Wednesday 28 August 2019

Goodbye and hello again

Look, I tried, honestly. It was a hot night giving way to a grey, muggy morning, and there was a beach right there, just two short blocks away. So I went down again, hoping for more success than last time, and the tide was indeed up to half, and the sea when I paddled was invitingly warm - but the weed! Green, slimy, and unavoidable. I came out with it draped around my ankles and gave up entirely on any idea of swimming at an English beach. So inferior. Even the inevitable OWM busily metal-detecting in the pebbles after the busy weekend wasn't having any luck - "A couple of coins and a bunch of bottle-tops". His best-ever find was a well-preserved Roman coin, that turned out to be fake.
We packed up and headed off to a lavender farm, which I'm always a sucker for but which was really hard to find, even - or especially - with GPS. When we finally tracked it down, it turned out that the lavender harvest was over two weeks ago and they were all busy with much less appealingly-scented hops. But, this being England, it was no distance to a lovely alternative - the village of Eynsford, which we'd just gone through en route.
The main street was lined with pretty houses and inviting pubs hung with flowers, there were the ruins of a Norman castle in a green field and, down a side street, the ford of the name. It was busy with kids paddling with shrimp nets, swimming and playing in the water, and families along the bank making the most of the last week of the school holidays. There were some encouragingly busy tea rooms, but we ate indoors at the Plough pub - the tempura mushrooms were delicious, and the OH's rhubarb and apple crumble and custard, served in little metal pans, was a triumph.
And then it was all pretty much over, just tedious travel through thick traffic to Wimbledon for some sorry goodbyes, and then to Heathrow, via a long, long jam in Chiswick. There was all the usual boring airport stuff, then six hours to Dubai with at least a spare seat next to me, a short stop-over and then 15+ hours to Auckland with the sheer and unexpected delight of a whole row to myself. Then came a taxi to the ferry, the ferry to Waiheke and the final taxi home, to a disgruntled cat and the joy of my own bed, at last.
Getting sick was the pits, and really took the shine off the cruise; but then things (and I) got better, London was wonderful, Kent was a delight, and catching up with the Firstborn and partner was really lovely. I'm glad I went - but I'm so, so glad to be home again.

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