It was a bit of a spur of the moment thing, which in my life is a rarity because a) I don't like surprises b) I don't like change and c) I don't like holidays. But on Friday, I decided (ref: my 'spur of the moment') to book a holiday cottage, and by Saturday lunchtime Andy and I were on the Hereford/ Gloucester border and I was already fretting that all my greenhouse seedlings would look like bits of frazzled string on our return despite me leaving strict watering instructions with Under Gardener (Reluctant), Cat Carer and Guardian of the Chickens, Heather.
Still, the cottage was lovely. Converted barn - wood burner, massive brass roll top bath in the bedroom, even more massive wet room with Amazon forest size shower head, big squishy sofas, huge kitchen complete with an Aga. And three cats, two of whom appeared regularly at the patio doors to general shout at us until we gave them attention.
An Aga- now there's a thing. Whilst I understand their aesthetic attraction, I have never hankered after one. They seem a rather random cooking item to me. Folk say they are tricky to cook with - I wouldn't know as I have never Aga-ed before. Well, as the kitchen offered no alternative beyond a toaster (big tick) and a microwave (which I would never use because I never have and do not intend to start now -#thatglowinthedarkradiationmalarkey) I got on with the Aga. It was fine. Nothing got burned/underdone and nothing caught fire/ exploded. To tell the truth I was a bit disappointed there was no big Aga secret to solve. It was just like ordinary cooking but without the knobs. And it kept the kitchen warm.
So, over the next four days (and with the Gloucestershire/ Herefordshire children all conveniently back to school after Easter and no Wi-Fi to distract us) Andy and I swanned around in peace visiting places like Hampton Court Gardens (where I got a little over-excited because there was a massive tree in the middle of the woods - a massive tree with a swing! Which I had a swing on! Haven't been on a swing in YEARS! It was very thrilling!!), the Forest of Dean, Gloucester Cathedral and, on Monday, the Clearwell Caves.
The Clearwell Caves are, well...caves. Old mining caves. For the mining of iron ore. (Ore what, I never discovered - ahahahahahaha!) They are very deep and very cold and very silent. If you want to test out if your tinnitus has really gone for good (touchwood) then take yourself underground a hundred feet or so into a deserted set of caves. I don't think I have ever visited anywhere so silent. It certainly made me realise how much background noise we live with as part of everyday life. And how difficult life was for the Clearwell villagers who depended on mining the caves in order to live. The conditions were truly dreadful and the next time a child at school complains about their lot, my new riposte shall be, 'At least it's not 1841 and you're having to mine iron ore in order to survive, you ungrateful little whinge-bag!'
But my favourite holiday day was yesterday because yesterday we visited the National Centre for Birds of Prey. If you ever get a chance - go! It is a couple of miles along a meandering lane outside the little town of Newent. It houses a huge collection of all prey birds - hawks, eagles, kestrels, vultures and (my favourite) - owls. The people who worked in the centre are clearly dedicated to their jobs and run a smooth and very happy ship. We spent ages wandering around the beautiful grounds, admiring all the birds and watching two magnificent and highly informative flying displays. We had a nice lunch in the little tea room (best coffee cake I've had in ages) and it was just a jolly good day. And it helped that the sun shone and it felt properly like Spring.
And now we are home. I have eaten too much so need to reign myself in over the next few days to shift the extra holiday poundage. I am looking forward to zzzzzzz-ing in my own bed tonight because the only disappointing thing about the cottage was the lumpy- bumpy, thin-as-a-wafer mattress which has given me backache. I have also read one and a half novels and several magazines, so perhaps a little sewing tomorrow? I almost took some sewing with me, but didn't. I wish I had. I missed sewing.
And I missed you lot, too!