Now for a change of scenery. This morning we took a nice long train ride from Penzance to the town of Castle Cary, where we were met by our long-time friend Peter. More about him and his lovely wife Sarah in a minute.
But just admire the lovely amenities on the Great Western Railway. We were fortunate enough to travel first class, and have a lovely meal that was nothing at all like airplane food. Sigh. Why can’t we have these services?
Now back to Peter. He and Sarah have retired to the lovely village of Trent, in Dorset, just over the border from Somerset. It’s a small village (about 350 people), but it has everything I would find essential in my dream English village. In fact, it’s a bit difficult to believe that it actually exists, and that we have not wandered into an Agatha Christie novel.
First of all, the gardens. Sarah’s are spectacular, but then she is a garden professional. But as we went for a nice walk (obligatory dog included) it was clear that gardening is a competitive sport here in Trent. (More on that tomorrow.)
And then there are the homes. Whether of the manor type or cottages, they have charm leaking out of the windows. And – wait for it – more than a few are thatched, and we actually saw thatching in progress.
The church. Oh my. The church of St Andrew has a tower topped by one of the three ancient stone spires of Dorset. The church was built in the 13th century and enlarged in the 14th and 15th centuries. Restoration and refitting was done about 1840 in a pre-Victorian way. Some people have their own needleworked kneelers, of course. Sigh.
What have I left out? The pub, of course. We had a (half) pint at the Rose and Crown, Peter and Sarah’s local, which dates back to the 14th century, but is totally up to date in terms of food and amenities. So charming. Didn’t capture the actual bar – too busy holding my drink – but was entranced by the snug. Another sigh. Too perfect.
All this in just a few hours, but already we are filled with jealousy and lust for the English village life that really does seem to exist. How lucky we are to know people who actually live this particular dream.
Don’s Food Corner
When I saw that the train we were traveling on had a full formal Pullman dining car, I knew we were set for a deluxe lunch.
Unfortunately, the dining car didn’t open until 1:30 or start serving till 2ish and we were scheduled to arrive at our destination at 2:45. The staff, however, offered that we could have a starter and a dessert and be finished in time. And so we did.
Jo started with a plate of scallops. Very nicely done. I had the smoked salmon platter, which came with bread and cream cheese, all served on china with the Great Western Railway logo on it.
For the dessert, I had the cheese platter, which came with a wedge each of goat cheese, cheddar and blue cheese along with a nice selection of crackers. Jo had a butterscotch pudding that was so delicious that I was only permitted a very tiny taste.
The whole experience, albeit shorter than we would have liked, proved that elegant dining on a train is both possible and still being done. Not something to be taken for granted.