Everyone should have a place they go when life is too stressful. A vision to indulge in while trapped in a traffic jam or a windowless meeting room. A shining beacon of hope for those weary of their children’s algebra classes. It doesn’t have to be realistic, in fact, that would spoil the fun.
Mine is a small cottage in England. The Cotwolds, I think. A high, vibrantly green hedge separates it from the country lane. White roses tinged with pink arch over the door. The mellow stone of the house gleams in the sun. Inside there are whitewashed walls and thick beams in the low ceiling. The wide planks of the wooden floor are covered with a faded oriental rug. The furniture is a mix of priceless antiques and comfortably squishy sofas and armchairs.
The house is always perfect. There are never leaky faucets, or flooded basements. Mornings start with a pot of tea and a full English breakfast. (I mysteriously lose weight despite eating eggs and fried bread every morning.) I, of course, never lift a finger to cook or clean. Perhaps I have someone from the village who comes in to do the dirty work? Better still, I could go all Disney Princess and have kindly British animals make the bed while singing cheery songs in their squeaky, comically accented voices. A cadre of sweet little stoats sweeping and dusting and frying up my breakfast–overseen by a dignified badger as butler.
Most days, I travel to stately homes and gardens. My chauffeur (I call him Conrad) picks me up after breakfast. “Good Morning, mum,” he says as he helps me into my 1936 Rolls Royce Phantom III Sports Saloon. I settle into the plush seat, setting my jaunty cap at a more becoming angle and smoothing down my tweed skirt. Although on particularly beautiful days, Conrad would be behind the wheel of my ’38 Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio Cabriolet with the convertible top down. On those occasions, I wear a crisp linen dress, a chic scarf wrapped around my head, and enormous sunglasses. I look stunning.
The gardens I visit are always in the peak of their blooms and there are never hordes of tourists in the houses. I occasionally indulge in a light flirtation with the aristocratic owner who just happens to be at home on the day I visit. He is captivated by my brash American ways.
After Conrad drives me home, I toddle down to the local pub, the Red Dragon. I drink a pint or two before heading home to sleep in my downy bed.
Another perfect day in paradise. Somebody pass the clotted cream and polynomial calculator.