I took the boys to a coffee morning in a beautiful farmhouse. Was not entirely sure of the etiquette. I took off my wellies at the door. Technically, you do not need to wear wellies at the moment but they are the only shoes I can find. I thought you just needed to pay for entry. In reality, you need change for the raffle, sweet peas, cake stall and marmalade. It was more of a small fair. Funds went to the hunt. (God better not be a fox or Northumberland is doomed to hell’s flames and back again.)
I knew a smattering of women there but the vast majority were strangers. I find it difficult to keep walking into rooms full of people I do not know. As if a large, flattened stone is perched at the back of my throat, rocking slightly, waiting to slide down it. Children ran around scavenging luxury chocolate biscuits while smart, silvering women talked about bridge and said things like: “Where is the lemon curd?” and “I don’t think I’ll be riding a horse much longer. I’ll have to take up golf.” I met a judge at Crufts dog show and a lady whose husband used to work in a castle. Plates of buttered girdle scones littered coffee tables. Years ago, the tradition was to put sixpenny and threepenny bits in the girdle scones for children’s birthday teas. I felt I had to keep eating them in case I found one. Builders are expensive to keep; sixpence here, sixpence there and I can pay for them to put up a length of new guttering.
I really like my friend's mother-in-law who organised the coffee morning. One of those small dynamos who make the world a better place by being in it. Twenty years ago, she set up her own agriculture museum on the farm. She raised so much money for charity from it, she got an OBE. She bakes, then distributes cakes to her daughters and her one daughter-in-law. A month or so ago, I was visiting my friend. She made me a cup of tea then pulled the lid of an old biscuit tin and pushed it across to me; in it were four girdle scones, four butterfly cakes, four iced buns, four chocolate cornflake cakes. I have never had a mother-in-law. My husband’s mother died when he was just 18. I always wanted a mother-in-law. I looked at the cakes then across to my friend. I said: “Can I have your mother-in-law please?” She said: “No. ” I said: "OK. Maybe she would just bake for me then?” She said: “No. Have a girdle scone."