I grew up be­liev­ing that pi­geons were bluey grey. Chil­dren who have spent their child­hoods in Far­ing­don know dif­fer­ently. Their town has pink, pur­ple, yel­low and blue ones. Now when send­ing most writ­ers will talk about the ar­chi­tec­ture, the food, the weat

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE -

Tracy Spiers sends a

post­card from the town of pink pi­geons

Nestling on the slope of a hill, Far­ing­don over­looks val­leys of the Thames, Ock and the vale of the White Horse. The hill is known as Folly hill and is well known for the un­usual look­ing 100ft high Folly Tower, built in 1935 by Lord Bern­ers. Al­though the tower, con­sid­ered the last folly to built in Eng­land, isn’t open at this time of year, don’t for­get to visit when it re­opens next April. Its sur­round­ing wood­land how­ever is al­ways open and free. Look out for the Sing a Song of Six­pence black­birds, Civil War can­non, the tree troll, Lord Bern­ers placed high in a tree, the bridge to nowhere and carved wood­land crea­tures.

Not quite the wood­land crea­ture, but one per­son who’s been a wel­come find for vis­i­tors in re­cent years is Jane Ren­nells and her fab­u­lous cof­fees made with or­ganic milk. For two years she had a cof­fee van, but moved to a for­mer deli in Far­ing­don town cen­tre a year ago. Com­bin­ing the deli and her cof­fee has proved a hit and Stay Grounded has been a pop­u­lar meet­ing place for both lo­cal and vis­i­tor. Naomi has a choco­late pas­try and I opt for Jane’s flat

white. Her cof­fee keeps me grounded for my visit. I meet Ed­die who has earned him­self one of Jane’s tea badges for try­ing all the teas on her menu and Adrian, an­other reg­u­lar who en­joys his morn­ing por­ridge. If I lived here, I would eas­ily earn my cof­fee badge! Jane serves homemade cakes made with or­ganic but­ter from Berke­ley Farm Dairy, free range eggs from May­field Eggs near Wit­ney and or­ganic milk in all drinks – her USP. “I have lived in Far­ing­don since 1989 and brought my chil­dren up here. I love its quirk­i­ness and sense of com­mu­nity.”

Quirk­i­ness it cer­tainly has. It’s a good time to in­tro­duce the pi­geons. Naomi and I pop into The Pump House, a Geor­gian Grade II listed build­ing, and chat with friendly staff from Far­ing­don In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre. Here we learn more about Lord Bern­ers, an artist, writer and com­poser who en­ter­tained his guests at Far­ing­don House by dyeing his res­i­dent pi­geons in bright colours – a tra­di­tion still ob­served on spe­cial oc­ca­sions. “We have our own plas­tic ver­sions which are sell­ing like hot cakes,” says Re­bekah Pugh, deputy town clerk. One of her col­leagues Val Sans­ford has lived in the town all her life. “As a child I was used to see­ing dif­fer­ent coloured pi­geons and none of us thought it was un­usual at the time. Now and then there are colour­ful ones around to keep his mem­ory alive,” she adds. On a more se­ri­ous note, ‘Hos­pi­tal: Far­ing­don’s Pump House in WW1,’ is on show un­til Jan­uary 2019 and is a mov­ing yet in­for­ma­tive trib­ute to the nurses who treated 242 men suf­fer­ing with 74 dif­fer­ent wounds and ill­nesses. These in­cluded gun­shot and shrap­nel wounds, shell shock, gas poi­son­ing, frost­bite, malaria and trench foot. Orig­i­nal items from the Red Cross’s his­tor­i­cal col­lec­tion make it a fas­ci­nat­ing ex­hi­bi­tion. Heroin was then sold to adults and chil­dren as cough sweets and mor­phine and co­caine kits were sold in shops as ‘a wel­come present for friends at the front.’ In the foyer of the Pump House are scores of rocks with painted pop­pies on them. It’s part of an in­stal­la­tion that will go on show at the old town hall and war me­mo­rial. The aim is to have enough peb­bles to mark ev­ery year that each of the 97 Far­ing­don sol­diers who died dur­ing bat­tle, lived. For­mer mayor Cllr Dr Mike Wise is cur­rently putting to­gether a de­tailed pro­file on each of the men who rep­re­sented Far­ing­don in the First World War. A Remembrance Pa­rade will also take place on Sun­day, Novem­ber 11, fea­tur­ing glass sil­hou­ettes to il­lus­trated the con­cept ‘there but not there.’

‘I have lived in Far­ing­don since 1989. I love its quirk­i­ness and com­mu­nity’

Far­ing­don Folly, built by Lord Bern­ers in 1935. Photo by Adele Vin­cent

Part of the ex­hi­bi­tion, Hos­pi­tal: Far­ing­don’sPump House in WW1 The Pump House Project

Jane Ren­nells in Stay Grounded Cof­fee shop and Deli

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