When you're busy (who isn't these days?) and feel as though you're constantly juggling priorities and demands, any free time is precious. If I know there's a chance of an hour or two of 'me time' (don't really like that phrase but still...) I usually opt for one of a very short list of places to take myself. Sometimes I'll stay at home and Get Things Done, but more often than not I get out. You're probably familiar with some of my favourite haunts; moorland walks or woodland wanders alongside the river. Occasionally I head back into civilisation and go to the grown-up section of the library to peruse the shelves at my leisure. Or I visit the antiques place to admire all the old kitchenalia and furniture.
But, having worked for such a long time in the heritage sector, I can't resist a museum. And the fact that our little local one has re-opened (complete with a lovely new cafe) means I very occasionally treat myself to a coffee and cake and a bit of people-watching. Like I did on Friday. I also scribbled in my notebook, wandered around the gardens with my camera, and visited the art exhibition upstairs. This time around it was lots of nudes, painted in murky oils, with four-figure price tags. I actually liked one or two of them. The ones where the subjects were wearing clothes. This does not make me a prude, I promise - it's just that the dresses were quite nice.
I'll never be an art critic.
Anyway... Once I'd had my little escape I ran a few errands, visited my brother and then returned home in time to take Joe up for his mid-afternoon nap. But I felt refreshed and rested. And extremely grateful to Joe's grandparents for taking him off my hands for those few hours.
These places which take us away from everything, these opportunities to clock off for a little while: they're very important. I relish them and try not to waste a single second. And if I can head somewhere which not only relaxes me but makes me feel inspired? That's where I'll go. Often it depends on the weather but usually it's all about my mood and what I feel I need at that particular time; solitude and nature or culture and company (from a safe distance).
I'm interested, do you have anywhere you escape to when you're alone? Maybe during a lunch break or when the children are being taken care of for a little while... Perhaps you run for the hills. Or sit in a teashop with a book. I'd love to know.