Thursday, 22 May 2014

Holidaying close to home

One of the realities of the life we have currently chosen is a lot more of our time is geographically tied to this location. A commitment to morning and evening prayer five days a week means committing to being very much resent in the city centre most of the time. It was something we were very much aware of buying into when we moved here: knowing it would bring both real positives and genuine challenges. Another reality which I was perhaps less conscious of when we begun but has proved itself over the recent months is that the  home / work boundaries are much more blurred than they have been at other points in our lives. Both spaces and activities are harder to place in the "this is leisure" and "this is work" boxes. Again, this brings great positives, as we strive to live a life where every part we do is integrated into a whole, but it also has its challenges.

Setting aside time to step out of that completeness is perhaps proving to be an important part of being able to fully buy into it. Which is why, when looking at our hectic diaries a few months back we set aside one of our completely free weekends and promised ourselves we would just do something different. A generous gift offered with the strict instruction to "spend it on something for yourselves" provided an added impetus.

We conscientiously kept it free of other commitments, but, life being busy, the said weekend approached without us having given too much thought to it. By which point we had missed all the cheap train tickets, usually a deciding factor in any trip away, and we wondered if we should just give it a miss.

But then we had this crazy idea. Really, to have the kind of break we wanted, we weren't going to have to go very far at all. Our chief priorities were just to be somewhere different, away from the distractions of jobs lists and laptops; and ideally go somewhere with a bit of the greenery which the city centre doesn't really offer. It turned out our bus passes could take us to the edge of the West Midlands conurbation, where we could find both of those things with no travel costs at all.

And so it was that we went on holiday on the number 9 bus route. Which may not mean much to anyone else, but just to add a little bit of context: I have taken that bus more times than I can count. It is the route that takes us to my in-laws and, back in 2005, it was the bus I took to and from work every day. And yet, last Saturday morning, when I walked towards the bus stop to catch it, it genuinely felt different. It felt like we were going on holiday. I wonder whether we are the first people who have ever "gone on holiday" by getting a bus from Birmingham to Stourbridge?

Admittedly, the best weather of the year so far definitely helped. Add in a long walk along a very beautiful stretch of canal, another along a disused railway, a cheap hotel, a soak in the bath, a balti restaurant, a good book, a lie-in, a full cooked breakfast, a country house and park, an ice-cream ... and I can think of little more that I would have wanted from this "mini-break". I guess holidays are perhaps less about where we go, and more about managing to change our mindset into a different gear. A change of location definitely helps that process, but maybe the distances don't always need to be as far as we sometimes imagine.

Who'd have thought it? A "holiday" in the Black Country turned out to be exactly what I needed and I arrived home on Sunday afternoon feeling thoroughly refreshed and ready to throw myself back into my hectic life.

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