Monday, 5 August 2019

Planning a Staycation

Staycations seem to have really hit off over recent years. During my childhood, it was quite commonplace for my family holidays to be along the British coastline, or in the countryside and it didn’t have a name, it was just our holiday. Of course, everything has to have a tag now and so the Staycation is it. I’m not even sure what defines a Staycation? I mean, is a few days being a ‘tourist’ in your home town a Staycation, or do you need to at least sit in traffic on a motorway for several hours?

I have family visiting next week for a few glorious days in York and Scarborough. Since I’m taking time off work and planning to undertake some very touristy pursuits with them, I’m labelling it a Staycation and my natural planning reflex has kicked into action.

In some ways, planning a Staycation is more difficult than planning a holiday. You have the excitement of going to somewhere new and unknown on a holiday, all you can really plan is your wardrobe and a few excursions because a lot of it is about the discovery. With a Staycation you have to try to see your  familiar surroundings with fresh eyes. To see what the holidaymakers see, and make sure that it really is a mini-break and that you don’t end up doing something that you would be otherwise doing, anyway. I mean, obviously, when you’re staying at home, there’s going to be some common activities, but it’s important, especially with family visiting from much farther afield, to ‘be a tourist’.

Of course, I don’t want to be that cousin/niece who turns up with the timeboxed list of things we will do, thus taking all the fun out everyone else’s trip, but having a list of potential attractions, eateries, coffee shops and so on, seeing where the mood takes you, well that’s always a good thing. If the mood means we spend most of our afternoon having long lingering discussions in coffee shops, or it’s an afternoon of perusing castles and rivers, well either way it’s fine since, whilst any break brings excitement and a sense of adventure, it’s really the time spent with special people that really matters.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Monday’s little luxury

 I am a creature of habit and schedule. As a Project Manager, and a Mum to a 1 year old, I find it just makes life flow that little bit easier. A well rehearsed routine is what ensures that I get to work in the morning on time and with minimal amounts of stress. Having said that, I’m also a big fan of elevating the every day. Seeking out little escapes from the treadmill that, whilst inexpensive, just allow a little breather that is true luxury. 

My usual Monday routine is pretty similar to any other day of the week. I wake early and sip peppermint tea, forgoing breakfast because it’s too early for my hunger to have kicked in. When I arrive off the train I usually have about half an hour to spare before my working day begins. I scurry to work, caught up in the flow of people who are all doing the same commute for the same purpose each and every day, and usually I get to my desk about 10 minutes before work starts, swallow down some toast at my desk (I have a wonderful workplace that provides free toast and jam), and sip a hot coffee (they provide that too) whilst I dig into my morning emails. This Monday though, as I wandered through town in the sunshine I did something different. I spotted a sign outside Carluccios that read ‘Coffee and a Pastry £2.95’. My watch confirmed that I had 25 minutes before my working day was due to start, and it was only a 5 minute walk from where I was. So I ordered my coffee and what seemed to be a giant and extremely luxurious almond croissant, and took a seat at one of their outside tables, in the sunshine.

For a full 15 minutes, I absorbed everything that was going on around me. The blue sky, the warm sunshine on my face, the people walking to work, other people who were seated at the tables enjoying an early morning treat. I enjoyed the strong coffee in a proper cup (I rarely buy coffee to go anyway), and the rich sweet taste of my croissant. I didn’t rush, I savoured it, finishing up neatly before walking to work, and still arriving on time. The real difference though, was in my mindset. I felt relaxed. I felt like I’d already enjoyed something luxurious and leisurely before I had even sat down to start my day, and I felt calm, in control and looking forward to the day ahead. It just shows how something so small, something which at any other time of day you might take for granted, can cast a completely different glow on your day and whilst I’m not going to make this a part of my daily routine (£14.75 a week on morning coffees soon adds up, and it wouldn’t feel luxurious if I did it every day), I definitely think there’s merit in making it a part of my Monday morning routine. Why not start the week with just a little bit of luxury?

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