Someone told me at the weekend that it’s just six weeks to Christmas and to bring a bit of happiness into our lives we should put the decorations up this week… I wonder how many of you are partaking in a bit of very early festive cheer?! Is the tree up? Have you put the outdoor lights on? Eaten your weight in mince pies already? I’m afraid I can’t bring myself to do it until at least December.
Anyway, time for a new weekly blog. And this week has been a very nice but also rather strange one. I celebrated my 40th birthday on Thursday last week, in the only way we can mark such occasions during lock down, with a walk on a hill, a Zoom call with family, and a home made key lime pie for a birthday cake.
And while this introverted Highly Sensitive Person (read about that in weekly blog 25) didn’t mind too much, it all still felt a bit odd. I had dreamed of celebrating this big birthday milestone with a trip to one of my bucket list countries, a meal out to a fancy pants restaurant, and some time spent with family and friends. But no, like so many others who have had things to celebrate this year, I had a walk on my favourite local hill, and spent the rest of the day at home dressed in fluffy socks and a cosy jumper.
Over the Hill
I had seriously mooted the idea of doing a challenge or series of challenges, or at least marking my big birthday with something a bit unusual, or probably just silly. And any other year I might have followed through with something or another, but this pandemic really has sapped the energy and motivation from me.
While I could probably have come up with a series of 40 at-home things-I-love-to-do, or gone on a 40 mile cycle ride, or started a 40 short walks in 40 days streak, it all just seemed a bit pointless if I’m honest. A bit like my GetOutside Challenge earlier in the Autumn (read weekly blog 37). I’m blaming the pandemic, but I’ve never dealt with birthdays very well, it’s like someone is prodding me and telling me time is running out (morbid, I know), so maybe I’d have always felt this way this week.
Maybe I’ll feel differently in the New Year, with some renewed energy, and use that as an opportunity to do something weird to mark my big birthday. But in the meantime, I’ll stick to my One Hour Outside challenge, which feels harder than ever this year for lots of reasons, and concentrate on getting some of the things I’ve started or promised over the last few months finished. And no, not just box sets or YouTube playlists… although I did a lot of that this week and it was lovely!
A Heap of Treats | What I Got for My Birthday
I’m blessed to have some amazing family and friends and am truly humbled that they remembered me and my milestone this week by sending treats my way.
My family really did think hard when they sent me gifts for my lock down birthday; I received care packages with hot chocolate, my favourite Yankee Candle, sherbet pips (ALL the sherbet pips!), my favourite orange and mint dark chocolate, hand cream, bubble bath, a comfy tee, a big bunch of roses, and lots more besides.
I love receiving gift vouchers for my birthday, so I can go off and have cool and lovely experiences throughout the year. I am grateful that despite nothing being open right now, I did receive a voucher for afternoon tea at a local hotel, and another with which to choose an experience myself on the BuyaGift website when things open up again (I think I’m going to choose driving a hovercraft…).
And I can’t talk about treats and not mention the two fabulous sweet deliveries I received. I’d requested a homemade key lime pie as my “birthday cake”, which was made and eaten. But I also received two bakery deliveries from lovely friends, a box of brownies from Bear’s Brownies from the lovely Sarah (the salted caramel was my favourite), and a box of gorgeous cookies crammed with chocolate from Humble Crumb Bakery from the equally lovely Lesley (the dark chocolate and ginger was SO good).
I’m not sure there is anything better than receiving a surprise delivery of brownies or cookies in the post. Both were packaged beautifully, arrived fresh and intact, and were utterly delicious treats. If you are looking for mail order baked goods for yourself or a friend, I would highly recommend both of these.
My “main” present, if there is such a thing when you are 40, was one of the new Weightless semi-rigid top boxes from Givi. The idea is that this is smaller (29 litres) and weighs a lot less than my large Trekker top case I use when road tripping, making it much more suitable for when we are heading on gravel and dirt roads. It fits into the same Monokey plate I have on the back of my bike already, and so I know it’ll be secure. I know it’s not traditional “adventure” luggage, it is not as light as a completely soft bag attached with bungees, but looking at all the options this felt like the most useful one for me based on the kind of travel I do. And yes, it has firmly weaved its way into my dreams of motorcycle adventure travel (read weekly blog 43), I really hope the trip we’ve booked to Iceland in August 2021 can go ahead!
Painting the Bathroom
When lock down 2.0 was announced I posted on here (weekly blog 43) that one thing I wanted to achieve was to get our bathroom painted. Well you’ll be pleased to know that I have just about ticked that one off the list, and our previously magnolia bathroom walls are now a rich shade of creamy dark blue, making it feel a lot more cosy and relaxing in there.
I’m a big fan of a soak in a bath, and the dark colour, bearing in mind the suite and tiles are all white, just brings it all in a bit, making it much more of a luxurious space.
I admit that we made a bit of a mistake by purchasing proper bathroom paint, as it does have more of a sheen than I’d normally choose (I must prefer matt colour to gloss), but I do love the colour and I’ll live with the shine!
That leaves us with just one room with magnolia on the walls, the spare room. I’m just not sure on the colour to paint it. I fancy a dirty pink in there, so it’s a calm and soothing room for guests, but so far the tester pots we’ve tried are just not right. I’ll keep looking.
Are you decorating this month?
Some Final Thoughts on Long Way Up
As reported last week (read weekly blog episode 43), we started binge watching Long Way Up, and I am pleased to report that we managed to see the whole series within our seven day free trial. While I did enjoy it as a whole, and it certainly inspired me to dream a bit, especially about Patagonia, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by the last couple of episodes. It all felt a bit rushed, and like the team lost sight of the journey.
It was a shame that the last three or four countries were glossed over by the producers, and they seemed to spend a lot of time (and a huge amount of money, clearly), talking about renovating a bus rather than sharing the bike road trip. I completely understand the need to take safety seriously, but it felt like everything was rushed and we didn’t get any kind of insight into their travels through Mexico at all, other than that anxiety over the potential impact of cartels.
They stopped telling us about charging the bikes, didn’t share their thoughts about the places they rode though, seemed to do a lot of hiring of generators and buying souvenirs. I’m not sure, but it also felt like the bus was for just one night on the road? And it was a shame we hardly saw or heard from Claudio, I felt he was missing from proceedings despite knowing he was there.
I love what Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGreggor have done for motorcycle adventure travel, and despite them both seeming a lot older in this third journey, it was great to have them back in my living room. They get so excited over travel, scenery and people, which is truly wonderful.
However, Long Way Up lacked the rawness and grit that Long Way Round and Long Way Down had for me. I missed the personal and in-depth stuff travel journaling, it was replaced with cleaner and more cinematic shots and rushed sequences. I wonder if part of that was the better technology; drones and fancy helmet cameras are fabulous, but we don’t get the up close and personal side of it.
I should say that this is a series worth watching if you haven’t already, but concentrate on the first seven episodes and know the final three will be over before you know it. Have you seen it? Do you agree with my review?
As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below.