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The Kafkaesque Hell Of Hedge End

Not even being caught in a National Rail loop could spoil this luminous English dad
The Kafkaesque Hell Of Hedge End

A reminder: the most frustrating day in England in the summer time is better than the best day in Louisiana in the summer time … BECAUSE AIN’T NOBODY HOT!

I told myself that after my son Matt and I had a comedy of errors that didn’t seem to be so funny at the time. The whole family was planning to go down to Portsmouth today, but Matt and I first had to go to Brockenhurst to return his rental bike. Laura drove us up to Winchester to catch the train. It should have been a fairly quick trip down to the New Forest, then back up towards Southampton and Ensleigh, then down the other side of the Solent to Portsmouth. Easy-peasy, right?

Not if you went up on the wrong end of a splitting train. Twice. And have to make your way back from Hedge End, twice. Hedge End! That name shall live on in infamy in the annals of Dreher fambly vacation stories. By the time we had returned the bike to its people, we had wasted a couple of hours. We saw too that it would take 1 hr 44 m to get to Portsmouth from there, and we would arrive just in time for Julie and the other two to be catching a train for home.

“Let’s go to Winchester instead,” we decided, thinking somehow that Julie and the kids would all be converging there to be picked up by our hostess. So, Matt and I did just that. We visited a bookstore, ate late lunch, shopped around a bit, called on a pub, and then pootled down the High Street towards the bus station.

Turns out that the bus line we needed to get back to the village doesn’t run on Sunday. The train service on a Sunday is highly convoluted, would have taken two hours, and cost 35 pounds — only five pounds less than a taxi. We took the taxi. It was pretty much a botched day, but … England is still luminous for all that. And I enjoyed being with Matt. We are so much alike. Here is a VFYT from a coffee shop on the High Street in Winchester. He is sitting across from me. He’s reading about Chernobyl; I’m reading The Gulag Archipelago. He’s wearing a t-shirt from his favorite album of one of his favorite bands … which is my favorite album of that same band, also on of my favorites.

Winchester, England

And here is our dinner at our hostess’s lovely home.

East Meon, Hampshire, England

Tomorrow, I get up to Wiltshire to spend a few hours interviewing Sir Roger Scruton for my upcoming book. Julie and kids off to do fun things around the area — I think they might be headed up to Oxford. Then, we all go up to Cambridge on Tuesday.



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