This week I Have Been Mostly…away from London and having a very autumn-y time.
Several weeks ago, we noticed that Mr Story would have a couple of weeks between finishing his most recent contract, and starting the next one, so we decided to book a little place to stay for a week.
We booked this at a time of stifling heat, cooped up in a flat in London – a lovely flat that we enjoyed living in, but one nonetheless was on the ground floor and next to the street, so liberally open windows, breezes flowing through the rooms and quiet seclusion were definitely not part of the package. I found an amazing little house in the middle of nowhere in Devon, with a woodstove, a bed in the eaves, and most excitingly of all, an outdoor pool!
We didn’t know when we booked it that those free couple of weeks for Mr Story would also end up including a house move and a 10 day work trip to Toronto, or that we would leave London in a shower of sheet rain that would hardly let up for the week. The pool was left unused by us, unfortunately, and we had to squeeze in a house move in a couple of short days, but I was definitely worth the trip.
Luckily I love autumn, and our summer holiday quickly became re-imagined as an autumn one. We lit the woodstove and stayed in our toasty little house, watching the rain patter against the windows, reading, and quietly working (we both stretched the idea of a ‘holiday’ as new work came in and other work needed to be finished).
We went to local pubs for evening meals – we had incredibly good food at the Catherine Wheel. If you’re nearby, go and eat there. Their sweetcorn soup managed to be sweet and creamy and spicy and fresh, all at the same time, and it that’s not a form of culinary magic, I don’t know what is!
We came home to the little house to watch Mad Men and drink strawberry gin in bed, and sleep and wake listening to the rain on the roof just above our heads. We drove in the rain with the beautiful countryside unfolding around us, blasting Rumour Cubes’ new album from the car stereo, and in the little house – the music making the rain seem romantic. The sound of the strings at the beginning of Seven Year Glitch was made to be played loud in a double-height room, in the middle of lush green countryside. It was lovely.
We had one day travelling around, and headed south to the Dorset coast, stopped at Lyme Regis, Bridport and West Bay (thanks to Love Audrey for those recommendations). We were blustered by sea breezes in the morning, but they moved the clouds on and the afternoon turned out to be the sunniest of the trip. The towns were full of families on sandy summer holidays, cosy-ing up inside beach wind-breaker, building sandcastles and eating sandwiches.
Once our time at the little house was up, we drove an hour north to visit my Gran in Somerset. We arrived to a warming lunch of soup and bread, soft sofas and piles of papers and magazines to read. We went for a walk around the village, to discover the hedges weighed down with blackberries and sloes – it was really an autumn holiday, several weeks too early.
We returned the next morning, equipped with bags and punnet to pick sloes and collect blackberries, only stopping off to buy some bread from the amazing bakery in the village. We sat with my Gran and talked about family, played scrabble and read the newspapers. We chose three different puddings on our Saturday lunch out, to split and compare them, ate huge buns from the bakery, played more scrabble and cracked out the cheese and biscuits.
We packed up on Sunday morning and headed back to London. The lovely Steph and Jorge came for dinner, bring a lovely plant for our new flat. We drank long drinks of sloe gin and tonic, in the happy knowledge that we have the sloes ready to start our own supply again. I made a current family favourite – Diana Henry’s Bulgur Pilaf and baked the foraged blackberries in a ground almond creamy custard, and we sat and drank and caught up for the first time since their wedding.