Tuesday was my father-in-law’s 85th birthday and Simon and I decided that we would take him back to the village he grew up in, Bassingbourn, near Cambridge. He had a very happy time there and remembers the place with great affection.
We decided we would make it a surprise and told him to pack an overnight bag, and we piled into the car (complete with dog) on Sunday after church. We drove through central London as there is no congestion charge at the weekend and, in theory at least, this was a more direct route. We got lost. This navigator was working overtime to try to work out how to pick up a road, any road, that would take us roughly in the right direction. In the midst of our confusion and frustration in the front of the car, my father-in-law said, “Well, I thought I’d worked out where you were taking me, but you’ve got me well and truly confused now.”
We got there eventually.
I hadn’t been able to find any accomodation in the village so I’d searched further afield and was seduced by the pictures on the internet of a bed and breakfast being run in a building from the 1460s. It was a truly beautiful building, and had been furnished beautifully as well. However, it could have done with rather more diligent cleaning and with a lot of repair work. And, personally speaking, I prefer my landlords to be sober, at least for my arrival. What they lacked in sobriety they made up for in entertainment value, however, and we settled down in front of a roaring log fire. The food was good (cooked by the more sober host), although the sight of the ceiling coming down immediately over the sideboard and my husband’s head was a touch unnerving. The beds were pristine and very comfortable, with a billowing cloud of duvet. I was surprised to see both our hosts in the morning. Not particularly surprised to see that one of them had had quite a few shaving accidents, though! It was all entertainment value that you cannot put a price on. . .
Anyway, off we went to Bassingbourn:
Simon and I had seen my father-in-law Dennis’ photos of Bassingbourn and heard his descriptions many times but we were still completely astounded by the size of the property which took in all the buildings you can see in this photo. The building on the left (which Dennis and Simon are in front of) used to be the bakery. (And if you are wondering where all the money went, I have, too. It is all long since gone.)
The Church where Dennis was forced to sing in the choir:
The local hostelry is from the 16th century:
Naturally the village has changed a lot since my father-in-law’s day, but it still has a good deal of charm as has the surrounding area. My father-in-law was delighted with his surprise. He has spent the past few days ringing everyone he knows to tell them. And I’ve spent the past few days in bed as sadly the travelling around was a case of too much too soon for my recovery. I’m really glad I went, though. And yes, we took a different route home and didn’t get lost.