It is a holiday weekend here in the UK, but nowadays I forget all about them as they no longer loom so large on my horizon as when I was at work and was desperate for a break. And, as usual, we had some pretty awful weather to contend with. Saturday morning grey and close and heavy rain and the cricket was washed out for the day much to my annoyance, but a shine on the horizon as I met up with Helen, James, Florence and Beatrice in the afternoon. They had taken a little cottage in Lavenham for the weekend and we decided to meet up at Long Melford Hall in the village of the same name. They had a holiday there a couple of years ago and it really is a delightful place boasting Kentwell Hall which is well known for its Elizabethan recreation days (remember going with Helen there on a school day when she was about ten), and the aforementioned Melford Hall which belongs to the National Trust.
So drove there, parked and wended my way up the long drive to the main entrance and Florence spotted me from the gardens and jumped up and down yelling 'Grandma' and getting all excited which was most heartwarming. The house has a connection with Beatrix Potter and some of her original paintings were on the wall and there was a children's hunt to see how many Peter Rabbits could be spotted in the house. Florence found two, one on a shelf in the nursery and one lying in a nonchalent manner on a sofa in one of the main rooms upstairs so she got a sticker and was delighted.
Then out into the garden for tea and Florence went off to have a game of croquet with her dad and Helen and I sat with Beatrice and fed her and yakked. When they left I decided to have another look around the house and this time as I wasn't looking for rabbits I was able to wander from room to room and take my time. Very knowledgeable guides there and very friendly who were keen to impart info and answer questions and after a chat with one of the ladies there she suggested I might like to become a volunteer as she thought I would be very good at it. So I ended up coming home with a form to fill in and, I must say, there are many duties one could do, including helping with events etc and it all sounds really interesting. I am dithering because I have so much on as it is but I am tipping towards applying. Anybody out there who does something similar who can advise me?
Drove home in a deluge which started just as I pulled out onto the road and the sky went dark and the rain was crashing off the roof and windows of my car so that I had to put my headlights on full and wipers going beserk trying to keep my vision clear. Driving through fairly narrow roads awash with water and spraying up fountains as I went through, aqua plaining and skidding, it was a tad hairy and was very glad when after fifteen minutes it suddenly stopped and the sky lightened up.
Quiet day today just watching the cricket which I will not bore you with, read a couple of Ngaio Marsh books. Have not read them for a few years and I can feel a re-read coming on. Simply love her stylised, slightly stagey and mannered chat which falls beautifully on the ear and gives me enormous pleasure to read. Tied up in Tinsel is a murder set in a house on the moors at Christmas time with the snow wuthering about and is a classic setting for a mystery and the other, Clutch of Constables, is set on a river trip, forged paintings, an international thief and all sorts of intricacies and is one of my favourites.
And, finally, to end this exciting day I made a Madeira cake. Ideal Home magazine had a free little booklet with this month's mag of baking recipes from the twenties up to date and as I had some lemons lurking in the fridge and ingredients to hand I decided to give it a go. And in true Great British Bake Off style I managed to slice my fingers while grating a lemon and had recourse to Elastoplast. No blue plasters here I am afraid. Then when taking the cake out of the oven and placing it onto the cake rack my elbow caught a carton of milk, tipped it over and half the cake became soaked in same and the rest went over this recipe book which is now stuck together and is a mess. Managed to salvage the cake but when I surveyed the wreckage and then noticed I had bled all over the kitchen floor I began to wonder why I had bothered.
Still I have just had a cup of tea and a slice of cake and it was ok and I am off to bed now. All this excitement is too much for me....