I love my life in London. I have a job that I genuinely enjoy and find fulfilling, working with people I like and respect. I live in a small but pretty little flat, with the man that I adore. We both have a short commute (the importance of which isn’t to be understated) into work from an area of the city we enjoy living in.
|Matisse's Cutouts at TATE Modern|
I have a large circle of friends who are always around for cocktails and parties or lunchtime burritos. I have the world’s best culture on the doorstep - and a dazzling array of the more mainstream culture when we’re in need of that too (thus proved in a week in which The Writer and I saw both Matisse at Tate Modern, and The Other Woman at the Streatham Odeon).
|A recent evening food market in Brixton|
We have the world’s best restaurants down the street, and we're more likely to have dinner at a local food market than we are to order Domino’s. We can wander through Trafalgar Square at midnight; and my walk to the office takes in some of London’s most gorgeous buildings and the world’s best-known landmarks.
And yet coming back to London on the train from Home County always makes me feel a bit like a Pevensie crashing back from Narnia: a mixture of melancholy and an acceptance of the knowledge that reality isn’t quite as magical as the alternative.
|Bluebells at the local manor house|
I spent the Easter weekend and most of the following week with Ma and Pa Blonde in their house in the furthest reaches of Home County, and it was a week full of maximum Home County goodness.
There was a mountain of Pa Blonde-cooked food (including an excellent mango cheesecake) and we ate home-grown asparagus half an hour after it was hand-cut from the ground.
|Colin, concentrating on hunting an|
erstwhile bit of string
I spent quite a lot of time helping Pa in the garden (shovelling two tonnes of manure onto raised beds was something I could have done without, but the subsequent - and very strong - gin and tonic tasted delicious), and when we weren’t working, we drank a lot of champagne sitting on the lawn and doing the crossword - or just enjoying the sunshine.
Best Mate and I took a trip to the local manor house and wandered around the farm and gardens, taking in big lungfuls of peony and eyefuls of bluebell (and the occasional pig).
|British Lop, waiting for elevenses|
Most mornings I went up to the yard and played with a variety of ponies: Luna, who challenged me more than most, Delila the hunter who gave me a good fast gallop over the fields, and Pippa the new Connemara with whom I enjoyed far more gentle canters along woodland tracks when I’d coaxed her past the dustbins and Royal Mail vans that clearly contained monsters (quite why the herd of alpacas wasn’t scary, I don’t know).
And when I wasn’t doing all that, I was playing with and hugging Colin, who’s grown fat and contented at the spoiling hand of Pa Blonde.
|Pippa's ears on one of our hacks|
Whether I was waking up in the morning listening to a cacophony of birdsong, or riding down farm tracks looking at deer and hearing nothing but hooves underneath me, it was hammered home that however fabulous life in London is, however much culture and sparkle and glitz that the city can throw at me, I’ll be beside myself with joy when I can finally step back through the wardrobe and end up in the country - which for me, will always be magic.