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The Getaway: Grabbing Summer With Both Hands

Chris Haining July 15, 2015 All Things Hoon 3 Comments

A beautiful summers day is torture when you’re glued in position, handcuffed to a desk earning money for The Man. Only when the cloud thickens and the air temperature drops heralding the arrival of the more usual, rainy state of British climatic play, does my soul brighten, and the task of crunching numbers and pushing pens is made easier to bear.

However, at three seconds past six every day, life begins. And at that time every Friday evening comes the opportunity to escape the relentless cycle of weekday work. I’m sure the same is true for you as well. Our time away from the coalface is fleeting and precious, and should be treated as such. Grab the keys to a car, any car, and just go somewhere. Anywhere.

Or nowhere.

It doesn’t have to be far, in fact it pays to limit the distance so travelling doesn’t eat too greedily into your valuable downtime. This Friday we bundled our camping equipment into the Rover and headed for Thetford Forest, Norfolk. We arrived at half past eight in the evening and our decidedly palatial tent was standing four square after three quarters of an hour’s determined construction time. This left nothing to do but drink beer and watch the stars begin to break through the thin web of evening clouds.

Nothing to do the next day, either. And that was the whole, wonderful idea of it.

I love driving. Hopefully some of you have noticed. But I also love not driving. For the duration of this break my car was used only for secure storage. It would sit patiently, waiting for the next call to action, but we had no plans whatsoever to go anywhere, do anything. There are loads of places to visit in the vicinity, but that wasn’t the point of this, the opposite of a road trip. This was about decompression.

Taking big, deep breaths.

A walk in Thetford Forest has it all. The fresh, clean sounds of crickets, the popping of gorse seed pods and birdsong appealed to me just as much as the comfortingly modern drone of Voyager in-flight refuelling tankers circling the nearby RAF bases. In the distance a well-cocked ear might just as easily pick up the haunting cry of a vixen or the punished scream of something wheeled being abused on Snetterton circuit, just a few miles down the road.

All great sounds. All sounds I can’t hear at home. Or at work.

“Your car is your independence” is a hackneyed phrase if ever there was one, and it’s one which needs further definition. More importantly, your car is your escape pod. When your week’s work reaches critical mass and something is in danger of snapping, the ability to get away is a valuable lifeline, and one which is always there.

On Saturday we let the radiation loose on our suncreamed bodies and imagined that we were photosynthesising. We rediscovered ourselves, and each other. We drew richly oxygenated air, thick as treacle, into our lungs and exercised all our joints and muscles. We remembered what it was like to be healthy and fit, and then ate a shitload of barbecued meat to compensate. And all just an hour or so from home.

We need to do this more often. It’s so easy. Easy enough, in fact, that we forget that it’s possible. We should always keep an escape kit packed, handy and ready to go at the drop of a hat or the first sign of a frayed temper. Tent, sleeping bag, basic life-support and humanitarian supplies. Throw it in the car and drive for an hour or two. Stop somewhere interesting, somewhere different. And then just stay there until we’ve got our breath back.

This post is about the joy of spontaneity which car ownership affords you. Just in case you’d forgotten.

I almost had.

(All images copyright Chris Haining and Redusernab 2015)

  • Rover 1

    From the lead picture I thought the article was going to be about how slow the breakdown service was and, therefore, why Rover 800 series owners should pack a tent to wait in. Thankfully no. And I can leave the tent in the Lancia.

  • Andrew Pierce

    Preach, brother!

  • Sjalabais

    Just returned from three days in the high mountains. We don’t get far from camp with our little ones, but it is very enjoyable nonetheless. My two year old boy is cheering me on relentlessly every time we make a fire (and both have this Pavlov-ish reflex asking for sausages whenever they see a bonfire) and my four yearold girl is actually pretty interested in tiny mountain tops. Here’s them at the fire:

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