When I’m not at university in Portsmouth, I live in this scarily idyllic town in Essex. It’s the sort of place where people still get their milk delivered, locking your bike is a waste of time, the train station has one platform and hanging baskets, and it could well be a serial killer story backdrop. It’s coast and country and painfully English.
But it’s small. Everyone knows everyone and there’s nowhere to go (read: hide). Every pub is shut by 12, and even then you’re being thrown out the door. There’s a 24 hour nothing. It’s that awkward combination of well to-do commuters and, well, Essex. ‘VOTE LEAVE’ signs were as common as seagulls, local boys are cretins or chavs, rearranging the local co-op is controversial and front page news for a week, neighbourhood watch are an active thing, and you constantly run the risk of bumping into someone you most definitely despise.
But it’s home. It’s where my family are. It’s where my tell-stories-on-my-wedding-day friends are. It’s where I know exactly how many songs it takes to walk to the river and where every alley leads. It’s where I walk down the road waving to people. Obviously, I love going home for the people above anything else, but this was a little appreciation post to remind myself of what I love about home to tackle some of the bad stuff.
- Pubs. Country pubs can be hugely hit or miss, and so can a night ‘out’ in this end-of-the-line town. This winter though, I’ve loved both the tumbleweed country pub, and the rammed christmas eve country pub. All comes down to good company.
- Charity shops. I always score in charity shops at home.
- Country walks. ‘Nuff said.
- Just being at home, it’s the really silly things that differentiate a student house and a home house, the ones that get me are always; watching a TV with channels, using a kitchen that has things in it, you don’t need to improvise a jam jar for a rolling pin, and a bath.
- People seem to forget how annoying I am for the first week I’m home, and I seem to have 13 lovely reunions with three friend groups, four families, seven dogs and a goat.
- Driving! I actually drive around at home, whereas in Portsmouth my little car sits patiently on the drive, waiting for me to go and pick up drunk housemates.
- All the food. (Often followed by a well needed country walk).
- Aesthetics. Where I live is actually pretty beautiful, as much as I want to hate it.
- Two of my absolute favourite coffee and breakfast places. One is a barn in the middle of (shockingly enough) a farm with goats 100 yards from the front door, the other is a dark, quirky converted townhouse.
- Reading books I actually want to read; I intentionally left all my uni books in Portsmouth because this break was well deserved.
- The drive home. Cooooor was that beautiful. I leave late to avoid traffic on the joyous M25, (which would not have gone down well after the most stressful semester) and I make a playlist I can belt out alone in my car. Let me tell you I am a picture.