A surreal circus and a barn back in time

First thing on Saturday morning, Miranda and I go off to dog training classes, where Archie gets some approving nods for the first time in the whole course, which makes us feel quite emotional; he also gets asked to road test a new “chew toy” which we laughingly accept knowing that he has managed to chew through most of the toys we have bought him, and a few other things besides. Its amazing how enjoyable these sessions are, and mark important milestones in our early days of dog-ownership making us feel a little bit more in control. He’s a handsome puppy, and has a definite look of the kind of Cecil Aldin print I have encountered in so many country house looes.

Back for lunch and then I take the girls, plus friend, to see the Cirque Surreal on Cambridge’s normally idyllic, Jesus Green, on that day heaving with people going to Strawberry Fair on Midsommer Common; actually the circus was one of the best I have ever been to, entirely made up of dancers, and acrobats and contortionists. I was struck by what an interesting dinner party they would all make; we were all transfixed and the girls bought felt bowlers as worn by the Charlie-Chaplin-lie clown and ‘maitre d’ figure, which they wore as we wove our way back through the field strewn with hippy drunks; which certainly had a surreal flavour.

Drove down south on a house research trip early in the week, and stop with friends to allow an early start; it was a beautiful evening, and I drive late so there is little traffic- sunny evening, green fields, Georgian townscapes, and unusually deserted roads, I just muse and listen to radio 3. Their house is hidden at the end of a long drive but as you pass through a stone wall and see the picturesque but dilapidated barn they are going to restore as a house and a wonderful ancient-seeming view of rolling Sussex landscape. I think they are very brave, and lucky too, it reminds me of the barns on my grandparents’ farm which were a kind of adventure-playground-paradise to me when I was young, but that my town reared children probably think is as unfamiliar as a pueblo hut.

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