Tumbling ivy, berries burning

MAYBE I’m just getting old, but recently it seems to me that simple joys are the greatest of all.

Today is bathed in sunshine and the boss lets us skip off at 4pm. Hoorah! I motor from Bridport, swing through Martinstown and pull up in Upwey to meet my mum, niece and her grandparents for tea and cake at the Wishing Well.

There are large china teapots, enormous slabs of cake, and a sundae for Bethany. David is ‘Mother’. We happily chatter.

The Wishing Well garden’s looking a bit pre-Raphaelite – all tumbling ivy, burning berries, babbling brooks and odd follies.

Not to mention russet leaves, and emerald, creeping moss. Strange topiary – rabbit or teapot? – jostles for space around the ponds, with Japanese walkways and a dodgy salmon sculpture.

I squint in the half-light as I try to conjure up the history of the Wishing Well. I know there is a ‘well dressing’ every May. But what else? Holy well? Sacred spring? Source of the River Wey? Did King George III visit to drink of the waters? Did locals keep a gold cup for this purpose?

Bethany’s a girl after my own heart. She shows me a poem on a bench, photos of the sunset and listens to The Dandy Warhols on the way home. She likes Google Chrome, iPod Nanos and a boy called Johnny. Oh, to be a teen again!

Swishing with her through autumn leaf mould, I’m reminded of my own youth – running away from home to skulk in the bus stop (now a museum) until I got too cold and bored. Smoking Marlboros outside the drama club in Upwey Old School. Playing Sindy with Clare at Friar Wadden. Solitary walks up Cow Hill, falling in love with the views over all of Weymouth. Being naughty in church.

Bethany doesn’t turn a hair when the staff, eager to shut up shop, ever so politely shoo us out of the garden. Suddenly, I realise – I’m her giddy aunt!


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