Friday, June 1, 2007

From Harpenden: A Shock

What a shock! I caught my wife sleeping with another guy, and I have the evidence to prove it. Here it is:

The culprit? Joe, our grandson. Age five. Here's the mug shot:

And here's his twin sister, Georgia (another Georgie, by coincidence!)

And his BIG sister, Alice, eight. who apparently wouldn't sit still for long enough, yesterday, for a face shot--have to remedy that!

What a joy to see them all! And what a surprise to find Joe curled up in bed with us this morning. I felt Ellie shoving me over during the night, but I attributed this to her usual imperious territoriality in t

he bed department. I was not aware of our night visitor until this early morning, when I awoke.

Anyway, yesterday: we left Harpenden shortly before noon, a little earlier than planned because I was a bundle of nerves about the coming long drive (on the left hand side, shift stick, no rain!) through unfamiliar country roads from Cirencester to Harpenden. As usually happens, the anxiety disappeared as soon I was back in the driver's seat, and we stopped for a quick coffee in Burford, a charming village in the Cotswolds where Joe and Georgie and Alice's great aunt, Jenny lives--but unfortunately we had no number for her.

A while later, on the road, we were looking for a convenient, quick lunch stop and on impulse turned off, following a brown historical road sign to Waddesdon Manor, which proved to be a far bigger commitment than we had imagined. The ancestral home since the mid-19th century of the British branch of the Rothschild family, built in imitation of an 18th century French chateau. The exterior is hardly modest, as you can see from these pictures:

and the interior is extravagant almost beyond belief--the Rothschild's collections of elaborate and rare French furniture and knick-knacks, Sevres porcelain, and art works of all shapes and sizes. My favorite: a small "fete galante" painting by Watteau. There was more, far more than we could have hoped to take in on so brief a visit, but we enjoyed the glimpse. Then on through ten thousand roundabouts and sometimes heavy traffic to Harpenden and the grandkids!

Ellie took on grandmotherly responsibilities while Matthew joined me in returning the rental car to Luton airport. Bringing it in two hours later than the required time cost us an extra day's rental fee: Hertz allows a twenty-nine minute grace period. Generous. Then back to Harpenden via taxi, a good Scotch with Matthew and Thai hors d'oeuvres on the lawn with the family, before dinner and a rather early night. Then, of course, in the middle of the night--the betrayal!


Cardozo said...

Wow, Peter. When I pull of the road for lunch my choices are Del Taco or 7-Eleven. Live it up, my friend!

Did you get my email with the pictures of Deloz?

I'm afraid one of the Iris plants is not looking too good. Not sure what I did wrong.

PeterAtLarge said...

Daniel, good to hear from you this early Sunday morning in England. No, I didn't get the Deloz pictures, but thanks for trying. I'll send them on to my sister when I get back to the states. Have a good Sunday. We look forward to seeing you later this week. Cheers, PaL