The UK Chronicles: Hertfordshire

Published: March 24, 2023
Author: Heidi Uskaure
”Hey there, I'm Heidi! I launched this blog back in January of 2023 and I'm having a blast writing in a laidback style. Although, my ultimate goal is to become a pro writer one day. Thanks for joining me on this journey!”

My sister looks at me with tears; we sit on my bathroom floor as I tell her about my lovely travels in Hertfordshire. My time in England has been far beyond what I imagined it would have been. I’m afraid my writing can’t even do it justice. My sister took care of both my dogs during my time away and brought them back to me today; I got back home yesterday evening. I’m still in a positive shock that has made writing and processing what I experienced challenging. My sister is possibly the only person who has witnessed the change in me up so close and knows where I started and how I have felt because I talk with her a lot. After my sister leaves, I find all the stones I want to show her. We will see each other again on Sunday as I invited my whole family to my housewarming party; this March has been about closing circles. I insert my earbuds into my ears and listen to French music; it always gets me in a writing mood. Ahem, so allow me to continue my UK Chronicles!

 

Friday 17th

Last Friday, my bus took me to Milton Keynes Coach Station, where I waited for a bus towards Harlow and Stansted Airport. I asked the bus driver to drop me off at Hertford even though my ticket would have taken me to Harlow. That was the original plan, but I saw this beautiful Air BnB Condo-apartment that Rebecca was renting and took it for a few days. Hertford was also between Ware and Brickendon, where I would have business in. I decided to spend the weekend relaxing in the area.

The bus was on time, and as we drove off Milton Keynes, it was pretty full. Most people just dropped off at Luton, and the rest in Hatfield. It was only one other passenger and me on the bus after that. The weather became brighter as the trip went onward — I had this strange feeling in my gut as I saw my reflection in the window before me. It took me quite a bit by bus; on the map, the sites do not seem too far away from one other. After my arrival, I called Rebecca, and she showed me around. She was super friendly and kind and helped me turn on everything.

After Rebecca left the apartment, I took a little stroll to Tesco to get something to eat. I usually go for things I don’t see in Finland, but this time, I buy bagels; I plan to fill them up with tuna and veggies for dinner. Rebecca told me that I could open her bottle of red wine. Well, don’t mind if I do. While preparing my tuna and vegetable-filled bagels, I called my father and told him I was doing good and that everything was okay. He had already asked for a status update several times that day. I have always been his girl, and it has taken us quite a bit to get to this point in our lives; we have had our ups and downs. Somehow, that filled bagel with red wine did hit the spot. I am not that picky when it comes to eating — though I prefer vegetarian food. However, I don’t consider myself a vegetarian; I don’t know if that makes any sense.

Rebecca told me that it was St. Patrick’s Day, so the street might be noisier today than usual. I honestly didn’t know what it was being celebrated for, and I had to Google what it was about. The day commemorates Christianity’s arrival in Ireland, and its extension of it is celebrated with parades and festivals and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks.

It turns out Rebecca has a bathtub! So, I jumped into a warm bath before heading to sleep. I love taking baths, but I haven’t owned one for a longest time. Each time I visit my daughter’s grandparents in Latvia, I enjoy baths since they both have a tub. To me, it’s a rare luxury.

 

Saturday 18th

I woke up to some trucks driving by on Saturday morning, and it was nice to see how the marketplace turned alive. I am a people watcher. I make myself a cup of instant coffee and sit by the window. People started to walk on the streets, and right under Rebecca’s apartment window was a flower sale, an entire aisle. A bakery put on everything outdoors on the other side of the street. The market culture is not as it used to be any more in Finland. The culture of having a market every Saturday has died off mostly, or it’s not in the glory it used to be. I decide to finish writing my Yorkshire Chronicles while sipping my morning coffee, and it turns out it takes me a couple of hours of writing.

I choose to head out, and it’s about 10.15 am. I checked earlier that Hertford Museum is open. I pay attention to the centre’s architecture and find it very inviting. I find the Hertford Museum, and as I walk in, I see this gentleman behind the desk; his name is Bill. We start chatting, and I tell him where I’m from and what I’m doing. Somehow, it is easy to talk about the difficult things about life with him. I gave him my business card, and he asked me about being a “Kindness Coach” I replied that compassion and kindness started to feel something I am passionate about; I think I can learn more about it and become a coach. Being kind doesn’t cost you anything, and you never know what’s going on in others’ lives; a little bit of kindness to someone can make their entire day. Kindness is a pretty underrated thing today. Bill agrees, and I ask him about the museum. He tells me what kind of exhibitions there are and where in the building they are located.

An older couple walks in, and I thank Bill and start my tour. Next to the Museum entrance, founding a wall that tells stories about others who have moved to Hertford is lovely. There are stories of Hilda, Vera, Youssouf and Sean and Alice. For Youssouf, the reason behind moving to Hertford was that it was halfway between Youssouf’s mum’s house in Walthamstow and his job in Stotfold. I smile because I picked this place to stay precisely for the same reason. Hertford was between the locations I would later visit. Bill later tells me that Youssouf is married to Janet, one of the employees of this museum. There’s a photo of Youssouf with members of the monthly walking club. I would join that if I lived here. I love walking, and I’ve learnt to like running, too. I like that the Museum has taken just ordinary people’s stories in their exhibition.

The upstairs had this exhibition called “People of Hertford”. I decided to pick one, checked the photos around the circle, and felt Olive Sadler’s image speak to me, so I wanted to know her story. She was born in 1922, at 50 Port Vale, into the Sadler family, who were coal merchants; Olive was the youngest of 12 and later worked for Sadlers Coal Company in the office. Later she worked for Bridens Bakery, driving the van and is mainly remembered by Peter Ruffles with the window down, sitting in traffic in Old Cross shouting lively banter into Farnham’s paper shop. She also worked for three years at Addis (the toothbrush manufacturer).

There are plenty of more faces around the circle. Revisiting this museum later would be something to remember; the information is hard to inhale in one go. Perhaps then I will pick another character to know better. As I am done touring the exhibitions, I continue chatting with Bill and Sue, I tell them I find the toothbrush factory an exciting fact, and I think that’s what I will remember Hertford now by. So random! These random facts are something to pull off your sleeve here and there; it’s like the ultimate flex of being funny and making a jovial banter to others, or that’s how my humour works. I also found the pudding stones in the frames around the windows in the garden very pretty. Bill asks if I saw the big pudding stone next to the tree in the garden, and I must say I didn’t. I went back to see it, and it was indeed beautiful! I got my daughter a small pudding stone piece because she loves to collect little rocks.

After visiting the Hertford Museum, Bill and Sue suggested checking out the Tourist Information Center around the corner. I walk in, greet the lady behind the desk and ask for suggestions. I look around the place and can’t help noticing the stag on postcards and posters; I thought it must just be a coincidence. Helena was lovely and helpful; she showed me the nature trails around Hertford, she gave me a brochure with three tracks to follow, and I plan to do them all to some extent. I also tell her briefly about my background and hand her my business card so she can read later what I have been up to while staying here.

After running around for a few hours, I must find something to eat. Helena suggested a place in The Folly, so I found my way to The Old Barge. I look around and grab a menu. Sally welcomes me in, I feel like having something traditional, and I pick Shepard’s Pie, and honestly, I don’t even look at the menu; I listen to Sally and what she suggests. By this time, I’m already super hungry. An older couple walks in, saying they have a table booked for three, and they take two glasses of red wine. They seem lovely. As their son (or grandson) joins their company about five minutes later, they joke about his arrival and that they must be drunk before he arrives. I love their humour. I’m in a good mood, so I keep smiling at them and myself.

My Shepard’s pie is brought to my table, and just by looking at it, I know this meal will keep me going for the whole day. On my way out, I tell Sally a little about myself, though I see she is getting quite busy. My attention draws to Martin and Jude (a dog). I already paid attention to Jude’s energy while eating; it’s crazy! I start talking with Martin, and I try to teach Jude a couple of tricks. Martin tells me she’s 14 months old. It appears Martin lives on a boat down by the river, and he tells me I should go and check it, and I tell him I might as well. I go around for a little stroll after being well-fed.

I think The Old Barge is a perfect place for traditional English food. And it felt like a place to visit more often. Martin told me what his boat looked like, but I was not quite sure which one it was, so I took photos I planned to show him the next day, and we agreed to meet again. I return to the apartment and buy dental floss at the grocery store. I forgot mine at home, and some of that Shepard’s pie is still stuck between my teeth. I like having flowers, and I buy a bouquet from a local flower store on my way back to the Air BnB. The weather is unpredictable, but I dress up and head towards Panshanger Park. That was on one of the nature trails Helena suggested. On my way, I take a little detour that takes me through this paved path, both sides decorated with trees. I don’t check the map too much. A detour or two brings me to places I wouldn’t usually go. I’m not lost; I’m on an adventure!

I get to Panshanger Park around the time sun is setting. I found a note that someone had lost their car keys on the forest perimeter; I thought, that sucks because I know the park is extensive. I decide to keep my eyes open in case I find those keys. I pay attention to these beautiful rocks everywhere and keep picking them up, thinking my daughter would love this place just for the stones. As I keep picking them up, I get this funny feeling that she will call me soon. It’s weird because she does call and tells me what she has been up to. I showed her the rocks I got for her in the video call and the beautiful sunset I would love her to see. She is spending time with her dad, and she will come back to me next week’s Friday. Perhaps I could go to England with her next time if she wants to. I love conversing with her; she is becoming an intelligent and lively girl and starting school this year. We say good nights; the time in Finland is almost 8 pm. I admire the sunset a little bit longer; the light shines through the clouds so brightly; I haven’t quite seen anything like that before.

I walk back to Hertford centre and pay attention to the newly built houses around the area. I walk past the art studio again, and it’s open. After that long walk, I want to relax and take a warm bath at my Air BnB. Afterwards, I return to The Old Barge for tea, people-watching and planning my next day.

 

Sunday 19th

It felt like some magic was in the air; I hadn’t been in this good mood for some time. Little would I know where today would take me. I find it funny when you plan a day; it usually doesn’t quite go that way. I didn’t think a friendship story would ever start like this. It almost feels like one of those moments when you look back with a massive smile because it feels like the Universe set you up. I decided to head towards Willowmead, this little nature reserve Hertford has. I wanted to check this art studio by St. Andrew’s Church that I have walked past quite a few times, but it was closed. On my way, I stopped to see Hertford Castle and enjoyed the scenery. It appears many events are arranged throughout the year on the castle grounds. I stroll through this underground pathway with art posters, listen to music, and am generally happy and smiling.

Ever since the last year, I have started to pay closer attention to the specific, beautiful things around me. I stop by this majestic tree and decide to take a photo. I usually feel a little weird taking pictures and try to take them quickly in public; I don’t know why. I saw this lady with her dog approaching, and she said something to me, and I couldn’t hear her because of my earbuds, so I asked her, “Sorry?” and she said, “It’s my favourite tree.” I continue telling her that it is beautiful. We start chatting. Her name is Hannah, and it feels like I just met someone I was supposed to meet all this time. Strange. I talk to her briefly about what I’m up to, where I’ve been and why I’m here, and since she has a dog, it’s easy to talk about my dogs. I tell her that I have two at home. I tell her that I’m on a journey to become a writer and how I was in Leeds for business and now spending this weekend here in Hertford before going to Ware on Monday.

She asks me what I’m up to today, and I tell her that I will check this Willowmead area, and after that, I will visit Folly because I said I would meet Martin and Jude again. The previous day I got some treats and a toy for Jude. I wanted to teach Jude some tricks. Hannah asked if I’d like to stop by for a drink later, and I told her I would love to. We agree to meet by the fountain in Hertford Centre, Salisbury Square, at 2 pm. It’s only 9 am, so I would still have plenty of time to explore. I give her my card, and she sends me a message from her phone in case I need it to change plans. We hugged and went separate ways, and I thought, “what just happened?” I feel even better than before, and I can’t stop smiling.

I find my way after a couple of detours to Willowmead; it has this willow kind of trees, all different but perfect in their way. The paths there are covered in mud and planks in intervals. It’s by this tiny river; on the other side, I see some herd and a couple of squirrels climbing on the trees; compared to Finnish squirrels, these are so much bigger. There are a lot of frogs and frog eggs in the small puddles in this area. Seeing them is challenging because the sun reflects off the surface, and trees keep them undercover. I have to try and work my way to a few spots because of the mud. Hannah told me it’s a place only a few locals know about.

I walk back, and it’s about 10.15 am. I stopped by St. Andrew’s Church, and their Sunday service is about to start. Something takes me in, my curiosity; I want to see how the church looks inside. As I walk in, a lovely lady by the door greets me. She quickly notices I’m not from here, I figure it’s my accent giving it away, but I can’t find the right words at that moment either. I stumble upon something like, “I’m not from here; I’m actually from Finland”, and the church’s interior solely takes my attention. She asks if I’m to stay for the service, and I tell her I would love to if I can. Her name is Rosemary. She guides me through how everything works and helps me with the book of hymns.

I walk around hesitatingly and find my spot, not too front or back. Before the service starts, everyone is given a button. Lady next to me accidentally drops hers, and I kindly point where it dropped because I can see it from my perspective. She looks at me with kind eyes and introduces herself. Her name is Sarah. I can’t remember who her husband is, though I did get introduced to him, too. I’m trying to work with the names and feel bad if I forget. Sarah helps me to get through the leaflet and the service book. As the service continues, the priest, Alan, tells about these little acts of kindness. I think, well, perhaps, I was meant to walk in here. As the choir starts singing, I can’t help but cry; there’s something beautiful about it, the whole entity of this place.

I have always been spiritual, though I’m unsure if I’m that religious. I have acknowledged letting the Universe have my back and believe in compassion and kindness. Alan gave us a task to ask ourselves whose life we will improve today. I thought to myself, hopefully many, not just one. We were given the buttons to think of someone we would pray for. Then we were guided to take those buttons and place them on the blanket in the front area of the church. Since it was Mothering Sunday, at the end of the service, children were to give these little flowers to all the mothers, and Sarah’s husband brought one for her and one for me. I showed them both a photo of my daughter.

After the service, I talked with a couple of people, Forbes and Maria. Maria is originally from Sweden, and Forbes has been a journalist before. Before I found my way out, I stopped to speak with Alan about compassion and kindness and how I am writing a book about that subject. I also tell him where I am from, and he says one of his best friends is from Norway. He smiles, encourages me to finish my book, and tells me I would be welcomed by this community anytime. I quickly visited my Air BnB for the dog treats I got for Jude yesterday and walked towards The Old Barge. We agreed we would meet there with Martin. Flower I got from the service I decided to bring to Sally; since I wouldn’t be staying long in this town, I wanted to spread kindness with all I got. Somehow I can see myself in her; I used to work in restaurants for eight years, and pulling a smile can be challenging at the end of the day.

Jude and Martin are already waiting inside, and I tell them I’m super hungry, and I got to each lunch. It’s Sunday Roast time, and I order a meatless roast. Meanwhile, I played a little bit with Jude, and Martin asked whether I saw the boats yesterday, and I told him I did, but I wasn’t sure which boat was his, so I took photos and, as I scrolled through them to ask Martin which one it was. At the same time, I am introduced to this lovely lady and charming man. But for my life, I can’t remember their names anymore. I was too focused on teaching Jude some tricks. Martin asks if I want to go around and check his boat and take Jude for a walk the next day, and I tell him I’m planning to visit Ware tomorrow, but I should be back at 2 pm. My meatless roast is served, and those roasted potatoes are super delicious.

I finished eating and told the staff how good it was, and I sat down a bit and noticed Sally had placed the flower I gave by the window. I pay my bill and sit by this nice chair to write a bit of this blog. Jude and Martin come in as I start writing, and Jude already knows that I’m her buddy; she comes to my bag for treats without asking, haha. I thought my dogs were a little crazy, but this one has a good 10x more energy than mine combined. I promised to meet up with Hannah by the fountain. I say goodbyes to Martin and Jude; he reminds me of our plans tomorrow.

I see Hannah approaching with Hugo, her dog; we hug and go to Hertford Coffee Labs for drinks. Before Hannah tells me her story, she passes me a book she wants me to read: Real Estate by Deborah Levy. I didn’t expect anything and find it sweet of her to do a random act of kindness like that. She says that I will like the way it’s written, and perhaps it gives me some perspective on how I could write.

She continues with her story, how she got into Hertford, how she has always felt like she has been serving someone, and how she went through a messy breakup last year. She continues that she has begun to feel good in her skin, and I tell her she does look lovely. It’s not just her looks; she has a kind heart. Hannah is 49 years old, and she tells me women, her age try to look younger and sexier; I wouldn’t know about it because I couldn’t be further from being superficial. And I possibly would let it just be because I learned to love myself at my worst; I show Hannah this photo of myself from 2021 summer; I tell her that this woman in this photo here is still within me; I take so much better care of her today.

I don’t think I ever cared too much about appearances, or it’s been so long that I have forgotten. I did compare myself a lot to others, but I haven’t done that either for years. A smile, frozen eyelashes, or soaked hair after the rain are the best things you can wear. What matters, in the end, is that heart of gold you carry with you — the forgiving, understanding, encouraging, compassionate, kind heart. These kinds of people seem to have a lot of friends, but still, they feel so lonely. They know where to draw the boundaries and when to walk away and let things go. They have found peace with the past. They have accepted that it is what it is. They are often misunderstood for enjoying life to the fullest. They know better to walk past darkness when they are the light themselves. That heart of gold is so scarce today because it feels almost suffocating to have it in this world where darkness and ego reign.

I tell Hannah how my last year has been. I went through too much gaslighting and a messy breakup. For months I tried making up reasons, protecting and understanding someone I was with for ten years, and how I was losing it while trying to understand. I blamed myself for it, but once I did realise that the people I cared for hurt me most dreadfully, I gave myself every right to get upset. There were mornings when I would just lay on my bed that I couldn’t get up. That heartache came in waves; sometimes, I closed my office door when my colleague was there so she wouldn’t hear me crying. I also had to learn to put my emotions aside as my daughter talked kindly about what was happening in the other home.

It almost feels like today’s world; we are often guided to hide the hurt and pretend to be strong. I don’t quite get it because grief and loss are something that most of us have experienced; why shouldn’t we talk about these things out loud? My pain became physical; when I was alone, I yelled and screamed. I victimised myself for a couple of months; I knew I didn’t like the person I was becoming. In the past, I knew that being a victim was always the easier path to down, but I didn’t want to live like that. I sought help from a therapist, and I must say without her help, the change would have been difficult to start. The story always has two sides; my husband and I had grown apart. This is the raw stuff, the ugly truth I should remain silent about, but I have decided to talk about it loudly. Either way, being quiet or processed with it and writing about it, heartbreak sucks.

I started by practising self-awareness, and I learned to sit with my thoughts. I could say to imagine sitting by a train station and watching trains of thoughts and emotions rush by, but without jumping into any of those trains, you would sit patiently. It forces you down that path with your ego. Ego is faster than you. It’s stronger than you. You can’t beat it in one day, or two, a week, or two weeks. It’s a practice you have to teach your mind. I see it like running — you can’t start with a marathon; you should begin with walks. I started practising compassion and forgiveness, and kindness just followed that. Today, I can genuinely say I wish all the best for those people who hurt me. Remember that the longest journey of your life is from your head to your heart, which most people won’t even do in their lifetime.

It threw me into the worst year of my life, but I see the good in it today. I became a person who can turn it around and learned to wish only happiness and love, not just towards the people who hurt her but all those around her. However, it’s still an experience that I carry with me. It’s these stories that connect me with others. I told Hannah how I see life “It didn’t happen to me; it happened for me.” Without growth, I wouldn’t be here, travelling around the UK, meeting all these kindhearted people, and letting my heart be open to these encounters with people like Hannah.

The cafe closes, and we have a stroll around the neighbourhood. We end up at her place for a cup of tea. I talk a little bit about my business and what I do. Hannah is a web developer. She can code! She tells me how she would love to become an illustrator. Talking with Hannah today, I felt such a belonging that I have yet to experience, let alone put into words. It required us both to be open to this kind of connection, to meet a person whose last year was the worst, and now we are both on the better side, happy to have made it through. As we both have made it, it feels like the Universe set us up.

We take Hugo for an evening walk and return to the marketplace with that fountain. I think we both are pretty dazzled to have met each other. She hugs me and tells me: “You know that we are going to be friends for life, right?” I tell her: “Hannah, I know.

 

Monday 20th

I used the flowers I got for myself on Saturday; I packed them up again and wrote a little note. As this small town still sleeps, I walk my way behind Hannah’s door and leave it there. Once she goes out with Hugo, she will find it. It’s a day for business in Ware, and I decide to walk there; it’s about 45 minutes walk. By the time I get there, a lot of kids are on their way to school, it’s still early, and I waltz into Ware Coffee Labs and sit down and write a chapter of my blog. A lady comes in a bit after with her beautiful daughter, and for some reason, I can’t stop smiling — she is adorable. She reminds me of my daughter.

I sat by the window and observed the people that walked by. I’m sitting next to a chap who is quite loud and having an online meeting with his colleagues. The cafe gets crowded relatively fast.

After my business meeting, I scheduled a little walk with Jude and Martin at 2 pm. I also wanted to see what the boat looked like inside. On my way to Ware, I saw three swans swimming towards Hertford; now, as I walk back, I see five of them.  Martin likes to fish; he has many photos on the wall of his boat where he shows his catch. We take a little stroll around the Folly. In the afternoon, I take myself for a treat at Cafe Nero in Salisbury Square and continue writing my book. I get lost in the moment, and before I know it, the cafe closes.

 

Tuesday 21st

I took myself to Brickenton Grange Golf Club for the BNI Hertford Synergy meeting first thing in the morning. The weather was rainy, so I decided to stroll from Hertford Centre there. My Google Maps took me through muddy and green fields and forced me to follow down the road where cars drove because there was no side road for pedestrians. This very muddy part had thorn bushes on both sides, and it was pretty tricky to get over; I think one of those thorns pierced my jacket and into my arm. There’s something I enjoyed about that walk, though I think it was a little bit dangerous too, but perhaps, that is my middle name; it goes with adventure, right? Each time I saw a car approaching, I would jump on the side of the road and smile because those cars were driving fast. I’m sure the drivers thought well, that lady isn’t from here.

I was one of the first people to arrive, and I let myself in via this place’s golf shop. Handsome looking gentleman greets me as I walk in, and I ask him where I can find the BNI meeting. He says that he doesn’t think anyone has arrived yet but helps me by describing where it’s located in the building. I find my way to this majestic room — this place is probably, possibly, the most beautiful venue I have ever been in. I see a lady arranging everything in the room, I introduce myself, and she welcomes me. She is the vice president of this BNI chapter here in Hertford Synergy. Her name is Nathalie; we chat a bit, and I tell her I’m on a journey to becoming a writer. She smiles and says she would love to write a crime novel. A short after, Jack, the chapter’s president, walks in carrying the roll-up. I tell them I walked from Hertford, and they look at me as if I’m crazy. I think this is precisely the impact I want to create here. I continue explaining to them that I love walking.

Gee arrives a bit after, he says that he is from Latvia originally, and I tell him that Latvia is quite familiar since my ex-husband is from there, and I’ve visited the place quite a few times. He moved to England with his girlfriend because of the weather. I’m not sure if that’s the English or Latvian weather. Nathalie mentioned that Mark is their chapter’s graphic designer, and she will make sure I get to talk with him. Mark arrives a bit earlier, and we start chatting. I tell him stories about my life and my work in England. I tell him my secret: I’m a people watcher — I love observing interactions, smiles, laughs, and everything about people. I told him I wasn’t sure if I would make it here today.

Victoria has her presentation today, and I feel her confidence in the seat I’m sitting on. Her energy is contagious; she plans holidays for everyone. I think, perhaps, the holiday queen should be her 2nd name. She considers everything for her clients. The company she represents is Travel Counsellors. After the meeting, Gee asks if I want a ride back to Hertford, and I answer him yes if it’s no trouble. I have lunch agreed with Martin and Jude back in Hertford.

I say goodbyes to everyone, and I get a ride back from Brickendon to Hertford from Gee and Nora. Once again, a car ride takes us down the path of conversation. Gee allowed me to take the shotgun, and as I hopped in, Nora apologised for the car being a little dirty. We start talking about life tests and what people in England are like. The walk from Hertford felt so long, and within this ten-minute car ride, I found two new friends. Nora and Gee have an embroidery company called Mog and Bird. Gee told me a story about how they struggled with their logo; it took them two months to design together. Nora then asks me if I’d like to join their bonfire in the countryside today. I have agreed to two meetings; I can’t make it, I tell them. Nora hugs me as they drop me off in the centre of Hertford.

I briefly visited my apartment and picked a gift for Sally; I wanted to say goodbyes since I will leave early tomorrow. Sadly, Sally isn’t in today; I briefly talk with Dawn (she also works in The Old Barge) about the crazy things I have experienced this week. I pass my gift to her and tell her that I gave one of the small Kyrö Distillery Company’s Finnish Rye Whisky samples to Martin already earlier in case Sally wonders. Jude and Martin walk in, and Jude is as energetic as always. I love that dog, and I feel the feeling is mutual. These days I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Martin. He used to drive to the south coast daily to pick flower deliveries from Holland that he would deliver to the flower shops around the area. He has lived on his boat for 16 years. I told him I would love to travel with a converted van and write on the road. We both agree that living like that is a choice of lifestyle. I ordered some roasted potatoes, and I can’t understand how good that is. I ask Dawn to take a photo of us, which seems tricky because Jude can’t calm her paws to get even one good shot.

I rush outside to meet Bill, we agreed to meet at 3 pm in front of the Brew Garden, and I’m just in time. He is wearing a suit, and his umbrella almost resembles a cane; I think he is only missing a proper hat! I greet him with a hearty hug and kisses and ask if we could quickly stop by the post office before it closes. Compared to Finland, our post offices are integrated with supermarkets, so they’re open longer than in England. Here they seem to close already much earlier.

I smile at Bill and apologise for the hold-up. The weather has turned sunny and airy. Bill takes me to Brew Garden, located in the Hertford marketplace. Right behind the corner where Rebecca’s Air BnB is located. Bill asks what I would like to have, and I tell him I would like to have a cappuccino; he orders black decaffeinated coffee. We sit at the table behind the corner of the bar. I started telling him about Hannah and what happened on Sunday. I briefly told him about the tree we met by already on Sunday, but he hasn’t heard the whole story of what happened after that.

As I finish my story, Bill tells me how he felt a similar light and alignment when I entered the Museum on Saturday. He said he wasn’t supposed to work that Saturday. And there I was, curious to learn about Hertford.

Bill tells me he has been married twice. I find it heartbreaking when he tells me he regrets only one thing. A love regret leaves the seed of “what if” in your heart. Bill seems to enjoy his life to the fullest, and I know that he never allowed that seed to grow into a tree of regret. Before his first wedding, he met someone he couldn’t stop thinking about and what goes for soulmates and twin flames; perhaps, she was the one. They met and started talking just a few weeks before Bill was meant to get married, and he didn’t know what to do. He ended up getting married, and as he tells me that, I ask if they’re still in contact, and he tells me they’re still good friends. We took a little stroll around the neighbourhood, and he showed me the statue on the Hertford War Memorial, Parliament Square, that I hadn’t noticed. Alfred Drury sculpted the bronze hart sculpture that proudly stands there. Alfred’s sculptures can be found all over England.

I wanted to do things differently from the beginning of my business life. There’s always some more prominent thought behind every business I own. My first company, the creative agency, has a stag as the icon. Our consumer webshop has a bear, and the latest plywood product branding concept has a Siberian jay as the icon. I tell Bill about my deer tattoo and show it to him. I have a tattoo of a Stag on my left arm. My previous visit to London and Richmond Park was lovely because wild Fallow Deers walked amongst people. There’s something about them that I can connect with.

Bill asks if I would like to go for dinner and if I have been to the Salisbury Arms yet. I tell him I haven’t, even though it’s beside Rebecca’s Air BnB. We take ourselves in and get seated; Bill tells me that this place has a colourful history, and it appears that it’s haunted, too. The pub/hotel was established in 1421, initially known as the Bell. The place looks cosy, and nicely decorated with dark brown/red tones. We go for the main courses — Bill orders chicken with a potato cake and broccoli, and I decide to go with something light, and I order a salad with blue cheese, pecans and vegetables. Bill continues that his 2nd marriage lasted for 28 years, and he has two sons. He showed me a photo of his granddaughter, who looks lovely. His other son lives in Singapore, and I ask whether he visits them often. He plans to go again later this year, it appears Bill has travelled quite a lot throughout his life, and he enjoys cruises. He has kept count of the countries he has visited, and today there are 62 countries. Perth, Australia, is on his bucket list. This man is full of surprises — he also arranges wine tastings and knows much about wines. Age doesn’t matter when you’re meeting people that somehow find a way through the labyrinth of your soul into your heart. If you have read this story from my blog, please drop by Hertford Museum on Sundays and say hello to Bill for me. I’m sure he would like it.

Our conversations flow without effort; it has been one of those evenings when we both enjoy each other’s company and get lost in the moment. We decided to go for a Pear-filled Baked Apple Crumble for dessert since they had run out of Sticky Toffee Pudding. It has been the best date of my life, and Bill certainly set the bar high—such a lovely chap.

Until the next time, Hertford.
Be kind & don’t go changing,
x Heidi

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