Working in a school is a noisy job. Living in a town can be noisy (although not at this moment...at 6.30 a.m it is as quiet as can be). So yesterday Andy said, 'Shall we go for a picnic, as the weather is so lovely,' and I said, 'Yes...but somewhere quiet.'
(We are trying to be sociable go out somewhere every weekend and have been successful in our aim for the last 5 weekends out of 6. We are becoming social butterflies. There were many butterflies in the garden yeterday - Red Admirals, Commas, Peacocks, Cabbage Whites - it was fab! And the bees on the lavender?! Double fab!!)
Yesterday, there was nothing specific on in Kent other than Operation Stack which is still in evidence. Operation Stack kind of limits where we go at the moment because neither of us (well, me mostly) likes sitting in a car crawling along snail's space because there are lorries using one carriageway of the M20 (the motorway nearest to us) as a car park thereby rendering it shut. Operation Stack is NOT a great day out.
Anyway, given that a) there was nothing specific happening in Kent yesterday and b) we didn't want to waste the lovely weather (especially as today it is raining which is good because it does the garden a treat and sorry, I may have mentioned this before but our garden IS looking particularly amazing this year - first cucmber yesterday, loads of tomatoes appearing and beans and peppers, too. And the apple tree! Wow! It's going to be the best apple year ever!) we decided to go for a picnic at Aylesford Priory.
Aylesford Priory is home to a Carmelite brotherhood. It is in the middle of a big village but is very peaceful, as you can imagine. There are lovely grounds to walk in, a place to get light snacks, a pottery and, of course, all the religious stuff if you are into that kind of thing. It is a very popular place of pilgrimage, and as such peace and quiet is actively encouraged. We'll take a little picnic and sit under a tree or by the pond, we thought. Maybe read a while. Just enjoy the stillness.
So, there were lots of cars when we arrived and one particularly noisy coach party disembarking. That's okay, we thought. The grounds are big. We'll find a quiet spot. We made for the pond. What could be more peaceful than sitting by a pond, under the shade of a tree, watching the ducks puddle about and doing a spot of gentle honking? (The ducks, not us.)
We sat on the bench and got out the picnic. Some fool immediately appeared to the side of us with a huge bag of bread which they started flinging at the ducks and, what do you know - 50 seagulls magicked from nowhere like a gang of hooligans that they are and it was Screech City from thereon in. Then, from behind us, someone started singing 'Stars' by Simply Red. Not some passing person having a quiet little hum, mind you. No - someone with a full band, microphone, and amplifying sound system. Oh yes! We had chosen a day when there was a wedding on in the walled garden.
And so, with pop 'n' rock classics to the rear of us and seagull racket to the fore, all beautifully accompanied by the dull background roar of traffic from the carriageway of the M20 that was still open and the smell of full-on wedding lunch hog roast (nice, said the vegetarian. Not.) we sat in the pseudo-peace and quiet of Aylesford Priory with our picnic.
Planned book-reading scuppered, we thought we'd go for a post-prandial meander instead. There is a walk in a little woodlandy area by the river called the Rosary Walk which has, at various points, little boxed wooden carvings telling the story of Jesus from birth to resurrection. We went anti-clockwise and therefore followed the story backwards - a bit like a biblical Benjamin Button. It is difficult to get yourself into a spiritual zone when 'Sweet Home Alabama' is blaring through the air. And when the wedding singer started belting out 'My Way' we knew it was time to go.
Optimistically, we thought we'd pop into the tea shop for a cuppa and cake before we left as it looked very quiet inside. And it was! Until we got ourselves ensconsed on a nice squishy sofa and a couple with a child arrived, and the child went into a massive screaming fit as soon as they tried to install her in a high chair. Sheesh, but that child could scream.
Back home, then. Spent the afternoon reading in the back garden, and watching the bees and butterflies going about their bee 'n' butterfly stuff. A little, peaceful oasis. Right on our doorstep!