Escape to the country

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It may be rose tinted glasses syndrome that’s responsible for the long, unbroken childhood summers in that are forever etched in my memory, but I can’t help feeling the last few summers have been distinctly underwhelming here in this great country I call home-which is precisely why I’m squeezing every bit of enjoyment out of this one and have this weekend been down to Devon for a bit of country living in the August sunshine.

City living’s so fast paced it’s easy to get totally swept along with the tide and lose all semblance of tranquility. That’s why I love escaping every now and then to a place where the phone signal and electricity are intermittent and the pace of life considerably more sedate. Not sedate for the people who live here, perhaps, but certainly for those of us who are fortunate to be able to visit once in a while.

At first it’s quite a shock to the system being partially “offline” and adjusting to not having to check your watch every five minutes. But once you have adjusted it’s blissful going with the flow and spending time with nature instead of being constantly “plugged in” to one form of technology or other.

This weekend we’ve been to a village fete – where we spent ages trying to beat one another playing a simple game involving putting bits of pipe onto a board in the fastest time (take that Candy Crush) – and attended the obligatory post-event booze up in the local pub. We’ve also driven and walked through beautiful Devonshire countryside and sat down to a lovely roast pork dinner. If not exactly relaxing (we haven’t really stopped at any point to rest per se) it has at least been refreshing for our minds and bodies to take a break from the normal frenetic London lifestyle. Without the odd weekend like this I think I might go slightly mad, so long may they-and indeed this glorious and long-awaited summer-last.

 

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Growing old disgracefully

As predicted yesterday’s wedding was magnificent in every way. The weather gods were smiling and there was barely a cloud in the sky. The church was beautiful, the reception venue stunning. But nothing and nobody was as radiant as the bride herself – just as it should be.

As the sun beat down the champagne flowed, followed by wine with the wedding breakfast, and by the time 10pm rolled around it was unanimously declared to be jagerbomb time, though everybody had drunk more than enough. There was dancing and much merriment…and then there was today.

Waking up at half past six in the dress you wore to the wedding with the bedroom lit up like the Blackpool illuminations is rather disconcerting. What’s more disconcerting still is having no memory of getting back to your accommodation. And what’s even more disconcerting than that is the grim realisation you have an unavoidable three hour drive ahead of you.

After downing some water and eating a hearty fry up I hit the road, convinced once I got going I’d feel better. Not so. Shortly after leaving the bed and breakfast, in fact, I was forced to pull over and eject the aforementioned fry up on the side of a country lane – watched by a herd of unimpressed cows. Clambering back into the car and convinced that now I’d feel much better, I continued on my way.

After almost an hour of driving around narrow country roads I entered a village and my heart sank – it was the same village I’d driven through forty minutes earlier. I had, in fact, been driving around in a circle. As this realisation sank in my body decided to eject another bit of fry up for good measure. This was rapidly descending into the journey from hell. Not only was I overwhelmed with insatiable nausea, I was also now stuck in the countryside, in my very own version of Groundhog Day.

Of course there was no mobile phone reception, so when I saw the first car in what felt like hours I flagged it down and asked for directions. As I spoke the man inside regarded me with a bemused smile – it was only afterwards when I looked in the mirror I realised my hair was sticking out at right angles to my head and I had sick on my top.

Fortunately I did eventually make it out of the maze that is the Shropshire countryside, and four and a half hours later I arrived, dishevelled and grumpy, at my parents’ house, where mother saw fit to point out that I’m far too old to behave like this. And I realised I’d left my shoes in Shropshire.