“So the break is here and the accelerator here.” Never vocalise this when your Mother is in the passenger seat next to you. I hadn’t driven for 8 months and my mental car bonnet was rusty to say the least. It’s a London thing.
“Let’s avoid the traffic and go round some back roads,” she said bravely. Confidence returned, we snaked round lanes overflowing with ferns and golden fields. “There’s some lovely cottages down here,” she said.
“Eyes are firmly on the road,” I replied. I’ll never love driving as much as being driven. I want property porn and good dog breeds, not having to think about ‘who has priority.’
Then suddenly, a real screech “stop the car” moment. A Gothic style Victorian Folly set on the edge of a forest in Hermitage. Grimsbury Tower, an unfortunate name, for a gem of a folly. A big Labrador bounded over to us and we got chatting with the lady of the house. The tower built by Lord Wantage comes with her Husband’s job for the forestry commission. The inevitable ghost stories were exchanged; the haunted bedroom on the third floor and the ineradicable blood stain on the wall. There’s a little 1950s extension to the left and close by is Grimsbury Castle, an iron age fort nestled amongst the trees.
On Desert Island discs, David Linley said his embarrassing parents Lord Snowdon and Princess Margaret would regularly pull up outside a house they admired, and ask for a snoop round. Imagine that! I’m so pleased we stopped this time.