Perhaps it’s because I commute into the hustle and bustle of central London every day, contending with great crowds of people on the train, at the station, in the streets between the station and my office, and in the shops and cafes of Bloomsbury if I venture out at lunchtime, or perhaps it’s just because I’m getting old (?!), but my idea of a truly relaxing holiday is to find somewhere very peaceful, in beautiful countryside, with as few people around as possible!
Thankfully, that’s what my wife and I were able to enjoy recently for a couple of weeks and the photo above is of part of the back garden of the holiday cottage where we stayed. There were just two properties in this ‘village’ - the one we were renting and the house next door - both of which, we discovered, belong to Admiral Sir James Michael Burnell-Nugent, retired “Commander-in-Chief Fleet” of the British Navy (and a very nice man he is, too!). [You can read about him here, if you’re interested.]
Apart from the occasional car horn (all the surrounding roads are very narrow, so rather than driving slowly, some locals speed along tooting their horn at every bend), most of the time the only sounds we could hear were natural: birds; sheep; horses; a nearby stream; and the wind in the trees (and sometimes, the rain!). Occasionally the Admiral’s grandchildren must have been visiting, as we heard them playing with their grandfather in his swimming pool, which was just the other side of the hedge in the photo.
Being able to go away during school term time meant that we avoided the intense summer crowding that usually affects the West Country from late July to the end of August and causes gridlock through the villages and on every narrow road that leads to the coast. It really was bliss - a truly restful time, allowing my wife and I to relax, breathe and unwind!