Laurie Lee, author of Cider With Rosie, widely thought to be England’s greatest pastoral writer, was born 100 years ago this coming June.
Below is an except from Diz White’s travel/humour book Cotswolds Memoir which describes her meeting Laurie’s widow Katherine and his daughter Jessy as she explored Laurie’s birthplace in Slad.
NEW! Just Released: AUDIO BOOK of Cotswolds Memoir Discovering a Beautiful Region of Britain on a Quest to Buy a 17th Century Cottage. (Available on Amazon and iTunes)
See Press Release of newly released Audio Book of Cotswolds Memoir below.
EXCERPT ABOUT LAURIE LEE FROM COTSWOLDS MEMOIR
To buck ourselves up we set off early the next morning for a walk that I had wanted to take since reading the charming book Cider With Rosie, which was written by one of England’s greatest pastoral writers, Laurie Lee. This author is not that well known in the US but in England his books are now required reading in many schools. Cider With Rosie, in which Laurie Lee describes his childhood and coming of age, is one of my favourite books and is set where the author was raised, in the village of Slad, just a couple of miles north of Stroud. The Woolpack (Laurie Lee’s local pub), the cottage in which he lived as a child and the village school he attended are all situated along the main street, which is little more than a country lane.
The surrounding Slad Valley has such steep terrain that modern farming machinery cannot be used there and all the farming is still done in the traditional manner. This has made the village, set in this isolated valley, feel like the land that time forgot. As we drove through it we glimpsed the incredible views from Swift’s Hill, which we were glad to see were included in our walk.
When we reached Slad we naturally stopped first at the Woolpack, a two-storey stone inn dating from the sixteenth century, whose name acknowledges the tremendous wealth generated by the wool merchants through the centuries. Nowadays, however, it is associated mostly with Laurie Lee. His curious readers often visit to see the seat that was always saved by the publican solely for Laurie. This is next to his signed portrait and a pile of his books for sale.
The Woolpack Pub, Slad
While Randy got our drinks, I hunted through this stack for a book that I had been unable to find anywhere else. It was entitled Two Women and primarily featured photographs that Laurie Lee had taken of his wife and daughter. This book wasn’t included in the pile of books and the publican didn’t have a copy of it, but promised to produce it by the time we’d finished our walk.
Several of the locals heard this exchange and as we drank our pint of beer they told us stories about this famous author. One old boy talked about the time, several years earlier, when a school bus came by and stopped right by Laurie Lee, who was sitting outside the Woolpack, basking in the sun. A school kid leaned out of the bus window.
‘Does anyone know where Laurie Lee is buried?’ he asked.
Laurie replied, ‘Well, he’s usually buried right here in the pub.’
When he finally died a few years later, he was laid to rest, at his request, in the churchyard opposite. He wanted to be positioned to have a good view of the pub and he got his wish.
The view from Laurie Lee’s Grave
We left the old boys laughing over their recollections and set off on our walk. We strolled downhill from the pub until we found a footpath to Slad Brook in the bottom of the valley, then set off for the hillside, passing the Elliot Nature Reserve on the way, and followed the path to Swift’s Hill high above us. It was a steep climb with only one place to rest before the top. But, once we got there, what a view! It was a sparklingly sunny day and we immediately forgot the exertion of our climb as we looked around. The steep slopes of the Slad Valley and the rolling hills beyond were dotted with sheep and cattle. In the distance we spotted the tiny hamlet of Elcombe nestled in the hillside, its stone cottages framed by the valley’s slopes. We stood on the top of the hill for a long time in the sun and the breeze as we drank in the spectacular views, feeling as though we were on top of the world.
Finally, we descended down Knapp Lane, through Elcombe, past signs to Furness Farm and took a lane that turned sharply to the right. This led us to a track that took us downhill through Redding Wood and into the Slad Valley. The cool dark mustiness of Redding Wood after the bright windy hilltop was a wonderful contrast and we really enjoyed its mysterious, gloomy atmosphere. It was like something from a Tolkien novel. We continued through the trees, downhill past Slad Brook until the track joined Steanbridge Lane and returned us to the Woolpack.
Our walk had taken us on a journey of over two strenuous miles and so we were very hungry for lunch. This was our lucky day – a Sunday actually – because a whole lamb was being barbecued in the pub garden and served for the traditional Sunday lunch, which is always more of a feast in England than any other meal. The scent of the lamb, slathered in garlic and rosemary, wafted up to us from the garden and drove us into a lyrical homage to all sheep everywhere. When it was served it tasted like ‘heaven on a stick’ – my highest compliment. It came with all the trimmings, including mint sauce, a sage dressing, cauliflower cheese, and, of course, roast potatoes.
After lunch the publican beckoned to us from behind the bar. He smiled and said our book would be arriving soon. A short while later, as we finished our coffee, two women walked into the pub and I was thrilled when the publican introduced us to Laurie Lee’s widow Katherine and his daughter Jessy. They had brought Laurie’s book Two Women with them.
I purchased the book and, after signing it, they sat chatting with us for quite a while. When it was time to leave, Katherine told us exactly where to look for the cottage that Laurie Lee had lived in as a child and after we said goodbye we wandered along the main street until we found it set below the road down an embankment nearby. It was fascinating to see the actual setting of Laurie’s book and imagine him living there as a small boy.
As we left the beautiful Slad Valley we decided that our visit there had been one of the highlights of the summer. If the reader hasn’t already come across Cider with Rosie, I highly recommend it.
For Immediate Release
NEW! Audio Book
Discovering a Beautiful Region of Britain
on a Quest to Buy a 17th Century Cottage
by Diz White
Narrated by the Author/Actress – performing 70 Characters
Amazon ASIN number: B00K5KD7NW
Co-Produced & Directed by EMMY AWARD WINNER Marsha Goodman
“Diz White writes about the Cotswolds with such passion. Superb story telling.”
Debbie McGee, BBC
“Extremely entertaining, funny and beautifully written”
Katie Jarvis, Cotswold Life Magazine
The ultimate laugh-out-loud, good life, house-hunting, foodie, travel-tour, meet the eccentric locals, roller-coaster cliff hanger, fun memoir. A love note to the Cotswolds, one of the most beautiful regions of England.
The story began when Award-winning comedy actress Diz White found herself craving Yorkshire Pudding at every meal, knowing that her roots were pulling her back from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to her homeland in the UK. After a holiday in the Cotswolds, with her husband, Diz was sold and the hunt was on to find her dream country cottage.
However, the search wasn’t just about finding the perfect house; it was about discovering the Cotswolds region and meeting some wonderfully eccentric country characters along the way. During her quest, Diz visited Roman settlements, Domesday Churches, archeology digs, and enjoyed river rambles, garden tours and pub hikes.
This memoir explores her journey, through a combination of laugh-out-loud moments and cliff-hanging twists, to the satisfaction of a hard won prize. Not only is Cotswolds Memoir a wonderful story, it’s also a valuable insight into some of the best ‘off-the-beaten-track’ sites and features hints and tips for buying a Cotswold cottage. Photos by Randall Montgomery
● Does for the Cotswolds what Under the Tuscan Sun did for Italy
● Doubles as an informative travel-tour of the Cotswolds
● Valuable Visitor’s Guide Included
● Laugh-out-loud Bill Bryson (Notes from a Small Island)-style humour
● Donation to Cotswolds Conservation Organizations from book’s proceeds
British-born Diz White divides her time between an acting and writing career in Hollywood – credits include Voice – How to Train Your Dragon, Titanic, Friends, Boston Legal and many more On camera: Star Trek Next Generation, Bullshot (HandMade Films) – and the Cotswolds – her passion. She wrote Haunted Cotswolds (The History Press), Haunted Cheltenham (The History Press) and produced with her husband GHOSTS OF GREAT BRITAIN COLLECTION – Haunted Cotswolds DVD (Available on Amazon).
Cotswolds Memoir (All versions) published by Larrabee Libraries, Div.of Larrabee Industries Inc.
Audio Book: Amazon ASIN number: B00K5KD7NW
Also a Paperback Original ISBN 978-0-9571162-0-7 & Kindle ISBN 978-0-9571162-1-4
To review this book or request an interview, Contact: Katie PublicityPromo@aol.com