There was a mammoth effort made in Keswick today, in the wee small hours. Teenagers were roused from sweet slumber and forced to move, pack and start a journey south. Parents managed to set off at 06:30, worn out from horror treks across hills disguised as wet mountains, up paths pretending to be streams and down knee twisting stairs threatening to dissolve in the almost constant rain. They arrived at ours by 13:20. A huge effort.
In the meanwhilst, we had quite a pleasant morning. I went to the gym, shopped and walked home while Mirinda sat in her impeccably clean and tidy library working.
The weather started off pretty good but quickly reverted to the on off, rain sun pattern we’ve been subjected to for the last couple of weeks. The big doors, rather than remain gloriously open, were closed frequently as the rain threatened to bring the outside soakingly inside.
The weather did not stop the parcel delivery man though (as William Mitchell Kendall would be happy to see) as he delivered a totally unexpected (by me) parcel for both Mirinda and me. Bob had been in Bygone Beauties and he spotted a couple of objects that he thought Mirinda and I would love. And he was so right.
Mirinda’s was a cup, saucer and tea pot set with Australian birds depicted on it while mine was an amazing set of Alice figurines. The figurines are hinged and opening them reveals small gold necklaces with miniature versions of the figurine on each chain. They are just an absolute delight and I love them.
I think this is the first time that Bob has spotted something he thought I’d like and just treated me. He was a bit concerned I’d not like them but Mirinda set him straight.
Apart from the parcel, our other delivery turned up as Sharon, Jud, Naomi and Luca arrived and The Visitation began. (Joel had already returned to Australia though his jacket was some way behind him as it was delivered this morning and was sitting on the bed in Clara’s Room.) They quickly filled our hall with the most amazing array of luggage, plastic bags and mouldy hiking clothes.
Then, without much ado, Jud and Naomi zoomed back out into the weather to drop the hire car off at Guildford. I’d just had time to hand Jud a map and instructions for returning.
The rest of us then settled down for a lovely long chat about the rest of their European leg and their subsequent experience of The Lakes in typically foul weather. We also had a number of erudite lectures from Luca regarding the French Revolution, Human Evolution and the Lakeland Hell that was their visit. His recall of important dates in French history was impressive as well as being accurate. His survival of the rigours of fell-walking was extraordinary and worthy of Wainwright.
Eventually, having survived the drive into Guildford (it took an unprecedented 15 minutes), the half hour train trip back and the wet, windy and wild walk to the house, they returned, somewhat damp but happy. We were also happy because it meant we could have lunch. Jud was going to have something at Guildford but he couldn’t find the McDonalds.
Lunch was a quickly prepared Caprese salad and assorted charcuterie and devoured in short time (mostly by Luca who was given a much needed education in cheese).
Eventually we were off to dinner. In the week we had had an email from Jud in which he expressed a longing to have dinner in an English pub. I immediately booked the legendarily perfect example of an English pub, the Nelson Arms (or Arm as Mirinda oft points out) for food for six.
Of course, we had to walk, going via our castle, through the park and skirting the gathering hordes of Farnham teenagers who seem to take over the park when the sun goes down, giving the usual history lesson. I was suitably impressed with Mirinda’s use of the term motte and bailey. I was quick to correct Jud when he thought the motte was the moat. Mirinda glared at him and told him to stop setting me off. Understandable I suppose.
At the pub we were served by a rather happy chap with a great memory for food orders and a deft hand at pouring pints. He was also pretty good at selling gin. I insisted that Jud try a Timothy Taylor’s Landlord which he correctly and politely agreed was a lovely drop of beer. For his second pint he shifted to a fizzier Hogs Back lager.
Dinner was lovely as was the long stroll home via the back streets. I have no idea what the others were talking about but Naomi and I had a very enjoyable chat regarding the state of the world, politics and how she was going to fix the world my generation has neglected for so long. She is a smart and eager young woman and a pleasure to talk to. If I’d had a daughter like Naomi, I would be well proud.
Back at home, I forced them to pose for the obligatory after dinner photograph. It was a challenge because Luca just wanted his bed. It was a bit like herding cats but eventually (after four failed attempts) I had a photo which can be used on next year’s calendar as well as here.