I came, I saw, I forgot the liquorice allsorts

Share
Related Topics

I've been hiking around my Cotswold valley, getting to know my new surroundings. My goal was to find a Roman villa that lies in the middle of some woods relatively undiscovered (in the sense that nobody has thrown up a fence and started charging exorbitant entry fees to look at some rubbish illustrations). I suppose that I should have bought an Ordnance Survey map immediately, as this would have greatly improved my chances of discovering the ruin. Unfortunately, I have always equated people with Ordnance Survey maps with the sort of types I wouldn't leave alone with my children.

I love walking, but I loathe the professional rambler look, with their silly floppy hats, stay-dry trousers, ski poles, and laminated maps. They tend to move in herds, or in colour co-ordinated couples. I loathe them so much that I will dive into a nearby thicket rather than have to say hello.

This has left me in a couple of awkward situations in the past, when I've been forced to explain my presence in the thicket when sighted by a sharp-eyed landlord or birdwatcher. But I digress.

I led my family on two, gruelling three-hour walks, in which all they heard was my saying, "I'm sure this is it", every time I spotted a thick copse of trees. They would watch as I hopped over a fence and ploughed into the thick undergrowth shouting "It's here, I can smell it …" before returning defeated, bleeding profusely from lacerated legs. I even tried to train my beloved Labradors in the art of Roman villa fetching, but they were sadly disappointing.

I finally gave in, and accepted the kind offer of a detailed map from a friend, who is far more organised in these matters than I am. He carries a little backpack when he walks, that contains sweets and water for his kids. I carry nothing but a bad attitude and grim determination.

I laid the map out on the kitchen table and realised immediately that I'd been in completely the wrong part of the valley. To groans from my family I announced that the third expedition was to leave immediately. We set out with much resistance from the troops but I, like Caesar, was not to be deterred. We were going to veni, vidi and vici.

I did wonder, as we headed off down yet another steep hill, whether my recent growth of beard, and now this obsession with walking and maps signalled a serious descent into cranky middle age?

Soon, though, we found ourselves in an enchanted forest, magical in its silence. I heard the sounds of a running stream and then, all of a sudden, we were there, in a breathtaking glade, standing in the ruins of what had once been a sizeable Roman villa. When I say ruins, I mean the bare foundations, and my kids were not quite as excited as I was by the find. Even they, however, had to express astonishment when we found a three-metre-square mosaic floor, lying where it had for over 1,800 years.

It was oddly moving, and we stood and thought about our ancient Roman neighbours for a second before there came a question from my son: "Dad, did you bring any sweets?"

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor’s Letter: The Sussex teenager killed fighting in Syria

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Actor Zac Efron  

Keep your shirt on Zac – we'd all be better for it

Howard Jacobson
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit