It was Saturday. The sun was out for the first time in days. The miserable weather of the last week had driven me inside, into the pajama pants, and under the covers to you know, do work, research, study, surf the internet, lose motivation, catch up on Dexter and all right, fine, become a sloth. So I turned to the girl who blows her nose with one hand and I said “That’s it!”
“That’s it” I have learnt, is a proclamation I make quite often, usually followed by some ridiculous statement I have no intention or ability to commit to. That’s it, we’re moving somewhere with better weather! That’s it, I’m going to get fit! That’s it, I’m learning to fly a plane so that when I’m neighbors with Ange and Brad we’ll have something to talk about!
On Saturday, disgusted with myself for not going outside when the sun came out, it was “That’s it, I’m hiring a car and we’re going for a drive tomorrow!” But this time I actually did it.
On a scale of self inflicted pain, driving in London runs a close second to piercing your netherbits. Then again, that results in a happy ending, allegedly. There is no pleasure to driving in London. But since a train ticket to the English countryside starts at around £25, there were three of us and the rental was £40 plus petrol, it made sense to grit our teeth and just deal with it till we got out of the city right? With a car we could come and go as we pleased, there’d be no screaming babies/teens/bogan mothers to annoy us and we could pull over if something quaint and English presented itself. Much better right? Hmm.
The girl who I decided was in charge of navigation set about trying to get us on the A2 while I set about trying to decipher all the different squiggly lines on the roads. I realised then that I don’t really know London at all by road. I’m always on trains or buses and never really take any notice. I didn’t even know that the main street of Peckham Rye, one that I’ve been on many times, is only for buses and bikes. Luckily a guy on a bicycle explained this to me in a nice loud voice and with helpful hand gestures.
Nobody ambles about anymore do they? We always have somewhere to get to, an itinerary to stick to, and we want to get there the quickest and easiest way. So in a car that means freeways, and for the driver (that would be me) that means an hour or two on a straight-ish road, shifting focus between three mirrors, making sure some other driver hasn’t fallen asleep from all that concentrating.
I chose Whitstable because the girl who eats anything except (so far) turnips and sea urchins had expressed a desire to try an oyster. As soon as I had made sure there wasn’t any kind of innuendo in the meaning of that sentence I researched, and apparently if it’s oysters you want in south east England, it’s to Whitstable you go. I also noticed that Canterbury was close by and it’s always good to have a plan B if the small town proves unsatisfactory. Not that I knew anything about Canterbury, but I expected it would be a smaller version of Oxford or Cambridge – over run with day tripping tourists and extortionately priced memorabilia, but better than being at home in bed watching the sunshine fade. Continue reading