As I am still recovering from my pulmonary emboli I get tired quite easily, so spent half of Friday resting, knowing that the latter part of the day would be college and then a drive to the Cotswolds to visit my friend Alison and her girlfriend Hannah.
Packing was difficult with the changeable weather and no firm plans. I did check with Alison whether they had hairdryers (which would free up space in my overnight bag). Her text response ‘Of course!!!!!!! We might be lesbians but we still have hair =)) ha ha ha ha’ was amazing. I didn’t want to assume or embrace any clichés!
College is turning out to be pretty great, and it’s a massive positive step for me as I fight to get my life back on course, and then beyond its course.
Ways into Creative Writing – An Introduction is conducted at City Lit, which is between Holborn and Covent Garden. I drove in from Crouch End so as to be able to head straight out of town once the two hour lesson was complete.
At 8pm roads should be clear(er), but I had to fight to get out of Covent Garden, up to the Euston Road, and then battle along the A40. I was tired and wondered whether I should have set off early on Saturday morning rather than battle late, furious traffic . I had not driven for 2 hours this year and rationalised that if it exhausted me, I could relax at their home. We had no absolute commitments for the weekend.
As the M4 took me further away from London, it also took me further away from the heavy and urgent volume of vehicles, all with somewhere very important to be. Once I veered off the motorway heading passed Swindon and towards Cirencester the pace slowed even more.
I had arranged to meet Alison at her local pub, and we pulled into the carpark at the same time. It was lovely to see her, and we embraced a welcome before heading straight to the bar for a much needed glass of wine. I would have ordered sherry but didn’t think they would have it. Rather foolish conclusion on my part as the next day they confirmed they had several varieties, including my beloved Fino. The Malbec wetting my lips was a fair substitute.
Hannah came to meet us and got straight into gossip with some of the locals, before we drove the short journey to their Tallet hidden behind grand automatic wooden gates.
We chatted until the early hours over a bottle of Bordeaux and headed for slumber. I did notice a lack of dungarees and was offered cheese and celery rather than humus! Hmmm they were not embracing clichés of their lifestyle choices, and in doing so dispelling the need for my funny asides!
The next morning I was greeted by the most stunning views across the Cotswolds rolling countryside in the sun .
Breakfast was being debated in the kitchen. Alison wanted to cook a full hearty breakfast but needed more eggs and sausages. This was not Crouch End and the shops were a drive away. Hannah wanted to makes pancakes with blueberries and bacon (all ingredients available). Two women in the kitchen discussing matters of such magnitude, and both making fair points, so I switched my attention to my iPad. The conversation stopped and they looked at me and asked me which I preferred…
The ramifications are sufficiently severe if you get with choice wrong with one female but two! My knowledge dictated to not make the decision. I suggested that either sounded fine! But did smugly think to myself that they needed a man to make the decision! I thought better than to say this out loud .
Pancakes won though, so Hannah was head chef, with Alison’s promise of local sausage to follow the next morning. Stop the press I spotted stiletto shoes! (and they weren’t mine)
Delicious! Following, showers and debate as to what to wear on a country walk (my debate, not theirs! Walking boots selected over prada trainers, with leatherette trousers, and cool T) we set off in the glorious early afternoon sun across beautiful fields, with tales of watching lambs being born, and seeing sights and signposts in every season.
We paused on a grassy knoll and set out an afternoon picnic of quiche (made by Alison after breakfast), and salad followed by strawberries and cream moistened by a crisp, chilled white wine.
As I lay back in the afternoon sun, I mused that a Boulevardier could get used to this, and then a horn sounded. Hannah and Alison announced it was the hunt! After brief discussion of the merits or not of hunting the horn sounded again! As we were below a hill I was slightly concerned that the horses might head this way and crush us. I suggested that we keep an eager eye for the fox!
The horn again! Followed by laughter from Hannah, who had suddenly realised this was in fact text messages arriving on her phone! Her alert being that of a convincing horn!
Now Alison and I are tainted by the smoky city, and could easily make this ‘mistake’ but Hannah! And it was her own phone to boot! Oh how we laughed!
We efficiently rolled the picnic gear back into the rucksack and carried on the walk to the pub (more sustenance or rather booze needed!). We walked through meadows with blankets of buttercups, and it was a sumptuous visual feast!
Pub garden with a Tanqueray and slimline tonic and two pints of beer. Guess who had the gin!
We sat at the wooden pub bench, chatting, musing, and watching the world go by…
Hannah returned from the bar with more supplies, and announced that we had been invited to a BBQ. How hospitable the locals were. We decided to eat at the pub and turn up at the BBQ later for a drink!
We left the comfort of our corner table, and our vista of the lovely mixture of farmers, gamekeepers, butlers, and under game keepers, and headed a few roads away to the Cotswold stone cottage belonging to Zoe and Adam. They were hosting some other locals too who were all very friendly albeit rather quirky. I am not sure why I am surprised at the quirkiness in the country! I grew up with it after all!
Another glass of red as we sat on the picnic blanketed grass exchanging anecdotes with Zoe, whilst Adam built a fire in the brazier to keep the nip of the air at bay.
‘Did you get your lamp in Jordan?’ Alison asked Zoe.
‘Sorry?’ Zoe asked quizzically.
‘Your beautiful oil lamp. The last time I saw one like it was in Jordan, the country…’ Alison added.
‘No I got it in the charity shop.’ Zoe advised ‘And it says ‘Made in England’ on the bottom’!
So glad that despite several years in the wilderness of ‘outside London’, Alison still maintained her cultural reference.
The Tallet seemed to be requesting our company, from afar, and we answered its call, headed back, and proceeded to fall asleep on the comfortable leather sofas as Miles Davis tickled our ears.
Full beautiful breakfast or rather brunch the following day, and I boarded my hybrid Lexus back to London.
This Boulevardier is a city man through and through, but how wonderful to spend such magnificent weekends in the country with lovely friends, old and new. (Even if they dispel my beliefs that all lesbians own and display all clichés).