(This post is also on my FB page. Not everyone is on FB, so apologies if you have already seen this.)
A few days away at Bridget and Richard’s has been a real treat. As soon as the boys headed off to golf on our first morning, I slipped quietly out the front door and down the path for a walk around their gorgeous village in Northamptonshire, leaving Bridget to enjoy a cuppa in bed and catching up with news. Their village is a replica of those in the Cotswolds and the crisp, early morning sun glanced off the rich, deep cream stone giving a warm glow to the village.
Dog walkers and strollers gave a cheery good morning and even the dogs looked up to see who it was in case there was a rub or pat on offer. Children were being shepherded to school and you know exactly where it is as the chatter of little voices carried on the still air as they made their way down the school lane.
Staying with Bridget and Richard is like being in a 5* hotel, apart from your bags not being taken to your room... I’ll have to get that sorted for next time. Our room was immaculate. The bed was swathed in beautiful linens and cushions and fluffy white towels lay ready for us over the old fashioned wooden towel rail. It’s all very luxurious.
The breakfast table is always beautifully laid and a huge bowl of assorted and colourful berries, cereals, yoghurts and homemade jams await your pleasure. Everything is delicious. You even get offered a hot selection as well! They are the consummate hosts.
Across the road, one of the village homes was in the process of being re-thatched. So interesting to watch and see how it’s done. Bridget told me they had asked the thatcher to wait until their visitors had arrived just so I could interrogate him and tell you all about it .... I don’t think that’s quite true. It just so happens he had finished the back and was making a start on the front.
So Nick, the thatcher, has been thatching for 35 years. Yes, yes, I did start talking to him. Nick learnt from his father and his father had learnt from his father. I liked that. A family tradition. Nick said it was a bit difficult to teach his own son as he was living in Sydney. A properly thatched roof should last 25 years. Amazing. It looked back-breaking and precarious work climbing up a ladder from the scaffolding but he worked with a rhythm and a confidence gained over those 35 years and was there at 7am on the dot the two mornings we saw him. I don’t really know how he managed to get much done each day as everyone (me) stops to chat, admire his handiwork and asks how he is getting on. Then suddenly it’s time for a cup of tea...
Lunch for us girls (while the boys were at golf) was in the very gorgeous town of Stamford. Halloumi and roast veg salad was both our choices and was delicious. Parking by the pretty river and park, we walked up through an ancient alleyway and stepped out into a street full of elegant boutiques with well-dressed windows. Bridget and I criss-crossed the street, popping in and out the shops, both suitably attired in the pre-requisite masks. Our hands were constantly wet with a squirt of sanitiser at every door we entered.
Stamford is a town often used for filming of period dramas, so that will give you a sense of how attractive it is. The end of summer sales is still on here and both of us managed to pick up a little something.
Steve and I have never been to Bletchley Park so today’s visit with Bridget and Richard was really interesting. My head was bursting with numbers, letters and whirling cogs and I came away still not understanding exactly how they knew what they needed to create the machines and decipher the codes. Of course it was not just all about Turing. There were many other clever mathematicians working at Bletchley from 1938 onwards and a total of 9000 people at one time, were employed, but working in shifts. Bletchley is set in the grounds of an old mansion house and luckily it was the most perfect weather. Deck chairs and garden tables are everywhere so visitors can enjoy the park and be socially distanced. You are encouraged to bring a picnic.
We’ve now said au revoir (not goodbye) to Bridget and Richard after our wonderful sojourn, eating delicious food and drinking great wine and talking and talking. Well Bridget and I did a bit of that with the occasional interruption from Richard and Steve.
On the train, barrelling and rolling down the track towards London, the sun is low in the sky. Everything is looking golden and autumnal all at once. I have come to love this country that we have seen a lot of from the train. It never takes long to leave a city or town behind and have stunning countryside and historic homes come into view. We have been so fortunate.