The Year of Fun #12: A Weekend in the English Countryside
A little back story for today’s Fun recap, which is a bit of a yearly tradition. Around the Easter break, myself and 5 very dear friends have a habit of going away. We’ve been to Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, and they’ve all been some of my favourite holidays ever.
One thing about these trips is that I think in every case bar one, I’ve stayed in a separate hotel. This hasn’t been on purpose really, other than my undying love of Airbnb and lack of willingness to pay the single person supplement on a hotel room.
But it’s also meant I’ve naturally built in alone time both in the morning and at night, after dinner or drinks I’ve had the option to get to my place and recoup my introvert energy, which is handy when you’re like me and can get a bit tired and cranky if you’ve been playing at being extrovert for too long.
This holiday however, we all stayed in one rather large house in the English countryside, somewhere near Godalming I believe. My slight concern was that there wouldn’t really be any chance of me having some solo time, other than at night, especially when the weather is a bit pants and the idea of going for a little walk on my own was less appealing than going to an all night rave.
So, did all this extroverting break me?
Well, here’s the recap:
Day one, we arrived at the house around 4pm, a little later than expected due to the bank holiday weekend traffic. There was some drama due to our Sainsbury’s – and I will out them here because they deserve it – our Sainsbury’s food delivery, all of our food for the weekend just didn’t turn up.
I think the only notification came at the very last minute and didn’t even explain why they messed up. May be they got lost? Who knows. Anyway, half of the gang went off to find a nearby supermarket to try and fulfil our original order.
We had oven pizzas, one of the very few foods I swear I despise, but they actually turned out to be shockingly good, so that was a new discovery for me. Even if the alcohol made them taste that bit better…
I made it to 11:30pm that night, and woke up with only a minor hangover.
I’ll also note my room was the one cupboard-sized room in this basic mansion, and whilst I wasn’t too pleased about this, I slept well. I even woke up at a reasonable 7:15, which was early enough to have my patented quiet start to the day.
This is something I’ve been inconsistent with on holiday: if I’m in a hotel, I’ll basically lie in bed until I can go down to the breakfast buffet, and drink a lot of coffee and get as much in my belly as possible. That’s the extent of my holiday routine.
But this house felt, well, like home. I rehydrated both with water and coffee. I managed a brief meditation and found a nice little landing area with a comfy couch which made for a great spot to do some mandala drawing, whilst listening to a very quiet Abraham Hicks, and basically chilled out until my buddies emerged.
This quiet start was just enough introverting, I found, to get me through the whole weekend and keep me perky and energised enough to have fun, basically.
And I also saw how little we require for fun, when you’re with the right people. For example, on day 2, it basically poured with rain… all day.
There was also a dog in our company, who was always up for fun despite having a tendency to vomit a several times thoughout the weekend. This also meant that it’s owners were responsible for taking her on muddy walks, which I managed to avoid. Because, yes I like to walk, but I really really don’t enjoy mud when I’m wearing inappropriate footwear.
Fortunately, some of us escaped the walks and got extra time in some very lovely pubs. I say lovely, the Swan Inn in Haslemere is charming on the outside, but a bit of a let down inside. Go for the burgers, if anything.
Lots of laughs later, we were back at the house and playing our first board game of the weekend: Judge and Jury. I can recommend it, even if it’s for you to laugh at the ludicrously budget design. It’s one step short of comic sans printed onto recycled toilet roll card.
Anyway, the premise is simple and the results were pretty hilarious. Think card against humanity meets… a court of law.
That night we had mexican food, excellently crafted by the chefs in the group – I played no part in this, other than eating far too much of it.
That night was the one I think I retired fist, but I still made it to after 11pm. Go me. That’s a whole 2 hours after my normal granny-like bedtime.
I managed to repeat my morning ritual again, and did for the third and final morning too. I think it was my best mandala work done so far.
On the third day, the weather was slightly cheerier, and after a full english breakfast (apart from hashbrowns, we sadly forgot the precious hashbrowns) we headed to Arundel, a town famous for it’s castle.
This was about a 45 minute drive away, and other than giggling at the disturbing sat nav voice my dear friend programmed to be in the style of a boyband singer – must be heard to be believed – I had a very fun car drive, sat in the back listening to tunes I grew up with and loved and haven’t listened to in far too long, whilst appreciating the countryside. I can almost understand why people like driving now.
Arundel was… busy. And rightly so: this place is phenomenally charming. It’s everything you want an English town to be. We passed on the castle, and got straight to the important stuff: pub. Before that, we did manage to sample some local brews in Arundel Brewery, very nice. And – my highlight – moseyed around some antique shops.
These were closer to museums, in the quality of their tat. My friends managed to purchase a taxidermy red squirrel and green woodpecker. Or should I say great green woodpecker, or whatever the salesman was trying to flog it to us as. A steal at £80 for the pair. I do plan to smuggle these creatures out of my friends house at some point, they are truly magnificent.
We wrapped things up in a tea room (note: Juniper, which gets a 5* rating on Google, does NOT – I repeat – does NOT serve cream teas!) But Belinda’s nearby, does a VERY fine cream tea.
Plus, you’ll feel like you’re back in the 16th century, whilst sipping your tea and ramming sugar and fat down your gullet.
I was in heaven.
Finally, we headed back to the house for – oh yes, another English culinary heavyweight… a full roast dinner.
Yep, fry up for breakfast, cream tea for lunch and a roast for dinner. Not bad eh?
Oh but before that – my highlight. I was merrily working away at the laptop while we had some down time, and I received a very important message, as two of my pals told me the white rabbit had something for me. I was presented with my first clue, which was a pice of card with something like ‘this way’ printed on – and after some cajoling, I was led upstairs and took part in my first ever easter egg hunt.
What?? Yes, I’ve nearly made it 30 years without an easter egg hunt!
20 eggs later, safely found, and much giggles, I headed back down thinking I would get some more work in…. But no. There was more. I was now led into the living room where the lights were out, some kind of disco lights were on, decorations were up, a cake – a chocolate cake – was there with 7 lit candles (I’m not 7 but my birthday is on the 7th) and my buddies were there serenading me with the Birthday anthem.
Fun fact: despite being an introvert, I fucking love being sung happy birthday to. I do tend to blush my socks off, but I secretly love the attention.
So then we ate cake.
We then played our second game of the weekend: Exploding Kittens. The instructions had baffled us for some time, but it turns out it really isn’t a complex game. It’s a simple card game with one aim: don’t pull an exploding kitten or you’re out.
I loved it, and do recommend it.
That night some of us paid attention to a boxing match, but my highlight was watching two of my friends do several renditions of an all singing all dancing medley of songs from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which to their surprise and dismay, I have never seen.
I’m not sure I want to see it, but I definitely want to see my friends rendition of it again.
Again, I made it to bed just before midnight. Not too bad.
The next morning, after my quiet time, we packed up and got ready to go.
If I’m honest, this was the holiday I’ve been saddest about ending. Which is odd, considering some of the remarkable cities we’ve been too, and how little we actually did during this break.
I think it was more proof that it really is people that make something fun and yes, having a stimulating environment helps, as does copious amounts of alcohol, but if you’ve got the right mix of mental people who sing and dance like rag dolls and toy ballerinas… well, you’re probably going to have a good time.
My top tip if you’re planning a holiday with friends or family, regardless of how much you love them, is to make time for yourself. And this can be as little as a 1-2 hours in the morning (or at night if you’re more of a night owl) where you can do something that puts you into your happy place, and energises you.
If you want to hear me talk more about my morning routine, what i’ve tried in the past, and what I’d like to try in the future, let me know! Hit me up on the socials, I’m on most things @creativeintro – or shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fun rating: 9.5/10
The rain made it lose half a point, but this was a really really fun weekend.
Next week… I will have a special – well, for me – edition, which will be in celebration of me turning the ripe old age of 30, and escaping those twenties which I hear people say are the hardest decade. Um… at least, that’s what older people say to help folk like me feel less bad about ageing.
That’s it for today, thanks for listening, and catch you next week!