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Dear Diary: Burley, miserable folk and goddesses

On Friday 13th myself and the Kitchen Witch posse paid a visit to the little village of Burley in the New Forest. I have been several times over the past few years and my parents used to take our children there for a day out when they were young. It is a tiny village with a handful of shops, a few cafes and a couple of pubs. It is set in beautiful countryside and as part of the New Forest you will find wild horses, deer and sometimes pigs roaming freely.

The village of Burley has a definite witchy theme, this stems from a famous witch, Sybil Leek having lived there during the late 1950s. She would apparently often be seen walking through the village with her pet jackdaw sitting on her shoulder. The village also has a long history with smuggling and a dragon legend rooted in the landscape too.

Having spent some time watching a herd of deer just after we parked the cars. We then had some lovely coffees in the Noohn café before we started. Walking around the shops there are plenty of witchy bits and bobs on offer along with some fairy items, a small clothing shop, a fudge shop and a delightful store selling wax melts and bath bombs. After the shops we headed to the Old Farmhouse Restaurant which was fabulous. Then we headed off on a mystery tour, following Heather’s internal sat nav where we found the most gorgeous woodland walk full of autumn leaves, toadstools and trees of all kinds.

It was a lovely day but one thing in particular stood out for me and that was the people we met, it was a real mixed bag of responses. In the Noohn café the staff was incredibly friendly. A man and his dog came in whilst we were ordering and I asked if it was OK to greet his dog, he said yes but was very grumpy (the man, not the dog). As we left the café a group of cyclists entered who were very friendly and cheerful. Onto the other shops we went in, most of them didn’t greet us, in fact none of them did – apart from one. The lady in the bath bomb shop was incredibly welcoming. At one point whilst standing outside a shop, a couple of gentlemen were looking in the window and trying to decide between two items. We engaged them in some friendly banter…which was met with stony stares. In the Old Farmhouse Restaurant however, the two ladies and a chap that greeted us and brought our food could not have been more welcoming, chatty and friendly. When we are out and about anywhere we often say hello to folk or engage people in friendly conversation, complete strangers but we believe it makes the world a better place. A friendly hello or a ‘can I say hello to your dog’ goes a long way to put positive energy out there. Now of course I understand that you never know what anyone else is going through and there could have been a very good reason why ‘man and his dog’ was incredibly grumpy towards me. But it really struck me how many of the people we encountered in such a small space that were miserable and unengaging.

Side note: We were very disappointed that Sybil Leek was not represented anywhere that we saw within the village. One witchcraft shop had a small photo on the wall and that was it. The whole reason the village has a history of witchcraft is because of Sybil and most of the businesses there are built on that legend. It is sad that her memory does not seem to be more prominent.

Burley is worth a visit, but it doesn’t take long to look around the shops. It does have some brilliant cafes and the woodlands surrounding it are beautiful. On the road into Burley you are surrounded by breathtaking moorlands with lots of walks and rambles to take. And of course, there are the wild horses and deer too.

The original artwork for the cover of my book Pagan Portals Sulis, created by Suzi arrived home on Friday too. She has been living with Heather for a couple of weeks and was apparently happy to sit watching the goings on or a while and even agreed to be put in a bag for the car journey. At the moment she is propped up on my altar but that isn’t the right place. I don’t know what is yet, so I am letting her find her bearings before she gives me further instructions. She is currently being glared at by The Cailleach, so I think they might have to be separated soon.

It was whilst wandering in Burley that I realised I have lost some of my connection recently. Sometimes it creeps up and you don’t notice until you realise you haven’t had that support or lifeline to the divine for a while. But with the crisp cool air of autumn now seeping in I can feel the pull from The Cailleach so I am going to spend some quality time with her over the next couple of weeks. She always manages to kick my butt into action.

Other than that it has been a quiet week here at Kitchen Witch HQ, most of my time has been focused on prepping for the secret project, I will be able to reveal the details soon.

Although Pete has updated the image on the front of my website, the other one was a couple of years out of date. My hairstyles change so frequently!

It is a mad world out there at the moment, be kind to each other.


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I found the same in Burley earlier this year, met some friends we’d not seen for about five years, Coven of Witches and the cafe we went to, were wonderfully welcoming but the rest… it wasn’t very nice.

I have mixed feeling about the olave anyway, didnt Sybil get so much hassle she moved out? Yet at least three shops wrre witchy ones when we were there.

Rachel Patterson
Rachel Patterson

She did move to the US, it does seem she was not approved of by the locals at the time.

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