It does seem a while since I put the last newsletter together. We have had some lovely walks and all is tranquil now with grey and cold and wet skies which do not normally fit into a south west France summer. Anyway I prefer it because I can think better when it is cool.
We finished the season with a beautiful walk in Suffolk through Bildeston, Kersey, Boxford, Stoke by Nayland, Dedham, Brent Eleigh, Lavenham and Long Melford. Lovely names and beautiful places. And a lovely group. Our groups though rarely count as a group as far as the National Trust are concerned as we are never twenty people and over, and when I went to Ickworth to buy the tickets for the house visit they said it would be fourteen pounds per person. I had never heard of such an amount before and asked them why it had nearly doubled in price since last year. They said it was for the gardens too. “But we don’t wish to visit the gardens” I said “It is four o’clock and we just want to visit the house. We’ve come to see the works of art”. “Aahh yes” they said “ but it’s all part and parcel ”. I found this a ridiculous new policy. A deliberate squeeze. The UK has a problem with commerce at the moment. It is unnecessarily aggressive. When I went to fly out of Stansted last week they have rearranged ‘Departures’ now to direct you through a low roofed glaringly brilliant duty free corridor with “BUY NOW BUY NOW” written in the horrendous glitter on the floor. Well it isn’t actually written in the glitter but it sure as hell works like that. Sad, sad, sad. I used to love Stansted. You can’t even drop off a passenger now without having to pay.
Anyway to walks!! In terms of derring-do Tuscany was the most exciting. We forded a couple of rivers and climbed up and down some rocky and murky and slippy wet slopes. It was such fun though and I think it was universally agreed that that was one of the best walks we have done (as many on the week had been with us before a few times). I was struck this time by the stunning Volterra landscape and also got a real sense of how Tuscany shows a positive element of humanism and how great we are as a species. I have mentioned this before in with Bronowski’s ‘Ascent of Man’ but now also looking at Tuscan heroes
such as Lars Porsena, Duccio, Dante, Giovanni Pisano and Iris Origo. And all this in an age when one does wonder how long this species will last. I remember Bill Bryson pointing out that most ‘super species’ last only around four million years and I think we are nearly there aren’t we (if we take becoming bipedal as the start)? SO we need you to come back and walk with us soon because the end of the world may be nigh! Of course they keep saying this don’t they, especially when there is a millennium approaching. I think we are meant to all end up in the Pyrenees to be saved by aliens. Does this mean you should all come walking in the Basque? We do have room for one more couple or a single on this week starting 27th September. A lovely group. I’m sure we’ll survive and live to tell the tale!
It is funny, as we come to the end of the season, that our children start running off by the time we get home. Coco is already off to Edinburgh. ‘The Fringe’ has become an attraction …. quite rightly so … though we are tempted to say we think it a bad idea that she goes just because we want her home a bit longer. Louis is all set to depart to Brussels for a four month session setting up an exhibition. He is doing great stuff in Central St Martins and is taking a year off before he hopes to return to CSM to do jewellry. Not terribly conventional jewellry mind you so be warned (www.luneetcie.tumblr.com is Louis’ blog for any people interested).
A final reminder for anyone wanting some fun is our Cooking Week which is not a course but just a good excuse to have great fun with food and go home with some great recipes and good ideas. We have four different chefs appearing as well as Diana and I and we all get our hands lovely and dirty. We split it between the Dordogne and the Quercy region (where we live) and the dates are 19th – 26th October.
With much love from us all
James Diana Coco Louis and Choco-oioi (walking more like a Thunderbird puppet these days poor boy)