The incredible flying Lettice!
One of the loveliest things I did over the long Christmas and New Year break was take a road trip to the Cotswolds to see some of my oldest friends (who also own one of my godchildren.)
As a sidebar my American friends do sometimes find it hard to comprehend the British approach to time off work – when I was at The Wall Street Journal in New York I managed to negotiate a European holiday clause into my contract – that meant six weeks as opposed to the standard two, on the basis that I would need to return home regularly.
TWO WEEKS a year. Can you even imagine it? Almost all UK workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year, (along, of course, with things like statutory paid maternity leave and the NHS. But that’s a different story). If you work in the media you’ll usually get public holidays (known as bank holidays) on top of your leave, and it’s not uncommon for companies to shut down between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day, and sometimes longer if bank holidays fall on weekends over the period.
So this makes the Christmas break particularly joyous for someone like me – no emails, no post, absolutely no contact with the world of work whatsoever, bar the fun stuff (creating content), and catching up on clearing my inbox.
Anyway, I was determined to make it to Gloucestershire, even though there was heavy snow reported everywhere (except London, inevitably). I postponed my arrival by a day to see if the snow would melt a little, and eventually left mid afternoon on a clear afternoon here in Camden.
Not so much by the time I hit Burford. Heavy falling snow, drifts everywhere, black ice glinting wetly on corners and a pair of headlights that barely cleared a path through the twilight.
I drive a very small, twenty-year old MKII MX5 roadster. It’s rear wheel drive which means there’s a real danger of the back swinging out if I skid and, if I load the boot with stuff the added weight makes it even more likely. I love my little convertible but I do not love the idea of my car turning over and smashing my head like an egg through the soft top.
My journey was necessarily very, very slow. A long convoy caterpillared its way behind me most of the way from Oxford, but I was beyond caring. I’d rather piss off the drivers behind me than crash my car.
About twenty minutes from Painswick my friend called to divert me from our journey’s end. My car would have grounded on the country lanes, that’s if it ever made it down the ungritted narrow farm tracks. So I headed into the town, dumped the car in the church car park, and waited to be collected.
Sasha is wearing a Herringbone Coat by Jigsaw, and a Finisterre bobble beanie.
Lettice is wearing a Hiro & Wolf collar, LoveMyDog coat, & a TK Maxx lead.
All gifted bar the lead.
Next day there was a thick blanket of snow over the hills. We breakfasted well and headed outdoors to play.
Lettice was somewhat confused by the snow but soon started running joyfully through the fields. Later on we hunkered down for the evening, and Lettice discovered the joy of warming her little bottom next to the radiant heat of an AGA.
My slippers are from children’s from Boden – sadly no bunny ears this season, but they do have super bear ones, and some sizes left up to a 39.
Lettice’s wonderful dog duvet was a gift from our friends at LoveMyDog
The next morning I made AGA toast, and we took a very long walk over the fields. Happily for Lettice’s tiny legs, the snow had almost completely disappeared by the next day, leaving behind thick, gloopy mud and puddles for the children to splash through.
Lettice modelling her (gifted) LoveMyDog Elwin quilted coat.
The meltwater was rushing down weirs and streams, and we spotted a huge tree that had fallen during the snowstorms, and an apple tree laden with parasitical mistletoe.
I stayed in Gloucestershire a day longer than planned but, when we ventured back into Painswick, we were rewarded by blue skies. It’s one of my favourite Cotswold towns, with its beautiful Georgian buildings, a legacy of wool wealth from centuries ago.