I was starting to think this year couldn’t get any weirder, but it did.
April was a strange month in many ways. It was time to readjust as lockdown measures continued to ease here in the UK, with two households or groups of six now able to meet outdoors and restaurants, pubs and cafes with outdoor spaces able to re-open. It’s also been a busy month for The Mindful Gingernut, and as usual, this month hasn’t been without its challenges.
Here’s a look back on April with a focus on the highs.
The beginning of the month took us to St. Albans on Easter Saturday, where we finally met up with my mum, dad and brothers for a couple of hours. As we’re still not allowed to mix indoors, we gathered in a car park in St Albans, halfway between my home and theirs, and we had a picnic in a nearby park. After not having seen them in the flesh since October, it felt so good to see their faces in front of me again, albeit at a socially acceptable distance. Although it was lovely to see them, it made me miss them more.
We exchanged Easter and Christmas presents, and somehow having Christmas at Easter didn’t feel as strange as I thought it might.
Richmond Park on Two Wheels
Easter weekend also saw us hiring bikes at Richmond Park for the first time! Having spent many a weekend exploring the Royal Park on foot during various lockdowns over the last year, we hired astronomically expensive bikes and set out for a ride around the park. It was incredible to see the park from a different perspective, and it felt so freeing feeling the wind in my hair, as cheesy as it sounds. Although Richmond Park isn’t a car-free zone, there is a reduced speed limit around the park, so unless you fall off directly in front of a car, it’s a relatively safe space to cycle.
Guest Appearance on Shoreditch Radio!
Easter weekend also saw an unusual request land in my DM’s on Twitter! Liam Davis from Shoreditch Radio contacted me to ask if I would like to appear on his radio show that Tuesday to talk about my blog! Old Becky definitely would’ve bolted for the hills, but new Becky doesn’t say no to opportunities like this!
On the day, I was full of excitement. Although I still don’t know whether it was due to going on the radio, which I had never done before, or whether it was simply doing something normal, using public transport, and heading into the city for the first time in over a year!
Either way, it was an incredible experience.
Everything went smoothly, including public transport. The overground into Waterloo was empty and was probably one of the cleanest trains I had ever seen. The Northern Line was quiet too, and everyone was wearing a mask as is required here. The Central Line was another story, so I’ll be avoiding that for a while longer!
I was ridiculously early, so I set up at Liverpool Street Station and did some work before it was time to head to the studio. On arrival, I found out Liam was running late, so his PA Sabrina showed me to a beautiful indoor terrace where I could wait until Liam was ready.
Unbeknown to me at the time, it turned out I had met Liam before through my previous job in football. I have an awful feeling I may have even issued him with a fine! But thankfully, he either didn’t remember or decided not to broadcast it live on air.
For anyone interested in giving the show a listen, the episode featuring me is still available to listen to through the podcast and can be found here. You’ll find me from 36:18. I’d love to know what you think 😊
Women’s Wellness Retreat in The Woods
April also saw another face to face event in the shape of a local Women’s Wellness Retreat. I had discovered Krish (Instagram – @myosteopathtowellness_fitness) and Francesca (Instagram – @spiral_tea/@the_spiral_collective) during the first lockdown. Both of them run local businesses, and we connected just before I moved to the suburbs. I attended a couple of their virtual lockdown retreats, but April was the first in-person event they had held for some time.
It was so lovely to meet them in the flesh after months of talking online. I was slightly worried that not having done anything with ‘strangers’ for so long, that I may have forgotten the art of conversation! I needn’t have worried. I soon located my conversational skills and found myself chatting to some lovely like-minded ladies.
Despite the weather (we experienced all four seasons in one day, including snow!), it was a wonderful experience. The Woods was a perfect location for the event, adding a sprinkle of magic to the occasion.
A Random Trip Home
One of the many reasons I became a freelancer was to create more work-life balance. For five whole years before going freelance, my work-life balance was incredibly unbalanced. I dreamt of going home to see my parents whenever I felt like it and not just cramming in visits over the weekend. I longed to sit in beautiful cafe’s drinking lemon & ginger tea whilst I tapped away at my keyboard. Even more so, I longed for trips abroad, working in between adventures.
Lockdown put a stop to all of this.
However, I did manage an impulsive trip home a couple of weeks ago. It was semi-planned in that I had deliberately kept a day free in my diary that week, just in case. I woke up that morning, text my mum and dad to make sure they were going to be home and made the two-hour trip north to see them.
It was lovely to see ‘home’ again and to sit in my parents garden catching up with all the family news. My soul always feels rested after time in mum and dad’s garden. I like to think of it as a sanctuary for my soul.
Meeting Friends Again
Not only did I get to meet up with one of my oldest, most loyal friends, we also met for a walk in one of my favourite places in London, Holland Park.
We were meeting on the day of Prince Phillips funeral, and with both of us being keen Royalists, we met early to ensure we were back in our homes by the time the funeral began.
I met James in secondary school, we were in the school band together, and have been solid friends ever since. It’s not the kind of friendship where we’re constantly texting each other, but we text when we haven’t seen each other for a while, schedule a catch-up, and then don’t stop talking when we meet. We’ve been through so many of life’s highs and lows together.
James had never been to Holland Park before, but I knew he would love the Kyoto Garden there. I’m not sure I had seen it in its Spring glory before, but it was simply beautiful.
Once again, it was a much-needed glimpse of normality.
Meetup and Walk
If you’ve read my recent post ‘How To Overcome Loneliness’, you’ll know that since I left my old job, I’ve been suffering from an awful bout of loneliness. You may find that difficult to believe. Reading through this week’s post, I know it seems full of social events and meetups with friends and family. And you wouldn’t be wrong. But the moment I’m alone, I’ve had times where I’ve felt sad, lost and lonely.
I hold myself fully accountable for feeling like this. I let a busy job stop me from making new friends outside of work when I first moved to London just over five years ago. And in my spare time, I focused too much on dating rather than meeting and making new friends.
In a bid to make sure I never feel like this again, a couple of friends suggested I join the Meetup App. So I did. And last weekend I attended my first event.
For anyone who hasn’t heard of the app before, it’s a great way of finding new, like-minded friends. Anyone can go on there and schedule a meetup. And then, dependent on the description, the location, as well as the dates and times, people can decide whether they wish to go along or not.
As a keen walker, I thought it would be nice to search for some local walking groups. Thankfully they weren’t in short supply! I found a group that scheduled their walks for the afternoon, which seems quite rare as many others had a 9 am start! This one also involved cake!
So I went along on the last Saturday of the month, and I joined a small group of fellow walkers for a six-mile walk around Ockham & Wisley Common in Surrey. I met some lovely people, enjoyed a walk around part of Surrey I hadn’t visited before, and even exchanged numbers with some of my fellow walkers at the end so we can arrange to meet up for a coffee.
It was such a great experience, and getting out and meeting new people left me feeling so much more positive. I’ll be using the app again to join more events like this in the future.
That’s it from me this week. I’m off to cook a Sunday Roast before settling down to watch the season finale of Line of Duty.
I’d love to hear how April was for you, so why not let me know in the comments section below?
I hope you’re all having lovely weekends, and if you’re in the UK, I hope you’re making the most out of the long bank holiday weekend.
I’ll be back next Sunday with more of my musings.