Every year, friends of mine organise a Spring walk and I always look forward to the big get together of friends, their children and their dogs. We all stroll down vales and combes around their hamlet near Bridport and climb the steep hills with a spring in our step (or panting noises for some of us).

As we drive past the road sign to our destination this year, I smile: Loscombe. What a good name. We’re in West Dorset for a start so that means no motorway, we drive off the narrow main road into a smaller road and then down a single lane where I’d rather not meet anybody; don’t like driving in reverse. Which we had to do. So a lost combe or forgotten valley it is.

Shortly after we arrive, the kids shoot off with their dogs on leads. Which of the two are more excited I couldn’t tell. We follow the path along a gurgling stream; such a calming sound although today, it is slightly overtaken by voices of friends catching up with their news. Snowdrops are in bloom, wild garlic is only just coming out hitting us with its pungent smell all the same.

The steep climbs are rewarded by these wonderful views of perfect roundness typical of West Dorset. A feeling half way between being on top of the world and being surrounded by a gentle and protective countryside. Nature at its best on a cold winter day. A farm here, a thatched cottage there, catkins like hundreds of tiny yellow bottle cleaners against the blue sky give it a feel of watercolour.

This year we are blessed with sunshine. Strictly speaking, we are still in Winter despite our friends luring us with talks of Spring. It may be the lovely lunch that entices us all, a delicious warm soup, bread and local cheeses, a few bottles of wine. We all sit on garden chairs and bales of straw in the courtyard. Ah the simple pleasures, so hard to beat when the weather is on our side.

Although my friends live in the middle of nowhere they are very much in touch with the outside world. Proof? 2010 = cupcakes. Home baked and hand decorated, two huge trays came out “Eat me, I am sugar heaven and colour guilt”. Mine even had sparkles on it. And utterly delicious it was too.

Oh yes, we do know how to have a good time down here. Sparkles and muddy boots, great combination.

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