It’s not an exact science, but sometimes you can tell how much fun you’re going to have by the size of the rustic pork pie you’ve just bought from an artisan bakers. If it’s big enough to break a window from five meters, you can strap in for some serious good times. As I say, not a definitive equation that Hawking would bother expounding with his mouth-jabber at a lecture to collected genii, but something in it nonetheless. Maybe just one of those arcane old unwritten laws from the Olde Englishee booke ofe Olde Factes. Like: Rain = Wet, and Sheep = Bad Gay Farmer Jokes. Big pie = Happiness.
Matt had some gigs up Northish last week so we turned it into a mini break, which essentially meant going to a town we’d not been to before, allowing ourselves to eat twice as much as we usually would in a normal day and then rolling around on a kingsize bed feeling like we’d earned the imminent nap. We did a bit of walking too but didn’t want to undo our good work.
It was on one of these walks around Bakewell in Derbyshire that we stumbled across The Pie. And the Bakewell tart. And the cheese. And the chutney in the cute jar. And the coconut jam pie that looked like the baked dandruff of angels. And the olives, though I’ve forgotten what they had to do with the ‘midlands in February’ theme we were going for. We also, for good measure, bought a bag of mixed salad because as we all know having something green on the plate offsets most of the carbs and saturated fat.
Arms ladening with award-winning country produce, and some wine and chocolate (for emergencies), we tottered dutifully round the historic town, halfheartedly looked at some antique fairs, bought some DVDs from an ageing hippy in a church hall (for emergencies in case all the hills were shut), earwigged upon the burgeoning politics of a second-hand bookshop (new volunteer Des challenging old-timer Jane’s systems – I almost cracked the spine of a Reader’s Digest Dick Francis waiting for that one to play out.), and then went back to our room for the real purpose of the break. Bed.
From the crisp starchy whiteness of our hired cloud we nestled and surveyed the hills stretching out before us. They were, as we suspected, unfortunately shut for activities that day – but from our nest we could gaze over them anyway.
Kingsize beds are brilliant, aren’t they? Duvets are brilliant. Pillows are brilliant. Boyfriends in their pants are brilliant. Views of Derbyshire hills all wavy like a green desert mirage through the radiator heat – brilliant. Spring sun yawning through trees probably planted by Jane Austen when she was taking a break from writing an era-defining classic – brilliant. Church bells at unfathomable times like the village is run by mischievous masons, busybody starlings whooshing in and out of the eaves with gossipy chirrups, nearby pub lights like lanterns switching on with a wink at dusk, calling you back out into the cold. Wellies, tankards, fires, ale pumps, dogs, flat caps, locals, rain, the prospect of rain, the coming of rain, the escape from rain. All bloody brilliant.
England. Sometimes you’re so much a part of it you forget it’s there.
I sighed at the headying intoxicating normality of it all. It was nice to be away. More specifically it was nice to be under the sheets in the afternoon with my boy and a bloody massive pork pie. Three days of this passed like a naptime dream.
When the time came to leave, by way of thanking the cleaning ladies for our lovely stay I did a diligent pre-tidy as an act of respect and left them the bag of salad. I knew they’d know what that meant.