In three nights' time I shall be enjoying a very tasty chorizo and vegetable casserole in Moreton-in-Marsh, at the north end of the Cotswolds, the first stop on my Welsh Tour. I know that, because I've just finished the preparation and popped it in the oven. It will emerge hot and steaming in ninety minutes from now. I will eat half tonight, but put the other half in the caravan freezer to defrost gradually during the journey on Thursday.
It's all go here at Melford Hall. Definitely no time for any last-minute social life - which is a pity, because I'm a very social person really, and I enjoy a bit of company when I feel relaxed enough to appreciate it. But life at the moment is a stern list of Things To Do, and loading up the caravan is only part of it. There is a complication. I am attending a wedding up in London tomorrow.
It's my nephew M---'s, my late brother's son, who is getting married to his long-standing girlfriend C---. This is the couple with the lovely little baby girl Matilda. The event takes place at Richmond Register Office at 1.00pm, so I'd best set off from home not later than 10.00am. Which in turn means that I must do as much as I can by way of pre-wedding personal enhancements tonight, such as washing my hair so that it settles down a bit (it's very fine, and will be a windblown blonde mess if I wash it tomorrow morning). After the ceremony, we adjourn to a pub in Twickenham called The Cabbage Patch for a proper lunch and an afternoon spent saying hello to lots of people one hasn't seen for ages. I hope to enjoy all of that. So far as I know, there's no danger of having to make a speech. I'm just another of M---'s aunts, albeit a little special in that I'm his father's sister. But I shan't stress that, when speaking to anyone. I simply want to mingle and chat, and raise my glass when a toast is proposed. Well, that's all something that I'm pretty damned good at.
And I have my outfit. It's a dress that I've worn to Glyndebourne. I took the advice of V---, the French lady I know, and have selected something that won't outdo the bride, but nevertheless looks special, a black-and-white striped number. In fact V--- suggested this very dress to me. With of course the black Prada bag (what else). Plus black flats (I don't wear heels, even for weddings). The whole ensemble should look a bit like this slightly fuzzy shot taken last year, at Glyndebourne:
I'm also taking a black wide-brimmed hat, in case the sun comes out. But we will be very lucky not to face a deluge, or at least persistent drizzle. Fingers crossed on that!
I was writing out the cheque I'm giving M--- and C--- as a Wedding Present this afternoon, and popping it inside an envelope embellished with a gold pen in my own fair hand, when I realised that I hadn't remembered to buy a Wedding Card. Whoops! Well, there was nothing to be done. It was too late. They will have to make do with a card I had in a drawer that certainly looks nice - a beautiful pink rose on a gold background, but blank inside. I don't suppose it will matter terribly. The present is the thing that counts.
The day after tomorrow (Wednesday) is devoted to refilling Fiona's tank, a little last-minute food shopping, and further loading of the caravan. There's three weeks' worth of clothes, shoes, toiletries, medical items and food still to go in. And a selection of personal items, such as books and videos. Plus laptop and TV. OK, practically all of my favourite stuff. But I say: given a big, powerful car and a caravan with sufficient storage for all of this, why not bring it along? Why not make the inside of the caravan as much like one's home as possible? After all, there's only me, Rosie and Fang. Nobody else to consider. And having one's favourite stuff along helps to fend off homesickness, if the holiday seems to get overlong. It's comforting. It's a rational excuse for not travelling particularly 'light'. I could never handle a backbacking holiday.