Now that I’m in the English countryside, I can’t help but feel that I have been transported back to the books of my childhood. Everywhere I look there is greenery, large whisps of grass on either side of the little lane, flowers bouncing in the light breeze from long brambles that I can see also harbour berries ripe for the picking. I am reminded of Jane Austen, of Lizzie Bennet walking along such lanes on the way to her future, Mr Darcy on his horse through the early morning fog of such fields. The sun lingers above me but it doesn’t intrude, simply warms the back of my neck and the soft skin of my freckles as I make my way to the country inn.
I am welcomed by the woman who runs it, a warm and friendly woman who is nothing but smiles, and I feel instantly that this is home. She hugs me to say hello and smells of vanilla bean, I ask how and she chuckles, telling me of all of the homemade delights she has been baking all morning. She’s casual in the way she speaks, not as if I’m a new guest but instead a very old friend, someone she has been looking forward to seeing again after a long time. It feels right that I’m here, and I’m excited to settle in. She shows me up the stairs of the inn to where my bedroom resides, and I duck from the beams of the ceiling – beams she tells me are older than even my great-grandparents. The walls are covered with all sorts of paintings, photographs and knickknacks, and it feels that the entire history of the inn has been positioned on these walls for everyone to enjoy.
The room itself is beautiful, a floral bedspread on the bed and a firm sense of crispness and freshness. The window is open and I walk over to it, breathing in deeply at the smell of greenery and jasmine that floats in from the fields that it overlooks. We say our goodbyes for now and I curl up on a seat that overlooks the window as the sun begins to set, listening to the birds chirping in the hedgerows below me as I finger my way through a favourite book, feeling that I am right there with the characters. Only when the sun has fully lowered and the sparrows have been replaced with owls that I make my way to the bed, laying in between the cool sheets and nodding off blissfully into summertime dreams.
Photo by Digs Digs
I am awoken the next day by the smell of something delicious – pancakes. Once I am dressed and ready for the day, I make my way downstairs and am welcomed again by the innkeeper, she gestures over to the dining table where she ahs made a delicious spread of pancakes with strawberries and cream – “berries straight from the garden and cream from my own cow”, she exclaims proudly. I sit next to her and a few other guests as we eat, biting into the juicy strawberries and having to swallow moans as the cream cuts the bite to make every morsel creamy and smooth. The pancakes are fluffy and soft, and I find myself reaching for more over and over again. Being here feels like a fragrant, floral dream, and the freshness of my bedroom and the drive it took to get here continue even now, and I decide to pretend that I’m never going to leave.