In the late afternoon of the Butterfly Farm visit, the storm broke and storms are good when you live on the side of Glastonbury Tor. The dark clouds began to gather over St Michael’s Tower and the air became thick with heat and static. And then the waters came, heavier and heavier, lashing the patio, hailstones ricocheting against the windows like shot from an ill-disciplined pheasant shoot.
We sat inside, warm, dry, being fed sausage and mash by our gracious hosts, Lord and Lady Somerset, and feeling pathetically relieved not to be cooking corned beef hash over an inadequate gas stove in a musty tent. After supper, we snuggled down to watch a feel-good film, after which we bade goodnight and ran across the garden to the tent.
Which was full of water. The boys’ inflatable mattress was actually floating in their sleeping pod, their pillows were sodden and their fluffy onesies merely dripping furballs. No sealed seam in the world would have withstood the biblical downpour that Somerset had thrown at us. By this time our hosts would have gone to bed and locked up, their Great Danes would be settled and as Lady Somerset has to be up at 5am there was no way we were going to risk waking them all up by going back to the house. Boy the Younger came in with me, and Boy the Elder floated serenely on his rubber mattress, wrapped in towels and wearing two sets of clothes. In the morning we fell to our knees and pleaded for the use of the spare room where we topped and tailed in a most Victorian manner.
The morning after the deluge, we took a trip to Cheddar Gorge. We have been there before but it’s so wonderful it justifies many visits. Boy the Elder went on his first caving trip whilst Boy the Younger and I sipped hot chocolate and enjoyed the towering majesty of the cliffs. It really is a superb day out. The caves are spectacular, the Museum of Prehistory is thought provoking and the bus trip up the gorge was breathtaking and entertaining.
One of the highlights is climbing the steps up the cliff which is known as Jacob’s Ladder. There are 274 steps with platforms (or resuscitation stations as I prefer to call them) explain the progression of life on earth from primordial soup up to the modern era. At the top, they tell you to lay a sheet of paper on the top step which will represent the amount of time that humans have been on the earth relative to the steps. Blimey.
We also visited the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Shop where they make the most delicious range of cheeses imaginable. We took home straightforward cave matured cheddar (which you can see stacked up in the caves as you go round) and a scrumptious natural blue which were both heavenly and then promptly ate the lot after supper – shared with The Somersets of course!
Before returning to Desborough, we managed to pack in a trip to a model engineering show in Bristol, a return visit to the Aged Parent and supper with Sister the Second and, although I was glad to get home, I had rather got used to swanning around in the fresh air, looking at interesting things. I had also got completely used to being cooked for every night and I shall redouble my efforts to win a major literary prize, make my fortune and have staff. Lots and lots of staff.