Sometimes, London just gets a bit much. There comes a point where you realise just how busy it is, how smelly it can be, how dirty it makes your skin, how thick the air is, and you think, “I need to get out of here for a bit.” Thankfully, I have a lot of family and friends in the countryside for exactly when these moments occur.
In the last week my first escape was to the hometown in Northamptonshire, the day before my best friends birthday. All she wanted to do was go strawberry picking and it was a glorious day, so off to Harpole we went to pick fruits to our hearts content. I remember when I was a child there was a patch of land where wild fruits would grow and when the seasons changed we’d visit there with little baskets and freely pick fruits, but it’s been so many years since I last did this. There’s something really therapeutic about wandering up and down the rows of fruits and rooting around for the strawberries that take your fancy the most.
Being in the sunshine with friends is such bliss. They’re also absolute goofballs, and that’s precisely why I love them. Visiting the shire and seeing them is so great.
One of the most familiar feelings in the world for me is this view from Platform 1 at Milton Keynes Station, office buildings can often look ugly but at this particular time of night the evening sky reflects off the glass and somehow manages to look beautiful. It’s a sight I’ve seen so often, and reminds me a lot of the bottom of the swimming pools I spent most Spanish summers in when I was little. It’s new and old all wrapped up in one.
After a brief Monday back in London, the next stop was Dover. This is where I was born and where the majority of my siblings still live. When I arrived at Dover Priory Station I was greeted by these beautiful flowers hidden behind the railings and it really felt like a good sign of how the week would play out.
The next two days were a whirlwind of catching up with siblings, revelling in the unusually warm British weather. Laughing about with my nephews who seem to grow so much between every visit and are so clever now. Relentlessly trying to get my sisters lovely but grumpy fluffy cat to like me.
As well, getting to play and laugh with my gorgeous niece who has been a ray of sunshine ever since she was born just weeks after my mother died. Watching her develop is a wonder, I think kids are the most fascinating when their brain develops between the ages of 2-3, they’re absorbing the world like sponges and communicating better than they ever had before and sometimes that’s scary because in a way you want to keep them safe as babies forever but in the same breath it’s incredible to see how quickly they learn.
Lastly, a visit to Staplehurst. I’ve been incredibly lucky this year in falling for a wonderful guy who also has a wonderful family, and thankfully they like me too! I spent some time with Leo’s mum as Leo and his dad are currently away in America.
On Friday we packed a picnic and visited Winchelsea Beach to have lunch by the sea. The weather was still delightful and it was incredibly peaceful – I always find being by the sea so calming. We then visited Rye, a town that Leo has taken me to briefly before as they have an amazing little shop called Knoops, which make the most delicious hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted. However the only time I’ve been to Rye we didn’t have much time to explore, so it was great to get to see more of the town. It’s a very quintessential British seaside town.
After wandering round Rye we headed to Rye Harbour to find a spot to rest and watercolour. We stopped at one of the benches next to the nature reserve, it was wonderful to hear nothing but the breeze and birds chatting, with occasionally kind passersby wanting to take a peek at what we were painting. I can’t remember the last time I touched a watercolour and I’ve never really been that great at physical art like this but it was quite therapeutic for an hour to pass by while we applied colour to paper without even realising how much time was passing.
I’ve now returned to London and it’s manic, hectic, crowded ways. In my heart I know one day I’ll be retuning to the countryside, most likely to the seaside, for good. For now you’ll find me continuing to try make this city work with me.