We've been in Thaxted today. I woke up this morning feeling incredibly stressed with a sense that the world was on my back needing things from me that I didn't have the strength to give it. I answered a few emails and made some phone calls, with a horrible pounding, nervous sensation in my stomach. Stress, of course...
Sometimes the best thing you can do when that sort of thing happens is take a deep breath... And run for the hills!
So we jumped in a car and found ourselves in Thaxted. The journey there was a little complicated. They'd closed off the main road into the town and the diversion we took, via single-track country lanes which snaked their way through ancient meadows, eventually brought us back to exactly where we'd started! Still, it was lovely to see a bit of rural Essex. It's wonderful, really; you're only five miles from Stansted Airport, but you could be in Devon. Here and there a half-timbered house covered in clematis sitting by the side of the road with pheasants and rabbits and things running around in the front garden. When you get into those seriously rural parts of Essex, you begin to understand why the area is so associated with witchcraft. I think I'm right in saying there was a famous witch-hunter who plied his trade in the area in the 17th Century, causing considerable mayhem. I bet the area is incredibly eerie when those Fenland mists roll in from the North East.
We ate at The Swan. I had a veggie roast which arrived looking dry as toast. "Is there a veggie gravy?" I asked. "We could do you some" said the lovely young waiter, as though I'd asked for something really unusual, like a jug of cream, or a vat of custard to pour onto my roast dinner.
The gravy arrived and everything was suddenly very good with the world.
We went for a glorious walk across the fields, my Mum taking us to a little spot underneath some wildly susurrating trees which she is convinced is the perfect spot for a bit of communing with the universe. There was certainly an extraordinary calmness in the area, despite the whispering trees, and the hackles on the back of my neck were suddenly standing to attention. I had a little chat with the powers-that-be. I shan't lie! Actually, I had a little chat with them about a good friend of mine who could do with a little love right now.
As we continued our journey around a field of rape, we were joined by hundreds of butterflies dancing and fluttering in the breeze. I've seldom seem so many butterflies in so many beautiful colours. Peacock. Red Admiral. Cabbage White. And then something rather glorious whose wings looked like they'd been dipped in amber. Nature can be rather spectacular, can't it?
We went back to the parents' house and sat in the garden drinking tea in the sunshine, only retiring in doors when the sun dipped behind the trees.
My only sadness is the fact that my neck is currently in spasm; no doubt in response to the stress I experienced this morning. I was aware all the way through the night that I was grinding my teeth but when I got up to get my special gum guard for such occasions, I couldn't find it. Ho hum.