Tiring of this dangerous game I mounted a bank into a field with a dried river bed winding its way through it. The sun was still shining and I soaked it up gratefully as I walked on.
Eventually I made it into Abinger Hammer, my local hamlet. With the cricket pavillion to my right I wandered in. I've been living here sixteen years but never have I ever ventured into Abinger on my own. It was time to see things and travel starts with a few steps.
The local pub, The Abinger Arms, looked forboding enough to be worth a visit. As I approached an odd-looking woman in a white denim shirt looked at me from the pub's doorway.
"You wanna come in 'ere? Go that way," she gesticulated.
I muttered and turned through a door into the bar area, whining sounds emanating from where she had her back to a peeling door. The faint odour of nicotine and beer tainted the air as I sat on a worn stool.
Two ancient, bulging locals sat at the other end of the bar, fags and drinks clutched in their hands. The younger of the two was waving his arms furiously while an old labrador sulked at his feet. The poor dog was bandaged on its paws and legs and obviously was too fat and old to do much moving.
Meanwhile I was still waiting for a drink. From the room filled with whines the woman in white eventually emerged.
"What will it be?"
I ordered a pint of something Irish and took a long sip. Smooth and cool, the beer just made the afternoon even more pleasant. As I pondered this the locals began to discuss banks and how they screwed students. So I joined in and ended up being ganged up against the older one in a case of "I told you so" over quite how evil they are these days.
Somehow I forgot to mention my dad works for a bank.
Near the end of my pint a young local woman came in with her little son. She'd had an awful day and was hitting the drink while her kid slurped an orange juice. I sat there blissfully unworried as she moaned to anyone who was interested about how something in some shop was somehow terrible. Nobody listened, the locals were by now engrossed in a game of cribbage too fast or convoluted for anyone to follow.
Then a family came in. They weren't local and so they got 'the look'. You know the one when people look up from whatever they might be doing and say "You're not from round here and we don't like or trust you" in a look. Well being the friendly sort the locals toned it down to more like "You're not from round here but we'll take your money."
The son was must have been a bit confused seeing as he took the risk of ordering food, but his mother explained he'd just got back from holiday. Didn't say where. It was only when the man paid seperately and sat seperately did I realise that they weren't a family. I got a strange feeling because the man looked like a dad, maybe he was, but not for that family - odd. It was time to go.