I took this a while back. The blur was intentional because it could be anyone of many visitors.
When visitors come to Wales, either family or friends, they love to walk at Ynyslas. We first arrived in Wales about 23 years ago and were constantly down on the beach for the first two years. After that the first choice for visitors was to go to the lakes at the back of the village. I don’t believe we had a month go by without at least two or three visits from someone, family or friends. They would stay for either a weekend or one/two weeks. We saw all the local tourist attractions over and over. It cost us a fortune. Whoever arrived would look and plan their days here. But, they wanted us to go along too. We both work, we had the children quite young then and the one to two week stays of visitors were when we were on holiday. Weekends usually saw arrivals on a Friday night, with goodbyes after Sunday lunch. Work began the next day. Our lives for a very long time seemed to revolve around our area here on the Welsh coast. We never stopped. We prepared for visitors and the cleaning of the house, food buying and meal planning ruled everything. But the visits were treasures.
Of course we didn’t and don’t mind one bit. Now? We have few visitors. Maybe three or four times a year. It seems our working lives have changed our whole impetus. We are so tired, myself due to the NHS philosophy of low staffing levels on busy, heavy workload wards. Also, long day shifts and shift patterns that start really early or late. All over the place. You simply do not stop. My wife from running a successful business and the responsibilities involved. We’re so stressed at the end of our working days that we just collapse at times. Add to that our ages now. With the best will in the world, you get past the age of 60 years and the bones and muscles kind of groan. Visitors? Tiring times, enjoyable times and the very fact they visit makes you actually go out there and ‘DO’ things. Stay active physically, psychologically and socially. Also spiritually.
The next stage of life? No retirement yet. But something needs to begin. The VW bus back and central to trips out and about. That will definitely do. It’s been four years without the bus. Far too long. It was central to life. Strange that an attachment matters. Really matters.
Why does it matter? Because…….it joins all the interests together somehow. It brings everything to collective basics. A small driving/living/cooking/relaxing/sleeping space where considerations of what to include are important. Film to load into the camera, a bunch of favourite vegetarian recipes to shufty into a Moleskine journal which have to be ideal for outdoor experimentation, two bicycles at the back of the VW, leaflets, maps or the iPad to guide regarding taking visits to other places and their historical and interesting spots, special books to read for the first time or loved books to re-read again, music to listen to on an old 1970s car cassette player, the Buddha, temple hand Bell, joss sticks, resins to burn of benzoin, frankincense, myrrh and candle flame for meditation periods taking either a short minute or longer minutes over the days to enhance calmness and well being, aromatherapy synergies to mix and discover from a plethora of essential oils and pencil and paper for words or/and images. These are the activities which combat the daily stresses belonging to nursing. And they sit there next to each other in a lovely metal bread box on wheels which is the good old VeeDub.
Of course, all this focus on quality ‘time out’ is mainly based on a small group of two or even singular one, i.e. me. But, me on days off. As said…….seeking answers to combat the stress of nursing experiences. Longer holiday spells? Family and group outings have been amazing in the past and have usually been stay in one place for the day type experiences with loads of chat and chill. Like those visits to Ynyslas. Early sun, settling in and breakfast on the go to the days end of developing dusk and moonlight, where drinking wine, beer or spirits (bourbon first choice) and lighting imagination enhancing wildfires as part of the experience. Stories told, fictional or non-fictional, poetry, mantras and music sung. The journey involving simple mindful visions which in their here and now will collectively build memories. Something to hark back to if needed. Positivity building and a quest for the good life. Giving the experience to family and friends that allows them to shake off their own stresses. Don’t seek a haven. Let the haven just evolve without expectation or prejudice. What will be, will be.
So, I find myself alone. Me and the VW and it’s a day off work. The first step…….? The journey of a thousand miles begins with that first step. First step…..Choosing a simple breakfast recipe, cooking and tasting the resulting food Mindfully whilst the smell of nature surrounds you and stove top espresso coffee bubbles and ends with that whoosh when it’s ready and tea leaves seep out their green, red bush, bergamot, PG Tips or smokey lapsang aromas which starts off the humming of surrounding life tunes. Second step………choose Murakami from the bookshelf and immerse. Third step……..grab the Billingham bag with a loaded camera inside and set out to greet the unsuspected and unlooked for awaiting out there. The day will evolve and it will wash over you. And…..to be associating this with thoughts that a green VW bus of charm and antiquity will be the bedrock is akin to realising you have a place to lock yourself away.