I’m writing this Wonderful Wednesday post on returning from a blissful week in the Scottish Highlands, where the sea sparkled and the sand shone. Now it’s back to normal, but that’s not really so bad, and there are plenty of happy things to notice, if you take the trouble.
1. The birds are back! Their chirpings have been making me very happy while I sip my morning teas this week. I’d love to be able to match up the birds with their songs – maybe I’ll have a investigation of that little puzzle this week. There are certain birdsongs that remind me of certain times in my life – one bird hanging out in my garden at the moment is reminding me of Sunday mornings walking by the river in London (a quick google tells me that I’m hearing the Great Tit). Another I could recognise anywhere – the beautiful fruity song of the blackbird, and that’s also taking me back to London days, where a blackbird used to chill on my chimney and sing away each morning at dawn. Here in my northern garden they’re bustling around once again, collecting twigs for their nests and singing their little hearts out.
2. Breathing deeply. It’s a bit odd to write that breathing has been rather wonderful of late, but with all my yoga and my meditation and my general middle-class hippyfied life, I’ve been thinking about the value of deep breaths for some time. I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I’m stressed I hold my breath – anyone else do that? I usually don’t realise until the stressful period has passed that I’m short of air, which makes me a bit shakey, and therefore more stressed, in a neat little toxic circle. So if I remember, and when one is holidaying it’s obviously much easier, I make sure I take big lungfuls of air and exhale slooooooowly and caaaaalmly. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh
3. Singing in the car has made me full of all the happy this week. You know when you stop at traffic lights and there’s someone shaking their head and jiving in the car next you along to their music? Yup – that’s me. As loud as I can, imaginary microphone in front of me. A bit like Adele.
4. This week has been all about the memories. As we were pottering around the beaches and the rockpools in the wee (vast) highlands, it took me back to similarly happy memories as a wee bairn. We used to go far, far up to the very north coast, where the roads petered out into single track and then into nothing but footpaths. Walking along the beach last week reminded me of being a child, noticing things I haven’t noticed for years. Like the sound the tide makes as it rakes back the stones on it’s way out; the slap of seaweed when you release it to the sand; the taste of salt on your lips after a long coastal walk; the fact that however pretty the shells look on the sand, they don’t glisten quite so much when you get them home; the sound a dog makes when it’s shaking it’s coat after a splash in the sea; the way you think if you stand for a few minutes at the sea’s edge you’ll notice a change in the tide; the ravenous hunger you feel as after a long beach walk; the positive glimmer of the sand when the sun comes out, and the happy aching of your muscles when you get home.
5. Having enough time. Worryingly I can’t remember the last occasion where I felt I had enough time. Within reason, I’d have time over money any day. This holiday we had a few HORRENDOUS days weatherwise, and I was disappointed at first, but it was a really good chance to read, to talk, and of course, to have a few little drinkettes. I’m planning more and more time into my life wherever I can these days, and not jam-packing too many things into my weeks. It’s making for a happier, calmer me.
6. SNOW! Obviously you can see I enjoyed a good dollop or three of snow this last week. And all the cliches are true: the childhood delight of opening the curtains to a white world after you’ve already detected that there’s something different about the light in the room; the SMELL of the stuff; the way the light gleams on it; the way it collects in the trees in Christmas card-appropriate woodland glade settings and top of the list, the juicy satisfaction in being the first person of the day to crunch across a snowy lawn.
7. The Olympics, and more specifically, the Winter Olympics. And more specifically still, the ice skating. I’ve always loved the ice skating. My sister and I used to take to the living room floor for Olympian-inspired toe loops and double axels and whatever else they do after a dose of the Winter Olympics on the telly. And on a related sidenote – isn’t the Ski Sunday theme tune absolutely fabulous? Does Ski Sunday still exist? Anyways. I love dance, particularly ballet, and the ice skating is just dance moves on steroids. Love the duets, the spins and the outfits. But isn’t it unbearable to watch them fall?
8. Neil Oliver. His voice is the single best thing since sliced bread and of course, he presents pretty darn good tv. But I didn’t realise he wrote books too. I’ve finished Vikings, which was a good yarn about my favouritist subject ever, and I’ve just got stuck into A History of Ancient Britain, which is an even better read. And I’m happy to discover that he is Patron of the Association of Lighthouse Keepers, which has just made him my new most favourite person ever (previous winners include Michael Palin, Judi Dench, James Martin and Jo Brand).
9. MacDonalds. Come on now, don’t be a food snob, you’ve gotta love a Maccy D. I never called them Maccy Ds. I don’t like that name. It’s MacDonalds folk and folkesses: MacDonalds. Do you remember when a real life Ronald MacDonald stood in every Macdonalds, by the balloons for the Happy Meals and the entrance to the kids section? Where are the kids sections now actually? Did you ever go to a kids party at MacDonalds incidentally? I did, and it was GREAT. Our latest visit to MacDonalds was inspired by a long car journey and the need to refuel ourselves, the baby, and the car as quickly as possible. MacDonalds, with it’s gleaming ‘M’ saved the day and jolly nice it was too. Yes I went back for more chips. No I didn’t regret it. Mr Roast Chicken did however regret his McFlurry. It’s a hard life.
10. Wellies (pictured above). For splashing in water, snow and mud, and making light of any weather the British Isles can throw at me. Thankyou wellies, for hours of happy rambling.