Friday, 18 November 2011

Country Life........

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 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.


  1. Hello:
    Dorset is our favourite English county and we absolutely adore Lyme Regis. When we lived in Herefordshire we would often go there at a weekend and spend many happy hours just walking along the Cobb and up and down the High Street. We stayed at the Hotel Alexandra, the Ally Pally to us, but now somewhat over boutiqued for our liking.

    How we can imagine your spending time on the beach, seeking fossils and watching the crashing waves. Such a pity that glorious sunshine over Golden Cap seemed to evade you. Next time...!!!

  2. Dorset is one of my favourite bits of the country too and your descriptions of food have put me in mind of breakfast...

  3. glad you got some inspiration from getting away - good for t'soul! x

  4. Withnail and I is one of my favorite movies and "We've gone on holiday by mistake" is one of my favorite lines from it.
    The country sounds lovely.

  5. I've never been to Dorset, but you have made me want to try it out. I felt like I was reading a Dickens novel, lovely post!
    Di :-)

  6. Thank you for taking us along.

  7. Wonderful! can I have a signed copy when your novel comes out? x

  8. First of all, note to organic apple cider vinegar !!!!
    Sounds as if you had a wonderful time. I love this time of year by the coast.....empty beaches, pubs with candlelight and angry seas. Wonderful.....and a slice or four of coffee cake is even cosier !!
    As much as I LOVE London, it's good to get away to the country now and again. XXXX

  9. I was trying to do the apple cider thing neat!! Ta for the tip. I love Dorset. x

  10. Lyme Regis - John Fowles country. HOw great it would be to spend a week there reading some of his novels.

    I had a brief flirtation with the diluted cider vinegar trick, but now I just drink cider, which really does cure absolutely everything.

  11. I, unfortunately, agree with looby, cider;YES. Vinegar; NO.

    Country life is fantastic, much better quality than London, which, apart from the theatres and galleries and museums, frankly, stinks. Oh, forgot the shopping. Still stinks.

    Try Scrumpy instead of Prosecco. Scrumpy gets you pissed quicker. And it's cheaper.

  12. We live on the Dorset border practically & never explore. Must must must...

    off to buy some cider vinegar !

  13. Sounds like a little slice of heaven. (Extra points for prosecco and "Withnail & I" references.)

    I drink lemon juice in hot water but I haven't had the courage to try apple cider vinegar.

  14. Homemade crumpets and prosecco as you look down on the harbour sounds good to me. Things clearly improved after the pea-souper.

  15. Sounds wonderful, I'm intrigued by the bottle crate.
    Any chance of a pic?