How a break from the same four walls has revived my heart, brain and soul
Lockdown has been tough, hasn’t it? First, we weren’t really allowed to leave the house unless it was for our daily exercise. And even when the restrictions lifted slowly and we could venture out further, it still didn’t quite feel like it did before: fearless, uninhibited, carefree, and, for some of us: safe. Going on holiday is something that a lot of us have decided against, especially going away abroad. Some people see it as their right to travel further afield, others decide it’s not for them at the moment. We fall into the latter category, and have cancelled our trip abroad now twice, well, we have postponed it. It was sad, but it would not have felt right for us.
After a few weeks of summer holidays and trying to make the best out of being in the same place for most of the time, as well as getting slightly fed up with day trips, we decided we needed to get out. Not just for our sake, but also for the kids’ sanity. My oldest had been up in arms when she realised she wasn’t going to see her beloved German Oma this summer, so the least we could do was to offer a little adventure outside our own four walls – and get her excited about it.
After a few days of scanning Air B’n’B we finally settled for York, the beautiful historic city up North, where neither of us had ever been before.
Similarly to my cleaning operation before our night away from the kids, my rituals before holidays are quite similar, albeit a little less frantic. I start packing days before and write lists that I can tick off or, even better, put things on the list I have already done and then immediately cross them through. There is nothing more exhilarating that satisfies my geeky, controlling and slightly obsessive little heart than planning and prepping and being organised. The house has to be spotless by the time we leave, as well as completely tidy. My boyfriend once joked whether I was tidying up for the burglars (God forbid, I don’t need any other compulsive and crazy thoughts in my head!). To be honest, he has since come round to the idea of returning to a clean and spotless house, rather than a place that looks like it has been ransacked by us before we left.
When we finally left it took me a good two hours of driving (so, most of the way), to chill out and put every anxious thought in my brain somewhere far away. Letting go and being truly in the moment is something I have never really been able to do, so going away isn’t completely relaxing for me from start to finish. However, once we arrived in our little holiday home and had put some food in the fridge and the oven, and I had a glass of wine in hand, holiday life seemed to look up. Exploring an incredible place like York will always sort out my crazy though processes and when we were meandering through the quaint little streets past the timber-framed houses and the never ending City Wall, having a picnic at the steps of the York Minster, I was already head over heels in love with the place and my time away from home. Spots of rain and whiny children couldn’t dampen my spirits. I was on vacation, and I was free from rules, norms and the daily grind.
For me, the beauty of spending time somewhere else is exploring and seeing things and places I have never been to before. Whilst this may seem logical at first, think of all the times you have opted to go back to the same restaurant, the same park, the same tourist attraction or even the same place on holiday, just because you liked it and wanted to go back to it. I have been like this for many years, settling for the known, for the comfort of the predicable. No more. Lockdown has evoked feelings of adventure and seeing as many new places and things as possible. And so we explored. We dug deep into history, we went on nature walks and felt like we were in a different world. We listened to the crackling of a hot wheat field, ate wild blackberries and held stripy caterpillars. We fought our way through stinging nettles and brambles, stumbled over tree roots and splashed in ice cold rivers. We had ice cream and quick oven dinners, went for evening strolls and stayed up far too late. My personal highlight was, apart from the extraordinary nature of Yorkshire, the glorious morning run across York’s historic stone wall. I could have stayed up there forever, soaking in the early morning sunlight and taking in the rugged charm of this astounding city.
Whilst I wasn’t too sad packing back up and leaving our miniscule abode, leaving the North made me grateful that I was able to experience such beauty with my family and even had moments of being close to feeling at ease and being carefree.
Whilst my phone and social media in the form of Instagram didn’t have much of a break, I didn’t do any writing or work and my laptop remained firmly shut. Life had to wait for a while whilst I took a breather. I read and finished a book, I made some notes in my journal and I did a lot of thinking and talking, but that was it.
When it was finally time to go back, even an hour long standstill on the motorway couldn’t dampen my spirits. We had cake from a detour to Bakewell and plenty of water, so the summer sun and a good sense of humour as well as gratitude for good health and no accidents were our companions whilst we waited for the motorway to open back up.
Now, back home and with a new week ahead of me, I can feel those anxious thoughts and nervous motions creep back in, but the memories of our short break as well as flicking through countless photos keep the magic of having a break alive a little longer. Whatever you decide, wherever you go, know that getting away for a bit does you the world of good. It certainly shook my world up for a bit, and all for the better.