I honestly can’t grasp just how fast time is passing at the moment. How has another week gone by already? We’re now ten months into 2021. Ridiculous.
If I’m being completely honest with you, I nearly decided to skip this weekly blog update. With the days speeding by at a rapid pace, and feeling a bit uninteresting in many ways, I’ve opened my drafts file a couple of times this week and looked for far too many minutes at the empty page.
But I was encouraged by my leadership coach earlier today, who suggested I should try a bit of free flow writing. And rather than taking to my journal and writing just for me, I thought it might make an interesting weekly blog episode. Let’s see where we end up.
Free Flow Writing
Flow writing is a technique to help you bridge the gap between your conscious, cognitive mind and the unconscious, intuitive mind. It’s one of the many recommended tools that can be used to calm an anxious mind, help those in chaos to see things clearly, or simply to allow you to remember the emotions associated with particular events.
It’s something I do occasionally when I write my journal, because otherwise I find diary writing is much too structured and intentional – with free flow writing the unintentional sentences are the ones that provide insight.
The idea is you set yourself a specific time – I’ve given myself 30 minutes this evening, with Scala Radio playing in the background, and a handful of biscuits to keep my sweet tooth happy (custard creams if you’re interested) – and you just write. It might start with a theme, in my case that’s very simply “my week”, but ultimately you simply write what comes into your head, allowing yourself to go off on tangents, ramble, make observations, until the time runs out.
I completely understand that free flow writing as a tool for mental wellbeing should be private, for your eyes only, to allow you the confidence and freedom to put your inner most thoughts and feelings on paper. It seems sensible to be at least a little bit careful about what I publish on the internet, which means that this particular weekly-blog exercise isn’t quite as intended, but it is at least in the spirit of free flow. I thought it was worth an experiment, just to see what comes to mind from the last week.
When I get to the end I’ll come back and add in a few subheadings to help with the readability of my weekly blog, but other than that, you’re reading my free flow writing as it happens. Here goes.
Asking for Favours
I head north tomorrow ready to start my UK Coast to Coast hike this weekend. I’m feeling very fortunate because a friend and colleague who lives in the Lakes happened to choose this week as her one-week-per-month in the office, and is willing to have a passenger on her way home tomorrow. In return for some Percy Pigs and a coffee or two, which I am very happy to provide.
Even more kindly, she’s putting me up for the night, which means I don’t need to find a hotel or campsite on my own, and will take me to St Bees on Saturday to meet Jenni. She’s a hiker herself and has done the Coast to Coast, so I’m very much looking forward to picking her brain (even more than I have already) with all the questions I have.
I guess this came to mind first because she’s not long messaged to let me know what time she’s coming to pick me up in the morning. And I’ve just put the final bits in my duffel bag, well apart from my phone charger cable which I will add tomorrow. Let’s face it, my Coast to Coast hike has been at the front of my mind for weeks, at least since we returned from Iceland (which I still haven’t blogged about, maybe I’ll get some notes written while I’m away). It’s absolutely taken up all my headspace not already taken up with work and making sure I eat properly, and I know I’ve been a stuck record on the topic. You’ll be pleased to know I’m actually going to do this hike now, so I’ll be onto the next thing soon!
I’ve always been really bad at asking for favours. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s some weird deep-seated desire to be self-sufficient. Or my introversion and highly sensitive nature making me unable to pipe up and ask. But this time I did, and I’m very glad about that, because I get to spend some time with a lovely human, and I don’t have to travel by train!
The Logistics of Train Travel
Talking of trains, I will be using rail to get home once I’ve finished the hike. I booked my ticket earlier this week, and I have to say, felt completely exhausted afterwards! I mean, getting good value on train travel requires the highest level of logistical planning, which my brain simply cannot cope with!
To get one ticket for my entire journey would cost me £106 (and some pennies) for the advance single rate. Which is a lot of money. So I took the time to look for three separate singles for the three trains I need to get back home, which came to £74. Better. Next I had a look in the app rather than using the website, and it came down again to £66 – for the same trains.
Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, the app then gave me a “split save” option. This is when you buy two tickets for the same train: I stay in my seat, but I show a different ticket for the second half of the journey. And that was cheaper still – bringing the cost down to a much more reasonable £55 total. Split save is not something I’ve come across before.
It is utterly ridiculous in my eyes that buying four individual tickets for my journey, rather than the one ticket covering the full distance, costs less – and not a little bit less, just about half the price. It hurt my brain to work out and find the best deals, it really shouldn’t. At the very least the total cost should match the individual cost. Right?!
Booking a City Break
I also booked a bus this week, which was much simpler – and cheaper. We’ve decided to have a short break in London around my birthday in November, just a couple of nights, in a simple hotel (nothing fancy). We’ve used National Express the last couple of times we’ve been to London, it’s only a little bit longer than by train and it’s very convenient and good value for money. And what we don’t spend on the journey and our hotel we can spend on treats when we are there!
We’re certain to do at least one of the London Walks while we’re in the city, they’re always so interesting and a most excellent way to see parts of London we might not notice or understand otherwise. They do an evening Ghost Walk which looks like fun, or there are a whole bunch of daytime options to choose from. Although we must actually look before we go this time as you can’t just turn up at the starting point these days, you have to reserve places. I guess that’s so the guides aren’t dealing with super large groups given that we’re still in this strange time, which is fair.
If that wasn’t enough walking, we’re also going to give an outdoor escape room a go. We received a Buyagift voucher last Christmas and, thanks to the obvious, have not had the opportunity to use it so far. I am quite looking forward to running around the streets of London working out clues to solve a complicated puzzle – although given that my brain hurt working out best value by train, it might be more testing than fun, we’ll see!! We’ve booked it for the morning before we catch our bus home, so I hope we can find the solution in time so we aren’t late for the bus (and, most importantly, have time to grab doughnuts from Doughnut Time on the way!).
We’re not yet sure if we will go and see a play or a musical, I quite fancy Back to the Future and the new Lloyd-Webber version of Cinderella, but we can decide that when I’m back from my hike. And if that’s too late then that doesn’t matter, there’s so much to do in London it’s never boring. I should add to my to do list to have a look to see where we can go to eat this time – we’re big fans of eating out and I like to find new-to-us places to eat each visit. Any amazing London restaurant recommendations?
Running Out of Time
On the topic of food, we went out for dinner earlier this week, to our local Turkish restaurant. I really enjoy Turkish food – I had Lamb kofte served with tomato sauce and yoghurt on shoestring fries and rice (double carbs, thank you!), they called it “Sultan’s Delight”. With baclava for dessert, of course. It’s a bit more expensive than our usual places I guess, but the food is so good, it’s worth it occasionally. There are a few new restaurants recently opened near us, and we hope to try those out over the coming weeks – with visits to our favourite burger place in-between, of course.
I’ve just looked at the clock and I only have two minutes left in my 30 minute self-inflicted time limit, and now all I can think about is time and rushing and my brain is back to being chaotic again! So, I guess this is where the free flow ends. It was good while it lasted.
I’ve learnt one thing; it’s surprising how much I can write in half an hour… and how trying free flow writing for this weekly blog has helped me remember some things about this week I’m definitely grateful for. I didn’t even talk about the lovely alcohol-free cider I had in the pub with colleagues on Wednesday, or the amazing (if I do say so myself) Shepherd’s pie I made, or the carrot and walnut cupcakes with (oodles of) cream cheese frosting my husband made at the weekend. Food and drink is always a theme in my conscious and unconscious mind!
Give me a few minutes to go back and check my spelling and grammar, and add in those subheadings, and I’ll get this online for you to read. I hope you enjoyed this slightly different take on a weekly blog.
Have you ever tried free flow writing? Something you fancy giving a go? Let me know in the comments below.
There will likely be at least a couple of weeks with no new posts here on Splodz Blogz, given that I’m off on a bit of a walking adventure. I’m sure there will be photos over on Instagram in the meantime, though, I doubt I can hike and not share the views with you – assuming there are some views, I really hope the weather is kind! But as for here on the blog, see you towards the end of October.
As always, I would really love to hear from you in the comments below. What have been the highlights of your week? Let me know what your favourite thing about the last seven days has been. And don’t forget to get your One Hour Outside today… whatever day you happen to be reading this on!
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