Romney Ewes

I have barely picked up a pair of needles since my last post. The summer has oozed past in a fog of work and tension. There hasn’t even been much sunshine to encourage the heart. Still, Autumn heralds the return of my knitting enthusiasm, and I already have a couple of small things on the needles.

In the meantime, some barely related sheepishness…

A week ago I went up to London to witness a peculiar event. To wit: a group of guild members and other Freemen of the City exercising their ancient right to “herd sheep over London Bridge without need or cause of having to pay a toll or fine.” This privilege dates back to the thirteenth century, and gave freemen the opportunity to trade in the city’s markets without having to pay extortionate bridge tolls. Needless to say, the right is seldom exercised now – there being no livestock markets in the Square Mile these days – but this opportunity to try out the privilege drew many of the lucky few who are eligible (my dad among them).

Crossing

The sheep who had been volunteered for duty were a flock of fifteen Romney ewes. They were impeccably groomed and very well behaved – their owner had trained them for the occasion by marching them alongside busy roads and clashing bin lids together. Reports suggest their fleece was very soft, and I have ambitious plans to procure some from next year’s shearing to make some ‘Freeman’ socks for the parent.

The event was patronised by the Lord Mayor of London (whose charity benefited from sponsorship), and where the Lord Mayor goes, his bodyguard goes too. These members of the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers were dressed in their heavy uniform (including helmet), and carried pikes and muskets while marching back and forth across London Bridge for four hours under bright sun. Their elaborate appearance and behaviour drew some bemused stares from tourists and some smiles from depressed City bankers.

Company of Pikemen and Musketeers

They weren’t the only people to get dressed up. Here are some lady shepherdesses, and a different kind of pastor.

Bo PeepAnother kind of shepherd

We had a great day – finished off with some lunch from Borough Market and a quick visit to All the Fun of the Fair (my idea of sheepish fun).

Cache coeur in progress

Now I can get back to my new-found enthusiasm for knitting: starting with a quick baby wrap that will need to be sent on to South America in the next week.

I hope to have this finished in the next couple of days, after which I’ll try to tackle the queue of recipients in need of winter wear.

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