Sunday, May 22, 2022

Wagons and Horses

I'll kick off this post with a nod to its title by revealing....drum roll....that the Loblan cowboy boots do indeed fit!  We'll skip over the messy business of removing them (I'm hoping the leather will soften over time), but once on, they are perfect.

I thought I would model them with the slightly hitched up, trippy galloping horses print maxi skirt mentioned in my last blog.  This is Monday morning me, make up free and making the most of the sunshine.  My entire outfit is second hand and, boots aside, cost me less than £10.00.  The boots at £35.00 were still a bargain when you consider that their retail price is somewhere in the region of £170.00.

On Thursday we popped down to an exclusive little event hosted in a local pub car park.  Not exactly the hottest ticket in town, but if there are classic cars to be seen, Gareth will be there in the blink of an eye and I could challenge myself to get some interesting car photos worthy of a "car porn" hashtag.  Not quite wagons, but bear with me.

The turnout wasn't great.  It seems there are more interesting things to do on a Thursday evening (Gareth's looking at me incredulously).  However, there was a stunning example of a VW squareback in all its 1970s glory.

I loved the addition of this blind in the rear window.  Uber cool!

This VW Beetle with its Porsche wheels was a lovely example.

Can you spot the beautiful Victorian Water Works building in the background?  This beauty is Hinksford Water Works, built in 1900.

Before long, this VW Bug had two companions.

Spot the photobombing poor cousin (a modern Beetle).  That's mine.

I headed home shortly after taking this photo, leaving the petrol heads to their talk of patina and prolonged engine examinations.

The actual "hottest tickets in town" were reserved for Saturday and our long awaited return visit to Giffords Circus, founded by Nell Gifford, who sadly died in 2019 from breast cancer at the age of 44.  Her funeral was attended by her good friend Helena Bonham Carter - another great example of British eccentricity.  

Photo:  Clive Burling

Nell is quoted as saying "I held the jewel of my childhood up to my eye, and through it I saw ponies and a dressing-up box and a tent, and that was Giffords Circus."

Nell read English at New College, Oxford, before running away with more than one circus.  She honed her craft at the US Circus Flora, the Chinese State Circus and Circus Roncalli in Germany, all the time dreaming of creating her own village green circus.

Together, Nell, a gifted horsewoman and Toti Gifford (her former husband) achieved this dream, spending all they had on a round white tent from the Trade It newspaper and building a maroon and gold showman's wagon to live in.  They advertised for performers in The Stage newspaper and held auditions in a dusty little theatre in Cheltenham (now The Playhouse).

The result?  A magical little creative empire, responsible for entertaining over a million people since the turn of the century.  

Inhabited by an international stellar cast of colourful characters including Tweedy the clown, Attila the Hungarian horseman, Ehiopian jugglers, Gabor Vosteen (allegedly capable of playing Mozart on five recorders; three in his mouth and one in each nostril) and Molly Molloy (all things Burlesque), to name but a few.  This nomadic tribe has also been inhabited by Gypsy violinists, magicians, illusionists, opera singers and gymnasts over the years and the assembled performers set up camp annually in and around the Cotswolds area on commons and village greens, welcoming locals, famers, weekenders, tourists, rock stars, artists, pensioners, shop keepers, school children and this weekend, yours truly, Gareth and Vix and Jon.  We were beyond excited to see them both.  

En route, I took quite possibly my favourite windscreen shot ever whilst Gareth grumbled about his unrelenting neck disc pain which seems to trouble him when driving.  Another trip to Nigel might be on the cards.

Our journey was blighted by a disagreement with the sat nav which added at least 20 minutes onto our journey.  Finally, we parked up, deep in the grounds of Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe (famous for being the final resting place of Queen Katherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII's seven wives), found Vix and Jon and toasted our meeting with an IPA.  Soon it was time to take up our seats.  The website suggested that the circus was still operating at full capacity, but in reality, the tent was bursting at the seams and the atmosphere was joyous.  I'll stop rambling now and let the photos tell the story of Carpa! a Mexican themed extravaganza.

Here come the horses...

Upper body strength goals...

Hair raising, but a possible Botox alternative.

Exhilarating stuff!

For us, the treats didn't end there.  Vix and Jon had very thoughtfully brought us both goody bags.  For me, a pair of 70s oversize sunnies, a lovely denim skirt with deep pockets I had commented on, a nourishing sleep mask, some beautiful, artisan made earrings from Greece and a book - Emma Donoghue's Frog Music - which will go on the top of my "To read" pile.

This morning, I modelled the aforementioned sunglasses, earrings and skirt with my French Connection blouse (a second hand find) that has been languishing on my rail for a few years now and has come close to being re-donated a handful of times.  I'm not sure why.  However, I think it's found its team mates.  

Here's a closer look at the earrings...

...and blouse.  The splashes of colour in the slightly abstract butterfly pattern work well with the geometric colour pop of the earrings.

For Gareth, some incense sticks, a selection of teas and a graphic novel by The Dandy Warhols singer/guitarist, Courtney Taylor-Taylor.     

We rounded off our day at the circus with a slap up meal at a fourteenth century coaching inn, The Hobnail...

....before heading into the sunset and home.


  1. What a fantastic day we had! Your photos are incredible and sum up the energy, athleticism and mind bending skills of the performers. I still can't get my head around the maidens spinning by their hair or that girl who changed into all those dresses in seconds and fancy Paloma Faith, Brad Pitt, Christiano Ronaldo, Jane McDonald, Mattias from Benidorm and Mark Rylance making guest appearances!
    Love both your outfits, the denim skirt is perfect with that lovely French Connection blouse and the horse print skirt and ruffled blouse is proper Cowgirl Chic!
    There's some seriously cool wheels at the VDub.
    I hope it's not too long before we catch up again! xxx

    1. It was a blast! That all star cast too - who'd have thought it? Thank you so much again for the lovely gifts. As you can see, I've wasted no time in putting them to good use and Gareth lit an incense stick as soon as we got back. Definitely catch you soon! xxx

  2. you mastered #pioneercore gorgeously with your first outfit! :-D
    totally love the circus! your photos bring out the magical athmosphere perfectly..... do they need a garderobiére/seemstress maybe - i do have experience ;-D
    lovely pressies from vix&jon too!

    1. I was so close to mentioning you and #Pioneercore, but I wasn't sure I'd quite mastered it! Thanks Beate - the circus would be lucky to have you! xxx

  3. Glad the hear the boots fit and the galloping horses skirt looks fantastic on you!
    We used to have a classic car meeting in our village on the 1st of each month. Not sure if it is still on or has become a victim of Covid-19 ...
    The circus looks absolutely magical, and how lovely that you were able to enjoy it in the company of Vix & Jon. The denim skirt was just made for you and that French Connection blouse!
    Oh, and that windscreen shot is beyond fantastic! xxx

    1. Thank you Ann. The circus was incredible - well worth a visit if you ever visit the Cotswolds in April/May. The temperature has dropped here these last few days and the skirt has provided the perfect solution! I've always loved the traditional gypsy wagons and see them periodically, but am never brave enough to ask permission to photograph them, so that windscreen view was a gift! xxx

  4. Can I come and run away with the circus too? I can't spin with my hair but I can play gypsy fiddle :) Wonderful, magical pictures Claire. Oooh, I love the ariel black swan. Interesting to hear about Giffords founder too. Ye hay, the cowboy boots fit and what better skirt to pair it with, galloping horses ahoy! I recognised the beautiful leather earrings from Vix's blog. She's alright that Vix :) xXx

    1. You most certainly can! Gypsy fiddle would do just fine. It was a shame about Nell. Gone way too soon. Those boots were sorry they tangled with me! I love the earrings...she's a very thoughtful friend! xxx

  5. just popped over from Vix - what a great experience - I love a circus (when it's mainly human of course!) Looks like loads of atmosphere :)

    1. Hello Betty! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. The circus was charming and romantic; a lovely dose of nostalgia. But I agree with you - I'm uncomfortable if animals are involved. Thankfully, the horses were extremely well cared for and were in the ring for 10 minutes tops. :-)


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