When I found out my family would be relocating to Wiltshire, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. My husband is a soldier so we don’t exactly choose where we live and don’t always know that much about where we are going. Keeps life interesting, hey?

Things Helen Loves, English countryside views
Country Walks…

Say Wiltshire to most people, they might think Stone circles, Salisbury Plain, Cathedral. As a military wife, I’ve spent years listening to talk of the area becoming a ‘Super Garrison’. So with that and the negative publicity of the Novichok shenanigans in the back of my mind, I reserved judgement. Prepared to make the best of it, uncertain what to expect.

Things Helen Loves, stone circle with thatched cottage in the background
Stone Circles & Open Space…

What I didn’t expect was to very quickly fall in love with area, I didn’t expect our little corner of Wiltshire be so rural. I didn’t expect to feel at so much at home, so quickly. Wiltshire turned out to be a beautiful and heart-warming surprise.

Being a family that moves about a fair bit, we don’t over think where we want to live but focus instead on how we want to live. Things and places that come together to create contentment. Happiness. Home. Many of the things we want to include in our lives regardless of location can be found here. Country walks, open space, historic towns, pretty villages, country pubs, tearooms galore.

Things Helen Loves, image of coffee and cake on vintage inspired crockery
And Vintage Tea Rooms Galore.

All of that to say, Wiltshire is lovely. I feel at home here.

But, there is more. This is the posting that just keeps on giving. Because there is something else I have found all over the place since I moved here. Something is fascinating and utterly charming.  Thatched cottages and their resident straw animals.

Thatched roof & Cottage Gardens.

Until I moved here, I didn’t even realise thatched cottages were still such a common thing. In my ignorance, I thought the skill of thatching was a dying trade and so the thatched cottage was also very rare breed. And while I wouldn’t say it’s common to have a thatched roof in these parts, you won’t have to go far to find the work of a thatcher. And not just homes…pubs, post offices and other places, too.

The roofs themselves are a thing a beauty. Being a technique and a craft rather than an exact science, no two roofs are quite the same.  Some are very plain, some have slight embellishments and patterns. Some fall in a straight line, some curve around porches and doorways. They all have a straight-from-a-story-book, fairy-tale charm about them.

Things Helen Loves, thatched pub image
Thatched pub within a stone circle in Avebury, Wiltshire

And then, some of these heritage properties have a little something else. If you look up and keep looking, you might spot a pheasant, or a couple of hares or even a deer. Not real ones, but ones made of straw. Known as straw finials, this is the modern version of a tradition that goes back centuries.

Things Helen Loves, image of straw animals on cottage roof.
Boxing hares straw finials on top of a thatched cottage near me.

Traditionally, straw dollies and creations were placed on haystacks to indicate ownership and to ward off poor luck and evil spirits. The straw finials of today are a product of creativity rather than superstition, but its lovely to see tradition and creativity coming together. Giving a heritage craft a modern appeal.

I’m a lover of all things woodland and country inspired. So it goes without saying that a thatched roof with a woodland creature as the crowning glory is going to be right up my street. But as I live in a new-ish build military quarter, a thatched roof is out of the question. Imagine explaining that one to the housing officer when we leave? I thought about buying a straw animal for the garden, but that might just prove too much temptation for our mischievous Belgian Shepherd.

Things Helen Loves, Deer wall sticker

But I love the idea of our little home in the country having a woodland creature or two to call it’s own. So, what is a girl to do? Well, reimagine the idea to fit the life we lead. Using vinyl wall stickers from The Woodland Collection at Chocovenyl,I now have a resident deer cheering up a blank space in the hallway. And a squirrel perched over my wardrobe door.

Oh, and a very tolerant husband who never objects to my latest inspired idea. Even if it does mean he gets dressed under the beady eyes of a red squirrel every morning. He’s a keeper.

Things Helen Loves, red squirrel wall sticker

By the way, the deer has been very unimaginatively named Bambi. The squirrel is as yet nameless. I’m open to suggestions, what do you think?

If you’d like to see more examples of the straw finial, take a look at The Straw Store.

If you liked this post you might also enjoy Country Walks: Wooton Rivers

Helen x

9 thoughts

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Nutkin is a strong contender! I’ve nicknamed him/her Little Red for now. It’s as good a name as any, I suppose.

  1. I like Little Red–it seems to suit it! I love these straw roofs and finials–thanks for sharing them. And that slice of cake and cup of cocoa looks delicious!

  2. Be come across plenty of gorgeous thatched cottages but don’t recall noticing their straw animal decorations. I’ll have to look more carefully in the future! Take care, Marion.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I’d never seen them until we moved down here, they are very charming!

  3. It looks beautiful there! I also had no idea that thatched roofs were still a thing! Thank you for sharing!!

    I also vote for Nutkin!

  4. I love to see these old traditions kept alive. I used to live in Jersey and they have ‘Witches Steps’ up the outside of their old stone cottages.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I love the idea that the modern day residents keep a little of the buildings heritage, even if it doesn’t serve a modern day purpose. It’s important to keep the little, unique touches I think!

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