The blog of an average man managing the 1,440 minutes he's given each day

Our Belated Anniversary Weekend in a Shepherd’s Hut in Wiltshire

Each year for our wedding anniversary the wife and I try and go away somewhere for the night. Just the two of us, sans kid. This year after the usual obsessive researching we found a little Shepherd’s Hut in Wiltshire. We’ve not stayed in a Shepherd’s Hut before so were really looking forward to it.

The morning we were due to leave, I decided last minute to change into my shorts because the weather was nice and warm.

Bad idea.

As I bent to pull them up I felt the most excruciating pain shoot across my back and I dropped to the ground like the strings being cut on a marionette.

Crap, was the PG version of what I actually said once I managed to catch my breath.

After lying on the ground paralysed with pain for about 2hrs I realised we didn’t really have any choice but to cancel the weekend, and the following week, and the next weekend, and the week following that. In all I was mostly horizontal for about 2 weeks and then had very limited movement for weeks after that. Even now I’m still suffering from that episode.

I’ve had back problems before and almost ended up having surgery, but with medication and exercise(pilates) I managed to ease most of the symptoms. It would seem the discs in my back like to spurt their insides out into my spinal cord which screws around a bit with my nerves. Jerks.

I’m not sure if they’re paying me back for the amount of sport I played when I was younger or conversely the amount of sitting I’ve done over the last 15 odd years. I also hear that apparently this problem can be a symptom of reaching middle age.

Fast forward 6 months and we finally found some time to rebook and have our anniversary weekend away.

The biggest up-side of having to rebook was that we’re now in Autumn, probably my favourite season. I love the colours, the low golden light and the crisp air especially when the sky is that vivid blue.

This time I resisted the urge to put shorts on. In fact I was so careful doing any moving and lifting for the few days before.

We packed the car and went to sit on the M25 carpark. Besides the M25 bit, I always find driving out into ‘the countryside’ so refreshing. It’s like stress relief. People drive differently, the air’s clearer, there are excellent narrow country roads to wind the Qashqai through. Very safely and considerately of course.

We arrived at the hut and I was chomping at the bit to get out and go for a walk. So once we’d settled in we headed off to enjoy the sights and sounds of the little village up the road. We saw some fields, sheep, cows, trees, birds, horses. All the country things.

To avoid leaving the cosiness of the hut we’d brought with us a ‘picky dinner’ as the wife calls it. This consists of things you can pick at, like cheese, meat, bread, olives etc. Basically what we live on when we go to Italy in the summer.

It was accompanied by an English sparkling wine from Hambledon. The UK are making some amazing sparkling wines at the moment, certainly comparable to those on the continent pound for pound. The Hambledon Cuvee we picked up was certainly no exception. The next time you find an excuse to open some bubbly, like it being a Tuesday, try and see what you can find that’s British.

After a cosy night in the hut we had a feast of a breakfast, supplied by Wellington Barn, then headed off to explore the area. As paid up members of the National Trust we decided to visit Avebury where there are some standing stones and a manor. The standing stones were like big rocks standing out in a field. Outstanding.

The manor house was interesting though. National Trust properties usually make a point of telling you not to touch anything. At Avebury they actively encouraged you to jump on the bed, try on the clothes and get involved. Shame we didn’t have the kid with us, he would have loved it. After lunch at a local pub we then drove back to the big city.

As nice as it would have been to have celebrated on the actual day, it was just gorgeous to go at this time of year and I think the weather helped make it even more cosy.

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