Whenever I head home I refer to it as ‘The Shire’ however after this weekend I’m going to have to come up with another nickname for my little corner of the country as my homeslice Clammers lives in the real life equivalent of Hobbiton – utter perfection. I grew up in a green and pleasant corner of West Sussex but compared to where I spent the weekend I may as well have grown up in the Bronx.
As I drove up the crunchy gravel driveway and noticed a gardener’s fork stuck upright in the flowerbed I couldn’t help but give a quick glance around for Mr MacGregor and the mischievous Peter Rabbit such was the splendour of the setting. Instead I was greeted by an excitable Jack Russell and the family setting up a table on the patio for lunch. With fields as far as the eye could see and the sun absolutely beating down we sat and broke (garlic) bread, drank Pimms and then when the sun started to get oppressive we upped sticks and headed over to C’s uncle’s house to swim in his outdoor pool. It was bloody glorious and it felt more like we were in Beverly Hills 90210 and not England in (usually rainy) April. Already struggling with the concept of being in an outdoor pool in April my tiny mind was blown wide when Clam’s uncle appeared at the gate with… Romeo the Shetland pony with the shaggiest mane known to mankind. I definitely wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
I already knew that Clammers and her clan were lovely but the way I was automatically accepted into their family home this weekend was above, beyond and well into higher realms of lusciousness. We all know that I love my family but sometimes it just feels overwhelmingly sad that we don’t celebrate the normal family things, we don’t gather together for Easter Sunday, we don’t open presents together on Christmas morning and we don’t really do birthdays, and this weekend was one of them when the sadness struck. That makes it sound like I had a bad time which couldn’t be further from the truth but there were a few tears on my pillow on Saturday night as I thought about how things may have been different if Mum had still been around. I think that is the bit that sucks the most since Mum died, the way that whenever I’m having a lovely time I always feel sadness inside thinking about either not being able to share it with her or what it might have been like with her there.
On Sunday morning Clam and I, along with her gorgeous cousin K headed off to church to get our prayers on. I warned the girls that I would cry and low and behold, the opening hymn started and yours truly had snot all over her face by the end of the first verse. Will I ever be able to set foot in church without being reduced to a gibbering wreck? Answers on a postcard please. After an absolute feast of roast lamb for lunch followed by a little zone out in front of the tellybox it was sadly time for me to hitch up my wagon and head back to the reality of Southampton where there aren’t pheasants hooting on the back fence and little ponies that rock up at the poolside, because there isn’t a poolside and even if there were the local chavs would have that pony up on bricks quicker than you can say ‘southamptonisnotthatbadreally’.
Having arranged to see Mr Scrum Half on Friday I was rather disappointed when the little sod failed to materialise which saw me get a monumental grump on and disappear off to bed in a sulk complaining that all men are idiots. Always a glutton for punishment and almost wanting to put my heart through its paces and get it slammed about a bit in an attempt to toughen it up I am (apparently) seeing him this afternoon…
If he shows up that is.