To start a much-needed bank holiday weekend, we visited my parents in the arse-end of Surrey. The weather was nice enough to enjoy the garden, we went to a restaurant that was startlingly good, and were pleasantly surprised to see a number of new independent shops springing up. Said town’s million-pound zhooshing-up of its high street, however, is a bit mediocre for the price tag, and doesn’t even run for the full length of the high street. Less Orford Road, more Exhibition Road. Also unimpressive was the price of a bus fare- for a journey of about 3 miles that took about 15 minutes, the return fare was £5.60. Absolutely inexcusable.

Bulb Watch: growing garlic on our shady balcony was always a long shot, and some of it has quite obviously died off. One brown stalk of elephant garlic lifted clean away from the soil, with only fragments of bulb skin present in the soil. That said, the first (floral) alliums are putting on a nice show. The fatsia a friend got us last year has produced a sudden flourish of new leaves, which I think is a good sign.

On Friday evening, I rode up the River Lee navigation as far as Lea Bridge. It’s not got quite the same feel as the Regent’s Canal at Mile End, but the light on the water, the sound of the trees and the smell of the wood-burning stoves stirred something within me from my student days when I first came to London. Maybe I’ll head that way this week as I try to avoid doomscrolling during my week off.

A canal at dusk with lights on the towpath, trees in white blossom, and a blue boat moored.

Weeknotes 2022.17: Escaping to the provinces