning the archaeologists had to work with experts to unearth the secrets of the dig.

What they have learnt, however, has given personality to an essential part of British history. As the training required the troops to live in the tunnels for the winter of 1916/1917, they left behind graffiti and personal effects along with the detritus of everyday living. One of the later discoveries is that of a red MG sports car, dating from the 1930’s. It could indicate unrest in the lower ranks, as it is suspected to have been belonging to a young officer, and its overnight disappearance was part of a prank.

The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum is a wonderful place to learn more about the significant military history of Wiltshire and the surrounding areas while staying in a Wiltshire holiday cottage. In light of the recent discovery so close to the museum, the local and national interest has increased.

Image Credit: Andrew Haynes (Geograph)