I travelled to Thaxted by train today, which involved a car journey through North London from Highgate to Tottenham Hale, which should have taken fifteen minutes, but instead took forty-five because, as we all know, London is broken.
Tottenham Hale itself was a hell zone with lots of people milling about who were plainly not at all used to travelling in London and were mostly heading off to Stansted Airport. You can tell an out-of-towner a mile off on public transport. They stop dead on train platforms, seemingly for no reason, and then walk at half of the pace of the rest of us. This sort of behaviour can have pretty catastrophic knock-on effects!
The train to Bishop's Stortford was fairly horrifying as well. A group of pissed-up lads were "on tour." They all had cans of beers with them, and were staggering to the loo, barely able to stand to wee, and seemingly entirely incapable of closing the toilet doors.
Another family had a child who did nothing but scream loudly. It wasn't a distressed scream. It was the scream of a child who has never been told that the rest of the world isn't as interested in it as his parents plainly are. Screams were followed by howls of laughter and the sounds of encouragement from the adults around it. The noise I personally wanted to hear was the sweet sound of defenestration...
I arrived in Thaxted to find the whole of North Essex bathed in glorious early evening sunshine. As we drove along the country lanes we saw two muntjac deer skipping about in the hedgerows.
My Mum and I took ourselves for a pre-prandial stroll whilst my Dad watched the England/ Wales rugby match. We walked across the fields behind the town. The hawthorns were in bloom, many were flowering in glorious shades of pink. Some were so laden with flowers that, from a distance, it looked like it had been snowing. Below the hawthorn bushes, swathes of cow parsley billowed in the breeze. It was really quite overwhelming. And the smell was quite glorious.
We walked across the brook and around the corn fields to what has become known within my family as the "magic place." It's the site of an ancient chapel, which these days is nothing but a marshy field and a copse of susurrrating trees, but the place really does seem to be laden with a rich, powerful atmosphere, which my mother and I picked up for a good period of time. I obviously can't say for a fact that we weren't picking up the vibes simply because we were expecting to pick them up, but I'm pretty convinced I was feeling something very powerful, right inside my chest. Whether that was being produced by my brain, or by an external force, I've no idea. But what is life without at least the possibility of magic?