Robert Browning’s ‘Home Thoughts - From Abroad’ celebrates the everyday and a longing for England. It describes a typical springtime scene in the English countryside, with birds singing and flowers blooming - making the ordinary magical.
Prompted by a desire to capitalise on this unseasonal spring warmth, the boys and I took a bike ride along the Medway to a local country park for a ‘picnic breakfast’ and Wow! The ordinary was indeed magical.
For those that don’t know, the towpath from Aylesford to East Farleigh has been improved to encourage walkers and cyclists alike. We decided to head up river through East Farleigh and then along a track to Teston.
The river at 8.30am on a warm sunny Saturday morning was stunning. Soon after leaving Maidstone you find yourself immersed in the countryside, and with a quiet that is perhaps unique to a river side.
The boats moored on the wharfs give a flash of colour and a whiff of wood smoke whilst the lock – if there are boats going up and down - gives a great opportunity to talk about the workings of the waterway.
All in, our trip took around an hour there and back– just about right for a seven-year-old.
After eating croissants and jam we played rugby and threw a Frisbee. The boys moved on to the play park where I took the opportunity to lie on a park bench, eyes closed, warmed in the dappled light beneath a tree.
For five minutes or so I lay with my eyes closed listening to the sounds of the world around me. The boys playing; a single seated aeroplane in the distance; the coo of a dove; a great tit sounding like a bicycle pump; the delicate breeze; a tractor somewhere in the distance. This was England – now.
Five minutes of absolute tranquillity and peace with the world and then it was time to go. We cycled headlong home into church bells ringing from a church in Barming with inexpert explanations of campanology.
I encourage everyone to find the simplicity in our everyday nature – look for the ordinary and look for the magical. Take time to listen to the birds and the breeze and the bells, and like Browning celebrate the springtime.