Sometimes when you visit a place you haven't been to for a while and say 'nothing has changed', that can be a bad thing. Like in Morocco or your old prison cell. Going back to the cottage and catching up with friends is different and it was great that there is still a Jodie and James snapped hole on the other side of the world. It was also nice that people put on a great act of being pleased to see us.
In a couple of areas the cottage is looking a little tired 3 years since the renovations, but only really through normal ware a tear. It is still absolutely gorgeous though. The tenants, a well travelled old couple who seem to keep a low profile in the village, love the cottage. They also understand old buildings so are looking after it and have realistic expectations of a very old building. The man of the house likes it so much that he tolerates the fact that the combination of a tight staircase and his arthritis means he has to crawl up the stairs.
Whilst in the village we managed to pop in a see most of the neighbors whilst avoiding bumping into our psychotic, busy body pain in the arse next door neighbors. The reception we got was lovely . I think they may miss our parties.
We also popped onto our old local, the Kings arms in All Cannings, and were delighted to see that Barnie and Gillie were still running the place and it was still a fun, lively place full of interesting people. On this visit we met Paul McCartney's sound engineer (I didn't ask if he had a night off for the Olympic opening ceremony) and Andy Scott from Sweet (Ballroom Blitz, Fox on the Run etc). The good thing about having such people in the village is they have interesting mates and we learned that earlier in the year, to support an ill local they arranged a small gig in the pubs back garden. A low key affair with Tom Robinson, Midge Ure, Sweet and a few others. Not bad for a little village.
We stayed in another pub, The George and Dragon at Rowde and again were made to feel like we were coming home. Chippy, one of the owners, the principle chef and part time host at SoHo house in London even came back from London so he could cook us breakfast (kippers for me - yum, and he pandered to Jodie's awkwardness by making her egg yokes on toast. That's right, yokes only. Very odd). Chippy also used his connections to get us a table at Little House, the new very exclusive private members club off-shoot from SoHo house for our last night in London. We felt very glam.
We discovered a new very good hotel in London. Jodie now has a great formula of cross referencing Mr & Mrs Smith with Tripadvisor and Spendia to identify good places to stay and it certainly worked with the Claradon on Bina Place, West Kensington. £108 a night in a well decorated room with good bath and huge 4 poster bed (we were upgraded again), Internet, a welcome drink, a glass of champagne (yes, more champagne) and canapés at 6 and fabulous staff. Not cheap but great value.
We flew out at 11 the next day and stuck to Bloody Mary's and G&Ts in the lounge. Now that says something.
The trip to Hong Kong via Frankfurt was with Lufthansa. I am not yet spoiled enough to knock business class (which is good as until we renovate another house using an airmiles earning credit card, we will be in the back), I wouldn't rave about Lufthansa. They are not awful, but there is a certain German efficiency which is at odds with the need to feel pampered when you are technically spending Liberia's deficit on a 14 hour flight. The films were crap too!