July 12, 2010
Flicking idly through the pages of ‘Country Living’ Magazine in the front room of your townhouse will give you a distinct impression of how you visualise your perfect country life. In the house of your dreams. Of how you might enjoy your time in a tiny cottage in a remote village were you just able to maybe give up work or forgo the conveniences of city living. The shops, the public transport, cinemas, theatres, museums. How beautiful would be the roses over the door, and the intertwined clematis and honeysuckle clambering up a barge board wall. The vegetables growing in a tiny patch of land at the back of the cottage. Leeks, rocket, runner beans and fragrant sweet peas clinging to a woven hazel wicket fence.
On Saturday evening Maureen and I drove over to Mark and Jane’s cottage in ‘Akenfield’, a cottage completely filling the bill of everybody’s ideal country residence, for a wonderful evening eating in the garden. Jane cooked Moroccan lamb with apricots, aubergine and mozzerella casserole and cous-cous, followed by polenta cake and a side dish of wild cherries picked from the hedgerow that afternoon. We took with us presents of Maureen’s home made bread and some fresh peas, plus the bottle of robust vin de pays. We were introduced to Jane’s crazy friend Jill, a healer and follower of lay lines who lives in a van and has just returned from eight years living in Spain, so is now readjusting to life in the old country. So we sat in the early evening sun on this quiet lane used only, it would seem, by solitary dog walkers and occasional cyclists, and we watched the sun set while Mark placed candle lamps in the trees. This was perfection. Thank you Mark and Jane for a beautiful evening passed in idyllic surroundings and in excellent company. This is the life.
Yesterday we took Felicia to Heveningham Hall Country Fair. There seems to be so many events and festivals in the area at this time of year, including Latitude next weekend, Helmingham Hall Classic Cars on the 25th and small music events around and about, like Hachfest at the end of the month, where my good friend James is playing on Saturday night with his band Brigade. So much to do in the country, so little time to do it.
Heveningham Hall is a vast palatial pile sitting in hundreds of acres of gracious rolling parkland, which gives the impression that the owner and occupier must be at least a Queen.
Felicia so loved this day and was very disappointed to learn that its only once a year. So at a gentle pace we started, of course, at the fun fair where she enjoyed the usual kids rides but then dragged me onto the twister (terrifying), then to the fresh strawberry stand, on to the orangery with Shakespeare’s ‘Comedy of Errors’ being performed outside, which she loved. Then Punch and Judy, fish and chips, sitting on the grass, Hello Kitty balloon, heavy horses, birds of prey, tiredness, sleep in the car and bouncing back to life on reaching home. A perfect day. A perfect weekend.