Just when I think there is nothing new under the sun I get a surprise. The Cotswolds are like that. Any day now I am sure I will wake up and find the barren trees and hedges lining the lanes are overgrown with greenery and cottony May blossom. But already this week I have made two new discoveries.
The first was that I like Marmite. Or at least I found a foodstuff that contains Marmite that I like. The first time I tried Marmite was years ago, at breakfast with some Australian friends in Singapore where I was encouraged to spread it on my toast. This was followed promptly by an extended period of silent pleading with my gag reflex not to vomit on the dining table of these very nice people whose house I enjoyed staying at very much. In retrospect this might have been a bit of a harsh way to introduce me to Marmite, like giving someone their first taste of gin in a straight up martini rather than nestled in the loving arms of some Indian tonic with a slice of lime. This time the Marmite delivery was a bit more gin and tonic, spread as it was onto the buttery sides of some puff pastry and rolled up into a warm, savory pinwheel. For the first three or so I popped in my mouth I assumed I was eating some kind of cheese flavoured snack. A more observant person may have noted that the presumed cheese product was brown, but I had to be told I was eating a “Marmite whirl.” Imagine my surprise. First The Archers, now Marmite. I’ll be saying “blimey” in no time.
My second discovery of the week was the Abbey Home Farm Shop. I must have driven by it a million times, but Wednesday, stir-crazy from being indoors recuperating for the past week and a half (other than my Marmite eating Sunday lunch outing), I decided to stop in. The shop and café are at the end of a long narrow drive and it looked like someone dropped it whole from Topanga Canyon into the middle of a farm in the Cotswolds, from the Fair Trade coffee to the Indian print table cloths to the middle-aged, smiley waitress in pig tails and overalls. There is even a menu featuring multiple vegetarian dishes, which is quite a radical concept for this part of the world. In my delicate state I found it all very comforting and ordered up a banana milkshake with a broccoli and leek bake that I ate sitting outside on the wrap-around patio overlooking one of the farm’s fields. I was so taken I’ve booked us in for Easter Sunday lunch, for which I am afraid I will have to forsake the vegetarian options for the lamb roast they will be serving straight from their farm.