We have the chance of a last-minute getaway to Eagles Nest on the Symondsbury Estate in West Dorset. Lucky for us as we’ve caught a rare gap in the summer holidays. I use the term ‘summer’ loosely because as it’s a get together for the family the heavens have decided to open, another rarity this year. I am renowned for being a real grouch when my holiday weather doesn’t quite come up to scratch, so I can sense the rest of the family are feeling apprehensive. We have in our party this weekend, two parents in their eighties, daughter plus latest beau, both in their 20’s and us, both in our prime.
Eagles Nest is a beautiful Grade II listed thatch cottage with outstanding views and generously accommodating six people. My spirits lift slightly as we start to approach our holiday home. Bridport and the Jurassic Coast are nearby but driving through narrow sunken country lanes with overhanging trees we are entering deepest Dorset. ‘Six go wild in Symondsbury’ Mother trills out from the back of the car.
‘Here we are’ I announce through slightly gritted teeth but even as I speak the vision of a picture-perfect cottage that appears before us has soothed my nerves. A rambling rose is cascading over the porch whilst a large lavender bush gives off a heady scent and wisteria covers the walls. ‘Look at that wonderful magnolia tree’ I say. Two wicker easy chairs are nonchalantly placed under a tree. Sun loungers lie enticingly on the terrace. The phrase sun drenched and secluded springs to mind. I can spy a trampoline, hot tub and large gas barbecue. Daughter pulls up in spacious parking area and skips up the path. ‘Come on slowcoaches’ she shouts in an enthusiastic manner. Father wakes up with a jolt and looks out of the window. ‘Ooh’ he says, ‘how marvellous’. There’s a wishing well too so I recklessly throw in 10p before we step inside. My wish was immediately granted because the entrance hall truly has the ‘wow’ factor. A large vase of flowers sits on a polished round wooden table. Closed doors off the hallway keep us guessing as to which room we will enter next adding to the frisson of excitement. Everyone veers off in different directions. Sitting room with large inglenook fireplace, log burner, comfy sofa, DVD’s and games tick all the boxes. Mother is waxing lyrical about the luscious soft furnishings whilst Father is peering with interest at the tasteful and varied water colours dotted around. I flick through the book selection. To my mind a house is not a home without a decent selection of books and quality pictures.
Daughter rushes up the stairs. I know her game of old, she’s about to bag the best bedroom but we find they are all delightful. Superbly comfortable beds, spotless linens, snuggly blankets, powerful hot showers. All you could wish for.
Husband staggers in huffing and puffing with bags full of weekend essentials to keep body and soul together although we are touched to find a generous and thoughtful welcome hamper plus a bottle of chilled wine. In the kitchen there is a classic farmhouse table with french doors leading out onto the terrace. I am further impressed by the Belling Classic Range cooker. It’s a terrific room in which to entertain and be entertained.
Everyone is making appreciative noises. Father has taken to pottering around the spacious well-tended garden and to his amusement finds a Symondsbury secret stone. Mother is saying it’s exactly her kind of house decked out with faultless taste. Some praise indeed. Daughter and beau are having what sounds like their first row but in fact is them becoming over excited and shouting over the table tennis. Husband is poking at the barbecue looking thoughtful. Does this mean he may cook?
I pull back the cover of the hot tub and climb gingerly in blissfully enjoying the soothing hot bubbling water. It’s pouring with rain, but I don’t care.
Later, relaxed and curled up comfortably, a gin and tonic in hand I flick through the guest book. There, happy memories seem to have been repeatedly made. Which is what, after all, life is all about.