Winchester to Heathfield

Going Back Home

 Leah Lee Mills

A few weeks back, I woke up on a bright and sunny morning in my first ever double bed, in my third university accommodation. I yanked out a couple of dusty suitcases and filled them with clothes, electronics, makeup, hair-bows – all the essentials a Leah needs.  I had my last breakfast – two slices of toast smothered in honey and butter – and got ready for the inevitable arrival of my mother. When she drives, you have to take the time she said she would arrive at and add another hour and a half onto it; she never considers the time it will take her to wake up, shower, eat, and eventually leave. I was, thus, fully prepared for her to arrive at lunchtime.

If you have not guessed by now, this entry concerns me leaving Winchester and returning to the small village of Heathfield. It is a three-hour trip; my parents could not usually make the journey due to work restraints, so I was given the option of either catching three trains down to Polegate (which more often than not got cancelled), or rarely seeing them during semester time. I picked the latter for my last year, having gone through enough stress during the first and second years trying to come home for two nights, the second of which was usually spent packing to go back.

With the three-hour drive comes plans of what music I have to bring. Have to bring. A silent trip is no fun, and talking all the way just dries your throat up.  I chose my CDs carefully, going through each and every single one, deciding which artist would fit where according to the different parts of the journey.

CDs lighter journal 2

After kicking my legs on the bed for a bit, the source of Leah arrives and, a sandwich and coffee later, we set off from Winchester, leaving behind a room that once contained me.

Seeing it so bare made me wonder who the next occupant will be; what they like, what they do, what they study… Who are they and what do they live like? Will their room be as tidy as mine was, or much tidier?

On the way back, we stopped off at a pub called The Fox. It’s your typical peaceful little country pub, but welcoming enough that you don’t feel the entire house is going to turn around and stare at you (à la American Werewolf in London).  Holding in my terrible urge to sing Ylvis’ viral hit of the same name, I managed to have a wonderful meal. Besides from the homely pub décor, the toilets are also, to use an internet-reimagined word, aesthetic.

The drive from Winchester to Heathfield, just touching on the edges of the New Forest, was beautiful. We could have taken the quicker route on the motorway, but in the steaming weather, and considering how it may in fact be one of the last times I will have to make the journey, we decided to take our time and appreciate the Jane Austen county I once resided in.lighter journal 2 country

Each place we passed through held memories from previous journeys.  There was Petworth, with its incredibly narrow roads, winding around tiny houses, forcing you through a carpark in the heart of the place. Midhurst had the toilet that surprisingly did not smell and was actually very pleasant to be in, along with many of the houses’ window sashes being painted a lurid shade of yellow to show support for their local polo team.  Along the way we travelled down straight Roman roads, reminding me of my family trip through the deep South of America, hurtling down scorching hot tarmac with little scenery to stare at.  We passed from Hampshire to East Sussex, returning to more familiar sights.  This part of the journey would have bored me out of my skull, had I not possessed CDs I could tunelessly belt aloud to (much to my mother’s disdain and probable recent deafness).

We returned home and I stepped out of the sweaty car, sighing. There was a strange cocktail of emotions brewing inside of me; part of me was happy to be home, to be somewhere more familiar, to start the next stage of my life (unemployment); another part was wracked with sad sighs. Home, but stranded.

I persuaded mother to give me one of her lighters, feeling that it would represent home and home comforts (being able to produce fire at whim) and I took the photo in front of my house.  I stepped inside and decided to toast this trip to the end of an era, my university days.

Goodbye, Winchester, see you at graduation…





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