Good morning friends, and welcome to a rather delayed weekly blog episode. I started writing this one way back in very early July. I was sat on my hotel room bed in France on the first night of our recent Benelux motorcycle road trip, and jotted down a few notes thinking it would be nice to get this weekly blog published while on the road.
We’d ridden from home, caught the Euro Tunnel at Folkestone, and hot footed it over to Valenciennes, ready to do some exploring in Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and a little bit of the Netherlands. I had every intention of using the hour or so of post-shower downtime I normally got between the day’s riding and heading out for dinner to write. But after putting a few words down on that Sunday evening, I didn’t look at my blog drafts file once until this weekend – three whole weeks later. And I was only away for a week!
My excuse? It turned out I just didn’t have the time, energy or desire to write that week. I didn’t write at all – there isn’t a journal (not even a personal one), and I didn’t post on Instagram. Instead, I simply spent my time enjoying being on that road trip. Which I know isn’t a bad thing.
Then when I got home, life got very busy very quickly – work and home and other things took over all of my being. And when I wasn’t doing the doing, I chose to nothing the nothing… I’m very good at not doing things, even when I really want to do them.
A Month Without Blogging
All this means this weekly blog episode is the first post I’ve managed to write and publish in July. Which I’m a bit sad about, if I’m honest. But that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
Keeping up is hard. I honestly thought I’d have written and published all my Cotswold Way adventure journal posts by now. I mean, I hiked it in the last week of April, which is ages ago, and have had two other adventures since then.
Alas, blogging always takes a back seat when life at work and home is busy, when the fun things come in quick succession (which I then want to write about, adding to the list), and I am already tired.
Blogging is my hobby. I do it because I enjoy writing – it’s my creative outlet and seeing my words published brings me so much joy. But I’m also very good at taking unintended breaks for days and weeks at a time, which leads to disappointment in myself.
Because I’m not going to keep up with my desire to publish regularly (or catch up) if I don’t actually write anything, at the weekend I promised myself I will do at least 30-minutes of blog writing every day this week. I’m taking a leaf out of the school of thought that if you do just a little bit each day, it will lead to more. And if it doesn’t, then at least I’ve done a bit.
Already, that 30-minutes a day means I have actually picked this weekly blog episode back up, and you (should) have something new to read on Splodz Blogz this week.
I’m a regular listener to Fern Cotton’s Happy Place Podcast. Each week, Fern – who I grew up with on television and radio and will acknowledge I really admire – releases an in-depth interview with someone (famous or not) about happiness; the personal, spiritual, and the big picture.
I was listening to an episode on the train home from Cumbria, when a comment by the guest really struck me. Somewhat frustratingly, I can’t actually remember who the guest was – I made a note of the quote, but didn’t make a note of which episode I was listening to (hence not linking directly to it). If you happen to know, please do tell me.
Anyway, the comment was…
Two things don’t have to be “or”. Or “but”. They can be “and”.
It turns out there is a whole thing called and theory in psychology, which thanks to that very short element of that podcast, I’ve been reading about over the last few weeks. And (see what I did there?!) I think it’s worth noting.
Conflicting Emotions Together
If I’ve understood it correctly, humans generally think about emotions and behaviours in terms of either/or. We believe that some things can only be experienced one at a time. This is because big emotions are apparently all-encompassing, and therefore take over our whole being. A person can either be good or evil, nice or naughty, happy or sad, angry or content, grateful or frustrated – you get the drift. We believe this as fact about ourselves (of our own minds) and others.
Yet, life provides heaps of examples where things which seem to conflict with each other, in fact, live very successfully side by side. The world is full of juxtapositions – and the emotions we experience are no different. The mind can face thoughts and feelings both/and, not just either/or.
And theory says that you can – and almost always will – feel more than one thing at the same time. It’s very possible to be happy and sad, fearful and hopeful, anxious and confident, ambitious and unmotivated. Where this theory is most useful is in grief or illness; it is okay to feel both upset and down following a bereavement or diagnosis, and have a joy filled evening out with friends full of laughs and smiles.
Thrilled and Overwhelmed
This means that people (I, you), can be very appreciative of your lot in life, but annoyed at the things that make your life hard; thrilled at a fun and interesting opportunity that has come your way, but overwhelmed by the energy it demands; you can both love your career and the life it allows you to lead, and wish you had more time (and headspace) to do other things. Sound familiar?
Okay, so this isn’t revolutionary. But in a world which promotes a single and linear life, it’s an important lesson to be reminded of. Personally speaking, I guess it helps me remember that I can love blogging and want to make it a real success AND find it tough to keep up with my self-inflicted schedule. I can be having fun doing all the things AND want to spend hours watch all the television. I can enjoy my day job AND wish I had the time and energy to go on more adventures.
And theory creates room in the mind for emotions to co-exist, and breathing room to experience all the feelings without judging yourself for being seemingly contradictory in your own head. Oh, and gives you the understanding that others will also feel evidently juxtaposing emotions at the same time, too.
Ever thought about emotions this way?
Prescott Bike Festival
Each year, my local Blood Bikes group – Severn Freewheelers – run Prescott Bike Festival. Held at Prescott Speed Hill Climb, home to the Bugatti Owners’ Club, the event (and every event held at this track) is all about that famous hill climb.
This year’s event was held on the last Sunday of June. After spending the morning supporting my friend at her ordination in Gloucester Cathedral, which was a pretty special occasion to experience, I walked the hour-or-so over to Prescott to have a look and see what all the hill climb fuss is about. Although I have to admit the walk over was particularly hard work thanks to a stretch of incredibly overgrown and uneven footpath. I should report that.
There were a bunch of bike displays, market stalls, a stunt show, you know, the usual bike show kind of stuff. But of course, the highlight of this particular event is watching people take on the hill climb itself.
Pay and Play
The track is described as “1,127-yards long rising over 200-feet on a technically challenging course incorporating short straights, fast and slow corners and a breath-taking hairpin”. Apparently, modern racing cars in the hands of a competent driver can complete the course in under 36 seconds, which is definitely impressive.
Given that this event was a pay and play event to raise money for charity, designed for members of the public to ride whatever bike they owned up the course, there wasn’t anything at that speed on this particular Sunday. But it was no less fun to watch. I spent a little over an hour watching people, including my husband, ride the hill – a most excellent way to spend a relaxing One Hour Outside in the sunshine.
It was also another opportunity to be reminded just how varied the world of motorcycling is; bikes and riders of all different shapes and sizes. And how supportive fellow motorcyclists can be – it was fabulous hearing those lining the course cheering on the riders as they rode up.
I’ve written about Blood Bikes on Splodz Blogz before (we were involved in the group in Lincolnshire), but in case you’re not aware, Blood Bikes is a free, out of hours service delivering blood, human tissue, and other essential medical items between NHS facilities and to people’s homes. The team of volunteers are on call to assist our very stretched NHS and the local community, and are a busy and much needed service.
Severn Freewheelers cover Hereford and Worcester, Gloucestershire, and North Wiltshire – if you want to support them you can do so via their website (and make sure you attend Prescott Bike Festival next year!).
TV Show: Sewing Bee
Anyone else watching Sewing Bee? I’ve mentioned before in my weekly blogs how there is something about television shows which showcase the hobbies and talents of real people – like Bake Off, Pottery Throwdown (which of course I went and tried for myself), and Sewing Bee – that I find enjoyable. Nice easy watching with a cup of tea and a biscuit.
There is just something wonderful about watching other people excel at a thing they love. And about watching people be creative. Yes, it’s a silly reality television programme, probably much more scripted than we realise, but it’s a nice way to top up my soul with stories of inspiring people. I might not be interested in making my own clothes (although I perhaps should give it a go sometime), but it is still motivating to watch other people who do.
It’s the final this evening, and I intend to watch it live for a change – well, it’s on the BBC so there’s no adverts to skip!). My series favourite went home in the semi-final (I won’t say who in case you are a little behind), so I don’t mind who wins. Will you be watching?
Audiobook: Coffee First Then the World, Jenny Graham
Considering I’ve had a month away from blogging, I don’t have many mini audiobook reviews to share with you – just this one new adventure title that I highly recommend. It has made for the ideal companion on long drives and lunchtime walks over the last week or so.
Coffee First, Then the World is Jenny Graham’s account of her record-breaking bike ride – the fastest woman to cycle around the world. Just a little adventure, then…?!
Narrated by Jenny herself, this is a fantastic adventure story full of honesty, humour, and humility. All adventure stories talk of the highs and lows, but when your lows are sleeping in public toilets and becoming more and more fearful of snakes getting into your bivvy, then you deserve all the respect!
I’m not about to grab my bike and spend four months cycling across four continents (or doing any of the vast amount of preparation Jenny did before she started), but I’m definitely inspired by Jenny and her sheer determination and spirit.
If you haven’t heard of them, Hive is an online bookshop which allows you to support your local independent high street shop. After you’ve bought something from Hive, you choose a specific bookshop, and they get a percentage of the sale. Neat, huh?! (No, not sponsored, just think it’s a great idea!)
See You Next Week? That’s the plan!
I have dwelled on not writing for so long far too much so I’m going to stop there this week.
In the last weekly blog, way back in June, I said I would no longer commit to a Tuesday as that wasn’t working for me. Well, it turns out I can’t even promise there will be an episode next week now, so I’ll just say thanks for reading, and see you soon!!
In my next episode I’ll chat about a fantastic week motorcycling in Benelux, and my trip to Brecon to take part in an OS Maps workshop day. See you then.
In the meantime, I’ll do my best to make at least 30-minutes of focused writing a day a true and productive habit once again, with the next Cotswold Way adventure journal my aim.
Buy Me a Cuppa?
If you enjoyed this weekly blog episode (however delayed!) and fancy supporting me and my mini adventures this year, you can “buy me a coffee” for £3 (well, a cup of tea, if that’s okay?). Head over to Ko-fi to find out more. Thank you.