Our number should have been seven except we had one absent-with-apologies, but it was good to catch up with the Women of Port Eliot, all those who used to help in the dovegreyreader tent each time I schlepped off to do the Festival. We agreed that it would be a shame to lose touch and that we must keep our friendship going with regular twice-yearly meetings.
Sadly, having suggested the Cromer Crew gathering in 2015 I couldn't go because it was clear the Tinker was too ill for me to be away from home, but we managed a meet-up last summer in Somerset and we have just had a day out in Dorset.
I keep up with the Happy Campers regularly because they are very local, and the Knit Angel likewise about an hour away, but Fran and Carol are further flung so it is always a treat when we gather.
Carol is Social Secretary and organises us, we just have to get there and she had put together a lovely day starting at Thomas Hardy's cottage at Higher Bockhampton (coffee and cake) thence to T.E.Lawrence's bolt -hole at Cloud's Hill followed by the Whistler engravings at Moreton Church (lunch) and ending with the walled garden at Littlebredy (cakey tea)... historical interest, bit of art and nice plants, along with time for food and good conversation, all being important features of the day.
I had never been to Hardy's birthplace at Bockhampton so first glimpses as we walked through the woodland approach were a pleasant surprise...
Built by his great-grandfather in 1800, Thomas Hardy was born at Higher Bockhampton in 1840 and lived there until he was thirty-four. The setting is quintessential idyllic in 2016 though I doubt the family saw it like that back in the day.
Never mind, we made the most of the obligatory but very lovely quilts and peasant smocks and enjoyed wandering around...
We live in a cottage built about fifty years later so I am used to steep little staircases, small rooms and low ceilings but these were even steeper, smaller and lower and it all felt very cosy. Nowadays we say how easy this would be to keep warm but I bet it wasn't and I bet it was damp.
Do you have a favourite other than Far From the Madding Crowd which I studied and read to death....all the others are possibles.