It’s a Bank Holiday weekend & I’m extremely thankful for it. After a few madly busy weeks, including back-to-back commitments from Friday night to Sunday evening last weekend, I was determined that these three days would be a paean to gentle rest & recuperation. And I managed to keep it that way! I deliberately avoided making any plans except to meet some friends for dinner on Sunday evening. I also did some tidying on Friday night so that at least my immediate environment would be suitably calm and calming. But aside from that, there was nothing scheduled. Here’s how it worked out:
Friday evening, post-tidy up: watched crap TV, although it wasn’t really crap – the main thing was a great BBC4 documentary on the development of country music. Then lay in bed listening to Johnny Cash before nodding off at a reasonable time, feeling rested already.
Saturday: slept as late as I wanted. Ate what I wanted. Sat in the garden until thunderstorms hit. Whiled away the hours looking out of the window, watching the crazy changing weather, and reading magazines. Installed a new chair (well, new to me – it’s an old wooden one) in pride of place in my room. Parents & I decided to go for a meal to celebrate me winning a history prize – hooray on both counts! Ashamed to admit that after just a glass of Cava & a glass of wine, I was very sleepy. And very relaxed.
Sunday: slept as late as I wanted. Went to Quaker meeting. Whiled away the afternoon doing some Quaker-related tasks & replying to some emails (strictly personal; no going near my work account). Godmother called round for a cup of tea. Went back to meeting, then out for dinner with friends. Food okay, company great, lovely evening all round.
Monday: slept as late as I wanted (is there a theme developing here?). Lay in bed doing nothing. Writing this. My cousin & her family are visiting later. I’m off to a discussion group this evening. I strongly suspect I will again go to bed relaxed & content.
What have I learnt from this time of rest & relaxation? That I can sleep a lot. That sometimes I eat a lot, and sometimes I don’t want to eat a lot. That I have a fantastic network of friends & family. That sometimes even the quietest, perhaps even seemingly dull, Bank Holiday weekends can be amazing & just what one needs. Something to be thankful for indeed.
Was chatting to someone a little while ago about crafts and said I’d send her the link to my blog page showing photographs of some of things that I’ve made. Having just done so, it made me realise how out of date it was so have updated it with new additions. Take a look a look at the ‘crafts projects’ page if you’re interested. For me, it feels like a record of family and friends’ births and marriages, with so many of the items shown being baby blankets and wedding presents!
Many moons ago, my friend Caroline over at life through an amateur lens (http://lifethroughanamateurlens.tumblr.com/) and I used to go out for champagne cocktails on a Monday. I can’t remember how this ritual started, but I do know that we thought it was the most decadent thing we could imagine doing on the most workaday 24 hours of the week. Fancying ourselves as a pair of old lushes, it became a semi-regular event and a way of expressing our desire to not be hemmed into conventional life.
Those days are long gone now, but I was reminded of them this Monday afternoon. Fairly late on, I got a work-related email that I was particularly delighted to receive – a long shot that had come up good. After high-fiving myself and doing a mini-cheer, I decided that a celebration was in order so hurried through the last couple of items on my to-do list and had a bath. Whilst no champagne was involved, lying amongst the bubbles at 4.45 on a Monday did remind me of those slightly wilder, more carefree days of decadence with Caroline. Times have changed, but I was pleased to think I could still carve out moments of being a lush when most of the world is still at work. I’m tempted to try to keep the mood up for the rest of the day – am going out for a family meal this evening, but am not sure that the localHarvesterserves either Kir Royales or bellinis. I’ll just have to make sure I get a straw in my favourite colour to go with my refillable soft drink instead!
Yesterday I drove down to work. It’s a 120-mile trip that I’ve taken pretty much every week for the last eighteen months. But yesterday felt different. I arrived at the destination feeling incredibly calm and relaxed, serene even – very different to my usual uptight state after the journey. It’s not that I find driving or the distance stressful, more that I usually get cross with other drivers, hacked off with the traffic and generally narked that I can’t where I want to go quickly enough. Yesterday the roads did seem quieter (schools are out and it’s holiday season) but I think the reason for my newfound car karma lay not in the external situation but my internal one, namely my posture and position when at the wheel. Having been to pilates on Tuesday, I was super-conscious of how I was sitting and moving. Although my back and head felt fine, my arm hold seemed very forced – not uncomfortable, but effortful. So I changed from the usual admittedly slightly boy-racer style hold to one where my upper arms rested against me and only the lower arms were perpendicular.
This is purely speculation, but I beginning to wonder if this simple shift accounts for my happier travelling experience. With my physical self in a more restful position, was my mental self therefore less tense? I’ve got to head over to Royal Holloway university later today and of the two possible routes, I feel I ought to take the one involving the M25 to test out my theory. Trouble is, my new car karma is telling me why bother when I can take the more pleasant option. Have I been driving myself crazy all these years?
Have woken up with severe post-Olympic blues; cannot begin to imagine how the actual competitors and organisers must feel! There are lots of issues about the Olympics both as an event and in terms of British participation in it, from sweatshop exploitation of those making the outfits (see http://www.waronwant.org/olympics-home for more info) to the general capitalism of the games (why, oh why, did there have to be a shopping centre – one packed largely with designer goods, no less – on route into the Olympic Park? Probably dubious excuses about it subsidising the event, creating ‘much needed employment’ or attracting longer-term investment in the area – because that’s what East London needs, a designer shoopping mall. Hmmm) to the use of lottery funding to support our athletes (why does the government need to back our sportsmen and women when it can be done through gambling?!). Even so, and perhaps in spite of myself, I loved it. I’m not at all a nationalistic person (I struggled to know what to write under ‘nationality’ in the census as I don’t feel particularly British) but I was pleased that as a nation we managed to organise something that went well, was fun and bought people together. I really hope that the legacy of ‘Inspire a generation’ comes to fruition. It seems to have got off to a good start – I don’t think I’m the target demographic for the generation they have in mind, but I’ve been inspired to book Pilates for tomorrow and I’ve packed my costume so I can go swimming later in the week. Maybe getting my endorphins pumping via exercise will counter the anti-climax that it’s all over.
Not a reference to the Julia Roberts rom com, but the real actual wedding of my best friend. It took place in Brighton on Monday and I’ve pretty much had to take a vow of silence to not let the cat out of the bag about it all. Alongside the groom’s brother, I was one of the witnesses and was truly honoured to be part of their special day. There was none of the commercial superficiality and fake fairytale-ness that so often dominates weddings; it was simply and beautifully about one couple, their love for each other, their commitment to each other, and our celebration of that. And celebrate we did! Food, drink, laughter, sunshine. The seaside backdrop was a huge part of the few days, like another guest in the proceedings. Beth & Matt, I love you. Brighton, I love you too.