Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A City Girl Driving in the Country

Alex is loving his work experience assignment. It’s very hands on, and not only is he learning loads, but he is getting to be involved in the “finds” every day – unearthing things that have been buried for 2000 years. There is something quite amazing being the first person to lay eyes on, or clean something that has been buried for that long. There is a whole city buried underneath the fields. The excavation at Silchester is only of about half a city block, but as far as the eye can see, a Roman city lies buried.

Silchester is a good drive from here, so I’m spending about two hours a day in total in the car. As I explained to Alex, it isn’t just taking him there, I have to get back home as well! It’s a beautiful drive, but after doing it in my car yesterday, I decided it might be more prudent to borrow Guy’s car for the next few days. The lanes are incredibly narrow, and you can come round a corner to be confronted by another car, or even a horse, in the middle of the road. So you have to slam on your brakes (even if you are only going about thirty miles an hour, it seems too fast). Of course, there are lots of locals on the roads, and many of the roads are actually National Speed Limit, which for single track roads is sixty miles an hour. So part of the time I have some very irritated people who know the road driving right up my back wishing I'd just hurry up. I'm no slow coach, but I won't drive faster than I feel I can manage on a road I don't know. Some of the lanes are so narrow, there are little passing places carved into the sides of the road. Many times there are not any though, so you just have to drive into the hedge and hope that it is just hedge and that there is no flint wall behind it! I do a lot of the drive with my heart in my throat.

Once we finally get to Silchester, we have to drive down even narrower roads to get to the track that leads to the dig. This track is about a mile and a half of dirt, full of pot holes bigger and deeper than I’ve ever seen before. It’s like being in a roller coaster, even if you are only going a few miles an hour. You certainly can’t do more than ten miles an hour, it would be horrific. Passing is not very easy either, and the road is not wide enough anywhere for two cars to pass. So you just drive over into the edge of the field, and hope there are no bunnies hiding there. So far, there have been no casualties thank goodness. I’d be devastated.

Mind you, even the drive near home is fascinating, as I’m forced to use the country roads up near our house to cut though to the country roads to Silchester. I normally avoid them as they are very narrow in themselves, but there is no escape this week. On Monday morning Alex and I saw two rabbits and a fully grown deer – which ran out across the road in front of us – thankfully about 10 yards in front of us so I had time to stop. It’s wonderful, and yet terrifying at the same time!

Only two more weekdays to go, and then Alex has Friday off. He is going back on the weekend though as a volunteer, even though his work experience assignment is officially over then. I’m so pleased he is enjoying it so much that he wants to go back. After that, it’s only three more days of school and then it is the summer holidays.

I love the summer holidays. Even though I am officially grown up and don’t go to school any more, there is something about Alex’s last day of school I just love. Finally, a break! It means I don’t have to stay at home just because Alex is in school. We can do anything we want, and Alex has lots of things planned to keep him busy so neither one of us will get bored with it. He’s even away for a week at his “summer camp” for actors – West End Stage. Roll on summer!

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