My treat for the week’s travel was a copy of Penelope Chetwode’s Two Middle-Aged Ladies in Andalusia, her tale of wandering through Spain on a fat mare called Marquesa in the early 1960s. It’s vivid, pungent, beautiful and funny; she describes a country that has long since disappeared, swallowed by modernity. I recommend the work as a whole, but this passage had to be quoted in isolation:
“‘Bridle Road to …’ When I see this notice in England it has the same effect on me as Mescalin does on Mr Aldous Huxley. Here there are no such notices but you can see bridle roads leading over the plains and the sierras in every direction and to an addict the sight is intoxicating. Everyone has his weaknesses: some people run after women, others after Dukes; I run after priests and along carriles which, with their alluringly sinuous ways, are gravely tempting me to throw all my family duties to the wind and to go on riding along them forever.”
When I googled Penelope to find out more about her life, I discovered that she had, in fact, had the perfect, most gentle death, far from the Pony Clubs, the parish churches and tame bridle ways of England.