I spent a few hours at Ann’s helping her in the garden and around the house. In the evening Alan [the chef at the Dove Inn where Linda was working] came down to our place for tea. Linda cooked up a yummy roast of turkey and veggies and we ate it while listening to some of Al’s tapes. After we had finished our meal we biked around to the Prince Leopold pub at Upton Lovell for a beer. It was a freezing cold night and it was a slightly crazy thing to do but it was fun. When we got back to back to our flat we scoffed a cheesecake which made us all feel sick!


TUESDAY 2/10-SATURDAY 6/10 The week shot by once I had gotten into a routine. The job is hard but I guess it is a job and will certainly be a good talking point in years to come!

On Saturday we had to start at 5AM to get as many heads done as possible. So, I had to set out from home at 4:15AM to get to work on time. It was a warm, mild morning with a bright first quarter moon lighting my way as I cycled across the valley listening, appropriately, to Greig’s Morning Mood from Peer Gynt. The village of Heytesbury was silent and asleep and a thin mist drifted with the Swans upon the still water of the Wylye River.

I worked from 5:15AM to 12:30PM then cycled home again. By the time I got home it had turned cold and a howling wind was blowing out of the northwest. I sat outside and fixed the puncture in my bike tire then went upstairs and spent the evening watching TV.


FIRST DAY WITH PIG HEADS. I got up at five and after I had made some lunch and had breakfast, I set off in the dark to ride to work. It took 40 minutes as I had found out yesterday afternoon when I cycled in to see how long it would take. The trip home had taken a bit longer as I had had a puncture and after going to every garage in Warminster looking for a spare, I ended up pushing the damn thing home and pouring rain.

Anyway, when I arrived at Wylye Valley Meats, the boss, Tony, gave me a blue coat and a little white plastic hat and I was set to work picking up pig heads and putting them down on tables to be boned out. What a job!

It seemed to take forever for the day to pass but eventually it was home time and I biked home again. I arranged with a bloke from Sutton Veny to get a ride into work from now on until we can get a car.

In the evening we went into Warminster to the Rose and Crown pub for drinks as it was Alan‘s birthday.


I drove Betty down to Wilton where she was taking a party through Wilton House, the family seat of the Earl of Pembroke. She has worked as a tour guide at Wilton for many years.

The tour lasted about an hour and the old house has a veritable treasure trove of paintings, antiques and memorabilia from its 400 year history. The most striking parts of the house are the Cube Room and the Double Cube Room. The Cube Room is exactly 30 feet wide and high, ornately decorated and with a large painting of Icarus on the ceiling. The Double Cube Room is 60 feet long and 30 feet high, also elaborately decorated with swags of fruit, flowers and foliage gilded in different shades of gold. 

The room remains the same today as when it was completed in 1653 and the walls are covered by large paintings of the Herbert family by van Dyck including a small portrait of the ill-fated King Charles I.1 

When the tour was finished we went for a walk in the gardens then I had a quick look at the elaborate model railway in one of the buildings. On the way back to Corton we stopped to take Betty’s dog, Brum, for a walk and carried on back to Corton. In the evening I went up to the Dove for a beer.

1 Avid readers of this blog will remember that my ancestor, John Blakiston, was one of the signatories of the Death Warrant of King Charles.


I caught the bus into town and went to Wylye Valley Meats Ltd and got a job as a labourer starting on Monday. The job pays £150 a week and the boss, Tony Coombes, said that if I want to have a go at boning, which can pay up to £300 per week, I can later on.

I was rather happy as I walked into town to do some grocery shopping and a few other things. While I was waiting for the bus back to Upton Lovell I wrote a letter to Mick and Roz [my cousin and his wife] sitting in the sun on the footpath.

A letter I wrote to my brother on this day.


I caught an early bus down to Salisbury and went to the Job Centre – nothing…
In the evening Ann dropped us off in Warminster and we went to one of the pubs then for a delicious curry. We caught a taxi back to the manor.


Spent the day doing more or less nothing. After Linda finished work we took our bikes up to the top of Burial Hill on the Wheatley-Hubbard Estate. We stood at the top of the hill and watched as a storm rolled across the valley, cloaking the land with grey and setting the trees around us swaying and roaring with its knife-edge wind.


I borrowed Ann’s car and drove up to Lydiard Millicent to pick up our stash of winter gear. John was away in Rome but Sally was there and she gave me lunch. We chatted for an hour or so and I did a small job for her tidying up some fallen branches in the garden under the weeping oak.

Back at Corton we packed away all our winter woollies and after Linda went back to work I spent the evening watching the black-and-white TV that Ann has lent us.


Linda and I both slept in and it was only a phone call from Ann at 10:30 that woke us up. After Linda went to work I borrowed Ann’s car and went into Warminster. I went to the Job Centre but there wasn’t much on offer there, then had a look around the shops and bought some groceries. Linda and I spent the latter part of the afternoon setting up house in our new flat in Cortington Manor.