I went to the comically-named village of Ugley today for a meal at the charming Cricketer's Inn, which sits beside a cricket pitch on the edge of the village. One wonders quite how the village got to be so-named, and yes, to add a layer to the humour, there is an Ugley Women's Institute! Ironically, the place itself is anything but ugly. It is, however, in Essex. Albeit the darkest, most rural part.
We were there celebrating brother Edward's birthday; an event which then took us to Saffron Walden, where Edward was bought a birthday pair of shoes and I went with my mum to a wool shop. In the light of the fact that most of my friends are now knitters, I'm proud to say that my mother, who was always a very fine knitter, has started to knit again. She's already gone entirely off piste with a cardigan, which, because she didn't quite understand the pattern, has become an astonishing work of freestyle art with cables and bobbles, which Nathan believes she should release! Anyway, for those thinking about a trip to the knitting shop in Saffron Walden, the selection of yarn is small (the shop also sells crafty stuff and sewing stuff), but the woman behind the counter is deeply helpful and very knowledgeable.
We returned to Till Towers for a delicious chocolate cake and a thrown-together meal of potatoes, pizzas, salads, quiches and raspberries which was, in a single word, heavenly.
The journey home was uneventful, which was a relief after the journey there, when I was literally driven onto a verge by an enormous lorry taking a stretch of road too quickly. It was a little scary, but no lasting harm was done, either to the car, or my ability to drive without panicking!
Speaking of driving, I had the mother of all late-night missions to pick up Nathan at 2am from Chiswick. He'd been doing a gig in Somerset and managed to cadge a lift as far as Chiswick from a fellow performer. The journey around the North Circular was made rather jolly by Heart FM who played a blinding set of songs including This Woman's Work by Kate Bush, which made me drive a little erratically.
It's a treat to drive around the North Circular at this time. There was nothing on the roads, the traffic lights were all in my favour, and the city lights - the neon signs and so on - seemed particularly alluring for some reason.
We got home at 2.49am and were prevented from entering our house by two policemen. An alarm had gone off in one of the shops in the terrace below us, and they'd sent the dogs in, which apparently meant we couldn't go back into our house. Not the best news at such a late hour but more understandable when we learned that a man with a foot-and-a-half long machete was seen rushing from the Boogaloo pub towards where we live and that he "got no further" than the junction one up from us. Obviously the police are taking an alarm going off in the area where the man disappeared rather seriously! Bit odd, really.