With the temperature on the thermometer threatening to dip into minus figures and a bitter wind sweeping across the County making it seem lower still, the prospect of flicking through gauzy summer clothes held little appeal. The remnants of last season's wear - the sensible woolies and fleeces in the odd colours, styles and sizes that nobody wanted - were to be found tucked away in a corner and labelled 'Final Reductions! 30% Off! Sale Must End Soon!' Blow that for a game of soldiers too.
So having a couple of hours to spare before the train was due I took myself to the archives and whistled up a book - The Commonplace Book of Holy Trinity Church, Middleton in Chirbury. It's the Parish Log Book and mostly the work of the Rev. Waldegrave Brewster BA, Middleton's incumbent during the last quarter of the 19th century. His bold hand records, as I expected, the day to day accounts of the Parish, audits and events, visitations and parochial observations.
But hang on - here's a plan of his orchard; 2 sheets taped into the book. Apples and pears, plums and gages, a couple of walnut trees. I do not recognise the names for the most part - they're old varieties which have gone out of fashion perhaps. He has also plotted the mean monthly temperature and rainfall - 2 more sheets of figures to go alongside the expected offertory and attendance statistics.
The Rev. Brewster is clearly fascinated by the history of his parish - and it is a parish steeped in the stuff of myth and legend: Wild Edric, Mitchell's Fold, the Fairy Cow and half remembered tales of Holy Wells and mighty bulls from the deepest darkest past. He writes, draws, measures and notes snippets of information; dialect words, old peoples' tales as told to them by their fathers are faithfully recorded between Church teas and lists of choir members. I began to wonder if this interest was to take over the Vicar's life - obsessed him in a minor way perhaps. During his latter years in the Parish Brewster embellished his church with carvings of astrological figures and the story of the fairy cow. These I have not seen yet.
I was very tempted not to return this little book to the librarian. Its busy pages covered in the fading ink of Brewster's busy pen would keep me occupied for hours. However back in its box it went and back to rest deep in the archive.
I went home then out to the WI where they attempted to teach me to crochet. Give me strength.....Give me batty vicars any day rather than a keen woman armed with wool and needles.