The thing about going away is that nobody updates your blog while you're gone, things happen and there are no rules. So you'll get just what I feel like writing. But I did take some nice pictures until my camera battery ran out, and then I took some pictures on my phone, which I haven't done before. I wasn't even certain that I'd saved them properly, but I've just had a go at transferring them to the PC and not only do they still exist, but they look pretty good too.
Of all the tasks I mentioned in the last entry, I managed the haircut, the jobs I'd been set by Lola II, a very small amount of cooking, and clearing the shower drain. Then I went to London and had a very lovely time in Lola II's Extremely Tidy Flat, and I'm sure I'll be reporting in a later entry on at least one of the many ridiculous activities that took place there.
The mini-break with Mr A was wonderful, not least because we chose the hottest, sunniest three days of the year so far. The campsite on the first night was amazing, on the cliffs above the sea near Bridport on the south coast of England.
Despite the glorious sunshine there was a stiff breeze, and I woke up a couple of times in the night thinking "the tent's making a lot of flapping noise" before going to sleep again. Lucky I'm used to Mr A's snoring, otherwise I might have been kept awake.
We went for a walk along the cliffs in the morning before packing up and heading off for a look around Bridport. In the afternoon we visited Mapperton Gardens near Beaminster in Dorset, described as 'a unique valley garden'. It was one of the most gorgeous places I've visited for a long time, not very big but so beautiful. The time of year is obviously a great help, because most of the plants were in bloom, especially poppies, roses and lots of daisies.
The 'fishponds' were clearly originally designed for bathing - there are ladders down into the water, and if the weeds and fish were removed it would be a beautiful spot to bathe, especially on a day as hot as when we visited. Lower down beyond the pools is a 'wild garden' full of plants not laid out formally, with the remains of the stream running through the middle.
We saw a hawk of some kind circling ominously, with a single smaller bird mobbing it, flying towards the hawk and almost knocking into it. There was an old church to look at too, and for a month in summer the house is open to visitors.
In the cafe Mr A ate a 'cake' that consisted of glace cherries, bits of Crunchie honeycomb and biscuit all held together by chocolate, and pronounced it one of the best cakes he'd ever had, mainly because it contained no cake at all.
So that was the first half of our trip; in the second half we spent more time with friends. The Bikers were on the Plymouth-Dakar trip that Mr A did in 2005/6; the Nuclear Family used to live round the corner in Leamington until they moved to Devon about two months ago.
The Bikers live in a cottage in Somerset that has extraordinary land around it. They face the main road, but at the side of the road is a steep embankment, and their garden runs along the top of the embankment, not much more than 15 feet wide, but long enough to contain a garden table, lawn, two sheds, a large vegetable plot, a chicken coop complete with five chickens, a greenhouse, and compost heaps at the end.
Behind the house, on the next terraced level up is a patch of land that separates them from a newly built estate. There's no proper access to this land, but building plans are submitted occasionally, and nothing comes of it. So The Bikers and some of the other neighbours are putting it to good use and growing yet more vegetables. I am determined that, following their example, I will at least raise one or two tomato and courgette plants this summer. I couldn't manage as much as they do, but it shouldn't be difficult to grow a little bit of food for us...
It was lovely to see them again; we spent a lazy morning reading books in the shade next day before heading off to a seaside resort where we had a seafood lunch, and then on to The Nuclear Family, currently residing in a little Devon town.
As soon as we arrived we were whisked off to the beach complete with bucket and spades, rug to sit on, frisbees, and supper ready to cook and eat in the evening sunshine. We talked about how long it would be before heading to the beach at the end of the day would stop being a novelty and a treat, and what we will all do when we stop being students, full-time parents, unemployed and 'between jobs'.
Now we're back home, and the real world has replaced the sunshiny holiday world. Mr A's gone off to a meeting with a customer and I've had to update my CV, which was harder than I thought it would be. Soon I can head into town to the vegetable shop, or into the garden to sort out the compost and pots for all these vegetables I'm going to grow...