And so a day off:   It has certainly been a tough week and I am definitely ready for a little me time.

So, what happens?  I wake at four thirty in the morning, which is extremely annoying.  I doze on and off but the damage is done.  I sit in my bed and write the blog, until six o’clock comes round, and then I dress to go and fetch a cup of coffee from the lobby.

As it is a performance-free day I also take the opportunity of having the frock coat and waistcoat that I did not clean in Hershey, dry cleaned.

After I have finished my coffee I have a shower and re-dress, ready for breakfast.

The Regency Room is a restaurant once more, and the area where I performed twelve hours ago is now surrounded by marble topped buffet stations.  It is strange to look at it now, with the memories of a packed room echoing with laughter and clapping so fresh in my mind

Leroy (surely he must live in this restaurant), shows me to a seat by the window, where I have a gorgeous view of the hotel’s golf course.  It is a bright, cold morning and the frost is sparkling on the greens.

My waiter for breakfast is Emmanuel, whom I have known for many years.  It is remarkable how The Williamsburg Inn holds onto its personnel, and presumably that is a testament to the way they treat their employees.

Emmanuel is originally from Jamaica and we chat a bit about cricket.  I think that we should arrange a double-header sports event here, where the Revolutionary War was conceived and planned, the USA vs Great Britain: one cricket match and one baseball match.

My breakfast begins with the best of intentions and I have a plate of fruit, followed by some cheese, ham and croissant.  However, the siren call of the pancakes and syrup is too enticing and I give into temptation.

As I leave the restaurant I say goodbye to Leroy, as I’m not sure if I am going to be at breakfast tomorrow morning, and return to the Queen’s Suite for the last time.

I have already packed my bags, and take them down to the front desk to discover where I am to be relocated to.  My new room is at the far end of the hotel and, although not a regal suite, is just as luxurious and much more suitable for a man travelling alone.

I leave my bags and then get ready for my day’s activity: golf.  At last the golf shoes that I have trailed around the United States; the golf shoes that I was going to use in Omaha; the golf shoes that I was going to use in Wilmington, are actually going to see some action.

Williamsburg is the home of The Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, which comprises three different courses.  Unfortunately the Gold Course, which is the one I was admiring at breakfast, is not open today, but the Green Course is only a mile away and equally as impressive.

I leave the hotel in plenty of time to get registered and fitted out with rental clubs.  The heavy frost has delayed the opening of the course, so there is a bit of waiting around until I can get out to play.

A frosty start

A frosty start

I buy plenty of balls, a glove, a cap, a pitch mark repair tool and a yardage book for the course.  Unfortunately my UK bank card doesn’t work, which is frustrating.  Almost at the moment that the card is handed back to me it my phone rings:  it is my UK bank’s fraud department checking that I am in fact in Virginia.  Very impressive.

I had originally assumed that I would be playing alone but the pro shop has paired me up with a local player and I am introduced to Jack who, although not a member, plays the course often.  It will be good to have a bit of local knowledge but I hope my very rusty game does not embarrass me.

At nine o’clock the practice range is opened and we can go and hit a few balls.  I am very relieved that most of the shots are fairly decent.

Waiting to play

Waiting to play

As I am standing with an 8-iron in hand, concentrating on not swinging back to fast or too far, I am aware of somebody standing close behind me.  I keep my mind on the shot and execute a fairly passable swing, sending the ball some one hundred and thirty yards down the range.

‘Mr Dickens?’

I answer in the affirmative.

‘My name is Glen Byrnes and I am the Director of Golf here at The Golden Horseshoe.  I heard you were coming today and I wanted to say thank you for all you do at Williamsburg.  It is a pleasure to have you here.’

Jack (my playing partner), looks at me with a degree of surprise.

Glen goes on to offer to have a special bag tag made up for me, so that I will always be reminded of my day’s golf at Williamsburg.  Realising that Jack is going to be playing with me, Glen offers to have a tag made up for him too.  Jack is now definitely impressed by his playing partner.

The warm sun is starting to have an effect and the course is starting to come alive.  At ten twenty we are ready to go.  Just before we tee off, the official starter informs us that a third player, Tom, is going to join us.  We all shake hands and introduce ourselves and then look down the course, wondering what the next few hours hold in store.

I won’t give you a shot by shot account of the round but it is my usual cocktail of some fantastic shots, mixed in with an unhealthy slug of blooming awful ones.

I am very glad that I have Jack with me, as there are no signs on the course directing the way to the next tees and I would definitely have got lost on many occasions.

It is a perfect way to relax and despite the appallingly high score that I am amassing, I love being in the crisp air, beneath the blue sky, in the good company of two men who don’t mention Charles Dickens once.

Away from it all

Away from it all

Jack and Tom approach the green

Jack and Tom approach the green

The last hole is a long straight par five and my third shot is one of my best of the day.  It is a satisfying way to finish.

I shake hands with Tom and Jack and after returning my golf cart, I drive back to the hotel.

I spend the rest of the afternoon watching television and checking emails.  I am horrified to get one from Pam telling me that I had missed an interview this morning at eight forty-five.

In my joy at having a day off I had completely shut off all thoughts of the tour and completely forgot that I had a call coming in.  Fortunately Pam is able to re-schedule it for Saturday afternoon, which is a relief.

At seven I walk through the long corridor to the bar, where I sit chatting to the bar tender, Mark.  He is great company and asks after Liz and Cameron who came here for Christmas some three years ago.  He even remembers that Cameron supports Arsenal football club.

I order a chicken dish, which is delicious.  Last night I really couldn’t enjoy the food, as I had the show to think of, so it is nice to be able to eat slowly and savour Chef Brust’s beautiful flavours.

Watching Mark at work behind the bar is amazing.  He is constantly on the move, mixing cocktails for the restaurant, as well as his own customers, but he is always able to have a conversation with everyone, as if he has known them for years.

At one point he throws out an open question:  favourite and least favourite Christmas song?.  The choice of best is varied, and I plump for Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song.  However there is a clear winner in the least favourite category: Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.

Once dinner is finished I return to my room.   My dry cleaning is hanging in the wardrobe, so I add the frock coat and waistcoat to my cases, which have not been unpacked since this morning, and get ready for bed.

As ever Williamsburg has been good to me and it will be a shame to leave this luxurious life.  Tomorrow morning, however, I will be back on the road driving to Richmond and then flying north again, towards the final two days of my USA tour.

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