I’m going to hazard a guess that the fact that I like planning isn’t exactly news to anyone. Holiday planning is my absolute favourite. Whether it’s for a weekend or a week, the anticipation adds enormously to the pleasure of the trip. Plus I get the benefit of being able to think myself away at odd moments of the day, reaping the benefit of snatched moments of peace amid the hurricane of hysteria that is currently besetting my work life. (I think Zoesmom will bear me out here: either the sky is falling in and the dead are walking the earth, or you’re launching a new online product. Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell.)
This trip is two weeks in England, in mid April, and it’s all holiday. I am finally making good on my promise to get further afield than Oxford, so I’ll be spending a week up in S. Yorkshire, on the edge of the Peak District but also just outside Sheffield. That may seem an odd place for a visit but I used to live up there and I have a great fondness for the grimy, battered city (built on seven hills, like Rome) and the laconic, down to earth humour of its inhabitants. There is also the starkly compelling, austerely beautiful countryside with which to become reacquainted. It has a wildness that is both soothing and challenging, and open skies like nowhere else (also skies that can open on you like nowhere else, so it’s good I discovered my waterproofs aren’t waterproof in time to treat them.) I have some plans for hiking and although I’m not entirely sure that yoga-based fitness will lend itself fully to the Peaks and Pennines, I should be good for a few miles. In any case, walking is rather all or nothing, which is probably why I like it. You’re either in for the duration, or you don’t get started, but you can’t just stop in the middle of nowhere.
I will see friends there too, and visit Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth, but also make sure to spend time in my little cottage, doing nothing much at all. I’ll be off the grid, no phone, no internet access but I’m fairly certain there will be a kettle and a corkscrew – fair swap. I’ll take a stack of books.
My second week will be in Oxford, of course, although not being tied to the office means I can also head down to London for a day. Where I also used to live, and where I will in all likelihood do yet more walking. More planning is required, but I think the Tate Modern is in there somewhere, as well as the NPG. At the end of the week, it’s my mum’s 65th birthday, the event that was the impetus for this whole trip. I’ll spend a couple of days with family celebrating that.
And that, I think, is enough to be going on with. The details will fill in later, but there has to be room for the unexpected. I like the balance so far, although I fully reserve the right to change plans at a whim! And I particularly like the fact that it’s all only 3 weeks away, so I can preview as much as I like without the idea getting stale.