Now and again I get in that restless mood where I can’t sit indoors and do nothing, but I don’t have the money to actually go do something. If you don’t have spare money then you’re restricted quite a lot; travel is out of the question unless it’s London-bound and I can use my season ticket (public transport in Medway is expensive). Even meeting a friend for coffee becomes an issue because you don’t know how much coffee is, and what if you want cake as well? Or what if you want to go for a glass of wine after coffee (this is quite likely to happen in my circle of friends)?
A. suggested a picnic at Riverside Country Park. I moan a lot about Medway Towns being the hellhole rotting cabbage in the Garden of England but I really like Riverside. It used to be a cement works and has some sort of marine industry past too (Wikipedia link has more details) but now it’s pretty much been left to prosper as a wild park. You see rabbits quite a lot and the views across the river are lovely. There are quaint little sailboats and abandoned barges moored all over the place. A lot of the benches have memorial plaques for people who loved the park. There are loads of runners, cyclists and people walking their dogs. In spring, daffodils are everywhere and in late summer you can pick blackberries as you walk along the paths. There is a visitor’s centre with a greasy spoon and the requisite ice cream kiosk, along with a minigolf course and a lido (my goal for next summer is to go swimming in a lido, I’ve never been in one).
So we packed our bags with picnic stuff (a bottle of wine, cherry tomatoes, grapes, chocolate) and raided the penny jar to stop off at Aldi on the way and pick up some chorizo and smoked cheese – no picnic is complete without chorizo. The weather was a bit cloudy but it was either that or sitting indoors on Reddit all day. As much as I love my Reddit binges, I prefer to save them for days when I’m hungover and don’t have the willpower to get out of bed.
We found a quiet spot away from the main runner-cyclist-dog walker traffic and settled down with our wine and books. The sun came out and I realised how nice it was to just be out of the house, not doing anything in particular but not flopping from bed to couch like some sort of demented dead fish ghost.
We spent a couple of hours reading our books and chatting, then the sky clouded over and the smell of chorizo kept attracting random crazy dogs (and their very apologetic owners) so we packed up our stuff and went home.
When I say home, I mean to the pub. It’s impossible to go out and not end up at the pub.
We went to The Barge, which is sandwiched between two houses in a tiny Gillingham side street. It’s all low ceilings and dark beams, and the seats in the beer garden are made out of beer barrels and planks of wood. It can get a little cliquey in there, especially when bands are playing and their entourage turns their noses up at infidels who don’t know all the words, but generally it’s very friendly and unpretentious.
After a few pints of cider and rants about how you get looked down on for being poor, we went inside to warm up and check out the bands. First on were The Dredgermen, who played acoustic music and were really lovely (link to their Twitter here), they made me feel like I was a million miles away in another universe of harmonicas and guitar strings. The pub atmosphere definitely helped:
In between songs, we discussed things we actually have in common (not a lot), whether we would sleep with serial killers (yes), which ones are hot (Richard Ramirez, Charles Manson when he was younger), and whether Stalin counts as one (yes).
Next up was Stuart Turner, I’m not linking to him because I didn’t like him. A. tells me he’s quite big around here but I wasn’t a fan at all, he made such a point of having a growly voice. Then the barman kept giving us free cider – it got to the point where we called my last fiver “the magical fiver that cannot be spent” (until I spent it on pizza today) and the resulting drunkenness, coupled with the unmelodic growling, made us decide that we were going to get home and start our very own Fight Club.
By the time we got home, we were way too tired to actually do anything like that. I left A. worshipping the porcelain God and fell asleep in clothes and full make-up (which almost never happens).
So if you don’t have any money, a picnic is a great idea – especially if you get free cider.