I have escaped to a meadow in Suffolk, and a sweet 1950s caravan surrounded by a sea of cowslips. The weather is shocking; worse is forecast. It’s freezing cold in here, my trousers are wet from this afternoon’s walk and yet I am deliriously happy.
The caravan is painted cream, with a Cambridge blue/green roof, and looks out over the meadow. It is equipped with a stove and a kettle, complete with whistle, a tea pot (and tea cosy!), a shelf of books and a pile of local maps. My hosts have left a lemon cake on the side (which has more significance for me than they could have imagined) and a vase of fresh flowers. I am utterly charmed.
I had arrived mid afternoon and, despite the lure of hot tea and cake, set out for a walk before the weather got really bad. It was already pretty awful and I was soaked before I reached the road. Nonetheless, it felt great to be outside after all the driving – I splashed through puddles and waded through wet grass and mud on my way to the remains of a castle that I had spotted on the map. And oh, what a dank and gloomy place it turned out to be! Rooks nesting, fetid pools of black water, remote and quite deserted – I wandered around with grim foreboding. Here was the place to film Macbeth.
Back in the caravan, I busied myself making tea, investigating the cupboards and enjoying the happy sound of the rain pattering on the roof. I had food, beer and pile of books. I ate by candlelight, before disappearing under the warmest of all duvets and a deep and blissful ten hour sleep.
There were more surprises in store for breakfast – I woke up to find a hamper outside the door, packed full with treats, and had a happy time of it cooking on the gas stove. It was as if I had found myself in an Enid Blyton story – all quite magical.
The weather was shockingly bad – fifty mile an hour gusts and a month’s rain in twelve hours, but I had it in mind that I wanted to see bluebells. I walked out into the storm across fields, bent double in the wind, along an ancient and sheltered holloway and beside gorgeous hedgerows. There was an abundance of wild flowers, forlorn and shivering in the gale, but no bluebells. No matter – I was aiming for the mysterious wood that stood alone on the horizon where, I had been advised, there was the possibility of finding them.
The wood was wonderful – not like yesterday’s gloomy place. This was less Macbeth, and more Midsummer Night’s Dream. The sound of the wind faded the deeper into the wood I walked. There was a carpet of fresh green growth, primroses galore, but still no bluebells. I had hopes of finding a sea of blue but it was not to be. The wind picked up again and branches were falling around me. It was time to head off. And as I did so, there, by the path, was a bluebell. Single, solitary and quite beautiful.
I headed back and, as I crossed the field, wide open and exposed, I paused to watch a skylark. Impervious to the wind and rain it held its position, fifty feet off the ground, and sang its endless and thrilling song.