What I’ve read… The bumper 3 month edition…

Recently I realised it’s been ages since I wrote down my burbling thoughts on the books I’ve read over the last erm, well, 3 months. To be honest reading has been a bit thin on the ground, a month of illness in March left me gazing blankly at Friends reruns whenever I got time away from people. The start of April has been insanely busy with Easter and fun. Today though I feel like we are in some kind of new term, new rhythm space and so reading and writing shall happen once more.

And so… here we go..

Calling Major Tom- David M Barnett

A novel about a man who wants to escape his past, and humanity as a whole, and go live on Mars. He’s off in his space capsule to do that when he gets a call from a family who need his help. The rest is fairly predictable but kind of sweet in it’s helping someone realise that he needs other people.  I’m not sure it holds up from a science point of view but then again I don’t really care much about that. It was an engaging read.

Bit Rot – Douglas Coupland

Genius from the mind of a reflector on our culture who we all need to listen to more. Really interesting stuff about technology, the affect of having pretty much most of human knowledge available at our fingertips and what that might do to our souls. Always worth reading stuff this man writes.

Bonkers- Jennifer Saunders

If you follow along with my reading patterns you’ll be familiar with my love of celebrity female autobiographies. It’s another classic. Funny, entertaining and fascinating to see inside a bit of another persons take on life. Kept me going in the bed bound bit of my ill month.

Unapologetic- Francis Spufford.

I really liked this book. I’m not sure I agreed with all of it, but, as I’m learning in life, that is ok and it’s good to embrace things you don’t agree with every word of. I loved it for his first chapter on the high propensity of humans to fuck things up and then the question of how we deal with that. I loved it for it’s chapters on Jesus and how brilliant he was.

Swallows and Amazons- Arthur Ransome

Normally I avoid bedtime reading because I’m done in by the end of the day and want nothing more than to escape on a run or collapse in front of some lovely van conversion videos. When we read Swallows and Amazons to son1 for the first time I couldn’t leave the room. I had forgotten how this deeply quiet slow paced book had got me through waking up after nightmares or in nights when I couldn’t sleep as a child. I had forgotten how much I could recite from it. I had forgotten how it had informed all our play with the boys who lived up the road. I loved rediscovering all of those things as I read it to son1 and listening to husbandface read it for the first time. It is a brilliantly gentle book, there are long descriptions of sailing, food eaten at each meal, the way they set up camp and more.  Son1’s vocabulary is now full of boat terms and we are going to find Wild Cat Island in the summer when we go to the Lakes. I loved all over again the really good amount of female characters, the dreaming imagination of Titty (yes, get over it), the very sensible practical nature of Susan (could have been a stereotype but her sister and the Amazons show that there is more to a woman than sorting out the cooking, although Susan shows that is needed too) and the tomboyish bounciness of the Amazon pirates, one fearless and full of bravado and one slightly more scared and clumsy. A great read for lovers of quiet, slow, barely any tension books.

Silence- Erling Kagge

A beautiful reflective book on the need for more silence in our lives. Well worth a read.

The heart goes last- Margaret Attwood.

Weird future is mental book. Not really sure I enjoyed it at all. There are some really good insights into humans and what our lives might turn into but she’s done much better stuff.

Heroes of the Frontier- Dave Eggers.

A mum of two children, an RV, Alaska, what is the point of life themes, a cynical bent and some hope thrown in for good measure. What’s not to love? (had to really restrain myself from heading off in an RV during the whole time I was reading it…)

The love song of Miss Queenie Henssey.- Rachel Joyce

The other half of the Harold Fry walking book, Queenie’s story. It was ok, sad and bittersweet.

Artemis- Andy Weir.

A recommend of the husbandface which I was reluctant to undertake because of last year’s Seven Eves from which I am still recovering from the boredom of. Anyway. This was written by the same guy who did the Martian so I thought I’d be ok. It was a good read if you like a bit of Sci Fi. About a woman smuggler on a Moon base, trying to bring down a corporate take over. She was a great character and it was a pretty good read.

What have you been reading? Any recommends?

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Reflecting on the Easter Holidays…

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Thursday morning that feels like a Monday. 

The end of the Easter Holidays. 

The start of new paths in this world. 

Yep. It’s roundup time. The holidays are over and there is much to be reflected on. 

We had a lovely Easter time. Easter weekend was massively special, hanging out with new friends from church, catching up with old friends, sharing Easter Sunday with our friends who are family and then seeing family on a typically rainy Bank Holiday. 

We loved the Easter stuff going on at church. Good Friday reminded us of the darkness that haunts this world and the only hope for the broken mess we find ourselves in so many times. We sat and heard the old old story again, heard heartbreaking songs and held people close in our hearts for whom the rain keeps falling in this season of life. 

Easter Sunday morning found us down on the beach hearing what resurrection means for some of our church. It was a beautiful time of sharing stories of pain tinged with the silver thread of hope. I remembered the year before when I could see no hope. Each year we are encouraged to choose a stone from the beach to warm in our hands and remind us of someone or some situation where there seems to be no hope. They serve as reminders to pray and to hope for the light of resurrection in the darkest times. Last year my stone represented the lovely husbandface. This year I wept with joy at the changes that we’ve seen in these last few months. Things aren’t completely healed but we are so much further along the road. This year I held my lovely brother and sister in law in my heart. Longing for them to be rooted and flourishing in a space that is theirs in this world. I wait in anticipation. I wait in hope. 

Husbandface then swam in the sea. Crazy man. 

The Easter morning service seemed to burst with joy. Big fat singing. A bubble machine and the taste of hope on my lips. 

It was also a service when the next step in our life was announced. I’m going to be working for our lovely church for 16 hours a week helping out with small groups, pastoral care and generally helping nurture community in the midst of us. It’s initially for 6 months to see how it all works out and if it is the right step all round. 

It’s the kind of job that I’ve said for years that I would like if anyone has asked what I want to do with my time. Frankly it’s fairly terrifying and exciting for that to become a reality. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works out. I officially start on Wednesday. Eek. 

After a fairly full on Easter weekend we took ourselves off to Cornwall to visit more friends who are like family. It was lovely to hang out, chat late into the evening, see the children enjoying each other and spending three lovely days outdoors in the beautiful world of Cornwall. It was refreshing in so many ways to be out of our space. Our friends are deeply inspiring in the way they parent and think about life in this world. I came home revitalised and able to see our lives from a changed perspective.

It was also a time of realising that the lovely husbandface isn’t as well as we might think he is. After 5 days with many people and lots of noise (5 children aren’t all that quiet to be around) his body was being triggered all over the place, it was a very pale and twitchy man that I drove back home on Sunday. Thankfully a couple of days at his lovely quiet calm job sorted things out and I am once more profoundly grateful he has such a helpful working environment, even if it does seem counter intuitive to recover from your holiday at work…

Foolishly I planned in a bit too much stuff for the days that followed our return and forgot we are a family of introverts.  After a day of mooching around on the beach everyone’s moods chilled out again and I must must remember to include a couple of introvert days into each week of the long summer holiday. 

Today me and the smallest are hanging out regrouping before nursery tomorrow. 

It’s been a good holiday and I’m looking forward to the term ahead, to new rhythms, to days in the sun (I can live in hope..) and the best season to be a parent of small people in. 

This morning I read a page of Thoughts to make your heart sing (meant to be for small people but actually perfect for parents in the parched desert of faith that early years parenting seems to bring). It told me of a God who teaches us to walk, who holds our hands as we learn and is gentle and kind with us. I’m deeply glad I walk into this term holding a hand bigger than mine, that I belong to someone who knows and loves me, that whatever happens, whatever faith looks like at the moment I am a child learning to walk in the arms of a loving and gentle parent. 

Somehow the next few weeks feel more manageable as a result of that. 

As we sang loud and clear on Easter Sunday.

“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because he lives, all fear is gone,
Because I know he holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because he lives.”

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Round up time.

It’s the…. week and halfish round up and an end of term bumper round up. My body and mind say it’s Friday. The calendar tells me a different story but I don’t care. Whatever day of the week it is I’m in a round up kind of mood as I’ve just picked the small ones up from their last day of school and nursery for a couple of weeks.

Small pause to look at the diary and work out what we’ve been up to for the last couple of weeks.

Ah yes.

We are still recovering from illness. March has been lost in a haze of snot, sickness, bugs, coughing and vicks menthol inhaling. Son2 had his immunisations and has sworn never to see a nurse again because they hurt you. Son1 got sick as well and we had many days of no routine. Nights have got better in the last few days but I’m still waiting to feel fully well again. Since the last round up we’ve just been ploughing through the days and hoping that the snot will leave soon.

It hasn’t all been bad though, we’ve got our Easter vibe on, we loved the Passover meal at church on Tuesday evening and the kids Easter party yesterday. The boys are loving the resurrection eggs each morning and I’m glad of a four day weekend with the husbandface in front of us.

I had my last counselling session on Tuesday and loved reflecting on the transformation in our lives in these last few months. I feel like we’ve regrouped, reformed and are sailing on in a sensible fashion. I love seeing the change in husbandface, the connections we are able to make with people at church now his world is more stable and I’m enjoying others getting to know him at last. I’m also loving the effect counselling has had on my inner world. I recommend it highly. I feel more human, more complete and able to embrace the path in front of us as a result of the processing done in these last few months.

I’ve also realised that the space I’ve been craving for the last 5 years isn’t really the answer to life. I am grateful for the breathing room at the end of each week, that I’ve had this term, but I feel like I’m learning that empty space with nothing in it isn’t what I need to give me life. I need space that has different things in it, time for the stuff that brings life and good mental health. I think I’m learning that I need to put the things that bring me life into each day rather than waiting for some mythical future of empty days. My tendency is always to wish for some perfect future where I have oceans of time just for me. It’s an illusion, a mirage. What brings me life is space within days, time to read and run and see people.

I don’t know if that makes any sense but I think that whatever the future holds I feel ready to embrace a rhythm of our days that aren’t about holding out for a future collapse. Just as husbandface is learning how to pace himself and his body I think I’m learning how to do that too. We are at the tail end of the all consuming years with the boys. I have no idea what the future will hold but I know I want to live each day well so that I’m not desperate for escape. Anyways. It feels like a healthy place to be in.

All we have is this present moment to live in, I have spent far too much of my life trying to batten down the hatches against coming storms (real or imagined) rather than enjoying or coping with the moments in front of me. I can’t control the world. I am not responsible for many many things. Worrying about those things takes me out of the present and away to some dark corner of my brain. I’m slowly forming new pathways in my mind of coming back to the here and now. It’s handy that the only place we can experience God is also in the here and now. Our Maker has our past covered, the future in mighty hands and now today has good works for us to walk in. I am the Makers handiwork, a poem, a beautiful creation belonging to my God. I am held and safe. The future is unknown and beyond my control and that is ok. (Well that’s what I’m slowly starting to try and accept..)

And so we come to Easter.

A weekend of remembering that the darkness has been fought and has been conquered. A weekend of remembering we have one who knows the depths of the crap in this world and suffers with us. A weekend of knowing that in all our Fridays, Sunday will come. A weekend of knowing that most of our lives are sat in the dark waiting. A weekend of reassurance that the light will come. The light will come.

So hold on my friends. Sit in the sadness. Know the vast echoing silence of Saturday and the lack of answers or hope. Then head down to the beach and hear the voice of your beloved saying, come, come and have breakfast.

Oh for that final dawn.

Oh for that final voice calling our names.

Come Lord Jesus. Come.

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Easter time…

I’m sitting in my sons’ bedroom on Palm Sunday evening. I doubt I’ll be out of here anytime soon as with clocks going forward and a fateful nap in the car this afternoon they are both restless.

We are about to head into Holy Week. A week that is ingrained in my brain as a special one, a week to stop and slow down time. A week to get together with others on this journey of faith thing and remember. A week to remember that other week just over 2000 years ago which changed the course of history and gave us hope in the face of a dark and disturbing world.

It’s a week where I want to bathe in the certainties of faith, where I want to remember the old old story and come again to the wonder of the cross. A week where I want my boys to grasp something of the crazy world of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This week takes me back to my childhood where I first heard of a man who was willing to die so I could be forgiven, made new, restored and made whole. This week reminds me of the greater wider understanding I gained of the cross over my 20s as I repeated the ritual of remembering. This week reminds me of the times more recently I’ve needed to come to this story like a child and feel the emotional weight of it once more.

When I was growing up I remember loving books about Haffertee Hamster (he was a soft toy hamster who lived with a Christian family and gradually found out about Jesus through Christmas and Easter with them…bear with me… it was the 80s…). I discovered some again in a charity shop recently and the boys have been enjoying them. Haffertee’s first Easter is an emotional read. From Palm Sunday to the empty tomb the little hamster tries to wrap his head around the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a good read. No really. I think it’s where I learnt the emotional impact of the cross, the sadness of what happened and the wonder of resurrection joy. Haffertee learns it through the death and putting back together of one of his soft toy friends Howl Owl. I recently wept my way through the chapter where he dies (torn apart by birds in the garden apparently…) and the very appropriate sadness as the family acknowledge that God doesn’t seem very nice that night and no one can manage to pray. The next day the mother of the family has put the owl back together (she made it, she could make it again.. see where this rather clumsy illustration is going?!) and there is joy at seeing their friend again.

As I read it I had memories of reading this book each Easter and grasping how horrific Jesus’ friends and family must have found those few days. It gave those events more meaning and feeling than just the bible story could.

Anyway. I can’t really appreciate enough that this story (the Jesus one, not the Haffertee one..) is written like a thread of gold throughout my life. Life with God feels very different to 5 or 10 or 15 years ago but this story remains the same, the anchor point for how I can carry on in this world.

With that in mind I’ve been pondering how I can make it special for my boys too. A couple of years ago in a fit of enthusiasm I tried resurrection eggs (12 eggs that have a symbol and a passage in them from the death of Jesus) clearly my 3 year old wasn’t quite ready for the long passages each day and we gave up on them. This year the now 5 year old is ready for a spot of reading each day and I’ve created a more manageable 8 eggs to open from today until Easter Sunday. I’ve also put slightly different passages in mine.

We go from Palm Sunday (with donkey and lego palm branch in the egg), to Jesus washing the disciples feet (picture of the feet in the egg), to the meal in the upper room (a cup and bread inside), to the garden of gethsemane (a picture of praying hands), to Jesus being told he will die (picture of a crown of thorns), to the curtain torn (a piece of cloth ready to be torn from top to bottom), to his death (a cross), the tomb (a stone) and then the final empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning (an empty egg with instructions as to where to find their celebration chocolate ones). We’ll be reading the stories from the various books about Easter that we have around the house and the Jesus Story Book Bible.

This morning it went well, our 3 year old loved the short story and our eldest enjoyed reading what was in the egg and the instructions as to where to find the story.

I’m looking forward to some time each morning this week to remember. I’m also glad our church does Easter very well. We have a Passover meal on Tuesday a Good Friday meditation on Friday evening and breakfast on the beach on Sunday morning.

I always loved Easter more than Christmas when I grew up, my greed always tainted Christmas as I struggled with wanting more and more presents. Easter seemed simple, more profound, more about the wonder of being loved enough to be worth dying for. More about the broken mess of this sad world getting made new and given hope today.

I love Easter. I love the big fat certain joy it brings to my heart.

I’ll probably be blogging more about that this week. Come along for the ride if you like.

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Weekly round up… bumper 2 week edition..

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It’s been 8 years, 8 years but this year. I am going back to the land my soul loves. More below…

It’s Friday morning, the sermon for Sunday morning is mostly done and oddly seems to make sense, the house is quiet and calm with the small whirlwinds at their school for a while. Belle and Sebastian are bringing music to my ears and I’m finding myself in the mood for one of these weekly round up things.

I’m sure March had just begun last time I wrote one of these, it seems a little ridiculous that it could now be the middle of March, time is doing that crazy fast thing again, and, to quote the wonderful Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you’ll miss it…” Quite. (does anyone know who Ferris Bueller is anymore? Bueller, Bueller, Anyone?)

Ahem.
So, lets stop and look around…

The last two weeks have been very small and slow. I’ve been sick, sicker than I’ve been in a while, with a horrible virus/flu thing that is taking a while to shift. Amazingly I didn’t have to just push through, amazingly because I’m really not sure I could have done this time. The lovely Husbandface and friends came to the rescue, sorting out the school run on a couple of days and generally giving me the time I needed to lie in bed staring at Friends, wondering how it is 14 years since they finished being on our screen all the time.

Sickness makes everything small and quiet. I haven’t seen many people, son2 has also been ill so we’ve watched endless rounds of Puffin Rock (lovely for the Norn Irish accents all over the place). That’s pretty much it for the week to be honest. Most of life has been put on hold. I’ve been fairly ok with that, this term has felt like a bit of a slow adjustment to life in our new normal and being sick, having time to rest and get better is part of the deal.

Counselling has been pretty awesome in helping me process much of the stuff of my life, each week I feel like we sort out a different cupboard in my head, take the bits and pieces out, look at them together and then put them back, neater and with less rubbish around them. This round is coming to an end in a couple of weeks and I feel pretty good about that, glad of the things I’ve been able to realise about myself and my approach to life and hopeful about having better tools to live life well with. I think I come away with a gentle realisation that I’ll never be ‘sorted’ out but that’s ok.

I think my greater ease with myself, who I am and what I am like is feeding into all sorts of areas of life, and maybe that’s why no sermon grumps this time around… Or maybe it’s a fluke. Or … Anyways. Whatever the reason is, I am grateful for change and a sense of peace with who I am right now.

Being sick helped me plan our, slightly scaled down, summer adventures this year. With Husbandface rather rudely getting an amazing job he loves which isn’t teaching comes a decrease in holiday times. I am sad. But happy about the non exhausted husbandface who has fun colleagues and work that doesn’t destroy his body. It’s a mix of emotions. Anyway. He does, obviously, get some holiday time and we are using that to head to the Lakes and Northern Ireland in a VW campervan, pretty much the opposite of the beast we hired last year, but hopefully good for the tiny small winding passes in the Lake District.

I can’t wait. I haven’t properly been back to the Lakes for about 8 years. Writing that makes me sad. All through my 20s I would visit the Lakes about 2-3 times a year. Some might say that’s overkill but it is a precious and amazing place. I’ve stayed away because of various things, not really having time in the first couple of years of marriage and then feeling like I had no idea how to relate to the place with small people in tow. I might just have stared at the mountains and cried (in a bad way, rather than in the good way I do whenever I go there). This year I turn 40. It feels like a good year to go back and see how family holiday and adventure works there, to give the boys chance to fall in love with the hills and lakes, to visit my valley around Buttermere. I feel in so many ways, over the last few months, that I’m coming back to life, feeling daily more and more like Kath again after 5 intense years of being a carer for small people and then my lovely husbandface. Going back to the Lakes will hopefully be another step on that road to enjoying the stuff which I love and brings me alive. We are also hopping across the Irish sea to see lovely family and see more pretty mountains as my sister and father in law live near the Mournes. Ah. Happy Happy Days.

With that all booked the call is to live well now, to look to the couple of weeks in front of me and to remember that it is Easter soon. Lent has passed me by this year and I’m starting to realise that I really don’t want Easter to pass us by as a family. Easter is rooted deep in my soul, the rhythm beats strong,  from the crowds of Palm Sunday, the upper room, a dark dark painful wrestle in a garden at night, the sadness of Good Friday, the quiet despair of Saturday and then to the joy that Sunday came. I love drawing away from the eggs, chocolate and hot cross buns (apart from when consuming them) and  looking to the reality of what Easter points us to.

It’s the story that I can’t get away from, the certain stuff in a world of grey nuance, the bit of my faith that feels entirely non negotiable. Everything else seems so uncertain these days but Easter brings me back to the wonder of a cup, a cross and an empty tomb. It’s the story that has followed me since I was small and I pray will lead me until I am old and grey. It’s the centre of all I hold dear and it’s the stuff of hope in this world. Resurrection will come, death has been defeated, Jesus will come again, forgiveness is real and possible, guilt and shame can be taken away, I can be who I was made to be. I can love freely, widely and expansively.

So yes, once this sermon has been done, I’m going to start musing on helpful ways to celebrate Easter, and book in some baby sitters so we can enjoy some of the brilliant ways our church helps us do that in a passover meal and a Good Friday evening reflection.

View noted and recorded.

How have your last two weeks been?

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Weekly round up. The snow edition.

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It’s been a weird old week around these parts. A fairly up and down week, and mostly a cold one.

We kicked off the weekend in style by enjoying a freezing cold beach picnic. The adventure was declared a success and gave us all a thirst for more outdoor fun. The next day the outdoor fun was met with tears and wailing by the small ones but 1 out of 2 ain’t bad for weekend adventure joy…

The snow that swept in on Monday night altered all my plans for the week and left me in a bit of a spin. I’m not so good with changes in routine. We enjoyed our first snow day together on Tuesday, we made snow angels, delighted in the novelty of it all and saw friends. Even so by the end of the day angry shouty lady had made a return. I’m not so proud of my behaviour as the day wore on. I was deeply, deeply thankful that we live in a world of grace, of the unconditional love of the Maker and that forgiveness is needed and real.

Wednesday’s sunshine brought out light in my soul and I delighted in new starts, blue sky, pretty walks on the downs and sleep. Phew. Thursday brought another dip as both boys were once more off from school and nursery. The grey gloom of the day didn’t help. The lack of ability to get out and enjoy the outdoors due to icy winds, below freezing temperatures and a smallest who was unimpressed with the cold by now, made me feel a little trapped. The lovely friend who invited us round for the morning did help. The day felt much more manageable and less cut off as a result. Still. By the very end of the day we were once more at logger heads and the return of the husbandface was very welcome. This morning I’m back on the hoorah for grace up of the roller coaster having enjoyed a long stomp over the hills around the back of our house. Cabin fever has been averted for a while.

Up and down, up and down swing my emotions.

In the midst of this week I’ve also despaired at the glut of information available to us. Douglas Coupland’s book ‘Bit Rot’ is still swirling around my head and some of his comments that we have the world’s knowledge available to us within seconds, via the internet, have been haunting me. I don’t know what to do with all that knowledge, it seems that it paralyses rather than sets us free. If I have a question about parenting, how to eat healthily, an aspect of my faith, looking after a pet, hiring a camper van or even the weather I am met with a wealth of conflicting information. There is no helpful way to deal with the vast amount of stuff that all claims to be well researched and the right way to do things. I am overwhelmed by the whole thing and wishing to be isolated on a small island with no internet. I know there are good and brilliant things about the internet but right now I just feel pressurised and paralysed by all this information that there is no consensus on how to process. Does anyone have any wisdom on this? Any idea how to deal with the flood?

In better news my brain has been blown by a distilled quote from John Swinton, a mental health theologian who said something along the lines that the essentials of being human is caring for others and being cared for by others.

To see being cared for as an essential part of being human strikes me as insanely wonderful. It means that we don’t have to be strong to be human, we don’t have to have it all together, that people who spend their lives caring for others are no more human than the people they are caring for.

This idea gives dignity to us all, whatever state we are in, whether stuck in bed unable to move or able to pour our energies into sustaining others. It also means that it is utterly good and human to be looked after, to be helped, to receive care. As someone who has received so much recently I find this so freeing. I don’t have to pay it back to regain my worth as a human. Part of being human is to receive.

For those of us who believe in a God of grace who has poured themselves out for us this is incredible news. We don’t have to work to earn our worth, part of us reflecting the divine is receiving from the divine. We are recipients of grace, unending love, forgiveness.  We bend that out to others but we also receive it from others. We are just as human if we spend all of our life receiving.  That I am so bowled over by this makes me think that I have imbibed a world view that says the people who are doing the caring have more worth and value than those being cared for. Putting it that starkly horrifies me and I want to say sorry. I feel so freed by this view of what it means to be human. So freed.

So there we go, it has been a week of ups and downs.

How’s about you?

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Thrifty Outdoor Adventures pt1.

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Rather ambitiously I want to start a series of posts documenting our search for fairly cheap adventures outdoors. I am trying to curb my cravings for a campervan. There are SO many more ways to explore the outdoors than in a campervan (to some that might be blindingly obvious but my head is kinda strange at times). We also want our boys to grow up loving the outdoors, I figure as much exposure as possible in as fun a way as possible will help. This week I feel like I’ve come out of the gloom of winter and that although it’s freezing out there we need to start being more intentional about getting outside.

Today we kicked off the adventures by heading to Seven Sisters Country Park and a walk down to the beach at Cuckmere Haven. I wasn’t sure whether the extreme cold or the extreme moods of son2 in his 3 year old grumps would bear this out as a wise choice but we took the plunge anyway. It was a delightful success, here are some of the ways we tried to make it as fun and manageable as possible:

Getting prepared.
We decided that instead of just dragging the boys (aged 5 and 3) out of the door that we would give them as much involvement in this endeavour as possible.  All week I’ve been dropping in hints of what we would do on Saturday and asking son1 for his advice and input. We are reading Swallows and Amazons to Son1 at the moment so any mention of exploring is a winner in his book.

Embrace a good list.
We wrote a list of things we would need to pack for our picnic, healthy and slightly less healthy. Son1 had lots of ownership over what went on the list which made him super excited about it all, we also promised the joys of cocktail sausages and pork pies, along with some super healthy wraps, cut up pepper sticks and some fruit.

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Food is your friend.
I made flapjacks (“NOT YUCKY ONES MUMMY” Advice which I took to mean put loads of sugar and butter in them) these were very useful in son2 surviving the whole hike to the sea and back. He’s happy as long as there is constant food available.

Did I mention lists?
Son1 loves a list and so before we headed out Husbandface and the boys made a spotting list of things we might find to tick off as we went along. I think we found pretty much everything on the list (except Swans, clearly it wasn’t the weather for Swans…)

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Go at their speed.
We went at their snail like pace and enjoyed the scenery. I think I sometimes forget their legs are uber small, I get easily frustrated that we aren’t fast or that it doesn’t feel like enough exercise. Thankfully I had sated my desire for endorphins the previous two days and so could enjoy a slower pace to life today.

Make it fun.
I recommend getting hold of a brilliant person like my lovely husbandface who can raise the joy when icey cold wind is blowing in your face on the way back and it all gets a bit too much. Son2 saw a brief bit of shoulder action but was persuaded back into walking with more flapjack, a quick rest and some fun chasing of each others shadows. Constant encouragement and i-spy also made the walk back from the beach easier.

All in all I think it was a great success, we made the most of a beautiful cold sunny day, we ate outside, we had fun, son2 only had one teeny tiny moment of being on the edge and we walked just over 2 miles with them. Now to think about where we can get outside next week.

And the thriftyness?
We spent £3 on parking and used some of our petrol in the car. We had enough cake and hot chocolate in a flask to make the lure of the tea shop seem less tempting and even the boys could see that ice cream on a day like today might be a bit mad.

Part 1. It’s. A. Win.

(sorry, watching too much swashbuckle as we warm up back at home…)

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