Welcome to the February edition of the new CHEQS Magazine! Your community magazine – supported by representatives of the five village communities, Coln St Aldwyns, Hatherop, Quenington, Eastleach and Southrop.
Welcome to a whistle-stop tour of my life so far! I was born in Cirencester, studied at Cheltenham School of Art, married in 1963, and we then lived at Eaton Hastings (between Lechlade and Faringdon), where I founded the Lechlade Cub Pack.
However, in 1975 I needed a home for myself and my two children, and early the following year we arrived at Fyfield. It was a working dairy farm with 300 head of cattle, small hedge-bound fields, an abundance of wildlife, and lots of mud! Most dwellings in the villages were family-occupied with people working locally, mainly on the land. Eastleach and Southrop still supported a permanent village shop & post office in those days. My children attended Southrop School, and went on to Farmors, where Simon was made head boy and Jo was always in trouble for having pink hair!
Life was busy, with two children, numerous animals, and running the cub pack – besides helping with the PTA, and Southrop Children’s Fund (annually providing a sports day and Christmas party) amongst other things. I seemed to have plenty of energy in those days! Frank Howarth and I founded and ran a Southrop Youth Group, and I became a founder member of the Fairford Art Society when I began painting again. There were barn dances and harvest suppers in the tythe barn, village fetes… and one of the highlights of the year – the Leach Valley Players’ annual play, run
by the amazing Jean Steel, with rehearsals all through the winter, and a show in March before the lambing season began.
My paintings were now selling in local galleries, as well as The Victoria Inn and The Swan. I took part in exhibitions, and regularly had a stall at Cirencester Craft Market. The children had now flown the nest. A City & Guilds qualification in Flower Arranging, creating celebration and bedding flower arrangements, together with teaching in three counties and a stint on Eastleach Parish Council filled the void.
Fyfield has been kind to me, providing me with inspiration and materials to follow a creative path through most of my working life. A slower rhythm of life now prevails, but I’m still painting the local landscapes and walking the footpaths. I like to think I’ve given something back to a community that welcomed, encouraged and supported me throughout that first difficult time some 45 years ago – when I thought it would
just be a temporary stay!
Margaret Stranks – Editor