Friday, 18 November 2011
I have been to the country. The proper a-long-way-from-London country. Hardy country. My cousin has moved to Dorset and so I channeled my inner Tess, packed a basket, put on my bonnet and went visiting.
Leaving London by railway train I noted that the top of Battersea Power Station was not even visible so dense was the foggy day. I right pea-souper and no mistake. By Basingstoke the weather had made little improvement. It is one thing to visit the countryside in sunshine, quite another on a dank, drizzle heavy day. My demeanour was little improved upon arrival at the railway station where my cousin informed me the oil for the aga had run out that very morning and there would be no new delivery till after I had departed. I feared, like Withnail, I may have gone on holiday by mistake.
But by the time the drizzle had turned to rain we were safely seated in a warm bar-cum-tearoom in Bridport......country folk appear to know how to cover all bases...... eating delicious Welsh Rarebit, drinking beer and eyeing up the fatest coffee cake I've ever seen.
The 7-bedroom house is huge; a shabby-Georgian gem from which one might expect to see Mrs Bennet emerge in search of Lizzie or Lydia, right opposite a large farm with a lot of cows ....... and a lot of country air. The cost of renting this beast is less than a 2-bedroom flat in north London. The next day the sun was out and we headed to the sea. We walked with the children and their dog along the beach and I filled my pockets with stones...... for my bathroom. The sea sparkled and crashed and lapped the shore like liquid silver. We searched through the bric and brack and tat of the market: Noddy Annuals, stuffed seagulls, blue glass bottles and Marks & Spencer mohair cardis, looking for hidden treasures. I bought an old bottle crate originally from a bar in New York that had somehow washed-up in Bridport which has inspired me to repaint my kitchen. And then we went to Lyme Regis and sat in the window of Hix Oyster & Fish House, perched high on the hill looking down on the Cobb and across the harbour, and ate homemade.... yes homemade ..... crumpets with homemade jam and thick cream and drank Prosecco while watching the dark creep in over the sea and the lights come on along the shore. And to mis-quote Lizzie Bennet, perhaps I didn't always love Dorset as well as I do now, but in such cases as these a good memory is unpardonable......
Top tip: I am currently drinking a glass of water with a spoonful of organic apple cider vinegar....tastes horrid but apparently cures everything and restores a child-like bloom of youth.... we'll see.