GIRL’S DAY OUT
What a relief to get out for a day with no lists or responsibilities. This was in lieu of Margaret’s birthday and it was Joy’s turn to drive and choose the destination. The four of us were feeling high spirited especially when Margaret told us her post breast cancer check was clear and she didn’t have to see them again for eighteen months. Yippee!
The grey turgid day was not going to dampen our spirits and we drove to Minehead and stared at North Hill and the Bristol Channel which was not remotely resembling Homer’s ‘wine dark seas’. The girls see much more of each other than I do as I resigned from the Townswomen’s Guild after twelve years. It wasn’t totally ‘Jam and Jerusalem’ and I love my friends, but am too much of a loner for groups unless it is to do with something that I am passionately interested in like the theatre or writing.
At first everybody talked at once as I gradually caught up with the news – usually a fair amount of new joints (anatomical not dives!) and some sad departures. Joy provided a flask of coffee and a tooth breaking gingery sweet meat which had come from the Lakes (Quarsan may know it) but it was not Kendal Mint Cake. Continuing our journey through Washford and Williton we drove Joy mad guessing where we were going; the birthday trips are always a surprise known only to the driver and after twenty years of four birthday trips a year, it gets more and more difficult to come up with something new.
On the Taunton road we took a left to Bishop’s Liddiard. ‘Ah!’ we chorused – bur no – on we drove and stopped outside a gateway where Judge Jeffries had hanged two rebels. We drove into Cothelstone Manor and this was serendipity. Unknown to Joy, Margaret – as a young girl had worked as a nanny to a wealthy family and had accompanied them on a visit to their friends at Cothelstone Manor. She told us how beautiful it was and we could see the building through the trees with its long narrow windows. I asked her if she ate with the family or was she consigned to the nursery. She assured us she was treated as one of the family but of course this was post war.
We wandered round, visited the church and my camera battery ran out. By now we were all longing for a ‘comfort stop’ so drove off for our lunch. To our surprise we stopped at a peaceful crossroad with no pub, but a café and a shop. Joy had phoned them, booked a table and as they didn’t have a license we were allowed to take wine and they would charge us corkage. Joy’s husband provided a good rose as we have mixed tastes and the staff had decorated our table in festive red and green.
It was a delightful little place – a bit like a ski lodge with windows all round and great landscapes to feast one’s eyes on should conversation dry up. Fat chance! The food was home cooked; three of us felt veggie and had parsnip and chestnut crumble which, with a jug of optional gravy was sooo delicious. Jackie had a chicken dish, the wine flowed, cheeks glowed and the festive trifle was yummy.
Reluctantly we left the Pines, promising to come again soon and sampled the shop. The lady who ran it had a farm and milked the cows every morning before opening the shop. It was full of attractive gifts and although I had all my Christmas presents I bought a pretty bon bon dish and a compact calculator on which there was a girl who reminded me of one of my daughters in law. In fact the one we are spending Christmas with - so she deserves an extra present.
On the way back we congratulated Joy on making a dreary winter’s day one of our goods ones. May we have many more.