Sunday, 31 May 2015

My spiritual journey this half-term! (It's all about me)

Half-terms are for adults too you know, not just for children. Well perhaps only for adults working in schools. Each half-term, I have a mental list of all the things I'm going to "achieve". I never achieve them all. Where am I going wrong? Maybe in the idea that I have to "get things done", rather than just "do" things. This Whitsun week, spent with the in-laws in a cottage-complex near Frome in Somerset, I unintentionally changed the idea of my "to do list" in favour of a "creative do list". Here's what I did.
I swam every day in the massive pool, improving my front crawl which was a great achievement in itself for me. I also ran every other day, first thing, which set me off in a good mood for the whole day.
My m-i-l and I visited Stourhead House and Gardens. Whilst the house was a touch dry, the gardens were stunning. Taking an hour or so just to walk around idyllic meadows and rhododendron-lined pathways, investigate grottos and Gothic cottages, was good for the soul. Walking around the lake, a different vista appeared at every glance, such were the gardens designed. 
The gamesroom provided much fun. Replete with pool table, table football and table tennis, it was soon clear how much Ben had grown up since TableTennisGate last October in Centerparcs. (Our first game, I'm winning, Ben storms off and I go off in a huff too. Maybe we have both matured?) He was not only able to play better, but also to laugh at missed shots in good humour. Great fun. What wasn't such fun was having him tell me how to play pool as he'd been "taught by a pro" (Grandpa) for one lesson!
Tranquility. Whilst it was pleasant to do nothing, without trying to, I seemed to be creatively distracted. Psychologies magazine's Oliver Burkeman says that by fully occupying your mind on something else, you reduce the amount of attention which is otherwise used up by worrying. Hobbies requiring attention can be far more effective, he says, at reducing stress than traditionally relaxing activities. I fear this is true for me, so I've extrapolated that suggestion to include smaller-term projects, not just learning an instrument or a language, such as he recommends. 

Do I need to go back to all my "Busy?" posts and update them? This also links in with Happiness by Design, a book by Paul Dolan about finding pleasure and purpose in everyday life. Watch this space!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Yomping in the countryside


These days, I love a good yomp around the countryside. A coastal walk is the best, but country walks rock too. The problem is, Ben doesn't love them quite as much as me and Mr Humdrum. I was never a good walker when I was young. How I wish now that I'd done the Ten Tors, but I never saw the beauty in tackling rolling hills. I'd rather have been gothing in my bedroom or, earlier still, playing on the beach. So how to interest Ben? 

To be fair to Ben, at the end of a walk, he will usually say he's enjoyed it, but he'll just moan during it. And when you holiday in Cornwall each year, there aren't that many parts of the countryside which better it, so he's not really going to appreciate it as much as I do.

Yesterday we walked around the Devil's Punchbowl. Our new hobby, geocaching, provided a hook. We 'cached beforehand (tick) and gave Ben the choice of where to 'cache on the way home. He just had to endure a walk in the middle, where there were NO caches! 

I've discovered he's a stickler for sticking to the map. He hates the possibility of being 'lost' - ie, when we just don't know quite where we are going to end up. (I remember getting lost on the way to meet my parents in Poole for a week's holiday when he was 4. He cried his eyes out when I had to stop to ask someone the way!) So maybe next time, we ought to get him to look on the map beforehand so he can 'help' us find our way. (Although maybe from his ability to find some of the caches, we OUGHT to be getting him to mapread!) Maybe taking our old digital camera to record some of the sights along the way might help. 

What did help was us all guessing how many steps we climbed up at the last part of our walk! One hundred and ten! Ben and I lost, Mr Humdrum was the closest at 105.