Never once in my life was I think I’d ever find myself pressed so tightly into a mass of people that my group and I actually had to hold on to hold onto each other’s backpack straps so we didn’t separate and completely lose one another. We were pressing through a tightly packed mass of people all congregating for the Brixton Splash, like four lost peas trying to navigate their way out of a treacherous and compacted bowl of spaghetti (because that’s definitely how people eat their spaghetti). With a new found sense of claustrophobia causing my anxiety to skyrocket, I immediately wished to leave. Though this was hardly an example of your usual urban environment, it made me long for the countryside.

Not more than a few days ago, we had taken a tour to Bathe and Stonehenge, a far cry from the packed streets of London. In Bathe, sidewalks were open, and it wasn’t more than a few minutes walk to one of the most peaceful and mesmerizing parks I’d ever been to. All around me, I could see an open field on the horizon, somewhere that invited me to hike, or have a picnic, or breathe (something I found next to impossible whilst attempting to get to the Splash! … Just Kidding).

It may sound like I’ve got some kind of distaste for the city, but I certainly don’t! The city of London itself had a lot to offer! It had the Tower of London, The Wallace Collection, The Wellcome Collection and many other unique places of the sort, but the countryside had and unending supply of curiosity, there was always another hill to go over or bluff to climb. In the city, if you wanted a map, you could find one. In the countryside, you almost had to forge your own. The clutter of people and noise that tend to barrage the senses at all hours really put proof behind the idea that the city never sleeps. While I loved exploring the different parts of London as the massive, lively, diverse city that it is, the countryside, where there we no mobs or masses outside of the more touristy areas, felt like a pleasant, well deserved nap.

–Mitch Stanke