The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Breakfasts and Beds: Yalbury Park, Dorchester

Yalbury Park
Frome Whitfield Farm
01305 250336

by Poppy Tartt

Limber with anticipation of Monkey World, Susan and I could have taken the worst of breakfasts on the chin and set off running, we thought, so Mrs Bamlet’s home-cooked fare was much more than we dreamed of asking for. Much more than one of us, having a difficult weekend abdominally, should have asked for altogether. In all our exuberance we had no idea what hours of pain, in Monkey World’s darkening, emptying cafeteria, awaited that one, what hours of helpless witnessing, the other.

We’d awoken that morning beneath Mrs Bamlet’s floral coverlets. I sprang from my bed for the first time in literally years. This day was to hold the most perfect combination a day could possibly hold: breakfast, the English countryside, and monkeys.

Breakfast was served in a dining room whose Englishness throbbed within me like an unborn twin I’d unknowingly carried since birth. The wood was dark and polished; the tablecloth white, soon tea-stained (sincerest apologies, Mrs Bamlet). Crockery and silverware populated a dresser charmingly. The meal opened with tinned grapefruit, which was startling (especially post-toothpaste), but ultimately highly regarded. The real breakfast followed: sausages, bacon, eggs and grilled tomato presented on creamy-white plates with a lip relief. There was plentiful toast both white and brown. Oh! Is there any action more refined than the spooning of marmalade from a crystal bowl? Throughout the meal Mrs Bamlet and a second voice conversed below stairs about game.

If the sausages were a little narrow, and the bacon a little hard, we didn’t object; the yolks ran, mingling with the England of the mind, which is a lovely place. If only it weren’t for the realities of digestion, Mrs Bamlet, and of English weather systems, which conspired to twist our dreams into a soaking nightmare of wind-shredded ponchos and hot water bottles. And what became of the monkey, monkey, monkey . . .?


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