The lure of the country

Living in a city like London, with all its hustle and bustle can be both invigorating and exhausting. The streets are always busy, the bars, theatres and other attractions constantly swarming with inquisitive and noisy tourists. It is truly a city that never seems to sleep. And for those of us lucky enough to call it home, it is almost alive with possibilities. There is certainly no shortage of new and interesting things to see and do. But the seemingly relentless pace brings its own pressures and one can, at times, be left in something of a daze trying to keep up with it all. I count myself very lucky that at such times I have an escape route; the old family homestead in Hampshire. I don’t know it if is that the pace of life in the City is getting too much, even for me, or something else, but this past week or so I have been feeling the draw of the countryside more and more.

I hate to say it but even the Club doesn’t seem to have the same attraction it always has before. Whilst I always look forward to a meal and a few drinks with the chaps, I have recently felt there is something missing, something intangible.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still very much a city boy and I love nothing more than being about town with my friends, but recently I have begun to feel I need something more. The only real problem is that I am not entirely sure what that “something” actually is.

Anyway, I have decided that for the remainder of the summer I am going to relocate to the old family abode in the country. It means I won’t see quite as much of Hope as I have done recently, but I think the change of scenery and the slower pace will do me good. Hope herself is rather busy at the moment organising a couple of exhibitions – one at her own gallery and another at a gallery in Edinburgh, so I do not think she will have much of an opportunity to miss me.

And of course there is some business to attend to on the old estate, what with those pesky developers poking their noses into everyone’s affairs. I am sure that there is something unsavoury going on somewhere; I can not believe that they are getting encouragement from any quarter, and certainly not from any of the local families. On my last visit, I spoke to a few old friends and they all assured me that no one was prepared to part with any of their lands. Several of the more vociferous members of the community have even been talking about petitions and the like, but I am sure that kind of revolutionary activity will not be necessary. I can’t say that I am entirely comfortable with that confrontational approach; it reminds me rather too much of the kind of behaviour one would expect from those union types one often sees on the television news.

But that is all by-the-by. I will be heading off into the wilds of deepest Hampshire late tomorrow evening. Prior to that, I have a dinner date with Hope and Charlotte who have promised to treat me to some very special home cooking. Apparently, Charlotte has taken a very keen interest in French and Italian cuisine and is rather keen to practice her new skills on us. I am very fond of Charlotte and she is undoubtedly very creative, but from what I hear from some of the chaps who have teenage daughters, cooking is not generally top of the list when it comes to skills.

That said, I am sure everything will be just so, otherwise, I don’t think Hope would have agreed to our being guinea-pigs for Charlotte’s culinary experiments. To be on the safe side I will take with me several bottles of a rather fine Ségla 2012 Margaux I have been saving for a special occasion. That way at least one item on the table will be guaranteed to be palatable.

I had planned to visit the Club this evening but instead, I am planning to pay a call on Dorothy. I have not seen her or Angela for several weeks and I may not get another opportunity before they fly out to America. It seems that Angela has relatives out there.

Absent without leave

Just in case anyone has been wondering why I have not been writing recently I would like to clear up a couple of small matters.

Firstly, I have not, as one of the chaps at the Club suggested, been the victim of some kind of honour killing arranged by Hope’s eldest, Emily. Mind you, I can appreciate why he might think that after the rather embarrassing events of last Monday. I have to admit that I am very much still in the dark over why a young lady who, in every other way, seems so normal could have taken against me in so violent a way.  In fact, her latest outburst embarrassed even Hope who seemed as much at a loss as I was to explain Emily’s actions.

One knows that one cannot expect to please all of the people all of the time, as Lincoln once put it, I have never encountered anyone before who I seem to ber s completely unable to please any of the time. I don’t really want to dwell on that last encounter, so let us just leave that one there.

Secondly, and this is a rumour that seems to have also originated in the Club bar, contrary to popular belief, I have not been given any kind of warning or ultimatum by dear Hope. Far from it in fact. Although she has never read my online journal, she is very happy for me to continue doing whatever it is I do.

Lastly, although the past couple of weeks have not been particularly easy for me, I have not been confined to an institution of any kind. Despite that Dasher may have been implying over the bar at the Club, I am very much of sound mind and body.

No, the real reason for my absence is a very simple and relatively boring one. You see my old chum Cambridge called upon me last Tuesday and asked if I would like to join him on a little trip he was planning to his old family estate in the highlands. Now, this time last year I would have hesitated to venture into the wilds of “bonnie” Scotland, but this year I just saw an opportunity to get away from the interminable World Cup that seems to be pervading every corner of one’s life at present. Now, I don’t want anyone to bet the impression in any way that I am some kind of grumpy old spoilsport, but it has to be said that the media’s general assumption that we are all football fanatics is rather annoying. Pages and pages of the daily newspapers have been dedicated to the damned thing and my normal television viewing has been disrupted in an unforgivable way.

So yes, the prospect of a few days at Cambridge’s Scotish country estate was most welcome. Hope and I had no immediate plans that I was aware of so I accepted the offer and very soon was safe aboard the Edinburgh bound train.

We had a wonderful few days in the picturesque highlands. I don’t see as much of old Cambridge as I used to and it was very pleasant indeed to spend a little time with the old chap and catch up on things. Of course, no matter where one goes one can never be totally removed from the humdrum of everyday life and all its cares and woes, but for my money, spending a few days on the banks of Loch Duntelchaig cames very close. The weather was near perfect and I found myself a little homesick – not for my house in town, but for my own little getaway in the heart of Hampshire. In fact, I think I will pay the old place a visit once Wimbledon is out of the way.

Anyway, I arrived back a couple of days ago only to find my absence noticed by far more people than I had expected. I must say I was quite touched by everyone’s concern until I realised that I had left in such haste that I appear to have overlooked the need to tell anyone where I was going.

Whilst for most – the chaps at the Club certainly – my absence would have been of little consequence, it seems to have been felt most keenly by dear Hope who, I am almost embarrassed to admit, I forgot to tell of my last minute plans. She was, as one would expect, extremely annoyed at what she called my thoughtlessness. In my defence, and I accept it may be a poor one, I have become used to doing my own thing and have still to come to terms with the idea that there is someone who might need to be consulted or at the very least be informed of my decisions. Rest assured, that lesson has been well and truly learned.