I feel quite breathless! I've booked myself an expensive two-night stay at a country inn over Christmas! I have paid the £100 deposit! Wow!
It's The Acorn Inn at Evershot, a little village off the beaten track north-west of Dorchester. They have ten rooms, all different, and I've got the desirable one at the front of the inn, which has a prominent bay window that juts out over the entrance, so that I can peer up and down the village street and generally see what's going on outside. The room also has a king-sized four-poster bed. The decor of my room emphasises red, so it'll seem very cosy. The room is called 'Tess' after Tess of the D'Urbervilles in Thomas Hardy's novel of that name. Apparently The Acorn Inn is actually mentioned three times in one of Hardy's novels. Isn't it all romantic?
Of course, I don't just want a comfortable room. The food must be excellent too. And it is - I sampled it again at lunchtime today. Their five-course Christmas Day Lunch menu is something to drool over. It's included in the price, but worth £80, because that's what they will charge anyone not resident who turns up on the day.
Here's the programme. On Christmas Eve, I need to arrive around 2.00pm, in order to get nicely installed and dolled-up in time for a late-afternoon champagne reception. The village Carol Service is at 6.30pm. After dinner, there will be the warmth of the village bar, and if one has any stamina left, Midnight Mass at the village church just up the road. On Christmas Day morning, a Hearty English Breakfast, followed by a walk through the 'stunning' grounds of Melford House (sorry, Melbury House), the local mansion, which will neutralise that hearty breakfast and prepare one for the five-course Christmas Lunch. In the evening, after a kip presumably, there is a relaxing buffet supper and a chance - should one have the energy - to play pub skittles. I haven't done that since the 1970s. It was good fun then. Another big breakfast on Boxing Day, with check-out at midday.
I reckon I can handle all that. I'm a sociable soul, very chatty, with a big appetite for good company, good food, and at least a few drinks. I am assured that there will be ample opportunity to dress up in style! One need not go out in the cold. Indeed, one need not do anything more than shuttle between one's room and the bar, lounge or dining room. One can be the life and soul of the party, or chill at will. What's not to like?
Ah, well, there's the cost of course...
Even after paying that £100 deposit, I must find a further £540. It's £640 altogether. And call that £700-odd, once an 'ordinary' Christmas Eve meal and a few drinks are added in. But hey. At my time of life, I want to spend my money chiefly on experiences, and this will be a concentrated Country Christmas Experience that I haven't had before. Two days with a bunch of people bent on enjoying themselves. Let me see. Ten rooms. But not all couples. I understand a few of my companions will be single-occupants, like me. Perhaps fifteen or sixteen strangers then, all coming together for a Festive Good Time. There is potential there for a cracking weekend. Is £700-odd too much to pay for a Christmas I am unlikely to forget?
I must now definitely buy a new set of tyres for Fiona, just in case it's icy or worse. I was considering doing it this side of Christmas, but now it will be wise to get her reshod without delay. So there's a further £650 to £700. Against that, I already have luggage, and all the clothes and accessories I might need - glam or otherwise - including a new scarf and new pendant bought during the present holiday (which still has a few more days to run). And I have now cancelled the second week of my end-of-year caravan trip to South Wales, which saves a bit of cash. I will also postpone buying a new smartphone until 2018 (on which I might have spent, coincidentally, £700).
Readers with elephantine memories may recall a previous post of mine about The Acorn Inn. It was Holidays on 7th April 2012. That post showed a picture of the front of the inn, with 'my' room for Christmas - Tess - jutting out over the entrance, and the church up the road. Back in April 2012, I was tempted to book a room for Christmas but thought the cost (including an extra night, so three nights rather than two) just way too much. But four years on, I've changed my mind. I think I will thoroughly enjoy the entire experience. The social dividend will be great. Although I have not before exposed myself to such inquisitive and prolonged close-up scrutiny in a single location, I am confident that I will not only cope, but relish it. I might even make one or two new friends. But I am not looking for a Christmas Romance. In the 2012 post, I said:'...their description of the bedrooms as 'delightful and 'discreet' made me wonder what mellow unattached ladies and gentlemen might get up to when in their cups!' Well, there will be no Brian Rix bedroom farce going on if I can help it!
There's something more. The prospect of having to look really good in body-hugging dresses is just the weight-loss motivation I have been looking for. I now have ten weeks in which to reduce the bulges, and acquire a little beauty, poise, and allure.