Just this side of Winchester and about 30 miles from home lies Avington Park. You can have a good look at it here as it shows our actual apartment (under accommodation).
It’s a magnificent property of around 100 acres. (There appears to be a bit of conjecture on this one because Mirinda couldn’t find it all.) We have rented a flat in it for a week. I’d been on a dig all week and in need of somewhere nice to rest my weary bones and Mirinda had her usual legal student headache.
As we crested the humped back bridge and drove through the massive black gates, the avenue of trees beckoned us onwards. Around the house, we pulled up to the front door to be met by a man in a morning suit who could have been the butler (or a member of the wedding party that was spilling out onto the lawn) or the owner.
Whatever he was, he was very good at welcoming us and ushering us by the drunken, brawling, wedding guests and into our little flat – I have been pulled up on this word, apparently it’s an apartment. I say little but use the term sarcastically. The place is huge! I mean the bedroom has a minstrel gallery above it! The view from the kitchen is of a lovely church. We instantly wanted to move in for good.
The wedding (which had started at 2pm) was still going strong as we left for the strangely empty Trout Inn for dinner. ‘Strangely’, because the owner claims it was packed last Saturday. I figured it was the wedding and the strange barn dance going on next door, which had stolen his patrons. Good for us…not so for him! I sank a couple of pints of the Rev James, a beer I’d first tried in Cambridge last weekend, with obvious relish and tucked into that famous Hampshire dish, sausages and mash while for some obscure reason, Mirinda had scampi.
It wasn’t long before Mirinda’s eyes started to close as I finished up the last of my beer so I shook her awake and we headed back to the flat…apartment The wedding seemed to have grown.
Mirinda fell into the massive bed while I struggled to stay awake for the football at 11:05. Seeing as it’s always a mistake to watch the TV while trying to stay awake, I read, waiting for the time to tick round. At 11, I switched on the BBC. At 11:15 I switched it off again. I’d read the listing in last week’s TV guide. This week it started at 10:15!! In my defence, I hadn’t been to work all week and how the hell was I to know what the date was?
The wedding was due to disperse at midnight. They could have gone on all night for all I knew. I was instantly asleep.