Here is a true story. Last June, I went to a friend’s wedding in Gloucestershire. I was typically chaotic about arrangements for this wedding, booking a B&B just one week before when the only option left nearby was a room in a dubious-looking pub. The room smelt of deep fat frying and came with lumpy pillows and dirty windows overlooking the carpark.
The wedding was out in the Gloucestershire sticks, I forget exactly where. So by the time I tried to book a taxi to take me to the wedding and back to the grubby pub, the local firms were all booked. No taxis left.
‘For GOD’S sake, how do people even function outside of London?’ I thought firstly. And then I had another thought. ‘Well, I’ll just have one glass of champagne and drive myself back to the pub at the end of the night. Easier.’
Except within five seconds of arriving at the wedding reception, I had already drunk my one glass allowance. Plus, the sun was shining, everyone was in high spirits, I’d scoped out various handsome men in the church (don’t pretend you don’t do that, everyone checks one another out in church beforehand), and it was shaping up to be a v jolly party. So then I decided what I’d do was drink lots more champagne and just sleep in my car. I was wearing *quite* a short dress with a thin silk coat over it and I didn’t have any sort of rug in my car, but this was Gloucestershire in June, not the North Pole, so I decided I’d live.
Turns out I was seated between two handsome men at dinner who insisted I mustn’t sleep in my car but go back to the house they were staying at instead, where the party was going to kick on all night. So I did exactly that, piling into one of several taxis at about 2am and going back to a house party where we made spaghetti bolognaise on the Aga and then all sat up drinking sloe gin until about 5.
A few hours later, I woke up vaguely unsure where I was but put my dress back on, tiptoed downstairs – heels in one hand, my clutch bag in another – and fumbled my way to the kitchen. There was the owner of the house, a nice 60-something man who looked a bit alarmed to see a barefoot woman in his kitchen, but I explained that I’d come back with his son and various other friends and he gave me a couple of taxi numbers so I could get back to my car, abandoned in a field at the wedding reception.
Surprise surprise, none of the local taxi firms answered because it was 9am on a Sunday morning in Gloucestershire. So the nice man put down his copy of the Sunday Telegraph and offered to drive me there himself. ‘I’m going that way to church in a minute anyway,’ he said. ‘I’ll just go and pop a tie on.’
So there I sat several minutes later in the nice man’s immaculate Range Rover, silk coat and clutch bag laid strategically over my thighs so I didn’t startle him, while he drove me back to my car. He embarked on quite a detailed explanation about the Roman roads in that part of Gloucestershire and I nodded along quietly, keeping my mouth closed because I was conscious of all that sloe gin and I hadn’t brushed my teeth. If there was anyone in that car who needed to go to church and ask for absolution, it probably wasn’t him.
The point of ALL of this is that I wish I was a bit more organised. On the upside, I hadn’t had to sleep in my grubby pub room with lumpy pillows. On the downside, I’d paid for the grubby hotel room anyway and, in the past 24 hours, had weaved a path of chaos across Gloucestershire half-naked because I’d failed to book a single taxi.
With this in mind, can I recommend my friend Netia’s B&B if you ever happen to need a place to kip in that part of the world? Her staggeringly beautiful Cotswoldy house is about five miles from Tetbury (where Highgrove is, so Netia’s B&B is ideal if Prince Charles invites you for supper but says he can’t put you up), and she’s just redecorated a few rooms in the house for paying punters.
I’ve just come back from staying with her for the weekend and can report that it’s HEAVEN. Perfect white bed linen, fluffy white towels, freestanding baths, guinea fowl chirruping in the garden and wisteria all over the shop. Plus, the B&B bit of the house is self-contained, so you can come and go as you please without bumping into anyone, which makes a marvellous change from those B&Bs where you have to make small talk about the traffic on the M4 with the owners. Although Netia is a total babe so if you do want to talk about the traffic on the M4 I’m sure she’d be up for that. Click HERE to see how pretty it is.
She also has a friendly taxi driver called Ian on call so you don’t have to worry about being stranded in the countryside wearing a dress that only just about covers your knickers. I wish it had been open last June, frankly, but we live and learn.