We’ve been too many times to count, but this one never gets dull, especially round Christmas.
Set in the heart of the Cotswolds, Daylesford is worth a trip however far you’re travelling from. If we lived round the corner, it would be our daily shopping local albeit to our bank’s disgust. Much too chocolate-box-perfect to fit in with any of its farmshop relatives, it’s the sort of place Londoners like to visit to claim a remote, muddy, georgic experience in the sticks, but really it’s more like Chelsea gone on a rural hike. That said, if you are truly bent on getting a little bit grubby to prove you can do country, grab your wellies for the route along the farm track and you’ll come back sporting a few proud mud blobs.
Temperatures had plummeted for our latest visit. Daylesford was set for winter: ice blue cloudless skies above and leafless trees all around, so we got stuck in with the farm walk followed by a spot of apple picking in the orchard to work up an appetite. It wasn’t long before hands and noses were numb and pink, which made stepping into the cosy warmth of the shop to thaw out all the more heavenly. And we had come at the perfect time – the remnants of autumn with her pretty round pumpkins and gnarly shaped gourds greeted us outside the doors, while inside Daylesford was glittered, belled and tasseled to within an inch of its life for Christmas.
Shelves groaned with goodies, tables heaved with decorations and Christmas never looked so well adorned.
Though Guy with his discerning eye thought the fairy lights needed a spot of adjustment…
And Henry thought the wreaths could do with a touch of snipping…
With rumbly tummies we made our way through to the restaurant, which looked a lot like the White Company had blown through in a snowstorm leaving some of the outdoors planted inside.
Unaminously ravenous we ordered brunch.
Full English works and glazed buckwheat pancakes for the other half.
Creamy avocado and perfectly poached eggs on sourdough for me. Scrambled eggs for the boys.
Alongside Dragon Well tea for him and my staple Daylesford favourite for me, the green garden cocktail. And milk for the littl’uns.
Tummies full at last, we made for the homewares section, as usual bursting to excess with handmade china and glassware, botanical face creams and lotions, candles, basketware and beautiful kitchen accessories. We picked up a few ahem ‘absolute necessities’ [insert guilty side glance], including a maple wooden board because we only have twenty. This one admittedly boasts a softer, smoother, silkier finish than any board we’ve yet come across and has especially pretty markings – crucial for some Butter Wouldn’t Melt foodie presentation shots my other half assured me.
We turned the corner for the home run to the till only to see the little ones making an instant beeline for the children’s grotto that we hadn’t yet spied.
Credit card suitably dented, we stepped out into the fresh air once again for mulled wine, hot mince pies and apple bobbing. Guy didn’t quite get the idea…
Nor did Daddy…
But Guy made up for it with plenty of enthusiasm for a stacking game, twice as fun he thought…
A final stop in the Garden Room and I came away with one last piece of loot – a tailor made Cocoa + Cotton wreath. Alas, no cocoa in there yet, but I’m working on that.
The perfect end to the perfect day – we trotted away with full bags and fuller hearts.
These family days together are irreplaceable: our sweet boys playing at our feet, in our arms or on our shoulders, finding magic in the tiny things, thrilled by a new toy, glittering lights or the sound of a storm blowing in, their wide-eyed happy faces full of wonder. I only hope we never once in our lives take them for granted.
Being a mummy has been the best and most beautiful gift life could have granted us. A love I could never describe, it’s lit a fire in my heart that I know will never stop burning. It has taught me what truly matters. It is a lifelong treaty, an eternal promise, the most burdensome gamble on your fragile heart you can surely take and I don’t want to miss a second of it. It’s been a busy time setting up our little businesses, but I want to know I did the very best I had in me. That I never sacrificed our children for a second. I want us to look back and know we were there to be the hand holders and the forehead strokers. The story tellers of a hundred tales, with all the patience and time for ‘just one more’. The rocking chairs to send them to sleep, the arms to keep them safe. The chosen playmates to build the castle, and see it pulled to rubble and build it up again brick by brick, just because they grinned and asked. To know that we stopped what we were doing for that cuddle, and we hung up the phone to kiss better that bump. That we didn’t lose our rag over the mud stomped through the just-scrubbed hall and that we gathered our patience when the house was turned to chaos before a dinner party. That we laughed as we reminded ourselves how we’d miss those things one day: the trail of toys like Hadrian’s Wall through the drawing room and the baby-hand-sized hole in the pudding that we’d spent the previous night perfecting. That we put things into perspective when the details went wrong.
Because when all is said and done, when the years have ticked by, when the clink of toys, and the peal of laughter and the shrieks of merriment are merely little echoes in your head, you’ll only wonder why on earth it was really so important to have things just so when all they wanted to do was play. You’ll wonder where on earth you were when you missed it, and why you can’t go back. Life can’t be flawless unless you’re willing to miss the magic. It’s why we cram our work into the small hours, when our babies are sound asleep and dreaming sweetly – so they haven’t had to miss us when they needed us most. And why when the evening is late and we fall into each others tired arms, at peace and content, the house a fraction tidier now yet only half our jobs complete, we can swear we’ve done our best. This is our promise to them. To always be there, no matter what. They are our greatest duty and our most blessed gift and I refuse to look back wondering why I ever missed a moment or to worry if they ever asked the same. Twenty years from now, if they look back and think ‘Mummy and Daddy were always there to hold and love me’, that will be our proudest golden hour and I’ll know we did ok.
So make a mess my little boys: create havoc, laugh and play, drag us off emails and demand a thousand cuddles, leave honey-sweet kisses on our rosy cheeks, trail sticky fingers through our just-washed hair, and tell us you need us at least once more til the end of our days. For nothing ever will, ever would, ever could, be as important as you. Not for a moment.