First published in The Portsmouth News, 17th June 2014
Two weeks ago, my husband and I went away for the night, alone and childfree.
We picked our destination carefully and decided to go to Bath for the weekend. The car journey itself was a shock to the system. Not only did we have conversations, we even finished them. We listened to music, not Roald Dahl CDs, and there were no small people in the back trying to stick their heads out of the windows like dogs on motorways.
We strolled around Bath, stopping for drinks and good food, and we took a boat trip down the Avon. We sat in a bubble of sunshine on the top deck, stretching our toes, and admiring the waterside gardens that wound seamlessly into the river.
In the late afternoon, we left Bath and headed to The Muddy Duck pub, in nearby Monkton Farleigh.
After our bags were taken to our room we went to sit in the garden, where we drank glasses of chilled white wine in front of the setting sun. Hot air balloons skimmed in easy silence across the sky, and my husband and I took the rare opportunity to breathe in each other’s company.
Later that evening, we went to the pub’s restaurant and took our time; a forgotten luxury for tired parents everywhere. We read the menu to one another, we shared starters, and we laughed. I won in the Best Pudding stakes, and out of either love or mild inebriation, shared my hot chocolate fondant. It was a perfect night.
The following morning, we slept until 9.30am, and then made our way back to the garden. We shared the Sunday papers surrounded by open fields, and that particular hum of silence that you only associate with the British countryside.
We were served locally-sourced breakfasts and had our coffees refilled by the discreet and attentive staff, and we relaxed. After checking-out, we returned to Bath and did our best to help the local economy: I never could resist an independent clothing or bookshop.
We drove home cutting through the late afternoon sunshine, and buffeted in a cloud of independence. As we crossed our threshold, two little bundles of scruff hurtled towards us and enveloped us in tiny arms: home.
And so, I must say thank you to the fabulous staff of the Muddy Duck, and of course to my lovely mum, who looked after our girls. Between them, they enabled two tired parents to rejuvenate themselves again.