Lifestyle and Entertainment

Why we started guidl

Joe Butler
January 17, 2024
5 min read
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Fittingly, as last week I pondered  our Christmas traditions,  I engaged today in another one of my regular rituals.  I had my haircut in the lead-up to Christmas, at my barbers in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Whilst in the chair, I got chatting to the barber and told him all about guidl. Thankfully, he liked the idea and told me about the guidl tour he would do of the town. My normal ‘zero-point-five back and sides fade, a little bit off the top, two on the beard and the edges sharpened up’ finished more quickly than usual and because my wife was doing some shopping at the supermarket, I had some time to kill.

Upon leaving the barber, I reflected I’d possibly left my head a tad too exposed to the cold winter wind. I looked for somewhere cosy and warm, and saw the Oxfordshire Museum.  I love museums. We are incredibly lucky in the UK that they are free and accessible to the public. It is saddening in these wintry economic climes that museums are having to consider charging admission fees once more.  

Now the full catalogue of things I found interesting, as I wiled away that hour in the museum far exceeds the word count of this blog. Perhaps more importantly, I was struck by the density of amazing ‘stuff’ in this little town and I realised that this perfectly encapsulated why we started guidl.  

For me as a medical doctor, the apothecary’s chest that was owned by the house’s previous Victorian owner was especially interesting. It was still filled to the brim with wacky medications such as Spirit of Camphor and Spirit of Hartshorn, things I’m certain would result in my immediate erasure from the medical register if I prescribed them today.  

But Woodstock’s history goes back further. The Stonesfield Embroidery, a now 250 year-old tapestry recreation of a 1600 year-old roman mosaic found just outside Woodstock sits pride of place in one room celebrating Woodstock’s Anglo Saxon and Roman past. Sir John Vanburgh, who designed Blenheim palace, reportedly nicked a section to inspire his creation. If you’d wanted to see the original mosaic today you’d be out of luck; the farmer who discovered it deliberately destroyed it after an argument with the landlord about the profits from the find.  

Nevertheless, walking this ground would still have you retracing the steps of medieval royalty as they hunted. You’d also retrace my steps, as I proposed to my now-wife whilst she had a mouthful of cheese, over a picnic in July 2022. You’d also, if my next-door neighbour would have you believe, be able to see an actual Witches’ Coven. More festively, you might embark on Blenheim Palace’s Christmas Lights trail.  

The richness of stories and perspectives that inhabit this place create a unique tapestry of meaning and inspiration. Everything that exists now is in some way, a result of what came before. It might be a reproduction, an evolution, a reaction, a homage, or a critique. It might be something so different it seems completely original.  We want guidl to be a bridge, allowing any creator to weave these new experiences and make them accessible to anyone, everywhere. Only then can we all celebrate and engage with the history, culture, nature, aesthetics and perspectives that surround us all.

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