UsinUk fans mayn’t be aware that every fortnight I attend a guitar lesson, and have been doing so for the last two years. I am no good at all, but that is no reflection on my teacher who is fab. David is a wonderful player and a great teacher, and one of the least materialistic and happiest people I know.
The classes are held at Hindhead music school which is more or less in Haslemere. So on Saturday mornings I set off at about 9.15 for the 12 mile drive through South Farnham, past Frensham ponds and the heathland, over the A3 and down into Haslemere in time for my 10am class. The music school is set in an old rambling house, with the many rooms converted into teaching rooms. It is shabby and comfortable, with lots of people of all ages taking classes and the sound of trumpets and guitars mixing with the chatter of obsessive parents.
Now some of the more canny of you may be wondering why I leave at 9.15 to go only 12 miles. It is not just the slow English roads – I deliberately arrive with 15 minutes to spare as there is a little tuck shop in the kitchen, and a lovely lady called Nina who makes an extraordinary array of cakes every Saturday. I like to have a cup of tea and a piece of Nina’s chocolate cake. This is the best chocolate cake in Surrey, not too rich, lots of icing and a Malteser on top. It reminds me of the chocolate cake we used to buy for my birthday from Carlingford Court (once I grew out of the ice cream cake phase). There is a cheerful room to sit in – with a cathedral ceiling, big windows, piles of magazines and about half a dozen tables and chairs. This is where parents and students wait between classes.
My class lasts an hour and I enjoy it a great deal. David has quite cheerfully adapted to the sort of music I want to learn – apparently I am unique and none of his other students do the sort of music I like. (Which is traditional folk mostly from an obscure guitarist called Mike Raven). I think David rather likes listening to different pieces, rather than the inevitable Romansa that every student learns. But although I enjoy my lesson I also enjoy the experience – including the chocolate cake.
So imagine my dismay when Nina told me this weekend that she is retiring and won’t be running the tuck shop anymore! She assured me someone else would be taking it on – but she won’t be making the cakes.
“But that’s the best chocolate cake in the UK!” I objected, much to her delight .
She promised to give the new person her recipes – but sadly she can’t force them to actually make the cakes. I am so glad I wasn’t running late yesterday or I would have missed my very last opportunity for Nina’s chocolate cake.