The Journey

WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHY: AM

Even a long weekend away is so often about arriving, the weekend beginning only once one has arrived at the chosen destination. However, having recently chosen a destination rather further afield our journey needed to become part of the experience. So we decided on several stops along the way partly to see the local surroundings but mostly to fill our picnic basket - gathering local delights for a real feast upon arrival.

Taking off the motorway we drove leisurely through the Cotswolds in the blistering sunshine, this really was the British Isles at its best. The greenery was like a vitamin shot for the eyes and soul, rolling fields of rape in full bloom, sandstone cottages, quaint little tea shops - perfect for picking up some gooey cakes for our decadent dessert - gobstoppers and pear drops from the sweet shop and bunting galore adding to the experience.

Picking up some Cotswold white for supper from the Castle butchers whilst soaking up the Farrow & Ball painted facades of the likes of Riverside Cottage, we continued along the meandering road to one of our favourite haunts - Daylesford organic farm in Gloucestershire - it is eleven years ago since we started coming here, we loved it then and love it even more today. After browsing their fantastic wares we recommend stopping off at The Trough for wood roasted pheasant breast with spiced quince, cavalo nero or perhaps even The Old Spot for some wood fired pizza and whilst you are there, you simply must sample something from their cocktail list rooted in the abundant produce from the farm - personally we struggled to decide between the kombucha, the green cold press with spinach, lime and mint or the English garden G&T made with Daylesford's own gin.

With the dappled light filtering through the trees as we drove the narrow country lanes, passing the lime stone quarry, the villages filled with architectural heritage cottages and houses to make you swoon, thatched cottages with wisteria dripping around the front door, distant church spires - meanwhile the search continued. This led us to The Nest in Ledbury for delicious cakes and a heaven scent pot of tea for these weary travellers, feeling reenergised from the tea and surroundings, before we left we filled our basket with local asparagus, some of the handmade Scotch Eggs Company's scrumptious balls of deliciousness made with free range pork, sage, apple and onion and some delicious apple juice with hand written labels from their orchards. Unfortunately we couldn't take the furniture with us but for those of you that live a little closer, the wonderful furniture you sit on is also for sale through Posterity Architectural Antiques And Interiors - rustic and ornamental perfect for the house or garden.

Racing through the hair pin bends behind Triumph and Norton classic motorcycles, listening to the BBC, our slow day in a slow way ended by finally arriving at Harp Cottage. After a glorious dinner of fresh woodland eggs, asparagus, local cheeses, scotch eggs and local ales and ciders and in reverence to our final destination I finally curled up in front of the fire and read this passage from Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, his dramatic and poetic gift to the world, it offers a glimpse of Wales and particularly Welshness, as the poet himself saw it:

"Time passes. Listen. Time passes. Come closer now. Only you can hear the houses sleeping in the streets in the slow deep salt and silent black, bandaged night. Only you can see, in the blinded bedrooms, the coms and petticoats over the chairs, the jugs and basins, the glasses of teeth, Thou Shalt Not on the wall, and the yellowing dickybird-watching pictures of the dead. Only you can hear and see, behind the eyes of the sleepers, the movements and countries and mazes and colours and dismays and rainbows and tunes and wishes and flight and fall and despairs and big seas of their dreams".

A perfect start to a perfect weekend - a weekend that starts this well can only get better.

JUNE 2017