Restrictions having eased enough to allow self-catering stays in places away from home, Phil and I finally treat ourselves to one of those mini-breaks empty-nesters are supposed to indulge in. Not abroad and not in a rush of impetuous spontaneity but within England and prepped with meticulous detail by my better half. We are going to briefly swap our overfamiliar four walls for unfamilar ones.
Our route takes us around any covid hotspots and stops at a Swiss garden with an aeroplane collection. An unlikely combination which provides varied diversions. The view over the ornamental pond with a pair of feuding peacocks on a miniature island is overlooked by aircraft hangars painted sporting green. The collection is kept behind closed doors but we poke our heads into a hangar and see carefully restored aircraft have been polished until they sparkle. The sun shines. Cake is eaten. A timed ticket means the place is blissfully free of crowds.
At our new temporary residence posh biscuits and a bottle of red wine are waiting for us on the kitchen island. The house is an architect’s holiday home and has the clean lines, white walls and exposing windows you might expect. Saarinen chairs are positioned around the table. The kitchen drawers silently close themselves.
In the evening, wine glasses in hand, we watch a documentary on David Hockney and eat posh biscuits. I don’t particularly like wine but feel like I should tick all the mini-break boxes. It’s as insufferably middle class as you can get. I love it.
In the morning the blinds on the wall-spanning windows open onto a view over open fields, a cathedral visible in the distance. Underfloor heating warms the parquet floor. I can’t hear the neighbours and no one has started up an angle grinder. I sigh contentedly, take out my iPad and get back to work.
On arriving home on Friday afternoon we discover the street is closed by roadworks. Two men squat in a small hole behind plastic barriers and scratch their heads. We follow the yellow diversion sign around the corner and park in front of our house. Nothing has changed since we went away. The sun is still shining and the shed is untouched.
It’s only later while enjoying a cup of tea that we hear shouts from outside. Our usually quiet street is choked with traffic coming from two directions, neither able to pass the other. A neighbour paces up and down ordering the driver of a white 4x4 to back up to allow a blue golf to pull into a gap between the resident’s parked cars.
The roadworks have redirected traffic from two larger routes, one from the local school, down our tiny suburban street. I peer nosily out of the window in time to see the driver of a flat bed truck accelerate into the back of a stationary Honda. The driver of the Honda gets out of their car and makes the universal gesture of shrugged shoulders and raised hands that indicate WTF.
The engineers have already knocked off for the weekend. The diversion will run in front of my studio window until at least Tuesday. I sigh, take out my iPad and get back to work.
Somewhere nearby the sound of a circular saw keens over the roar of revving engines.
Despite swanning around on mini-breaks I am still making books like Kerry and the Knight of the Forest and The Book Tour. Keep me in posh biscuits (or pens) by supporting my store/digital comics/patreon or leaving a positive review online.