We finally made our way out of London on Bank Holiday Monday (how can you tell during a lockdown?) and drove south for an hour or so into Kent past Churchill’s house, Chartwell. It was the first time either of us had ventured more than four miles from home for 10 weeks. It felt odd to be driving a car again. I felt nervous, as if I’d just passed my test – but there were lots more bikes around than usual, so always best to be cautious on those country roads.
We parked up, then enjoyed a pleasant afternoon strolling through the fields near Chiddingstone, passing two or three closed, empty pubs of happy memory on the way.
A very hot day during the hottest and driest May in living memory
A pint of proper Kentish ale would have been welcome, followed by a good roast pub dinner, but ah well… we settled for a picnic at Bough Beech.
Back in the late 80s we formed, with close friends and neighbours, the “Brixton Birdwatching Club” (AKA, tongue-in-cheek, the BBC). Phil and Di had found a quick and direct route via Biggin Hill and Westerham to Bough Beech reservoir. So on Sunday mornings we’d nip down in their Cortina, especially during the autumn and winter months, to look at the waterfowl. On a couple of occasions we were lucky enough to see a pair of osprey diving for fish.
I’m always surprised at how far away you feel from the big city. The locals are surprisingly friendly and you don’t get the feeling that you are ruining their day by taking over their local. In the summer, even if there wasn’t so much happening on the water, we’d buy freshly-picked strawberries and cherries from the roadside stalls. Or you could pick your own fruit from the farms.
That has been, so far, the extent of our summer holidays.
Before Covid-19 struck we were planning a trip to Indonesia (partly to connect with my distant childhood) and, as I write, we should be swimming in Bali. I’m beginning to wonder if we will ever get an opportunity to go, although it doesn’t pay to think too far ahead at the moment.
What surprises me is that I am not too bothered.
Que será, será
I am not missing taking the bus into Central London, let alone the hassle of a long-haul flight. Perhaps that will change after another month, especially now that the weather is not so good and sitting in the garden has lost its appeal. And after two more months I might be crawling up the walls. Just for now, I am enjoying the lack of diary commitments, and I am sure I am not the only one. My world has become much smaller and for this, and other reasons, it feels like retreating several decades to when we had no cash for foreign holidays or eating out but still managed to have a good time. Maybe I’m even more boring than I thought but I’ve lost the wanderlust. Wouldn’t mind a little trip to La Bréchoire though!