Regular readers will know that it is at this time of year I visit Calke Abbey for their local food fare and to just generally wander and catch up with a good friend. I had a little look back and it seems we have been doing this now for eight years, (one year missing due to the pandemic, but we would have been there if we could have), which I think makes it a well established tradition now.
Calke Abbey is a place I visit fairly often, it has a well established place in my heart. It is about 40 mins from my current home and is also about 40 mins from where I used to live. I have been visiting since Calke first opened to the public in 1989. We used to go quite often when my children were younger and it is still a place I like to go and see how it is changing through the seasons.
We did the food fare first, we have a predictable shopping list of fudge, cheese and crisps. Sadly the crisp stall was not there this year, in fact the fare felt smaller than usual and certainly less crowded when we were there (though we were early). I had that moment that is quite conflicting of being pleased it was not too crowded as selfishly I like not being in crowds. This is not just a post-pandemic dislike of crowds, I can get very claustrophobic and crowds can make me panic. But the sellers in the food fare need to sell their products, they need lots of customers. Times are so hard at the moment with the post-pandemic recovery still to really happen and a cost of living crisis impacting us all. There are so many reasons for people not to go shopping at the moment it is hitting businesses and the independent small ones in particular. So we had to buy fudge and cheese, it was our duty we told ourselves.
Then after a mug of tea we moved on to the next stage of our Christmas tradition. We go down the road to a local nursery and I furtle around the nearly-dead table in the house plant section. I have bought some wonderful nearly-dead plants from this table and all have survived without fail.
This year I bagged this half-price aspidstra. It is a standard green one and, quite frankly, other than being a bit dry and pot-bound I have no idea why it was being sold off. I was very restrained as I only bought one.
Of course then I have to inspect the rest of the plants availabe at full price and....
It was a grand day out, we had such a good time. With one thing and another we have hardly seen each other this year (or last year, or the year before) so it was good that we made this time happen. It reminded me how important friends are and that the socially-distancing last two years have damaged so much as well as our physical health. We left promising to meet up again soon and I need to ensure that it happens.