Slow Days of Summer
This summer is the first one I've not had to go out to work in my whole adult life and it's a revelation. Every year since Harry was born we've juggled childcare between the two of us and we usually ended up taking opposing weeks off to be able to look after him. We never got quality family time for anything more than a couple of days here and there. Now that I'm based at home I wish I'd had all those summers to be able to be a family together, instead of all the stresses and anxiety of juggling work with childcare. But what's done is done and you can't go back.
I feel like I've hit the reboot button this summer - restored to a gentler, calmer version of myself. The minute I wake, I pad softly downstairs, stick the kettle on for that first coffee of the day and throw open the french windows to allow the sunshine and the heady scents of jasmine and honeysuckle seep into my home. City traffic hums in the background, but it is like white noise, I don't really hear it. Summer actually means something different to me now - I can hide from the heat or positively embrace it with lunch outside. I can potter in the garden or take time to make meals for us all. It's a real change of pace for my lifestyle and I love it.
We watched Wild a couple of weekends ago. I must admit I knew very little about it, but it surprised me and I enjoyed it immensely. Afterwards I decided to read the book, moved by Cheryl's story and her decision to walk a 1000 miles on her own in the wilderness. It made me realize what a lazy bugger I am and so now I'm walking lots, aiming for 10,000 steps a day. Several times I've broken 18,000. Whilst out, I see things I've never noticed before - small wildflowers in the hedgerow I usually drive pass, wild raspberries growing by the side of the road and beautiful urban gardens, all the time listening to various podcasts I've become addicted to (thanks to all on Instagram/Twitter who suggested podcasts I might like, I'm working my way through so many of them). My favourite by far is Slow Home, it's making me stop and see all the clutter, money wasted on frivolities and the realization that I don't need any of these things in my home or my life. I've done another car boot, sold some stuff online and am sending bag after bag to the charity shop. There is so much more stuff to go but it feels better, a home already less chaotic, more organised, easier to maintain. I return home after walking in the sunshine feeling shattered but clearer in the head, my knees moving far better than they have in a while (quite often my husband has to pick me up if I've bent down!).
I've also spent some time wandering around York Gate Garden again. I first visited back at the end of March and what a difference a few months make, this time it was a riot of colour and scent. I took all these photographs here, the sky kept going very dark and it was humid, but it never did rain, allowing me to take my time and admire the flowers. It is defintely my favourite place in Leeds. I'm taking up membership for sure next year. I could happily make this my summer office.
Next week we are heading off on our travels. I listened to the Slow Home podcast on slow travel as I was walking and found that it was exactly what I needed to focus my mind about going away. Usually I'm listing all the places I want to visit, never thinking about the hours spent in the car getting there. When I look back at what we did when we went away the best thing was usually the place we stayed in. I can even remember saying aloud 'next time we come here we should stay closer to the campsite', and then I promptly forgot about it. After listening to Brooke's podcast I realised how much I'd made the holiday not a holiday. It was a checklist of things to accomplish, not a way of relaxing from the world of work and school. This time around it will be different. There are a couple of places I want to go to, but that's it. No long drives anywhere, but a gentle wander to nearby places, reading lots, drinking wine by the campfire, playing board games, a return to calmer, simpler days. I can't wait.