Oh the excitement. We have had houseguests – two old school friends who I don’t see very often but who have somehow managed (through thick and thin) to retain the essential qualities that made us all such good friends back when we were all 11. The last time we met up, we had an hour for lunch and had to cram in half a lifetime’s worth of catching up into that time which meant talking so fast we had a conversation so dense it risked forming the informational equivalent of a black hole. This year, I invited them down to stay the night so we could catch up properly, while the other half very sensibly discovered he had some important appointments elsewhere.
They came bringing the sunshine, as well as half a case of wine, their own teabags (not taking any chances in a coffee-drinking household) and enough food for a small army. Being regular blog readers, they immediately insisted on inspecting the ford (about four inches) and the vegetable patch (sadly rabbit-chewed these days; the little furry blighters are eating everything but the bastarding lettuce, of which we have a glut) but for some reason declined the chance to cycle down to Papershop Village and go mano-a-mano with ASBO buzzard. Instead we walked (top tip for cyclists: if you suddenly have to start walking about on foot, don’t wear wellies as it’s even more hard work than ordinary walking. Honestly, if God had wanted us to walk everywhere, he wouldn’t have given us bicycles). As I took them up through the woods yesterday evening to look for chanterelles, and then down to the pond at the back of the house to sit on the little jetty and watch for pondlife and set the world to rights, I realised with a bit of a jolt that I hadn’t been into the woods or up to the pond for months.
This morning, after the Brompton had been properly admired (I had to get on the big bike and give chase as it turned out to be too much fun to come back in time for second breakfast), knitting tips exchanged, the world finally and firmly set to rights for one last time, and – crucially – the stock of spare tea bags exhausted, our guests finally dragged themselves away, taking the sunshine with them.
Still, despite the fact that it has been raining solidly almost since the minute they turned the corner of our road, our visitors have reminded me how lucky we are to live where we do. And just as soon as it stops raining, I shall make the time to go out and appreciate it all once more.
Although, at least until the blisters have healed, I think I shall stick to the bike…