On our extended summer break we will be visiting the Cotswolds, parts of the Jurassic Coast in Dorset and finally Pembrokeshire in the wild west of Wales, before we return to Gloucestershire. The second two elements of our jaunt we have yet to even start but I fear that the die-is-cast for the rest of the trip already. Let me explain. I have noticed that when we are out-and-about, because we have no timetable or work to consider, we have started to walk really slowly, thus annoying fellow pedestrians.
We have caused a number of minor pile-up’s as I suddenly stop to gaze into a shop window at a beige garment that had rather caught my fancy. “Get a move on will you?” proclaimed a heavily tattooed hipster as he swerved past me not looking up from his iPhone - Why don’t you get stuffed beardy - I replied, before she pulled me away, murmuring “Come away he’s not worth it you grumpy old git.”
I don’t know if you have ever noticed it when staying in the UK, but it is as if time itself slows down. Because of the GMT time difference with Mallorca, I’m awake at 6.30am, showered and shaved by 8.00am and shouting at Richard Madeley over breakfast. It has taken me at least a week to stop fretting about the fact that we have nothing planned for the day, apart that is, from walking really slowly in shopping arcades and making people swerve around me.
As I mentioned in earlier pieces I have written for you this summer, we are based in the Cotswolds, a more beautiful picture postcard part of Blighty you will ever find. At this time of year in the pre-pandemic past however, it is as if the total population of Tokyo has decamped to Gloucestershire and are intent on photographing everything that moves, or doesn’t, if you see what I mean.
The Cotswolds also holds the world record for the number of genteel tea rooms it has within its boundaries. Inevitably, I was in one just yesterday and I don’t even like tea, however our waitress was a dead-ringer for Mrs Overall and if you squinted your eyes, you could have been in a Agatha Christie murder mystery with Miss Marple sat over there in the corner amidst a throng of giggling Asian teenage girls phone cameras flashing - it has to be said that it was very odd indeed!
At this point, I’d like to share with you another minor English obsession, or if you prefer it, a worrying preoccupation? I do try, but fail to understand why women are so single-mindedly in love with seemingly ubiquitous candles and cushions. Indeed, a friend of mine recently warned me about a former girlfriend who he believed was stealthily trying to move in with him, and the way that he spotted her cunning plan was that random candles and cushions would arrive at his place without invitation.
So, in some way I am naturally biased against them, but here they are everywhere and in every shop, smelling sweetly of everything from burnt citrus via vanilla and hibiscus & pomegranate - so gentlemen beware, as I believe that they are works of the devil himself. All is not lost however, as there is one British institution that I do approve of and that is the humble charity shop.
You will get served by a lady who is posher than Her Majesty the Queen and she will look you up and down so as to make sure that you are not a “dreadful yob” of some description and then proceed to sell you a genuine Harris Tweed jacked that has only been worn once, for ten quid. Indeed, only in these locations could musty, secondhand clobber, be described as “Previously Loved.”