An Afternoon With The Gamekeeper’s Daughter and Friends

I hate being late, and I hate being lost! and alas very often if one is happening, so is the other. And so it was that we were hopelessly trying to navigate a one-way system I. Colchester, where the road layout looked nothing like the map, and google insisted there was an entrance onto a roundabout which turned out to be an exit.

Although I could feel my blood pressure prickling as we got more lost, I knew we were meeting good friends who would understand. It wasn’t until we were walking to our destination (having abandoned our original car park destination and settling for the only one we could find) that the tension left me. Walking through a hazy autumn afternoon, we found ourselves crossing through the ruins of St Botolph’s Priory, and it was just hauntingly beautiful. It reminded me somehow of Bram Stoker’s descriptions of ruins in Whitby, and there were any number of bright eyed squirrels scampering about. Were we not late already, I would certainly have stopped and lingered awhile. But we were late, and so we pressed on.

One of our dearest friends had moved into a new home that weekend, and a group of us were meeting at The Waiting Room for brunch and to celebrate and replenish their energy, and just to come together in this new space. It is just the most amazing community space. It describes itself as ‘a creative space for everyone with cafe/kitchen/bar, general store and micro social history museum….’

When we walked in, there were families, single people, groups of friends, all doing their own thing. The food was being catered (curated almost) by The Gamekeeper’s Daughter, who changes her menu every week, and offers a small selection of stunningly good dishes. Carl and I shared page which was served with crushed pistachios and the crunchiest Melba toast, meltingly tender shin of beef, and duck with amazing fondant potatoes. Happily we didn’t share, but each had our own serving of raspberry cheesecake for dessert. Ooh, and I had an exquisite quince cocktail. Just listing the food doesn’t do it justice, but it was just wonderful, in such a convivial atmosphere. If you find yourself in the area, it is well worth a visit!

The company was special. Coming together at the turning point in the lives of loved ones, bearing witness, being there…it just feels so right. Marking endings and new chapters, and celebrating continuing threads of friendships which run throughout.

As we wandered back to the car, the light was starting to fade, and the ruined priory was more beautiful still. All the tension had left me, and it crossed my mind that this was the perfect kind of afternoon I read about on other people’s blogs. I promised myself I would try to pin it down in words here, so someday, I can look back and remember.


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