It was the allotment that set us off. Well, it might have been the postcard perfect coffee stone church or the wandering lanes of snuggle-up cottages. But no, I think the moment the words came out was when we saw the allotment.
“Shall we move to the country?”
I don’t recall who said it first. Perhaps we were in unison and rolled our eyes within seconds in that way you do when you realise you just voiced a major cliché.
But this was not simply an allotment, it was The Allotment. Or rather The Market Garden. You know, the one from Peter Rabbit; railway sleeper rectangles of lovingly raked furrows, stakes in regimented rows, trimmed green pathways between and a potting shed for every plot.
All was soft breezes and bee-buzzing contentment and if a hungry waistcoated rodent had been at hand I reckon one of the kindly folk who tended this plot would have offered it a free hamper; plenty to go around here, please, why not sign up for a veg box home delivery for Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and all their friends and relations?
Stumbling around the pocket of goodly earth lay a mossy stone wall, a little wooden gate beckoning you in, and there close by an honesty box and the first crop of spring vegetables laid out for your Sunday lunch. No need to dash to Tesco Express.
What were we doing staring at this sylvan paradise? We’d gone on a mini-break innit.
Well, it was our wedding anniversary after all. ♥♥♥
Yes, we’d taken our own advice about finding time to be us and high-tailed it out of the city, pausing only to
dump Baby B place Baby B gently into the loving arms of his maternal grandpa, who lives on a farm near Aylesbury, and fly like the wind along the A40 – the road to the Cotswolds. The place Londoners go to pretend they live in the country.
The pub was The Wheatsheaf in Northleach, the kind of place you ideally want to roll up to mid-afternoon in an open top vintage sports car, after a leisurely spin along country lanes, a little rosy-cheeked and looking forward to a long bath, a nice nap and then rolling down to the beer garden for an early evening pint or glass of wine while the sun beds down over the rooftops.
So naturally we arrived at 6pm all hot and bothered after getting stuck in a massive traffic jam on the Oxford ring road. Thankfully once we saw our room all the stress dissipated before you could say monsoon shower.
I dived in and washed away the miles before leaving Mrs B to enjoy the enormous zinc roll top bath while I supped a pint of Tabby – a local brew whose moniker I couldn’t resist – in the luscious garden.
When Mrs B appeared we discussed life before and after Baby B and managed to resist the temptation to call to check on him, knowing of course that he was fast asleep in bed at his Grandpa’s.
Eventually the April chill drove us inside for dinner, served in a cosy yet stylish room by polite staff who were very busy (full house) yet didn’t seem at all stressed, which is an impressive thing to be.
We both savoured a glass of bubbly and ordered twice baked cheese souffles to start – cooked to perfection. Then Mrs B followed up with risotto with a poached egg and I enjoyed a whole lemon sole with a side of asparagus.
The food was really good – you aren’t going to get an amazing dissection of the meal from me. You will have to make do with really good and pop along to try it for yourself.
Afterwards our eyes were closing and we stumbled up to our marshmallow of a king-size bed. The room was very quiet and the darkest room I think I’ve ever stayed in, due to no street lights and black-out curtains. So if you are looking for a very peaceful night away from the children I’d give our room ten out of ten.
It was the following morning, after a hearty breakfast of eggs florentine for Mrs B and pancakes with bacon and maple syrup for me, that we encountered our allotment on a stroll around the village.
We had to walk off our feast before I could contemplate driving anywhere! I must also add that there was a sumptuous buffet that we had no room for but many other guests were clearly enamoured with.
Northleach felt like somewhere with a heart, not a tourist trap where most of the houses were second homes. There was a cute village school and actual people walking around bidding each other good morning.
The centre clustered around what would have been the green – sadly now turned into car parking – and there was a decent smattering of proper shops selling things locals would actually want, including this fantastic butcher with a very funny sign outside!
Neither of us are really country folk although we did both grow up within a ten minute drive of open fields and sometimes we both feel the concrete hemming us in.
As I’ve said it’s such a cliché and I know plenty of people move to the countryside only to bolt back to the city after a year or so because it’s simply too quiet and they’ve spent most of their free time standing staring at horse in a field and trying to work out if the horse’s lips move when it talks to them….in that special voice in their head. That only the horse understands.
So anyway, we spent our first baby free day for over a year doing what we used to do – looking for tea shops or weird museums.
We began by stopping off at a very tourist village – Bourton on the Water – that must contain the highest concentration of tea rooms in the UK, all full of coach parties of people from Huddersfield as far as my ears could tell.
We also saw a model village with a worryingly tight turnstile on the way out. I’m not sure how many people make it out of the Bourton on the Water model village, what with all those tea rooms selling cake.
After half an hour the atmosphere was getting a bit Royston Vasey, so we headed off for a long lunch at Daylesford Organic Farm.
This place is basically Mrs B’s idea of heaven. I do mean literally – if heaven was actually a place where you could wander round in a White Company style environment, have spa treatments and eat incredibly healthy but still blow your mouth off tasty food, this is it.
I did feel a bit out of place as almost everyone looked like they were in an episode of Made In Chelsea but it was all very relaxed. I had a rather expensive juice with 100 different fruits and veggies and grasses and dew drops collected by a monk from the leaves of a plant that only flowers during the Spring equinox.
OK that’s an exaggeration but it did feel like I was irrigating my body and washing out all the bad stuff I spend most of the year eating and drinking.
After that we looked at some vegetables and flowers…
And then I managed to break the spell that had descended on Mrs B, drag her back to the car clutching some fripperies, and it was time to go and be reunited with our little boy and have an evening with our family.
At this point Mrs B said she was missing him anyway. And then we remembered the model village and started thinking about taking him back there.
When we got back to Grandpa’s there was a lot to tell us about Baby B’s night and day away from his parents. He seemed to have had a much more exciting time, going round in a wheelbarrow, helping to cook, having a story, and eating with some spoons a giant had left behind.
So all in all it was lovely to get away, to see the glorious Cotswolds, dip our toes into the Country Life set, and have some time to ourselves. But by the time we rolled back down the M25 on Sunday and saw the towers of Croydon gleaming in the distance we were ready to come home.
I think escaping to the country will go back in it’s box for now.
Just to prove it we even stopped off at IKEA in case Baby B had started to get too used to being on a farm.
He seemed quite happy to be home!
Bye for now 🙂
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