The lodge park is in the grounds of, and just across the river from, an old manor house, now a hotel and restaurant. On our afternoon walk, Milo secured by halty and lead at all times, we did a recce on the hotel for dinner. It’s only a short walk through the park, across the rope bridge and up a path. Now the bridge isn’t a proper rope bridge. It is a bridge suspended by steel ropes to which are attached wooden decking boards. It fair rocks and swings and undulates as you walk across, there are a few loose and bendy planks and a sign instructs you that only two people are allowed on at any one time.
I decide on pan fried salmon on a bed of wilted vegetables and a red pepper consomme. It not only looks great, it tastes great. Some unusual wilted vegetables. One has a long stalk and a huge leaf on it. Jo tells me it’s kung fu, no pad thai, no koi carp no it’s pak choi, that's it. Anyway it folds into a nice neat parcel on the end of my fork and I pop it my mouth, whole. I become aware that I’ve been chewing this leaf for some time now so I swallow it except it doesn’t go down. It’s stuck. I swallow again. Worse. The huge leaf has now unfurled. It’s blocking my throat. I try a slight and polite cough that nobody in the restaurant would take any notice of. It’s still there. It’s like it’s inflated like a balloon and is completely blocking my windpipe. I can’t breath in. A little more urgent now I decide to try and pick it out of my throat by reaching inside my mouth with my thumb and forefinger. Now this doesn’t go unnoticed and I get that look from Jo that says “what on earth are you doing?”. I want to explain but I still can’t breathe in. Panic sets in. I’ve run out of options and as a last resort I let out one of those cough type exhalations that are combined with a back of the throat kind of spit making a very loud ‘hack’ sound. If this doesn’t work and there’s no one in the restaurant who knows the heimlich manoeuvre or how to perform an emergency tracheotomy using a paring knife and a teaspoon, I’m done for. The rest of the diners turn and stare. It takes two ‘hacks’ but it clears. I’m alright everybody, panic over. No need for diy surgery. It’s cleared. Jo is still giving me the ‘what on earth’ look. We enjoy a really nice dinner and some wine and I round the evening off with one of my favourite single malts, a Dalwhinnie - perfect.
It’s something to ten and we leave the hotel for our return journey in the pouring rain. It’s like stair rods. Straight down, heavy rain, huge drops. But we’re prepared. Jo has her brolly and I, my lightweight waterproof. As we set off down the path and start descending the steps towards the river and the rope bridge, we come to realise a torch would’ve been useful. I illuminate my phone and that just provides enough light to see the steps. We access the rope bridge by some wooden steps and then the bridge slopes down towards the lowest point of the bridge in the middle where it rises to the top of the wooden steps on the lodge park side of the river. It’s belting down, I’m on a rope bridge, the decking boards are old and soaking and now extremely slippy, the shoes I chose to wear this evening are brown leather and have the smoothest sole ever imaginable, I may have had a little drink or two, I have only one hand to hold on to the swinging, undulating, rocking, sloping, slimy, wooden rope bridge because I am lighting the way with my mobile with the other. Jo tells me to walk straight and stop rocking the bridge - if only! Miraculously we reach safety on the other side and it’s an easy flat walk along a lit path to our lodge. I have a little giggle to myself as we pass a lodge with a couple of skewed and tipped plant pots outside.
And so to bed