Crawling up north, I ask my phone to tell me about beautiful places on the way. It directs me to Conger Hill. We break the journey there and find a little village full of expensive houses and lawyers. We walk through the field where Matilda keeps her horsey. The sky is huge, fishbone, full of promise. Not as much of a walk as we expected though so back to the car and further up north.

The National Trust are mostly closed on Mondays, which arguably constitutes bad planning on my part, but there’s still plenty to gawp at. Especially when you’re so conditioned to city life as I have been. I marvel at fields, stare at thatch, watch swans run howling from swans. A full on swan fight, before they turn companionably back to the reservoir. A lover’s tiff…

We see people as we travel, diverting to Walsall for careful visitation and the spectre of instant coffee granules. We eat cake in the black country and later I eat sausage from the roof of my Nissan. We are mostly on A-roads, and the British countryside flashes past us, festooned with simplistic digital diagrams of masks and billboards telling us how Jesus loves us.

We stop in a verge near some bamboo, momentarily wondering if we are still in England. We stare through a locked gate at a working cocker spaniel. We are.

Coffee happens occasionally and the miles fly by until the grey stone monoliths of Harrogate start to line the roads and my little Nissan chunters into neutral in a little parking space just outside the huge great “Black Lives Matter” banner in the window of my friend’s pad.

Here again, much as we were two weeks ago, but this time examining “What did we do right, what did we do wrong?”

We have a second night so it makes the journey worthwhile outside of dropping the stuff off. We stopped at the same glorious restaurant for supper. I made the appointment half an hour later at Tennant’s. We have already booked for lunch as all the country pubs are packed to bursting because of the cheap food thing from the government. Now I’m lying in this lovely attic room once more, full of food and relaxed and warm. I think it’s time to just throw off the rest of the drive, brush my teeth and sleep long and hard, to dream of swans and bamboo.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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