An Easter staycation

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This Easter, I’ve taken a whole week off work and it has been a real joy. It’s been several months since we have been ‘away, away’ but I enjoy pottering around at home and taking things slowly.

I would call this ‘staycation’ a ‘slow-cation’. It’s not that I haven’t done anything, mind you.

Gin & Book Club

On the evening of my last Friday of work, I got straight into holiday mode. This particular occasion saw the second gathering of a recently-formed ‘Gin & Book Club.’

This ingenious ‘books plus booze’ combination is the idea of my friend, Zoe. Following her 50th birthday last autumn, Zoe (with our help) has been sampling her collection of specialist gins that she received as gifts.

Sharing in this way has enabled us to sample all kinds of flavours that we might not otherwise have tried including marmalade, lemon drizzle and grapefruit. To this, we add our favourite tonic water, plus herbs, to make a lovely, refreshing drink.

Another positive is that we have not only renewed old friendships and nurtured new ones; we have also begun to enjoy literature that we might not otherwise have found. Our latest book was Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata. It’s odd, a little dark and – at times – very funny.

Zoe has also negotiated a discount if we want to buy the books we’ve chosen at our local bookshop. I turned up there to buy book number 3 (Tangerine by Christine Mangan) and it was gratifying to see how busy it was in there.

Shopping local?

Buying locally brings me onto a theme that I’ve been thinking about a lot. In spite of a healthy population of over 20,000 residents, Kenilworth has seen the closure of a number of independent stores in recent months. It also lacks some of the high street names that would be a draw to youngsters who want to shop; they have to go further afield.

It’s hard to reconcile the desire to support local retailers whilst being very intentional about what I buy. If I do need something, I will pop into town (garden rake, £7.50, Wilco’s), but it’s true that – as a family – we spend very little locally.

Going further afield

Friday was a mum and daughter day in Oxford. We took the train from Kenilworth (my first time since the station re-opened) via Leamington. Door-to-door, the whole journey was around an hour. I wish I could tell you that our objective in the ‘city of dreaming spires’ was to explore the historical architecture or take a trip on the river. Alas, it was to replenish Amy’s depleted wardrobe, as she finds the choices locally to be very limited (see above!).

In shopping with Amy, I have discovered the joys of reading on a smartphone whilst waiting for the ‘trying on’ to happen. I know I spent at least an hour in TopShop, during which time I read several chapters of Jenni Murray’s Memoirs of a not so dutiful Daughter. 

Oxford, it would seem, recognises the benefits of providing seating for those doing the waiting; it gives them more staying-power in support of those doing the shopping!

Being anti-social with digital media

This week, I have also remained largely immune to the lure of social media. Twitter seems to have got very shouty and political; Instagram more fun and supportive but still a potential digital rabbit-hole. So, whenever I have felt the twitch to check my phone, I’ve simply got back into my book, which has been far more rewarding.

Although I’m still dipping into Facebook from time to time, I’ve seen a number of people come off social media recently (some for good). What’s your take on it?

Getting my steps in

Alongside a couple of evening activities this week, Mr G and I have also started to do a bit more walking. We plan to invest in some new walking boots this spring, which is necessary for me; I had to consign my old ones to the recycling centre, as they were letting in water.

Since major back surgery last month, my husband is now on the BLT Plan: No Bending, No Lifting, No Twisting. That means that he is limited – especially during this period of recovery – in what he can do for exercise. His surgeon advises walking – and lots of it. So, we have started to venture a little further afield.

Yesterday, we started at The Red Lion at Hunningham, taking in a circular walk through the countryside via Weston-under-Wetherley and Cubbington before heading back to the start for a well-earned drink in the pub garden in the sunshine beneath the large umbrellas.

Today’s walk was just an hour’s circuit of the Millennium Walk round the Castle, so we have earned a little bit of Easter egg today.

One of the members of the ‘Gin & Book Club’ plans to walk the Cotswold Way next month, doing 10 miles per day over 10 days along with her family. I think I’ll need to walk a lot further and for longer before I attempt that, but I’m tempted…

So, what have you enjoyed this Easter? If you’re local, I’d love to know. If you’re further afield, what do the Easter holidays look like for you? Happy Easter, whatever you’re doing.


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Overbuyer or underbuyer? Either way, you might be cluttered

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I’ve just finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s latest book: Outer Order, Inner Calm.

As I mentioned in my April Community Newsletter, there aren’t many books I’ve not read on decluttering (see my Resources page if you’ve signed up to join the community for a list of some of them). Rubin’s twist on the topic is that she links the idea of clutter, wellbeing and happiness. That builds on the enduring theme of happiness about which she has written plenty.

Hands up, all you ‘under-buyers’? You may hold onto stuff because you seldom purchase something new. Perhaps you’re an ‘over-buyer’? If so, then you’re likely to stockpile things you don’t need.

I thought it would be interesting to explore this idea a bit further.

Overbuyer?

Courtney Carver is a self-confessed classic overbuyer; she would shop for fun, to fill an emotional void or as a way of treating herself. Did Carver need even more clothes? Of course not. But, as she wrote in her book, Soulful Simplicity, her un-intentional spending habits resulted in piles of debt, piles of clothes (still with labels on) never worn, and piles of stress.

Stockpiling

Of course, not all overbuying is about clothes. As Rubin writes, you’re likely to be an overbuyer if you stockpile stuff like toiletries; if you buy gifts for others without an intended recipient; or if you end up throwing away food or medicines because they’ve passed their use-by date.

Food waste

Food waste – an unintended consequence of overbuying – is a massive global problem. According to Friends of the Earth, the average UK family spends £470 annually on food that is binned. Even more shocking is that one third of all food produced around the globe is lost or wasted.

Inadequate storage

In terms of clutter, according to Rubin, overbuyers feel stressed because they end up being surrounded by things for which they have inadequate storage and feel hemmed in by all the stuff they’re holding onto.

Whilst I would probably class myself as a natural ‘spender’ as opposed to being a ‘saver’, I would not put myself in this category.

Underbuyer

Underbuyers may buy too little, so they’re unlikely to be prepared for bad weather or end up shopping for summer holiday clothes when the autumn/winter season stock has already hit the shelves.

Oh, that’s me!

Resisting replacements

Whilst I don’t resist buying the essentials, I do resist replacing worn out items such as household linens. Since we’ve been on a journey to improve our finances since January 2018, this has been largely cost driven, but I recognise the feeling of being stressed because I don’t have something suitable to wear for a special event.

Last minute shopping panics

There have also been times when I’ve had to rush out to get something for a holiday because I didn’t have the basics. This trait has clearly been recognised by others; my mother included a pack of tea-towels in my holiday gifts at Christmas!

Underbuying and clutter

If you’re an underbuyer, Rubin suggests that your distaste for shopping could actually contribute to clutter. This sounds counter-intuitive but it might be possible that you dread the idea of needing an item (thus being forced to go out and buy it) that you hold onto things, no matter how useless. That has certainly contributed to my clutter in the past.

Get Uncluttered

So, do you fall into either of these categories? And, if so, have they caused you to become more cluttered than you would like to be? If so, do take a look at my previous posts on how to tackle clutter. For some accountability and regular input, check out Joshua Becker’s Uncluttered Course, which is now open to new enrolments. Readers of my blog can now get 25% off the $89 dollar registration fee, so drop me a line via email if you’d like to benefit from this.


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