Some people are simply kind, considerate and thoughtful. They don’t make a great song and dance about their good deeds, but the world is a better place for them being here. I’m very fortunate to count such a person among my old friends, a woman I don’t see very often, and have little contact with, but who pops up now and then with some generous gesture and a few witty words. We have known each other practically all our lives, and our parents knew each other before we were born.
F knows that one of my mother’s great pleasures is the quintessentially English sight of a bluebell wood, and as these lovely flowers bloom around the beginning of May, it has become a longstanding custom for us to include a visit to the bluebells in Mom’s birthday celebrations. We don’t make a big fuss about this, but it so happened a couple of years ago that F came by around this date and we asked if she could drive us to the local beauty spot where the bluebells grow, and so she learnt about Mom’s annual pilgrimage. She also knows that my mother’s mobility is now very limited, so that even getting in and out of a car is a struggle, and there’s certainly no way that she could walk from the car park or even from the road into the little bit of woodland where her beloved bluebells grow.
Imagine how pleased I was to receive a message from F on Monday saying that she had fortuitously spotted a bluebell wood where you could see the flowers from the road, about an hour’s drive from here, and would we like to ride out and see them? Of course, we said yes, and yesterday afternoon, on a gloriously sunny spring day, we set off for the village of Quatt and neighbouring Dudmaston, mildly famous for its stately home, Dudmaston Hall , which is also well worth an afternoon’s exploration.
Few people sing the praises of the Staffordshire countryside, but like a demure milkmaid beside a society beauty, it has plenty of charm. Especially on a beautiful day in May, when “burgeoning” is the watchword: that special fresh green on new leaves, blossom shining pink and white, rapeseed plants spreading their fluorescent yellow everywhere, lambs bouncing beside their fat woolly mamas, gently rolling hills, narrow country lanes and, as we get into the edge of Shropshire, dark red sandstone lining the roads. It isn’t spectacular scenery, mostly undulating fields with hedges, trees and copses such as can be seen almost anywhere in England, and a few quaint half-timbered houses and villages with weird names.
The woods of the Dudmaston estate stand right next to the road, so the carpet of bluebells was very clearly visible as we drove along. Alas, it’s a busy two-lane road, so we couldn’t pull up and park, but F drove slowly up and down a couple of times and Mom was very happy.
We had a vague idea of rounding the trip off with a cream tea, but the place we were looking for eluded us, so after passing the same little crossroads for the third time, we decided to call it a day and go home for a cuppa. Mom was quite content with that, and we realised that in fact she might not have enjoyed the struggle out of the car and back in again. So home for tea, with my mother very grateful for a perfect birthday present. Thank you, F: you are a true friend.