I don’t know when or why the tradition began of gracing a website’s comment section with “First”. It’s something that I’ve always found it a bit silly. I mean, it’s not so much a comment as a territorial marker! However, I had my own first moment recently that, while it hasn’t convinced me of the merits of staking a digital claim, has shown me the power of beating the crowds.
After Britain basked in several days of sun and blue skies, I finally had the chance to slip away myself and enjoy it when MrElaineous and I descended on our local National Trust property, the village of Lacock. With its mixture of architecture from across the centuries and historic abbey that served as the location of the first photographic negative (and a few of the Harry Potter films), it is a popular site with locals and tourists alike.
This is a site we know very well, so it was with some surprise that we turned up just before 9:00am to find the visitors’ car park utterly deserted. Considering we usually have to hunt for a spot or head to the overflow parking, this was sheer parking perfection. First indeed!
Our luck continued as we walked through the village. The coach-loads of tourists that normally fill the streets were absent, and even the residents still seemed to be asleep or, at the very least, were laying low. It was quite magical to have the village to ourselves, with the golden morning light on the old stones and the most prominent sounds being the local birds making their own territorial claims.
The walk around Lacock is a two-mile circuit that takes visitors past picturesque thatched cottages, along the Avon, through fields, and back to stunning views of the abbey. We usually joke about needing to “hit the people button” when taking photos here, a desire to remove the crowds and focus on the scenery, but there was no need. While it is usually overrun with day trippers and dog walkers, this day it felt like we had the entire landscape to ourselves.
As we returned to the village itself at 10:00am, our luck ran out. Cars peppered the lot, and the first influx of sightseers began to make their presence known. Although we were no longer the only people there, it felt like we had been let it on a secret: the early bird may get the worm, but the first visitors get something even better.