The second blogposts in our #UMAMUments series, here we read how writer and longtime friend Jo Parfitt found time to celebrate a bottle of UMAMU among lockdowns, bereavements and too much work.
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2007 Cabernet Merlot
15th May, Rose Cottage, Hansel, Devon
At last a proper holiday!
Ian’s father had become gravely ill two weeks prior and was in hospital. It was a stressful time for us all but I had booked two weeks in our go-to idyll, deep in the Gara Valley, in Devon in the United Kingdom.
Now was the time for some much-needed balance and self-care.
The first week would be with my mother, just the two of us. The second with our dear friends, my room-mate from university days, Christine, and her husband, David. Still besties after over 40 years.
The Lockdown rules were to be relaxed on 17th May, allowing us to stay in self-catering accommodation in groups of no more than six. We had been giddy with excitement at the thought of our first holiday in nine months and decided to break the rules slightly. Christine and David would come two days earlier than the law permitted.
And so, on Saturday 15th I took my mother to Totnes station so she could travel home and 20 minutes later Ian arrived to take her place. The sun was out. The Devon hedges that line the narrowest of lanes were high as houses and protruded with pink foxgloves, fading bluebells and pink campion. The cappuccino froths of cow parsley and elderflower were poking out their heads at last, cool and fresh as Sauvignon Blanc. Our spirits like the hedgerows were high.
This called for our fourth bottle of UMAMU.
Rose Cottage has a wide wooden terrace that peeps over the honeysuckle to the tiny stone bridge that fords the Gara stream where clear water gushes from beneath the neighbouring watermill and tumbles over itself in its race towards the sea.
The table was laid with round local cheeses, fresh sourdough bread, organic tomatoes and smoked salmon paté.
We looked up at the sound of our friends’ car inching down the impossibly steep and impassable lane that dropped them into the valley belly and heard the crunch of their Mercedes parking beside the barn. We raced down the shingly slope to greet them with hugs we deemed were well overdue and no longer illicit thanks to our double-jabbed status. Bliss and indulgence here we came.
Nothing could have been more fitting a way to celebrate this occasion than the vanilla-y, dark berriness of the oily Cabernet Merlot that was to accompany our feast of friendship and freedom in the spring sunshine.
“We made it! At long, long last,” I said, clinking glasses over the wooden picnic table.
“To us!” Christine replied.
The following evening Ian’s father passed away in his sleep and Ian had to leave our holiday early.
That Saturday lunch had been made more special because it was the only day we were all together in the sunshine.
You can buy our 2017 Cabernet Merlot here.