Sunday afternoon I took the First Great Western train from Paddington to Westbury to visit friends at their country house in Wiltshire.
I just love saying that. Taking a train from Paddington to Westbury to visit friends in the country. It sounds so Bloomsbury, so Virginia Woolf-ish. Did she ever take the train from Paddington to Westbury? She must have.
This country house in Wiltshire is owned by two of my favorite people in the world, Ian and Elizabeth. Ian looks a bit like a graying Gene Wilder. He’s a very successful barrister. Remember when the Beatles Apple sued Apple computers for copyright infringement after Apple started selling music through iTunes? He represented Apple computers (and won). Amazingly enough, he was also a British ice skating champion in his youth (there’s a long, wonderful story about his skating career, but that will have to wait for another day).
Anyway, Ian and Liz invited me to spend a couple of days at their country house in Wiltshire, so Sunday I took the train. And when I got to the little station in Westbury, there was Ian, waiting for me. We drove ten or fifteen minutes through the green rolling countryside, not far from Stonehenge, and all the while I was thinking that any minute we were going to pull up to some drafty barn-like structure in a pasture full of sheep. Instead, when we got there, we actually had to pass through an electronic gate meant to keep their 150-plus deer inside their little deer park.
Ian stopped the car so I could take a look at a herd of about 30 or 40 deer rambling up the hill. “They’re mostly Sika deer,” Ian said, “although we’ve also added some red deer recently.”
And then we were coming down the hill and passing between two ponds, shaded with weeping willows, with a little wooden bridge over one of the ponds and a boathouse and a rowing skull and coots and ducks and geese. And up ahead was this “little” white stone, two-story country house that looked like some place Winston Churchill might have holed up to write his memoirs after the rabble threw him out of 10 Downing following the War, and there was Liz at the door in a gossamer summer frock holding a chilled bottle of Montrachet.
“Well, do come in and have a drink,” she said.
So I did. And I don’t think I’m ever going to leave.
Comments are now closed.