I’m not sure where it comes from, but one of my favourite things to do in the world is to kick off my shoes and lie on the grass. Preferably without a towel or a mat; somehow feeling the grass and dirt against your skin makes it even better. I suppose a lot of it must come from my childhood/teenage-hood. There’s not masses amounts of things to occupy your time when you live in the middle of the countryside with just the rest of your family and some pigs and chickens for company. Whenever the weather is good, lying on the grass is pretty much top of your weekend agenda in that situation. I’ve never really grown out of the love of it. I’m pretty good at entertaining myself and don’t need too much stimulus to have a good time. Give me a book or some music or a peaceful bit of blue sky to look at and I’m happy.
I also think when you’re travelling and the weather is warm, parks are a great thing to seek out. They give a great excuse to people watch (especially if you’ve got a pair of sunglasses on; no-one can see what you’re gawking at), top up a tan, and just have that amazing feeling of grass against your skin.
Here are a few of my favourite grass-between-my-toes moments:
Regent’s Park, London
I now work just two minutes down the road from Regent’s Park, but I went there one summer after my time in Munich and found myself with some time to kill. I decided to kick off my shoes and do some sunbathing.
The great thing about Regent’s Park is that it’s green enough to get lost in grass and trees, but if you stay on the fringes you can still see the skyline. Although the inner part is probably the prettiest, I like the small green spaces just as you enter the park of Marylebone Road. You share the space with office workers on their lunch break and can watch the nannies take the kids who live in the nearby gorgeous terrace houses for their afternoon stroll. In the distance the BT Tower thrusts into the empty sky and reminds you that although there’s grass between your toes, trees overhead and squirrels bounding nearby, you are right in the middle of a capital city.
English Garden, Munich
It was our last day in Munich and the sun was shining. We could have crammed in another day on our feet sightseeing, but instead we decided to remain horizontal. We packed up a picnic – including some Hugos, obviously – and set off to the English Garden.
The only problem with the English Garden is choosing where to go to rest your head. It depends on which entrance you came in, but you’re instantly spoiled for choice. There are lakes to lie by, trees to shade under, bike lanes to avoid. We took up a spot that seemed grassy enough with the choice to hide in the shade if needs be (none of us are very good sun-worshippers). We had towels (probably a good thing, there was a lot of goose shit around), but all around us was grass and all above us was endless bright blue sky. We read books, chatted, listened to music, dozed off, avoided low-flying geese, and generally had an amazing last day in Munich. A group of school kids were playing some sort of ball game nearby; many were clearly using it as a rouse to get a bit closer to members of the opposite sex, then make out behind a tree whilst others looked on and pointed. Ah, teenagers.
One house my family lived in over the summer of 2012 was in the Pyrenees Atlantique, and once again there wasn’t much to do but lie around on the grass, listen to music and watch the eagles and vultures hover overhead. Most days hit 30+ degrees, so I rarely sat out in the midday heat. But as the sun lowered and the day cooled down, I’d lie wherever on the grass had the least chicken crap (I see a recurring theme here; thankfully growing up around chickens and other farmyard animals means I’m pretty unfussed by all of that stuff) and while away some time.
I’ve written before about my love of mountains, so I won’t drift off into that dreamy rhetoric again. But it was still one of my favourite things to do whilst lying on the grass; tilt my head to the mountains on my left and watch them change with the light.
Does anyone else just love to lie on the grass? Do you have any favourite places you’ve been to just kick back and stretch out?