I don't often take my rudimentary mobile phone out with me on walks. Good job I did yesterday though; we were over in the woods for a little impromptu picnic, when I received a text. Rima and Tui of the Hermitage were passing through West Oxfordshire in their gorgeous home, en route for Wales and would we like a cup of tea if they could find anywhere close to park up?
Yes. Please. We had our picnic, deep in the woodsy undergrowth, and by the time we got home, it was time to go out again. There was some initial confusion on our part, which took us halfway to Banbury before a phone call ascertained that by taking the scenic route we had completely missed them, only 10 minutes from the village. But eventually we found the famous van, parked on the edge of a nearby scenic A-road. Rima and I have known each other for over four years now; pre-blog days. We met at a gathering of illustrators, on one of my rare trips to London, and have been friends ever since, having a shared love of things-on-wheels.
It was Rima who looked after the cottage and the cats when we went to Greece, just after I'd started this blog in 2005, and I blogged about it (in the days when my posts were often short and sweet, instead of lumbering behemoths like this one). What a long way we have both come since then.
When everyone had said hello, we somehow got our tall bulks up the little ladder and were swallowed up in the cool, dark cocoon. Tea was made. Even on one of the hottest days of the year, there is always a place for a nice cup of tea. Chatting began and undiluted admiration for one of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen. I have to confess, that apart from wanting to meet Tui and see Rima again, I was aching to see for myself the home they kitted out themselves, setting off on their travels last December, having seen its progress through their blog.
Not the largest home, not the grandest, but absolutely wonderful and crammed with treasures.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
Our familiar patch, looking like a little green jewel through the porthole.
Rima and Tui are a brilliant team of artistry and musicianship. Rima is one of the finest, most original painters I know, selling her prints through her Etsy shop.
Tui has another incarnation, as musical artist Orla Wren. I am not even going to attempt to describe his delicate work (apart from that it is extraordinary). I suggest - strongly - a visit to the Orla Wren Myspace page, to sample his incredible creations. Or visit his website, where you may recognise the artistry on his latest CD cover. Everything he needs to make his music is either in his home or outside in the natural world.
Time ticked on, and we knew they had a long, slow drive to Wales ahead of them.
We said cheery goodbyes and zoomed off on our two wheels back to our own dear little (firmly set in the ground for 245 years) nest. I am far too fond of being in the same place to wish for their lifestyle, and yet it is a wonderful thing to have friends who choose to live their dream, no matter how tough it can be.
Rima and Tui are always on the lookout for friendly places to park up in. It's not easy being on the road, and it's nice to know you are heading for a warm welcome and safe, quiet corner, instead of a fume filled service station. If you do have a small patch which could be spared for even just a night's rest, they can be contacted via their blog; what they do, in here.