We decided not to ride on today, but to stay in Chelmsford, have a look around and run some errands. The sun shone this morning, so we had some nice roaming time around the city and its parks and gardens.
“What would you like to do?” asked Steve as we strolled along the street.
“I’d like to just sit in the sun,” was my reply and request. As simple as that!
We strolled into Central Park and found a bench with the sun beating down on it. We took up position. It was nice to sit and look at the flowers, feel the sun which had been avoiding us of late, watch the kayakers leisurely paddling down the river and just, well, take it all in. This is our slow and drawn out departure from England. We are just taking time to be in places, enjoy the views and the people and enjoy our final week here at a leisurely pace. I am reluctant to leave!
After some nice sitting time, we continued our strolling through the park, greeting passers-by with a good morning, or responding to their greetings. Lovely. It’s hard to believe Chelmsford is a city, it’s so quiet and doesn’t feel like a city at all. The centre has been pedestrianised, so that always helps, because there isn’t the noise and traffic speeding through, but still, it’s a very quiet and slow-paced place.
We roamed around the city, remarking on the average age of the locals, who seem to be long into their retirement years. We like places like that though, quiet and full of the older generation. Nice. We went in search of somewhere for elevenses and had some trouble finding a cafe that offered something other than cake or pastries, which wasn’t terribly friendly food for me. We ended up at our good friends Marks and Spencer and popped into their cafe, where I had some very nice toast and Steve had his toasted tea cake. As we sat there, we began reflecting on our journey so far, remembering the places, sights and experiences. We recalled our “horror rides” which for me was the first day in France, when we rode 60km in gale force winds that kept blowing me off the bike. For Steve it was an incredibly hilly day in Portugal, riding to Lagos. Then we began chatting about our highlights so far…the Portuguese coast, The Algarve, Seville, the French canals, Paris, the New Forest, the Jurassic Coast, the Cotswolds…we shared our favourite places and some of the rides we’d enjoyed. I was really pleased we remembered places as well as we did, without having to consult my notebook or without access to the blog as a reference. We just chatted about some of things we remembered, the great times and the challenging ones, and it was a nice reflection and roam down memory lane.
After elevenses we were off to do some errands. Steve’s sandals have begun to fall apart, and when you take a size 15 shoe, it’s a bit difficult to buy a replacement off the shelf and we aren’t really in a position to do any online shopping, since we don’t have a postal address at the moment. The strap on his sandals just needs to be stitched, to hold them together and tighten them up again, so we asked at a shoe repair shop, but they said it would take three days. Instead, we decided to adopt a “make do and mend” approach and went in search of something that might allow a DIY job to be done. We strolled the aisles of shops that stocked a bit of this and that and came away with a chamois cloth, some thread and needles and hoped they might work together to save the sandals.
We popped into a supermarket, picked up some lunch items and headed back to the park to sit in the sun and chomp on our chosen fare. Steve munched on his sausage rolls and I enjoyed my fruit and can of baked beans. I find it interesting, the things we adapt to. I have managed to acquire a taste for cold baked beans, eaten straight from the can. They make a very good on-the-road snack or lunch, so I sat on the grass and ate my lunch of beans from the can! As we sat and lunched alfresco, we continued our walk down memory lane, talking about the places we’ve been and the things we’ll miss about England when we leave. We spend most days on the go and we even have difficulty remembering where we’ve ridden from each day, when asked by someone along the way. When we arrive at a destination it’s action stations pitching the tent, gathering supplies and getting a blog posted, so we don’t get a lot of reflection time. Today was a nice opportunity to do just that, to pause, sit, enjoy the space and the sun and just chat about where our pedals and wheels have taken us so far, before we cross the water and continue on next week in countries new. It was a lovely lunch.
We parted company, Steve to head back to the hotel for a snooze and to catch up on some blogging and I set off for Tesco to have a wander around the aisles and collect some daily supplies. I like just wandering the aisles of supermarkets, especially in new places, I read labels, look at what’s there that might be new or different or unfamiliar to what I see at home. Supermarkets are a terrific cultural insight I find. So I happily spent some time, when I didn’t have to power-shop, leisurely wandering the aisles.
I strolled back to the hotel and joined Steve, who was finishing off his blog before attempting to be Macgyver and fix his sandals with some cotton and a chamois cloth. Time will tell if this was successful!
That was the day. Another leisurely one, but we want our final week in England to be enjoyed and savoured, so we are going to take our time and enjoy the experience. That’s what today was about really…time.
Time to enjoy the sun when it decided to be brave and show itself.
Time to roam through gardens.
Time to reflect on our journey.
Time to chat.
Time to just “be”.
Time is so precious. We often let it pass us by. We often get caught up in the pace of life and the commitments we have. Time to just “be”, is a luxury we often either can’t afford or forget to seek. We are very, very lucky and grateful for the time we have at the moment, undertaking this grand adventure. We don’t take it for granted. Today was about embracing this time. Reflecting and remembering how this precious gift of time has been spent. Perhaps we should always try and do that…time is a gift and we shouldn’t throw it away as carelessly as we so often do. We should treat it as the special commodity it is and treasure it when we can. Did we waste a day today, not riding on and simply spending it roaming and talking? No, I don’t think so. Today was another gift and we unwrapped it slowly and with care.