March has been a complete whirlwind. I’m not sure where the time has gone. But yet, here we are in April.
Spring’s being its typically British self here in the UK with everyone out in shorts and t-shirts the week before last, and this week we’ve been back in coats and jumpers with a sprinkling of snow.
I love this time of year, whatever the weather. There’s something so beautiful about watching the world wake up after the long winter. The riverside is full of spring flowers with their soft, gentle colours, and the swans are busy preparing their nests.
I was worried about one particular swan this week. I walked along the river and watched as one tried to settle comfortably on top of an egg. When I ventured by the same spot yesterday, the swan had disappeared, and so had the egg! I returned to the same place a couple of hours later, and I was pleased to see a swan plus egg were back in place. I can’t be sure that it was the same swan, of course, but I’d love to know if it’s normal for a swan to move its egg from one place to another? It was lovely to see both swan and egg were still there this morning, so fingers crossed all is well.
I’m still avoiding watching the news on television. Although, rather than avoiding it at all costs, it’s become more about finding a healthier way to consume it.
March has also been a busy month for my business, and I’m pleased to say that with a new client coming on board in March and another one lined up for April, I have reached my maximum number of clients for the time being. I’m now at the stage where I’m starting to look at the work I don’t enjoy as much (i.e. my own admin) and looking at ways to either streamline processes or outsource.
One of the perks of becoming a freelancer was to create a better work-life balance, and I’m determined to maintain that somehow. I find it hard to say no to people, and I’d be lying if I said the extra money wasn’t helping. It’s all about finding that balance. I’m happy to work a 30 hour week, but I know that that’s my limit. I love what I do, but I also love my time out adventuring and exploring, and that’s something I’m not willing to compromise at this moment in time.
Before I gabble on too much more, here are some of this month’s highs and lows:
One of my goals this year was to take more structured weeks off, as I would’ve done had I been working for a company.
Last year, I failed epically at this and managed to go from January to September without taking a proper break.
I was beginning to feel as though I was the only person in the world who hadn’t stayed in an Air BnB, so earlier this year, I set up an account and started to look at holiday homes on the UK’s South Coast.
I found a gorgeous flat overlooking Swanage Bay. It looked like a home from home, and the moment I discovered it, I booked it.
The plan was to head down on my own for a couple of days, and then my partner would join me mid-week for a couple of days together.
I’ve been on a couple of solo trips abroad in the past, but weirdly, I had never been on a solo holiday in the UK. I had stayed away from home on my own for business, but never for pleasure. I was excited by the challenge, and something told me I would be ok.
The Air BnB was even more magical in the flesh, and the view looking down onto Swanage Bay was just stunning. I arrived on a warm spring afternoon with intense blue skies. It was just the sort of getaway I needed.
On my first full day, I walked from the Air BnB to Durlston Country Park, a clifftop Nature Reserve on the Jurassic Coast. There are plenty of nature trails across the Grade II listed park, which became a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1997. The castle is now home to a shop and cafe (which sold the most mouth-watering buttermilk chicken!) and has stunning views looking across the English Channel.
The day my boyfriend arrived, it rained all day, but we still managed to get out for a fish n chip lunch and a short walk in the evening. It was a fantastic excuse to relax and unwind.
On the final day, I left my boyfriend in the Air BnB as he needed to work, so I donned my walking boots and headed down to the beach, where I followed the signs back up into the hills to the South West Coastal Path and onto Old Harry Rocks.
The last time I had visited Old Harry was with my friend who passed away almost ten years ago. Although I felt nervous about the emotions it might trigger, it was a beautiful walk with stunning views. It was nice to reflect on happier memories.
Heading away for the week made me realise how much of the day to day grind we fail to switch off from when we have a staycation. It might not be practical to go away every time I have a week off, but it felt good to leave the day to day behind.
Afternoon Tea for 2
March also saw us celebrate Mothers Day here in the UK. Whilst I acknowledge that this can be a difficult day for many people, I love to use it as an excuse to head home for a few days.
This year, I treated my mum to afternoon tea at Fawsley Hall. It was the first time we had been for Afternoon Tea together, and we were both excited to be trying something new.
It was also a lovely excuse to get dressed up and spend some time together, just the two of us.
I’ve never been big on afternoon teas as I have a slight gluten intolerance which means bread plays havoc with my insides. Gluten-free bread has never been that enjoyable. However, it does seem to be improving, which is a good sign.
I bravely ordered the gluten-free afternoon tea, whilst mum ordered the standard option (plus a glass of prosecco as we were celebrating her). Both of us had a lovely array of sandwiches, scones and cakes. Whilst the non-gluten-free cakes looked much more fanciful and photogenic, the gluten-free versions were delicious.
After hearing our tales and sampling the leftover cakes we brought back with us, Dad’s already put his orders in for Father’s Day, so it looks like this will be the year of the Afternoon Tea!
Canon EOS 4000D
After much deliberation, I finally treated myself to a proper DSLR camera.
For those who’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know how much I love taking photos. I’ve managed with my iPhone for a long time, and whilst it takes some great pics, I felt it was time to step up a gear.
It didn’t take me long to settle on a Canon as I have friends who have used them in the past.
It had its first outing with me when I took my trip down to Swanage, and needless to say, I’m in love with it already. Whilst the camera came with a starter lens, I will be looking for lens recommendations soon as I start to play around with it more.
I’m not taking my camera everywhere, as sometimes it’s just not practical to take a big camera out and about. It’s often easier to whip out my iPhone as it takes up no extra space. I also want to make sure I live in the present and not through my photographs!
Time will tell, but so far, I’m pleased I invested. I can’t wait to see where else we will adventure together this year.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Since the beginning of the year, my anxiety had spiralled, and I knew I needed some outside help to sort myself out. After speaking with my Dr, she recommended I self-refer for CBT and that she would also book me in with the psychotherapist at the surgery.
There has been no word from the surgery regarding my psychotherapy despite having an initial consultation with them. However, I did receive an email from the CBT clinic advising me of the date for a phone consultation.
I was anxious before they rang as I didn’t know what to expect.
I spent an hour answering questions and felt drained afterwards.
I’ve now told my story to so many people, including my Doctor, the Psychotherapist, and the CBT clinic! Repeating the same story over and over is becoming quite draining, especially as I know I will need to go through it all again at some point when my treatment begins.
At the end of the call, the lady said she would need to speak to her supervisor before assigning me to a treatment plan. She said she would be back in touch within the next couple of weeks.
I was surprised to get a phone call whilst I was away, as I know these things can take some time.
After all that, I was declined a treatment plan.
She explained that because I was waiting for psychotherapy, it was necessary to go through that process first as the treatment may conflict with the advice given through CBT.
Everything she told me made sense, but I was slightly miffed I had to go through the hour-long phone call the week before for them to say – ‘Come back after your psychotherapy if you still feel as though it would help‘.
I asked if I’d have to go through the full hour of questions again, and you can probably guess the answer!
The wait is back on for psychotherapy, which I must chase this week, as they said I would only be waiting around four weeks.
In the meantime, the medication has been helping, although I had a slight setback this week, which left me awake at 3 am with anxious thoughts completely taking over my brain, leaving me unable to get back to sleep.
But on the whole, I feel more like me than I have in a long time. It’s nice to be present again and not lost in a foggy cloud of anxiousness.
That’s all from me this week! How was March for you? I’d love to hear from you, so why not leave me a message in the comments below?