The most interesting thing about my friendship with Caroline (a friend of mine at primary school) was more the backdrop over which our friendship played out - the fact that the school we attended was such a special place - the stuff of dreams, really, or of Harry Potter as Caroline said last night. In the heart of the English countryside, Tockington Manor was surrounded by acres of grounds in which we could lose ourselves for hours: sometimes we'd read together quietly in the woods; sometimes we'd venture far into the trees and sit on a moss-covered rock that we called, oddly, 'the quarry'; sometimes we'd tell stories and fantasize we had magic powers; at all times, though, we were surrounded by nature, by rabbits running through the vast fields, by enormous oak-trees that swept their leaves across the green, and deep woods that rustled their leaves, and pear trees that grew against the old stone walls. It was as if the headmaster and his wife believed in the Romantic ideal that contact with nature is crucial to the instruction of sensitive beings - and I am grateful to my mother and the Toveys for allowing my soul to be attuned, at least for a time, to the natural rhythm of the universe. The experience was character-building and continues to influence my creativity today.
Dear Babe, that sleepest cradled by my side,
Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
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