Holiday breaks are odd things aren’t they? Or maybe they are just odd for me.
Off we go on Thursday evening for an Easter break in Ross on Wye. I’m very excited. Of course this may have something to do with the fact that I have it in my head that we are going to Hay On Wye, where I know there are lots of book shops. This is, of course, completely wrong, as Hay on Wye is an hour away from Ross on Wye and only has two bookshops. Well, that’s all I managed to find. I’m sure it has more, if you feel inclined to look, but not as many as Hay On Wye, and seeing as I thought that’s where we were going you can understand why I felt a bit let down. Not that it’s anyone’s fault and after all I was the one who booked the break.
The doctor arrives home from work and I’m packed and ready to go. I’ve packed enough books for two weeks in Mauritius. I’m determined to have a break. It is then little Matthew (my grandson) realises we are not joking and that we are really going away for a few days and leaving him. He’s having none of it and races to the car before we do and dives in. Now, there is nothing worse than an upset child, except an upset child who refuses to budge from the back seat of your car demanding to go on a weekend break with you. I had planned a lot of things happening on this break but babysitting a child was not one of them. I check my phone aware we had booked our table for dinner at the B&B for 8 pm. We still had the rush hour traffic to fight through. Twenty minutes later we have wrestled said child from the car, handed him back to his parents and are waving goodbye. I start to fret about Bendy (the cat) Did I leave enough cat milk for him? Will my stepson and his wife remember to pull the blinds at night so he doesn’t see the bully cat? Is this whole break thing a bit extravagant? I tell myself I deserve it and the doctor tells me so too, so it must be true.
We arrive at Ross on Wye and the little B&B I had been expecting is nothing short of Ross On Wye’s own Shangri La. Our room looks like one out of the Shangri la that Andrew stayed in while in Hong Kong (okay slight exaggeration) but it feels as hot as bloody Hong Kong. I struggle to turn down the radiators and have already drunk my way through their two bottles of complimentary water when I realise it is the towel rail that has turned the place into a sauna.
After freshening up we go down to the bar for dinner where we’re invited to sit in the library and peruse the menu. I’m not sure if my eyes pop out before the doctor’s or vice versa. £36 per person for a three course meal? I check I’m wearing the right glasses.
‘Was dinner included with our booking,’ I whisper, thinking of the little pub just up the road and how pie and chips would be just as good as the Garlic and thyme rump of Herefordshire lamb, saffron potatoes chantenay carrots, peas, and broad beans offered on the menu in front of me.
‘What was that?’ asks Andrew, who never hears me at the best of times but at present has an ear infection so is basically only hearing me with one ear.
I whisper again, a little louder this time.
‘I think so,’ he whispers back.
Before we know it, drinks have been ordered and we’re being led like lambs to the slaughter into the dining room, a waitress carrying our tray of two glasses, which we could easily have carried for ourselves.
‘Would you like me to pour water into your glasses?’ asks the waitress.
I shake my head. I think I am still capable of lifting a jug. Dinner turns out to be quite superb and we both make a mental note to check that the evening meal is included in our booking.
I can’t believe we have this luxury for three nights. The following morning we toddle down to breakfast (also included, in case you were getting anxious for us) we’re shown to our table where we consume a pot of lemon and ginger tea, cereal with yogurt, followed by kippers for Andrew, full English for me and toast to finish. We then toddle off to Ross on Wye for me to look in the two bookshops and countless charity shops. I’m at my happiest. The doctor then encourages me to do some sightseeing away from the shops.
We wander into the local church yard and I take a few photos before we walk towards the church where a vicar stands to welcome us.
‘Hello,’ he whispers ‘are you visiting?’
Oh dear. Andrew inclines his head, obviously wondering how his hearing could have deteriorated so quickly. I lean forward in an effort to hear the vicar thinking he must have a sore throat.
‘We’re having a service of silence for six hours. But if you’d like to come back.’
Andrew inclines his head.
‘Come again?’ he asks.
‘If you would,’ whispers the vicar. ‘Tomorrow would be fine.’
‘That’s good,’ says Andrew. ‘The weather is not so good today.’
Meanwhile I’m standing there wondering why the vow of silence seems to have included us on the outskirts of the church. But God moves in mysterious ways, so they say.
We leave the vicar to his silence and when he is out of earshot, Andrew says,
‘I can barely hear you at the best of times and that’s with both ears. How am I supposed to hear him?
We make our way back to the town, discussing what great food it is at the hotel. How the breakfast is so vast that guests can’t possibly want lunch.
‘It’s nearly two and I couldn’t possibly eat lunch,’ I say.
‘People do though,’ says Andrew. ‘I’d never want to be a glutton like that though, would you?’ he asks as we both glance in the local bakery window.
Ten minutes later we exit the bakery after buying two marzipan cakes, a hot cross bun, and a large custard tart.
Well, it’s a long time before dinner.
Hope you all had a fun Easter.