So, the furthest back I can remember is Tintagel. This was, for me, a first ever foray into Cornwall, I think. The seascapes of the north coast are truly remarkable, and it's sad that so far as I know no pictures of this trip remain. This was before digital things, you know.
Cars had been invented. Ours was a gold Ford Mondeo. An enduring memory was picking the thing up from an Exeter car hire company on the outskirts of the city, and getting lost on the way back to my house. I ended up in a cul-de-sac with no idea how to find reverse. (Answer - the was a locking-ring located under the knob, which I located after rustling around in the glove-box, searching for instructions). Another enduring memory was adjusting the seat at 60mph on the A38 and nearly killing everyone in the car. Won't do that again.
So, in the car were Brighty, Smith, Levvers and Colin. And me, obviously. And it wasn't even cottaging, as we stayed in a B&B in Tintagel (and did we spend the second night somewhere else, Padstow perhaps?)
Doom Bar, and pasties were the culinary highlights.
Cornwall was judged a success, so Brighty found a cottage in Herefordshire the following Autumn. This must have been 2000 I reckon. In Autumn 2001 I was writing up and heading to PA. So yes, 2000. 14 years ago. Blimey. We weren't even young. But younger, almost certainly.
Herefordshire was wet. Really really wet. It's also Levick country, which meant I got to visit the old farm for the first time. And Hay. Turns out it's full of books. Who knew? Brighty was insistent that we went for a walk, so we trooped up Hergest Ridge in the rain, look Wales square in the eye then trooped down again. And that was that.
I went to Philadelphia. Kate and I had an absolutely excellent weekend in a former coaching Inn in Lancaster County that I can now find no sign of. I was a peculiar, ramshackle place run by an extremely friendly and perhaps somewhat lonely oddball who had, it seemed, run the place with his father until the later had died. Archaeologists from the local university used to come by and dig around - they found a lot of historic interest, including Elizabethan coins which pre-dated the Inn but not the importance of Lancaster as a trading centre at the time.
We didn't kill any Amish, even though it was the first time I'd driven an automatic and the first time I'd driven on the right-hand side of the road. Or was it left?
And we saw some excellent stand-up in a very unpromising strip-Mall in Lancaster. No one does strip-Malls like North Americans..
Return to England, and a move to Yorkshire, offered excellent promise and God's own county didn't let us down. A trip to Haworth included a ride on a steam train (tea in gold-leaf service was taken on board) and an epic walk over, I think, Wadsworth Moor. (Henry will be able to confirm. Henry was the master of this one). At the end, Paul and I had to dash for the last bus back to Haworth to rescue our cars and the rescue the others from the lesbians and take them back to the Brontes. They didn't seem to phased, mind you.
So far as I know, this was the only cottaging trip to feature a Russian citizen, though one can never be quite sure.
Oh, and we also got to see Henry's unique take on the Yorkshire art of map-origami. He's a black-belt, you know.
So that was, quite remarkably, a decade ago. Shortly afterwards I decided to become a Civil Servant (I wasn't exactly doing anything else with my time, and besides, the country needs Civil Servants.) An outing in the Broads was attempted, successfully, and we followed that with a somewhat (totally) insane trip to Lulworth Cove, involving 22 people in 3 cottages in 3 distinct villages (one of which was called Chaldon Herring). It was at this point that I realized that a) Kate has excellent, excellent organisation skills and b) these are really useful. So far as I know, this was the only cottaging trip to feature a citizen of the USA (several, in fact), though one can never be quite sure.
And the Walmer. A bloody loved Walmer. I loved the puns. I loved the house. I loved the harmonium, even though it didn't work. I loved the bloody huge garden and I loved playing croquet in the rain (I'd never played croquet in any kind of weather before).
I loved the Kent coastline. I read up on the Cinque Ports. Most of all, I loved the walk to Dover that Nick put on, despite the fact that Sock and I tried to sabotage it by diving into the first pub we found.