I have spent much of the past week travelling up to Bristol. We have been working on a deal for the past couple of months and, so far, have had four separate attempts to complete it. If I am frustrated, that is nothing to what my client is: but it is just one of those things. It has happened before, and I have no doubt it will happen again: transactional work is complex, and the devil as always is in the detail. It is not, however, all work: as with all transactions, there are long passages of time when nothing much is happening but when it is not possible to do any other work. At moments like these, I often find myself thinking of my life outside work, and of the things that really matter.
Sometime last Friday afternoon, while we waited for confirmation that the Irish lawyers were checking the documents (they weren’t), my client Alan and I sat and talked about the countryside. He has just moved back to his house deep in Gloucestershire, and was telling me that most mornings roe deer will come up on to his terrace; and of the little owls that patrol his garden.
I spent 12 years in the South Cotswolds, before moving further west and south. I loved that Gloucestershire countryside: the combes south of Wotton-under-Edge, the long scarp of the Cotswolds and the views across the Vale of the Severn towards the Bristol Channel and the Welsh hills beyond. For ten years I hunted across it, most often with the local beagles but occasionally with the Duke of Beaufort’s Foxhounds, and I reckon I got to know it well. Lower Woods on a dank day in early February is not much fun, even on a hireling named Ajax.
But even though it is a kinder countryside than Dartmoor and its in-country, where I now live, if I had to choose there would be no contest. I know it would be here: a bigger sky, the weather driving in from the South West and buzzards mewing over the high ground.
We were on Mardon Down again today: a cold and clear morning, with rain on the distant horizon. There are very few places where I feel more at home. When we came to live here in 1997, we knew little of the area: it was simply the only place where we could find a house that suited us and the children and which we could afford. Having decided to stay, I now feel that it is the place we have chosen.
I will be back on the M5 on Monday morning, with a scheduled meeting at 11.30. I hope that I won’t have time to talk to Alan about his roe deer: but if I do, then it won’t be wasted time, as I shall tell him about those I see most mornings as I drive to work.