Storm and a teacup

Aaah, a rainy August bank holiday weekend. Can there be more of a British summertime cliche? Still, when it’s lashing it down, I find the best thing to do is to get out there and get wet. Then at least you can join the other holiday-makers in two of the nation’s favourite pastimes: moaning about getting wet and drying off with a cuppa afterwards.

With that in mind, I embraced my thirties-something middle-class demographic, and met two friends for a walk at Blenheim Palace in the rain followed by a pootle round the very quaint Woodstock for coffee and cake. Thunder rumbled ominously in the dark, brooding sky, and lightning flashed in the distance, in a scene that could have qualified for the finale of any of the Ghostbuster films. The stormy skies were a suitably awe-inspiring backdrop to the reality-defying perfection of the palace. As already described in a previous blog (Scenery Mind-tricks, March 2012), some views are so perfect that they assume a 2-D, painted backdrop quality.

However, the sky was all talk and no waterproof trousers and, miraculously, we didn’t get soaked. Nevertheless, that wasn’t going to prevent us from following through on the second and, some would say, primary planned activity of the day: consumption of fine coffee and cake. Unfortunately we made the fatal mistake of having the image of the perfect cafe in mind before we left the house, thus rendering it impossible to find said cafe of our dreams. Our desperation led us at one point into a musty old tea-room, with chintz too intense even for irony (there was a giant teddy bear sitting at the table with us for a start) and the kind of lacklustre waitressing that leaves you confused about who’s serving who. Needless to say we aborted before any orders were placed. We did finally find some amazing cakes, though, and instead sat on the stocks in the main square and ate them in the rain.

Woodstock is clearly an idyllic, charming town. However, I don’t feel I saw it in its most genteel light due to the  ‘Woodstock Live!‘ music festival being in full flow. The unfavourable comparisons with the original Woodstock were inevitable (not that I was there); I’m not sure the Woodstock of 1960s legend featured a Pimms stall and had such a chavvy undercurrent. However, I did have a conversation with an ageing hippy wearing tie-dye whilst sitting on the stocks. Disconcertingly, however, she was drinking Pimms…

Just needs a giant marshmallow man…

Painted scenery backdrop, surely?

Black stormy skies lighting up the gold decorations.

The atmosphere felt oppressive with pent-up energy, just waiting to be released. This column had its own lightning rod, and we waited for a while for ‘the big shot’, but got bored eventually. Still just imagine how cool this photo would have been with a lightning spear striking the top of the column!

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