On the road
Here in Ramsbury, in
Wiltshire, the weather is giving me a great send off to my long trip to the
land of my birth. The wind has been
howling around the chimney pots all night, rain drumming on the skylights, and
now, at nearly noon,it is still wet and windy.
Maisie, the little terrier who lives here, goes to the door and barks,
but when I open the door, she changes her mind and retreats to a safe distance
from the spattering. I got some Biltong
at the little shop down the road yesterday, and she persistently stares at the
bag on the counter, occasionally whispering a little bark. She’d rather eat than go outside, but is too
polite to bark.
I came up here to stay with
my grand daughter for a few days while her parents are away. It is a chance to decompress after the last
frenetic days in Shere, preparing my home to welcome paying guests during my
absence. On Sunday, she and I went to
Marlborough – not the cigarette brand, silly – but a very chic town not far
from Ramsbury. When I say chic, I mean
the Princess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton, and Pippa, too) went to school at Marlborough College. The college also produced the actor James
Mason, whom you might remember if you were born before 1950, the poets Louis
MacNiece and Siegriend Sassoon, and William Morris, to name but a tiny
The town itself is a shopper’s paradise. Smart boutiques line the High Street – selling
everything from clothes to up-scale household goods and knick-knacks, like Cath
Kidston, all amidst ancient architecture.
We were in and out of quite a few
shops before the call of the tea room lured us into Polly’s. www.thepolly.com
Polly’s is exactly what springs to mind – mine
anyway – when you say “tea room”. It is
cosy, has friendly helpful staff, smells of freshly baked cake, and serves a scrumptious high tea, for which it is justly
famous. For cucumber sandwiches to
chocolate cake and everything in between, this is worth a trip to England. Almost.
You can also get a full English
breakfast all day long, composed of sausage, bacon, baked beans, sautéed
mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, eggs any style, and brown, white, or granary toast,
You’ve got to be really hungry to tuck one of those away. . Polly’s has been here since 1912, and it is
tempting to imagine James Mason or Siegried Sassoon taking their “tea” here so
many years ago.
Tomorrow, once again, I will
leave it all behind and be off to London Heathrow, to wend my way through the
heaving masses and board a flight to Raleigh, North Carolina, a town that is
considerably younger than this one.
- More Rhubarb
- The way to San Jose (and Saratoga and Los Gatos)