Once upon a time, when I worked 80+ hours a week for a fast-paced startup, I ended each day completely exhausted.
How did I decompress enough to get up and do it all over again?
While fellow Type-A’s might have cuddled up to one of those basketball-sized wine glasses, done hot yoga, or beat the stuffing out of a heavy bag, my secret technique was watching Midsomer Murders.
For those who don’t know the British show, Netflix or iTunes can fill in the shocking gap in your education. The program is a pastoral trip through the English countryside, complete with willow-lined rivers, pints with mates in village pubs, and cricket on the commons.
But the murders, you ask?
Don’t worry—no character ever dies that you actually like, so death and the investigations that follow are a narrative backdrop for the true point: the scenery.
Back in my high stress days, the show let me retreat into the fantasy of a simple life, a bucolic setting and the certainty that everything would go on as it was supposed to by the end of the program.
Luckily, I’ve grown out of that work schedule and now live on a sailboat. But I’d always thought that show must have had a truly hard-working location scout to find all those quaint places to film, and superbly creative set directors to make that same riverside pub always look different.
Just goes to show you how wrong I can be.
The most extraordinary thing happened when Colin and I got to London: we discovered Midsomer is real.
Not exactly, of course. It’s a fictional village and, to my knowledge, no murders actually occurred. But just on the outskirts of London, Midsomer is alive and well.
And thanks to the incredible tour guide talents of Colin’s cousin Paul, we spent several glorious days biking, rowing, picnicking and pubbing our way through it. If you think I exaggerate, I direct your attention to exhibit A below—photographic proof.
We’d arrived in the UK (via a vessel with wings, not sails) as the prelude to Colin’s cousin’s wedding, during one of the biggest heat waves in Western Europe since the 70s. Not only did we get glorious sunshine, but so too did everyone else in London, which meant people in great moods surrounded us, enjoying their city. The set director for our visit had even thoughtfully placed a cricket match in-progress on the Twickenham village green, with everyone in full whites.
Could it get any better than this?
Why yes, for yours truly, who lucked her way into a Brennan family passport thanks to Colin. I was treated like a long-lost relative by amazing aunts, uncles, and cousins. After much chatting, hugging, laughing and dancing, I completely ran out of words to describe the perfection of the entire experience. I’d always thought my family was large, but in four days it more than doubled. No one could have been happier to be welcomed into the tribe than I was.
But wait! There’s more!
By the time you finish part two of the “My Summer Holiday” segment of Pristine adventures, you’ll write us off as liars who have nothing but ‘my perfect life’ photos in their Instagram feed. Next up: Ireland—and the most epic wedding that ever was.
Then we’ll get back to making mistakes in boats. Promise.
Adorable riverside pub: Check.
Quaint riverside walks and bridges: Check and check.
Bike break complete with friendly dog
Rowing along willow-lined riverbanks? Yup.
Swans and cignets (baby swans) along the river? But of course.
Clearly, it wasn’t enough that they festooned the pubs with flowers. Colin had to make sure cousin Paul was well decorated as well.
Grillmaster extraordinaire, cousin Paul (another one)
I discovered that the Brennan’s share a genetic predisposition for joy.
The London (and London-visiting) branch of the Brennan family
How did it feel to step into the real Midsomer? Photo pretty much sums it up.