Been to Mottisfont Abbey today, National Trust owned home of the English Old Rose Collection. It was gorgeous. Bloody huge amounts of driving though - 250 miles plus due to complex family logistics.
If you've never been there, go. It's beautiful. There are acres of grounds with a spring, which is unbelievably cold, a river full of enormous brown trout, a circle of (I think) beech trees, an ice house, the Abbey itself, and of course the walled garden full of roses.
And the cafe sells rose petal ice cream. Mmmmm.
Mum and I rode up to the garden in a little electric cart thingy. Mr WithaY elected to walk, more from the shame of being seen on the back of a tiny milk float than any real excess of energy I suspect. It was great because it meant Mum wasn't tired out by the time we got there, and really enjoyed the flowers. Plus we got to ride a tiny milk float. Like a theme park for very old people.
On the way there our trip up the M27 was enlivened by the sound of something huge and hard whacking the front of the car. A stone, we believe. And now there's what looks like a bullet hole in the windscreen and a long creeping crack below it. So I have to ring the insurance people tomorrow and pay £50 excess to get it fixed.
Back to work tomorrow after a week and a bit on holiday. Not looking forward to an early start, but I hope to get a guitar lesson organised if I can which will make the day more bearable. Better text my lovely teacher tonight and find out if he's free.
Driving along, seeing all the brilliant white, rain washed sheep reminded me of something one of my Scots mates said, years ago, after he'd been to the South of England for the first time. He commented on how fat, clean and healthy all the animals in the fields looked as he drove further and further South, remarking "I expect the farmers put all the best looking ones near the roads."
I love that idea, and also the logical extension of that, which is that there are fields full of hideous, scrawny, filthy, miserable Dorian Grey animals hidden away from the roads, concealing the farmers' shame.