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Tag: simple living

We went to the seaside!

It was a bit of a last-minute plan. We have been saying for a while that there is nothing stopping us from going away for the weekend to explore more of the country and have a bit of a break from regular routine, but so far we have never actually followed through with it. There was always an excuse; Jason wasn’t feeling up to it, we had done something the previous weekend, or the weather wasn’t going to be that great. But last month I worked up quite a few extra hours at work and needed to take a day off to use them up and we decided to take advantage of it and go to the seaside! We found a room on Airbnb which was available at late notice, I booked a Friday off work and we checked the weather forecast for Swansea, Wales. I was thrilled to see it was supposed to be sunny and hot all weekend, but didn’t put too much faith in it seeing as it was still two weeks ahead of time. But the forecast held, turning out to be the hottest week of the year (so far!).

Friday morning we got up at six, shared a watermelon for breakfast and started packing. I had fully intended on getting everything ready to go Thursday evening, but I completely lost my motivation once I got home from work and all I managed to do was make sure the laundry was washed and hung out to dry. By 10 o’clock we were on the road and the sat nav said we should arrive around 12:30. But that didn’t quite happen… We had a few stops for construction on the way, but nothing major until we reached Swansea and realized that the main route through the city was closed. It turned out they had an air show for the weekend, so we were diverted around the downtown area. I suppose the diversion itself didn’t add too much distance to the journey, but all the extra cars coming for the air show combined with normal Friday afternoon traffic made it a bit of a nightmare.

It was hot and sweaty and slow, and we didn’t get to the beach until 2 PM. But eventually we made it! We broke free of the city traffic and on to the little country lanes, and finally got a proper glimpse of the sea. I may or may not have been bouncing in my seat saying “ooh look, look, look LOOK!” I’ve always loved the ocean, so this being my first time going to spend a few days at the seaside where it was sunny and warm enough to swim made me more than a little excited. I think Jason may have thought I was a bit OTT, but hey – I was happy. 🙂

We arrived at Caswell Bay car park extremely hungry (despite eating most of a head of celery between us while sitting in traffic). We ate lunch in the car, spilled tumeric all over the seat, cleaned it up, grabbed our towels and walked across the beach where the tide was starting to come in. The water was so cold, but it felt amazing after sitting in a hot car for 4 hours! We did do a rather daft thing though; turns out if you lie on your towel on the compact (therefore damp) sand it will get absolutely soaked in about 10 minutes… That would be why everyone was lounging much farther up the beach and we were the only ones that close to the water!

We headed back into Swansea to find our Airbnb and it turned out to be amazing, if a little hot! We had our own separate entrance and bathroom, with a spiral staircase up to a loft bedroom with windows overlooking the sea. It was so cute, and just what we were looking for.

Next morning (after a rather rough night’s sleep due to the heat and the double bed not being big enough for my rather sprawling sleeping positions) we woke up at six and slowly got our day started. We ate fruit and drank tea, then drove into Mumbles to have a wander around the village. We found a parking spot, a castle and a FatFace store with a 50% off sale (but I didn’t buy anything). Then we checked out the grocery stores and produce stalls and bought a punnet of doughnut peaches. The peaches were perfectly ripe, so we walked along the seawall until we found a bench and ate them all… then walked back to buy another punnet for breakfast the next day!

A little before lunch time we decided it had gotten warm enough to head to one of the many beaches for a swim. We drove over to Oxwich Bay, paid £5.00 (!!) for parking and made our way to the beach. There were so many people clustered around the path to the car park, but thankfully we just had to walk a bit farther down the beach to find our own space. We ate our picnic lunch, then laid our towels out on the dry sand to relax. I read a book for a while, then got way too hot and needed to cool down. That is when I realized that coming out a low tide probably wasn’t the best idea, since the water was a good 10 minute’s walk away from where we were sitting. But I persevered, and finally made it down to the sea, avoiding a few stranded jellyfish and tiny hermit crabs. I waded through the sea for another 10 minutes until the water was just above my waist, and decided that I would just have to duck under if I wanted to get wet, seeing as it wasn’t getting any deeper!

Eventually I made it back to Jason who had stayed back to guard our phones and keys. After I told him that the upside of the bay being so shallow was that the water was much warmer than the day before he decided to go for a swim after all and started the long trek across the beach. I slowly dried off in the sun, but by the time he came back I starting to feel a bit of a burn coming on. We headed back to our Airbnb to wash the salt off, then realized that we were both burnt bright red. There was absolutely no way I was going back out in the sun that day, so I took a long cold shower and we just hung out in our room for a few hours. By seven that evening we were feeling like we really shouldn’t stay inside for any longer while we were on holiday, so we drove down to a little cove just on the other side of Mumbles. It was rocky and shaded, which was absolutely perfect for my poor crisped skin.

Sunday morning we woke up at six again after another rougher night, this time due to the sensitive skin. I think I was a bit better at staying on my side of the bed, but I’m not sure. We had an amazing breakfast of melon, bananas, peaches and apples, then slowly packed up. By 10 we were in the car, heading over to Mumbles for meeting. The weather’s timing was perfect; by the time the service was over it had started to rain, which it proceeded to do most of the way home!

It really was a perfect weekend break; simple, relaxing and sunny (and inexpensive!). It made me happy. 🙂

If you made it to the end of this post, thank you and I am impressed! I know I rambled on a wee bit…

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Arboretum, noun

It seems that ‘arboretum’ is not a commonly used or known word at the moment. Each time I’ve told anyone that I visited an arboretum on the weekend I’ve been met with a blank stare. So, according to Oxford Living Dictionaries:

Arboretum

noun

a botanical garden devoted to trees

Also apparently the plural of arboretum is arboreta. I don’t think I’ll ever use that in a sentence!

If you didn’t already guess, we spent our Saturday at Batsford Arboretum a few weeks ago. It is only about half an hour away from home, which was perfect for a day when we didn’t feel like going on a major ‘outing.’ We had been a few times before, but this was the first time in spring to see all the new blooms.

The walkway up to the entrance is under a trellis covered with wisteria and clematis. As we walked underneath it the buzzing from all the bees was so loud, but it smelled so sweet!

There weren’t many people there that day, so we were on our own most of the time. They have such a massive variety of trees, though to be honest I am absolutely rubbish at identifying different them. I picked out the California Redwoods, the Willows, Rhododendrons and Laurels, but I think that was about it. At one point I was sure I smelled lilacs, but couldn’t see the tree anywhere. It wasn’t until I looked closely at the tag on one flowering tree that I found out it was a Hungarian Lilac; the flowers were so much more delicate than the lilacs that I am used to that I never would have recognized it!

Laburnum Tunnel

Batsford is also a working farm; the main part of the arboretum is surrounded by cow and sheep fields that you can walk through, as well as the old barns and farm outbuildings. We walked up to the top of one of the pastures and spent at least an hour just lying in the grass and soaking up the sun. When we were walking back we found about a dozen cows lying in the shade with their calves; have you ever noticed just how beautiful baby cows are?

It was a perfect day, and made me realize that we really don’t need to plan elaborate outings on the weekends. Lately I’ve been wanting to travel more, to feel like I have experienced more of England’s culture and history. I’ve sometimes felt that our life is a bit boring and that I should be making the most of living in the UK and visit all the typical must see tourist spots, thinking that this is the only way to make memories worth remembering. Now I’m starting to see that any seemingly mundane little thing can be a memory, as long as you focus on enjoying and experiencing that moment. I guess this is a cliché, but simple little things that can seem trivial in the moment often make the most precious memories. So I’m currently working on reminding myself to be present in each moment, to appreciate it rather than focusing on other things I want to do or bigger and better plans I’m making!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mornings

I have never been a morning person. At times I was complete grouch and miserable to be around each morning. I have always hated getting out of bed, and even once I would get up it would usually be a good hour before I would be fully awake and functional.

At night I would mentally calculate just how few hours it would be before I would have to get up. I got in the habit of setting my alarm at least thirty minutes earlier than I planned to get up just so I could have the feeling of lying in bed longer; and even then I’d usually stay in bed for forty-five minutes. Work mornings would always be rushed; I got to the point where I could get dressed, do my hair and make my breakfast in twenty minutes tops. I would do the bare minimum to make myself look presentable and usually ate my breakfast in the car. Weekends were not much better. I would stumble upstairs with my hood pulled over my face and curl up on the couch, still practically asleep. I’d speak only if necessary and even then it would be a croaky mumble.

But lately this has started to change. Somehow I’ve managed to get to the point where I actually enjoy getting up in the morning. I’m not quite bouncing out of bed and bursting into song, but I am upright and moving within few minutes of waking up (at least during the week, and I don’t stay in bed much longer on the weekends). I actually have a reason to get out of bed now.

I’ve created a morning routine that calms and relaxes me and prepares me for the day. I’ve allowed myself enough time to get ready for work without rushing. I have a yummy, filling breakfast and sit down and actually appreciate the tastes and textures while listening to a psalm. I spend some time writing out my thoughts and what I am grateful for each morning. I just sit for a few minutes, sipping my tea while watching the morning sky through my kitchen window.

To be honest, I am rather amazed at the change in my attitude towards the morning. It makes such a difference to my entire day to have a calming and slow start to the day. I’m happier and have a more positive attitude overall. Now I notice the change when I sleep through my alarm and have to rush to be ready for work on time; I’m more stressed, more irritable and less able to cope with my emotions and life in general.

If I can make this change then anyone can. Yes, I know that’s a rather clichéd comment, but it’s true! The key for me has been to create something to look forward to in the morning, some motivation to get out of bed. The first few mornings were really hard; it took a lot of effort to force myself to actually get up within five minutes of my alarm going off. But it was only a few days before I wasn’t thinking ‘just a few more minutes …’ and getting up half an hour later. Now I know that my will be better if I stick to my morning routine and I know I will enjoy it. I’ve gone from falling asleep dreading my next waking moment to falling asleep anticipating the quite morning hour ahead of me. I think I might almost be a morning person! Almost.

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Making Memories

I’m just an ordinary person with an ordinary and sometimes rather boring life. Is there any point in me writing this blog? What do I have to say? Is there anything I can offer or add to what is already out there? And will anyone even read this? It has always been a dream of mine to start a blog, but I never  have as I don’t think I have anything unique to set me apart from the millions of blogs already out there. But I’ve been convinced by my husband and my slowly changing perspective on life; I need to just give it my best shot and see what will happen!

I am realizing that I need to stop saying that I want to start a project, that I want to have some experience someday, that I wish I had more of a certain quality, or that my life had a different focus, and then not doing anything about it. All this does is build an immediate subconscious reaction of “there’s no way I can or will be or do that” to anything I think of doing. This tends to put me in a negative frame of mind and fosters the rather depressing feeling that I can’t do what I want and I will never be who I want to be.

So here’s to shifting my mindset, to changing my life a little bit at a time and going on adventures!

I want to be a happy and healthy wife; healthy both physically and mentally.

I want to have a technology-free morning routine that I actually stick to!

I want to building a daily habit of Bible reading and prayer.

I want to start selling the products I make with my hands.

I want to be productive and use the time I have been given wisely. It is a precious gift and not to be wasted!

I want to take advantage of the fact that living in England means I have five weeks of annual leave a year and all those European countries are very accessible. A weekend in Vienna anyone?

I want to be physically fit so I can go on a hike with my husband and actually keep up with him. I want to build some sort of physical activity into my daily routine.

I want to make memories, to be able to look back on this period in my life and remember the exciting, unique, adventurous things things we’ve done. I want to take advantage of the freedom and flexibility we have right now to do more than just sit at home every weekend!

There; I’ve written this down and published it on the internet. All that is left is to document my journey from where I am now to where I want to be. I know my attempts will be clumsy, I know that my natural inclination to be lazy and procrastinate will get in the way of any form of speedy progress. But one day I will look back on where I am right now and realize just how much I have changed.

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