On Saturday I met up with two of my oldest friends for a day out in Birmingham sans children. Thankfully we are not yet old enough to be sans teeth, sans eyes, so we were able to indulge ourselves without mobility aids.
I arrived first and made a great start by having my second, what Jason calls, Hobbit breakfast, sinking a great deal of coffee and perfectly scrambled eggs at Bills. This set me up for an hour of intensive shopping before the other two’s trains got in.
By the time they arrived we were ready for lunch, and after a pit stop to see the Burne Jones’ windows at the cathedral we headed off to a nice vegetarian restaurant Kate had found where we happily rediscovered the fact that Prosecco is also vegetarian.
We spent the afternoon at the Birmingham Rep watching Kenneth Cranham do a magnificent turn in the play Father, which is an absolutely devastating enactment of what it is like to be inside the mind of someone with dementia. It was brutal and compelling and exhausting by turns. It was also brilliant.
We recovered with an exploration of Birmingham’s new library, and then staggered off to the canal, and a tea room where we regrouped for the final push home.
On Sunday Jason and I had decided it would be a day of outside chores, getting the garden ship shape for summer. The weather was so nice, we couldn’t quite face it and ran off to Chatsworth house for the day instead. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, and I’ve driven past it longingly on several occasions but never quite made it inside. Yesterday I did, and it was wonderful.
The day was glorious, the house and grounds are stunning, and the farm was full of baby animals, some of which we were allowed to pet. My highlight was being able to cuddle a guinea pig. I love guinea pigs with an undiminished passion, and the tangled, hairy beast called Bolt who was thrust into my lap did not lessen my adoration of them at all. Oscar was not keen, holding his like it was a bomb that was about to go off at any moment, but the girls absolutely loved it, and if it weren’t for two new born baby goats and some random Pekin chickens, it would have been a highlight for them, too. As it was, with that and the paddling in the fountains, it was difficult to choose.
We had lunch in the courtyard restaurant because we had been so impulsive we hadn’t packed a picnic. We weren’t too sad. The food was excellent, the service was friendly and I got a gin cocktail.
We drifted home via the Peak District back roads, winding through Matlock and environs in the late afternoon sunshine.
All very satisfactory.