An unexpected parcel

For this post we’re taking a bit of a break from the horror fiction.

Some of you may remember that a couple of months ago I received a strange package through my letterbox, I wrote about it here:

The Shadow Over Soddenham

Well, reality slipped again this morning and I received another, slightly larger, unexpected parcel. All wrapped up in brown paper and tied with string, with a quote from Confucius in place of the usual postage stamp. This had to be from the good folks at Soddenham, Norfolk.

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I carefully placed it on the table (after listening to it to make sure it wasn’t ticking) and gently teased open the knot in the string. As the brown paper unfolded I was confronted with, what I thought at first to be, a beautiful handbound notebook with an oxblood cover. A paper label adorned the cover bearing the Soddenham crest.

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Along with this was a beautifully typed letter from, no less than, the chairman of the Soddenham Historical Society and Curry Club himself, Mr. Les Taret!

On opening the notebook I discovered that – no, it wasn’t a notebook at all! but a beautifully made presentation case containing samples of genuine Soddenham lichen, one piece of Extra Virgin, pre-harvest lichen (still on the branch) and another of pure ground lichen powder in a tiny glass phial.

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Perhaps I should explain a little about the importance of lichen to the economic history of Soddenham. Soddenham was once a major centre for lichen farming in the UK, their lichen orchards were famed for the quality of their produce and they exported it all over the Empire for the manufacture of spume. You can read more about it on this fascinating article on the Soddenham website here:

Lichen and The Decline of Spume

Sadly, due to the decline of the spume industry, Soddenham now has only one lichen orchard left, which is also the last one in England, as attested by the accompanying Certificate of Authenticity.

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In conclusion, I would just like to say a huge thankyou to Mr Taret and the other members of the SHSACC, Mssrs. Pardow, Drewery, Dengue and Thule and to the treasurer, Ms. Smokepipe. Also to Mr. Furcleby, the last remaining lichen husbandman. Thankyou all, I shall treasure this artifact; myself and Mrs Nash may well brush off our old Pashley tandem this summer and take a trip across to visit your wonderful village to experience the orchard for ourselves.

The Shadow over Soddenham

I do enjoy it when reality slips sideways just a little bit. A few days ago I commented on this excellent blogpost from this excellent blog:

Click here to see the excellent blogpost

Yesterday I came home to find a small and peculiar brown paper package laying in my hallway, looking very out of place, otherworldly even, amongst the regular post. I carefully opened it to find my very own edition of the very same pamphlet courtesy of Mr Les Taret & Mr Eric Nullbrigg of the Soddenham Historical Society and Curry Club.

What a beautiful thing it is, too! Gorgeously tactile paper bound with linen cord, the ends of which have been dipped in red wax or dye? At least I hope it’s wax or dye! It’s certainly deep red in colour!!

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The contents are an assortment of children’s rhymes which have been, and possibly still are, popular amongst the children of the small Norfolk village of Soddenham. Many of these rhymes, as children’s rhymes tend to be, are of a rather sinister nature, pertaining often to the village’s troubled history with witchcraft.

To highlight the nature of the verse we also have a series of woodcut illustrations with suitably dark overtones.

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I also received an invitation to visit the village of Soddenham. I may well take them up on the offer at some point although I will try to avoid the major festival dates as I understand that some locals in villages such as this can get a bit excitable with their bonfires, especially with those outsiders that arrive ‘of their own free will’.

I will of course also practise thinking of brick walls. Just in case there are bands of fair-haired children with staring eyes roaming the streets. One can never be too careful.

If anyone else out there wishes to visit the small village of Soddenham then more information can be found here:

Click here to visit Soddenham