I was in Oxfordshire since last weekend soaking up some good ol’ countryside. If the weather had been a little less harsh and a little more forgiving, I think I’d have more pictures to share. Frankly speaking, however, I was just a tad bit lazy. Knowing this was probably the only ‘break’ or ‘holiday’ I was gonna get for about another 2 months, I wanted to be as lazy as I could and to enjoy myself thoroughly without having to frustrate physical movement with camera-slung-around-neck or camera-held-tight-in-both-hands. Getting away from any sort of technology was very refreshing as well. I admit I was still visibly active on Twitter but my Blackberry got minimal usage. The beloved laptop was left back home in London, the iPod got squished into a corner of my bag very often saved for used sweet wrappers and crushed receipts hardly given a second thought. And believe it or not, I barely touched my camera. It was food shoveled into mouth (or if it was busy chomping, it was engaged in very precious conversation with H) before the clicking of shutters. It may not have been the vacation of a lifetime but the sense of peace and zen, and the joy I had in reuniting with a friend who’s practically my soulmate would’ve beaten any holiday package hands down.
In the span of 5 days, we covered much ground. We (or rather I) woke up to beautiful breakfast spreads, coffee-ed at our much loved Morton’s and lunched at Maison Blanc where I missed the man himself by literally 30 minutes! The awesome thing was that H got speak to the man in all his glorious French-accented English. H’s mum got his book autographed. And wait for it, our dear Raymond Blanc even gave her an emergency number to ring lest she needed his help in the kitchen! Now if only I’d booked the earlier train, I might’ve had the chance to witness this most delightful affair.
I didn’t mope about for long as the fresh breads and grassy flavoured olive oil dip at Quod wiped my brain of any other thoughts. Mind became blank, and mouth awash with drool. A bit like a blank canvas ready for painting, I was starving and eager to begin my meal. Two glasses of crisp white and a spankingly good duck confit with this scrumptious orange-laced sauce.
You might already know we did some Easter baking. H has two ovens. I have zero at the moment. Or rather, I’ve one but it’s half a world away and I have no hopes of turning this microwave/grill crap that’s lodged into my kitchen wall into something fairly able to churn out cakes and cookies. If you’re presented with the opportunity, pounce on it. And so I did. But a holiday’s all about being decadent. Decadent to the point where you’re not even making the effort. So of course we ate more sweet treats and had tea. And whereabouts? At Blenheim Palace. Yes, where Winston Churchill was born. And where the house (as it used to be called, rather than ‘palace’) was later refurnished in the style of Versailles.
If you’re wondering, no we didn’t have afternoon tea at The Orangery or The Indian Room. The Water Terrace Café, a self-service cosy little one, was good enough for us. And when I say good, I really mean good. Cakes, scones, biscuits all homemade and generously portioned; tasting like bits of heaven and not factory-produced blocks of sugar and shortening. Really helps that the hot drinks are served in large cups (with a saucer) so you feel like you get your money’s worth and enough hot liquid to warm up your soul and fight that bone-chilling damp cold. No kidding. The weather that day was so awful. It did not help that I was wearing ankle cut offs and low-riding little loafers. Where was my performance gear when I needed it!
Nevertheless, Blenheim Palace was enjoyable and this little jewel of a café was like spotting a glowing hearth of a little cottage deep in a cold, dark, unforgiving forest. I can totally say I ate well, rested well and indulged up to Easter weekend. I’m back in the big smoke fighting the tube crowds, uneven cobblestone and sordid transport prices, with only M&S speckled eggs to keep my poor heart settled and at peace.
Happy Easter Sunday everyone.