I am just back from my holidays; that is a rarer thing to type than I could ever have imagined. My family and I usually get away a couple of times a year and have at least a couple of trips a year to Ireland to see my husband’s family. Like so many around the world, separated from loved ones, we had not seen them for eighteen months, since Christmas 2019. Even up to the last minute it was not certain we would be able to go, due to travel restrictions. My two daughters were both at school right up until two days before we left, and there was a lot of Covid around , so we might at any moment have been ‘pinged’ or the girls told they had to isolate. A neighbour of mine was ‘pinged’ within an hour of setting off for her holiday and had to turn back. We were on tenterhooks.
I am delighted to report that we did get away, and it felt very exciting indeed to drive onto the ferry and then finally to arrive in Dublin. My association with the city goes back a quarter of a century now and it feels like my second home. We wondered how we might fill a whole fortnight there – we don’t usually stay quite so long – but the time sped by and when we drove back onto the return ferry yesterday, it seemed like we had only disembarked the day before! Time with family felt precious indeed.
I’ll write more about my trip later in the week, but for now, since it is the 2nd of August, it is time for this month’s reading challenge. Lat month the theme was ‘a book to travel with’ and I chose Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. This book is a an account of the author’s epic 1,100 mile solo hike on the notoriously challenging Pacific Crest Trail which begins at the border with Mexico and winds through California, Oregon and Washington. I read this book on my holiday and it is highly compelling. Look out for my review later in the week.
This month’s theme is quite different – ‘a book to rest with’. I had a couple of choices, including a book by popular broadcasting psychologist Claudia Hammond called The Art of Rest: How to find respite in the modern age, which I might get anyway. But I have decided to go with something less science-y and more spiritual – The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim. If the last year has taught me anything it is the value to my own personal wellbeing of being less busy, spending more time in nature really noticing the world around me, instead of rushing through it. It has been painful being disconnected from friends and family and I know that for many people the isolation has been terrible, but for me I can honestly say that the slower pace of life has had its upsides. I would like to use the opportunity of reading this book to find the balance that works for me going forward.
I am rejoicing that my diary is quite literally empty for the entire month or August. I am looking forward to continuing the air of serenity that I have brought back with me from my holiday, and to spending the month reading, writing, walking and being a little more spontaneous than life usually allows.
I would love for you to join me on my reading challenge this month.