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f/e 2021-12-13

A bit more than a fortnight, most of which I was away for.

First it was to my parents’ in Witham, Essex for a week. Most days I went out for long walks around different parts of town. In retrospect I realise how little of the place I knew while growing up there. But I guess, as a kid, why would you go somewhere unless you had a friend there, or some other reason to go?

I also walked around a new housing development ready to hate it but… I can see why people might like it. Unlike the neighbouring 1970s(?) houses, the new ones look superficially different to each other, in an attempt to create the illusion of a village that’s grown organically. It’s quiet, has a couple of large ponds (sorry, a pond and a “retention basin”), a path through a small patch of woodland, a couple of playgrounds, a shop, and plenty of space for parking. The houses are expensive and not huge but [looks around] here we all are.

One day I went into London and had a lovely time flaneuring around with a friend who happened to be in the country, including stopping briefly inside a couple of pubs. It was both wonderful to sit and chat in a pub and very strange. My mind and body can’t square the fact there’s a killer pandemic at large, with all the people sitting in pubs and restaurants like nothing unusual’s happening.

§ Me and Mary, who’d been working in London, then both traveled to Walton-on-the-Naze for a long weekend in an AirBnB on the coast.

A photo of a row of colourful beach huts receding into the distance, a few of them reflected in a puddle on the concrete promenade.

When we lived in London, going away somewhere with fresh air, open space, and a quiet place to read was high on the list of requirements for a holiday. Now that we’re fortunate enough to live somewhere with fresh air, open space, and quiet places to read… maybe that’s not what I want from a holiday now? Or not every time?

It was nice to be back and see the town and surroundings, and to catch up with a couple of friends, but after a while we were both ready to get home, it having been a longer trip away than initially planned, and so returned a day early. It’s nice to be home.

A photo of a muddy beach dotted with large mounds of more solid mud. On the hazy horizon, over some sea, can be seen the cranes of Felixstowe docks

Before we left we did have time for an evening meal with my in-laws’ family at Wivenhoe House Hotel which was tasty. A proper meal in a proper restaurant! See comment above about the weirdness of this kind of thing. It feels like (hopefully) we got in just under the wire.

The wait staff, who I think are studying Hotel Management and Hospitality, were friendly and attentive but I felt quite old when hearing their many responses of “no worries” whenever asked or thanked for something. It’s a perfectly common phrase but in the context of a smart country hotel restaurant it sounded odder to these increasingly-middle-aged ears than it would coming from the staff of a city centre bar.

It can’t be long until I start writing to newspapers about the decline in young peoples’ use of English. Help me.

§ I’ve now finished watching the first season of Schitt’s Creek and it was not bad, although towards the end my finger was exploring Netflix’s controls for playing it at a faster speed. I’m looking forward to not being at all disappointed at how amazing it is from season two onwards, as everyone promised.

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