One week ago, I left home to travel for work for the first time since I rejoined Automattic in November of 2019. We are a fully distributed company, meaning we are distributed around the world, with no central offices — we all work from our homes and co-working spaces. The way we get quality in-person time together is by traveling 2-3 times a year for meetups.
When I returned to the company, I was excited I’d get to see people again who I’d become friends with through work, but who live in different states, countries, and continents from me. Then, of course, Covid happened.
Last weekend, on my way to my first meetup since I came back to Automattic, I traveled to France via a 24 hour layover in England. Despite using two different London airports for the journey, I did not see London at all. Instead, a friend from Automattic who I haven’t seen in six years picked me up from Heathrow and drove me to his cottage in Hammerwich, where I finally got to meet his wife and children. When we got out of the car after the two-hour drive, I was amazed by how fresh and clean the air was. I’ve never smelled anything like it, even in autumn in the mountains where I live.
I’d never been to England before, and when Ben asked me if there was anything I wanted to do while I was there, I told him I wanted to hang out in their garden, chat with them all, and go for a walk and enjoy spring. We did all of that, and we drank tea, and we all looked for flowers and tried to identify them. We walked through the countryside where properties are lined with hedges of holly or hawthorn or various other plants, and the hedges are gentle and a part of the landscape. They’re green and full of birds and wildlife, and I now think everyone should adopt hedges instead of fences. We ate a proper Sunday roast with roasted veggies, and Becky showed me how to make Yorkshire pudding. We talked about books, the kids showed me their flower press and then pressed flowers from the garden, we played laser tag, and their smallest even let me read him a bedtime story.
I had a short visit, but a lovely one.