We returned to the UK after two years backpacking, with the plan to work in a restaurant for 6-12 months, save up for our next trip and see friends and family, maybe even put some roots down. But things haven’t gone quite to plan. Corona virus came along and fucked things up. The restaurants we were working at closed and visiting family was off the cards.
Except for the fact that we couldn’t socialise, life actually wasn’t too different for us. We’re used to spending all our time together and getting on with craft projects. Our room has quickly filled up with paintings of wildlife, embroidery and hand carved wooden whales. I’m trying to use this time to sell more art on our little Etsy shop, with the hope that I can do that for a living in the future, I sure don’t want to be a waitress forever.
The lockdown has begun easing here, and people are now allowed to drive within England for day trips and we can now see up to 6 people from different households – while of course keeping a 2m distance. But now we’re starting to feel a little trapped. We don’t have a car so our exploration is limited to bicycle only. We are lucky to live in the countryside though, as a short bike ride takes us out of our local town and past lush green fields with the strong smell of cow manure and meadows swaying with buttercups.
Lockdown’s encouraged us to explore our local area and we’re amazed how often we say “wow, I had no idea this area existed” or “I had no idea you could walk to this village in just an hour”. One place we finally visited was our local viaduct which we reached by walking through a beautiful forest trail filled with ferns and bee’s flying into purple Foxglove flowers. We’ve driven past the viaduct many a times as we grew up in the area, and I have fond memories of the ‘bump’ leading over a bridge. It feel like a rollercoaster ride as you drive over, your stomach jumps into your mouth and everyone in the car lets out a little ‘wahoo!’. So for the first time Craig and I walked underneath the impressive brick structure and gawped at the view looking through the gaps in the bridge. Each section was perfectly lined up and it gave us the impression that we were looking through a kaleidoscope.
We’re rarely home during Spring so it was lovely to see this season come to life. The fruit trees were overflowing with candy coloured blossoms and on one particular day we witnessed them blowing in gusty winds like confetti in the sky. We were also delighted to walk the woodland trails as the forest floor filled up with Bluebells, creating a sea of purple.
I’m very grateful to have a base in South East England, but it’s hard to be content after the things we’ve seen on our travels. I miss mountains and wildlife, and as lovely as it is walking through patchwork fields, listening to tweeting birds or the odd visit from a fox, it’s just not the same as hiking to a view of jagged peaks, witnessing bears fishing for salmon and the sound of coyotes howling.
The question is, what do we do next? We wanted to build a new camervan or log cabin on wheels so we have a ‘base’ between travels. But where do we park it while we’re away? We want to buy some land but it’s too expensive in Sussex where our family live. We’re considering Wales as an affordable option but then it’s so far from our family, we may as well buy land somewhere more exciting like Norway or Greece.
So as you can probably tell, we’re in limbo. Restaurants are due to reopen in July, but we only do that job for the tips, so if we’re not at full capacity and most customers switch to paying/tipping on card (which I only get 50% of the tips) then it’s not really worth the stressful job to be honest. But for now, I guess we’ll continue crafting and exploring…