I have considered Hereford as my next stop, you know. The city with a small town charm, cobbled side streets lined with independent shops, cafes, delis and a cheese shop – there isn't much else on my wishlist.
But maybe something a bit further from home, somewhere I don't know. To visit, however, it is perfect. The Saturday we went to see my sister and niece was a particularly hot day and any shade found was a blessing. We parked at James' work and walked into town, wondering how much it would cost to rent a little cottage by the cathedral and cooing little baby OH who didn't much like the heat in her padded pram.
My mum is just wonderful, I've told you so before, but this photo reminds me of just how much of a positive, happy presence she has. It's infectious. I love our days out, and she was kind enough to treat me and my sisters – Emily and Sarah – to lunch at La Madeleine on this occasion.
It's always busy at La Madeleine – the best sign that its the place to be. This time we were lucky – the seating area at the front of the shop was free and we quickly snapped it up. It was too hot to have a wander inside, so you'll have to look on their website to see photos. Besides, I was happy people watching, basking in the sunshine.
I ordered an orange San Pellegrino (is there anything better on a roasting hot day?) and the vegetarian tart with salad. I'm not sure about the name of this tart - it makes it sound like the tart is a vegetarian... or that the tart is for vegetarians, exclusively. Well, I am not a vegetarian, you'll be glad to know. I just like 'vegetarian' dishes.
This one was beetroot and goat's cheese with pine nuts and it was amazing. Actually amazing. It was served warm, and although I couldn't detect any pine nuts, the pumpkin seeds on top made up for it, as did the flavour, texture and general deliciousness of the tart. It came with a fresh salad tossed with a zesty dressing and a super yummy potato salad - citrusy and not too creamy.
Sarah and my mum ordered the smoked salmon, poached egg, asparagus and beetroot salad with Hollandaise sauce which was like a more interesting eggs royale, and Emily had the quiche lorraine with salad and fries. We scraped our plates clean. Everything was perfect, and I don't say that often.
So go and get a table at La Madeleine, if you can. If you're the organised type, ring up in advance and book a table for breakfast. I can imagine this cafe is popular all year round. In winter, in a desperately cold state, I see myself enjoying a coffee and croissant before embarking on a day of Christmas shopping, before walking back, arms weighed down with gifts, to warm up with a hot chocolate before driving home through the idyllic countryside. But that's a few months away yet...