The Cottage Smallholder

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Fiona from the UK, Michelle from Oregon and Danny from Ireland

Fiona from the UK, Michelle from Oregon and Danny from Ireland

As I glided over to Cambridge in The Duchess to pick up our American friends I mulled over the past five years of blogging. We met Michelle and Dan through our blog and forum. I’ve always had a soft spot for Michelle – she heroically defended me during the Great Guinea Pig Debacle. She also has a great sense of humour and a lot of down to earth common sense. But what would she be like in real life? And how about Dan – the man who loves to photograph trains?

Their train was delayed and, as there is no easy parking at Cambridge station, I was getting a bit of flack from the taxi driver contingent.
“You are not allowed to park here. It’s our spot.” And they added just in case I hadn’t twigged.
“It’s just for taxis.”
I was out of the oblong marked TAXIS so I stared stonily back at the enraged hands trying to waft The Duchess away. And in my strongest Country Woman Voice declared with rounded vowels:
“I’m collecting some very important people so I’m not moving.”
They backed down in an instant. I must try that imperious tone with Danny when he strays over the mark in the future.

Meanwhile buses hovered beside our grand old car and efficiently turned within an inch of her bonnet. Deep down inside I was starting to get a bit panicky. How long could I stay there before some one called the police.

Then I turned and saw Michelle and Dan coming towards me. I felt as if I was welcoming them home after years away. The friendship was suddenly tangible, huggable and real.

Although we had worked on the house and garden, the scene at the cottage was still a bit messy and frayed at the edges. But as I drove them back to our village I realised that this didn’t really matter at all – we were together and having fun. The bathroom was clean and they had booked into a good B&B in the village.

There was, of course, the matter of the giant rat that we had spotted frolicking in the garden and the family of mice that have moved into the inglenook fireplace but hopefully none of these would put in an appearance. The vacuum cleaner had also died. Danny and I had ‘dustpanned’ and brushed the carpets like two diligent house maids from Downton Abbey but hadn’t achieved their level of super squeaky clean success.

To say that Dan and Michelle were laid back would be an understatement. They had much more go than the flow.

We returned to Cambridge for lunch (Carluccios – good with excellent service) and a chauffeured punt trip. We walked quite a bit and I discovered that Dan liked to photograph everything! From the colleges, our plates at the restaurant to a rather eccentric clock that told the correct time every five minutes. This clock also housed a sort of pug nightmare daemon that turned out to be a ‘grasshopper’.

The next day we travelled to Sutton Hoo and examined the Anglo-Saxon spoils that had been discovered in the burial mounds on this site. We even stopped off on the motorway to forage. Not an ideal place to pick produce but they were there!

There was a lot of laughter, whisky medicine for Dan’s sore throat and Michelle’s cough. And lots of  eating and chatting between the trips.

When we said goodbye at sleepy Dullingham station at 7.19 this morning I felt truly bereft and crawled under the duvet with the Min Pins.

Can’t wait for the forum meet up in Milton Keynes on Saturday when we’ll finally meet Toffeapple, Kate and link up with Michelle and Dan again. If you’d like to join us just email me through the contact us link above for times and details.

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  1. The Liquineer

    I have the opposite dilemma- keeping in touch via internet with people I do know from years past. I got quite a surprise recently when a long lost “X-rated” video surfaced in one of my ex colleagues house- more of that on Racing thrush blog.

    Oregon is such a nice place – visited it as part of a cruise up to Alaska and took a trip out in to the country side to see more.

  2. Sandra Jeffery

    Hi Fiona, it sounds as though you didn’t realise that there is about 20 minute free parking at Cambridge Station. Turn left into the main car park (just after the bus stops) and left again. There is usually some free space at most times. I can imagine how vulnerable you must have felt hovering between taxis and buses on the “other side”. Glad you had a good reunion.

  3. devongarden

    Dan and Michelle had a terrific time meeting you (and everyone they had visited by the time they got here). I loved seeing them again and don’t think we stopped talking the whole time. I wish I could be at the meet, have a wonderful time!

  4. Kooky Girl

    It sounds like you guys had a ball – the guinea pig debacle was indeed that, having now read it! Goodness me! Me and CC are now the proud owners of 2 guinea pigs (Sandy and Pebbles) and I am parnoid about closing the top of the run. The neighbouring cats sit and eye them up on a daily basis, but Sandy and ‘Pebs’ run around oblivious. Have fun tomorrow! All the best, Kg.

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