They are not long, the days of wine and roses.
Only I took hyacinth bulbs when I went to Devon at the weekend. The most beautiful place I have ever stayed. They own the land, the woods, the fields, the lake they call a pond. Stones throw from Dartmoor. The tree at the entrance had only just blossomed. The woods will be covered in bluebells (like in 'I Capture the Castle'). The mismatched, still over-woolly sheep come up to the windows and lick them and stare, herons take off by the lake, buzzards hunt, Chudleigh and Coco the spaniels are spoiled rotten. As am I. I read 'The Last Battle', drink local cider before lunch, fall asleep in the sun, have wine with everything, contemplate offers of sherry, sip champagne as we anticipate dinner. One of their own lambs spiked and studded with rosemary and garlic, a devil to carve but delicious to gaze on. And cheese souffle, which was always my favourite, even before I became vegetarian. The cheeseboard at lunch: brie the size of my head.
And the books, the books. By genre, and alphabetical, lining all the walls. A few first editions. The children's rooms with all the classics. Sitting on my feet, reading Noel Streatfield on the sofa.
A bookshop event, with wine, nibbles, and the guy who came on his motorbike all the way from Sussex, with whom I had the education conversation. Wearing a young gentleman's jacket draped round my shoulders all the way back after dinner when it got chilly. I would have thought this dreamy when fourteen.
Absentmindedly skimming the Times over halved grapefruit and coffee and apricot juice to die for. I had to neglect, though not forget, my Guardian roots for a weekend.
Then we played corners in the car on the way back home. Juvenile. The engine overheated just outside London.
And now it's like I'm underwater in my head, all bunged up,blocked ears, full of cold. It came on just before I saw Bowerman's Nose on Dartmoor. A nose made of piled up stones. It's breathing in all the fresh air, while I'm clogged with phlegm in the city.