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Leah's blog

Thursday 21 June 2012

How The Lace makers of Sansepolchro gave me the key to the captain's daughter

Leah writing in TuscanyIf you are ever in the beautiful Tuscan region close to Arezzo and Anghiari, there’s a wonderful walled town called Sansepolchro, the birthplace of  artist, Piero della Francesco but it is also on the world lace makers’ map for another reason. Every two years they hold an International Festival of lace here based from The Museum of Lace.

The Museum of LaceIt was here I met Anna and Leila who opened up the Museum especially for me to view the collection so I could build up my knowledge of Italian styles of design. Stories begin with a hunch, a sudden middle of the night feeling and I knew from the start that lace was important in my novel but knew nothing much on the subject.

The Museum of Lace BooteesYou can see the museum is an historical treasure trove of beautiful objects but it was shoes I wanted to see. How to explain with no Italian and they, with little English, what I was looking for? Yet there’s always a way and once they knew, a quick phone call brought a pair of beautiful bootees for me to see.

The Museum of Lace Beautiful BooteesIt was a never to be forgotten morning and now the book is out in Italy as: La strada in fondo al mare.  I made sure a copy was sent as a thank you. They have no idea how that brief visit both to the town and museum sparked off so many chapters. Researching is often a fascinating journey and thirsty work and sitting in the piazza sipping Prosecco, listening to the church bells will live with me always.

Monday 11 June 2012


Jubilee BannersAfter the Sunday storms of the 3rd of June, it was a relief to wake up to sunshine and know the village Jubilee day wasn’t going to be a soggy disaster. All the bunting was still intact, the flags flying and the Crown round the tree looking splendid. Even these banners (made early in the 20th century) stayed put.

Jubilee Crown

In the old days it was tradition here to make wonderful scaffold arches, covered in branches across all the roads but Health and Safety put paid to that long ago. So we decorated doors and gates with wreaths and ribbons to jolly the place up.


Jubilee Village PictureEveryone gathered for the village photograph on the green, bravely batting off a cloud of biting midges that descended out of nowhere. The last photo was taken at the Millennium and sadly many faces were absent from the front row but great to see so many babies and young kids to fill their places.

Jubilee Village InstituteThen we trooped to the Village hall for a Jacob’s Join feast. How do we always manage to feed the five thousand and still have leftovers? From cupcakes, salads to trifle, you name it, someone brought it. The gathering finished with a sing along with tunes from 60 years to a rousing chorus of Rule Britannia.

Off then for wine and a tour of the gardens of the Hall, admiring their walled kitchen garden and wondering if any of us can muster better produce to beat Tim, the gardener at our Flower and Produce Show in August!

Jubilee beaconThe finale came at dusk as we climbed up the crags to where the Jubilee Beacon brazier was strategically placed on high looking out at the last rays of sunset. One by one we saw bonfires and fireworks blazing out across the valley and those brave souls on the very summit saw a beacon on Coniston Old Man far off in the Lake District whilst corks were popped in celebration: A right royal end to a grand Yorkshire day.