There are so many ways to live, so many habits to adopt or relinquish, we've found we never approach two places in the same way. One of the unexpected skills we've mastered while traveling is this ability to quickly form a new routine and find ways of exploring things we love in an unfamiliar place.
In Brighton, we're using our feet more than we have in a good, long time. Chris and Char live on the top of Albion Hill, where all the houses are slim and tall and brightly painted, cheerfully delineating where one home ends and the next begins. While it's only a few short blocks, its enough of an incline to warrant huffing up it in silence. We relish getting our heartrates up before heading in the door, and the resulting relief of being home.
On the weekend, we prefer heading out farther afield. On Sunday morning, when the wind was blowing as softly as a kitten's nuzzle and the sky was as pale and pure as a Robin's egg, we were busily preparing for a walk. Chris and Char loaded Lydia and Adam on their backs, and all six of us headed out the front door.
Not a few blocks from home, a man called out to us from across the street, "Where are you headed?" It was their friend, Pat. "We're walking to Lewes by way of Juggs for a Sunday roast," Chris replied. "Oh, I could manage that once... about three years ago," Pat said. "Want to come along?" Chris asked. "Alright," Pat said. He thought a moment, then shook his head. "No, Chris, I'm just an old man."
"Oi!" Pat called again. "I still think the dollar bill is the most attractive bill in the world. It's like a giant pinup!"
We parted ways with Pat, ansy to get going. We headed out of Brighton, passed a Car Boot sale, and found our footpath on a ridge with views overlooking the town. Along we walked, over hill and dale, until the kids got hungry. We laid down our blanket in a field and snacked on boiled eggs, ants-on-a-log and a few apples. Refreshed, we headed back onto the trail.
Matt and Chris took turns carrying Lydia on their backs and answering life's little questions. Lydia's curiosity has moved beyond "What?" — best answered when she was younger by sticking unfamiliar objects in her mouth — to the more intangible "Why?" and sometimes "Where?". When we passed grazing sheep in an open field, Matt carried her in for a closer look and left puzzling answers to questions like "Why is the sheep's poop small?" and "Where are all the daddies?". The other day she asked me, "Why are you always cutting?" I told her, "because I like to cook." This was followed by "What is a knife for?" and Chris' brilliant response, "...it makes things smaller."
Once all the questions had been exhausted, Lydia and Adam took naps while we descended into town and located The Juggs. We picked a choice spot in the garden and placed our orders. Matt and I took to investigating the condiment packets while the kids played in the nearby playground. Hidden inbetween the usual suspects were some newcomers: Malt Vinegar, Salad Cream, and HP Sauce.
The food arrived and we immediately descended upon it. There was roast lamb and beef, roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and steamed veg, all covered in a healthy dose of gravy and washed down with some cider.
After lunch there was more play. Matt and Chris found a wormhole in the fabric of English etiquette and briefly traveled to an alternate, post-apocalyptic universe where they were zombies (natch) chasing after children in an abandoned park. In this universe, parents just stared on dazedly.
Sufficiently tuckered out, we continued on our footpath to Lewes. Our Floridian waitress had dug up info on the quickest, nicest way to get there. Matt finally located a mossy sign where the wonderful words "Public Footpath" had been etched many years ago. That's how we found our way tunneling down a faerie path and coming out on the other end in a beautiful meadow.
Soon enough we were on the outskirts of Lewes, a town that's almost painfully quaint. After walking amidst an old ruin, we breezed through a park where men in pressed whites were playing cricket. We located a lone picnic bench in a park nearby and had our celebratory cider. Lydia, for her part, twirled around in the field, made friends with some fellow park-goers and was gifted a daisy chain. All very faerie-like.
Then we headed to the train, which made short work of our seven hour excursion. And with that, closed the book on what was the first chapter of many inter-town walks with all the Stockels, big and small, and the start of a new routine.