The Scottish one and I went for a bit of a road trip on Saturday – Shugborough Hall for him, and Ashbourne in Derbyshire because I kept going on about how much he’d like it, and where we had an eye wateringly expensive round of coffee and cake. It looked such a nice town too, but do they ever know how to separate you from your money if you but once sit down, and for something which seemed to cost it’s approximate worth in gold it was very ordinary cake.
The highlight of Shugborough for me – where they do a comparatively reasonably priced tea and cake of most acceptable quality – was a small Greek temple in the garden. I want one. Well to be specific I want a garden large enough to have one, and then a Temple in it. I spent a large portion of the afternoon outlining its many uses and possible amenities – perfect for afternoon tea, garden lunch, a writing desk where the Scottish one could work from on nice days, a place to throw a carpet and lots of fat silk tasselled cushions to recline on whilst eating Turkish delight and reading the Arabian nights. You could, I said, hang a hammock in it, entertain guests there (the Scottish one does at least have a garden, though perhaps not the desire to lounge on cushions in it, or make anybody eat Turkish delight in it.)
He does like classical architecture though, and is generally speaking fonder of a well proportioned column than the next man so he listened to me for really quite a long time before gently explaining that even if he was willing to work for tea and scones on the design side, not in itself a precedent he’s keen to set (and I should never have taught him to make scones – my leverage is gone), the cost would still be prohibitive. Very prohibitive – silence reigned for a bit until I misdirected us at a crucial junction which led to some fairly animated conversation. Fortunately we found Ashbourne without too much trouble in the end.
The place is thick with antique shops and as luck would have it we found a (large) Georgian column made of wood – he was very tempted but perhaps fortunately tea ruled out the purchase of large and costly window furniture no matter how attractive it’s Capitals – I don’t think it would have fitted in the car for a start. It did however reignite the Temple question – who would it be appropriate to dedicate it to, how the addition of a brazier would make it suitable for winter use, how nice it would be to read in...