I’ve been meaning to write a cheery blog post ever since I got back from my weekend away in Wales, and now here we are with nearly a week gone by, and no cheer. That needs to be rectified, so it is definitely a case of better late than never.
My weekend away was blissful. Absolutely blissful. We hit the road on Friday afternoon just as traffic was starting to build. As we were in no particular rush, we set the sat nav to ‘highways and byways’ and pootled along lanes, through villages with bizarre names and countryside straight out of a picture book. It was rather like driving out of the 21st century into medieval England. The late afternoon light, the laden orchards, the trees turning out their Autumn splendour made it just perfect, and we were already feeling holidayish by the time we arrived.
We stayed in a place called Clyro, a mile from Hay on Wye, in a complex of converted barns, farm buildings and grain silos. Our silo was rather aptly called The Wheat Silo. It was absolutely perfect for what we wanted, which was peace and quiet. The bedroom, bathroom and kitchen were all on the ground floor, and the top half of the building was one, large, round lounge. We had a sofa each and a glorious triptych of windows looking out across the Welsh hills to entertain us.
On Friday evening we stumbled by accident across a restaurant called St. John’s in Hay. It turns out that it’s Trip Advisor’s number one choice for top nosh in Hay. We had no idea when we rocked up there, and we were really lucky that as we arrived, a couple were leaving, and we slotted neatly into the only table left in the place. We ate the most glorious steak and chips I’ve had in years, with a crisp, green salad which was interesting and properly dressed. I also had a glass of splendid rose, fruity and crisp and absolutely perfect. It was simple, but exquisite, which is high praise indeed. I’d eat there again in a heartbeat. I highly recommend you visit if you get the chance, but it’s small and only opens on Friday and Saturday, so you would need to book, unless you were lucky, like we were.
Saturday involved a fry up at the Blue Boar pub, which was recommended by the staff at St John’s. I had the veggie option and it was delicious. After carb loading, we set off to explore. The weather was dreary and rainy and there weren’t many people about, which suited us down to the ground. We spent the morning browsing the frankly delightful shops unbothered by man nor beast.
Hay is one of those places that seems to have all the needful things in one small town. Obviously there are lots of book shops, but there are also art galleries, a proper stationers’, a beautiful cookware shop, and a whole host of other, independent shops that sell beautiful things you never knew you needed. I bought some of them.
In the afternoon we went back to our silo and read our books and napped. We went out for curry in the evening. We thought about a takeaway but that would have involved washing up, so we went out, but only for long enough to wolf down food, and then we hot footed it back to the silo for more pyjama/book/snooze action.
Sunday morning saw us breakfasting at Booths’ bookshop. It’s a huge, sprawling place with a fabulous mix of old and new books, a top notch cafe and their own cinema. The food is amazingly good. I had Portobello mushrooms in devilled cream sauce with sour dough toast, a fried egg and two rashers of crispy bacon on top. It was heavenly. We couldn’t leave without buying a few books, which we took back to the silo and read until the evening when we slowly wended our way home.
Everything was perfect. It felt like we’d been away for about a year. I felt refreshed and re-charged, which was good, as the first couple of days back proved a little tricky and had I not had reserves to fall back on I think I definitely would have run away.
On the whole, however, the week has continued in a holidayish theme for me. I managed to get my hair dyed by Jenn, and instead of dirty blonde with two inch roots I am now pale pink and lilac, which is much more the thing. I have had an afternoon of massage from my amazing friend, Lynn, who ironed out some of the more persistent knots in my neck and shoulders. I’ve been to the cinema with Oscar to see The House With the Clock in Its Walls, because sometimes we like to have a mum and Oscar date. I’ve been to see Crazy Rich Asians with Jenn and Kim because sometimes we like to run away in the afternoon and see films when everyone else is busy. It feels so decadent.
I’ve also been to my second art class with Kim. We are doing watercolour painting with a lovely lady called Helen, who is very calm and relaxed and doesn’t believe in mistakes. I am not very good, but I am thoroughly enjoying my two hours a week, mucking about with paint. It made me feel that I might have made some progress in life after all when I found myself not being worried about whether what I was doing was right or not, but simply enjoying making something because I could. It’s only taken me until I’m 46.