Sunday, April 08, 2007

Saved by the National Trust

Ye gods, but going to church on Easter Sunday was a bloody mistake. I knew the moment I walked in to be faced by countless hordes of people that I really should have stayed at home and - if my mood felt good and the wind was in the right direction - had a few private moments with God. Instead, I had to run the gauntlet of the service whilst wishing I was as many miles away as possible. God only knows why I felt like that - and please don't ask me to explain it as I don't think I can - but I do.

Maybe the basic fact is I'm not sure I really like - or can trust - any of the people there right now (apart from Lord H of course), and if I can't relate to the church people around me, then it's a zillion times harder under those circumstances to relate to God. Add to that the fact that the service was taken by our old vicar - a fly-by-night non-people person if ever I saw one - and you can imagine the scenario. I think that if the new vicar - Paul - had taken the service then I might even have made it to communion. As it was, I stayed put in the pew as if glued to the ruddy seat - and Lord H stayed with me, which he didn't have to do as I would have been fine if he'd gone up to communion and I hadn't, but his notions of marital loyalty were running high. Which in a way was nice, so far be it from me to complain - except that now I'm convinced that the church believes I'm leading my husband down the primrose path to paganism and sin. (Lord H's response to this: oh goody, when does that start?).

Also, I'm not sure, but does not taking communion at Easter mean I am flung from the church without hope of reprieve? No idea really - and I can't say that right now I'm bothered either way. However, I suspect that I won't be darkening the doors of St Peter's for quite a while now. Make of that what you will. Meanwhile, the call of the Quakers becomes ever more enticing ...

After making good our escape from the arms of the Lord (complete with 2 chocolate eggs for Lord H and me - hell, we bloody well deserve it! - and I ate four more mini ones while I was there), we nipped home for a quick turn-round before heading off to visit the newly-opened National Trust property of Hinton Ampner - in Hampshire.

It was bliss. Bloody hell, but walking round that house, gardens and shop was the most peaceful I've felt for a long time. The weather was perfect, and there weren't many people around. Also the stewards didn't leap up and confront us (National Trust stewards are, unfortunately, rather prone to that kind of behaviour), so we could wander round, stare at stuff and just take the whole thing in. Only the ground floor is open, but it's a marvellously soothing mix of beauty and lived-inness (is that even a word? Hell, you know what I mean). And the gardens were lovely - beautiful views over Hampshire, and the occasional waft of scent. Plus a rather fetching yellow butterfly that followed us around, and a small bird that looked like a linnet, but probably wasn't. And I bought two chocolate mice in the shop (the reliable provision of chocolate mice is one of the NT's many strengths indeed), and a new fluffy pen to add to my work collection. Though, to be honest, it was more curly than fluffy. And vibrantly orange too. Hurrah!

Then home for a late lunch, and an evening watching DVDs, I hope - as there's nothing on TV really, though we might watch some of the golf. And we've also managed to get the cleaning done, and check the car tyres, water etc, as well as make a shopping list, so I am brimming with domestic nobility.

This week, I've done two haikus, as they were both nagging at me, so here they are:

The first for Simon and my attempts to finish The Gifting:

The end of the novel:
Last two scenes to go:
my pen drags over the page,
trailing blood and hope.

And, in response to the very hairy emu at Birdworld yesterday ...

The emu stalks me,
splayed claws poised for the attack:
a thatched roof on legs.

Today's nice things:

1. Hinton Ampner
2. Chocolate mice
3. Lord H.

Happy Easter to all.

Anne Brooke

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