Take The Hard Road

Easy Road/Hard Road – Which Would You Choose?

 

“Anywhere, but Wales”, I replied when asked where we should take our next vacation. Don’t get me wrong, my Dad is from North Wales and many a holiday (or vacations) were spent there also. It’s a beautiful place, with great mountainous views and a variety of outdoor activities that can be found in many towns all over Wales. But, a change was well overdue for my partner and I. This ‘well-needed’ time off work and from reality in general, had been booked for months in advance, and we wanted it to be special.

Glamping?

After hours of surfing ‘the net’ we found a campsite in the Peak District called Dale Farm, situated in Bakewell, (land of the original Bakewell Pudding), I know! So exciting!

We thought we’d try out this glamping thing everyone’s talking about, after noticing that Dale Farm had some impressive looking bell tents on site for a very reasonable price. The inclusions were not to be snuffed at either: fire-pitt; wood; tea-lights; wood burning stove; bed, and not to mention a little sheep named Dotty (that doesn’t know she’s a sheep), roams the campsite and welcomes visitors! Too cute! To say we were excited was an understatement. This is gonna’ be awesome! I thought.

aND IT ALL come a’TUMBLING DOWN

The evening before we were suppposed to be off on our adventure to Bakewell, we had prepared all the usual kit you need for ‘glamping’ including food and even a playlist we called: Bakewell Adventure. We went to bed like happy bunnies and dreamt of all the good times to come. Well, so we thought.

Early that morning, Rob, my partner, decided to check his emails. Then I heard a disheartening, “ohhhh, no!” The campsite had emailed us to inform that there had been damage overnight to the bell-tent we were going to stay in, therefore it had to be cancelled. My stomach sank, I was so upset; but I said, “it’ll all be okay, we’ll call them and surely something can be arranged for us.”

I tried to stay positive although deep down I thought our adventure had been ruined. In the end, Dale farm could only offer us another date to stay there, but of course this wasn’t an option, as it was hard enough getting this week booked off work.

stay positive

Anyway, we managed to find another place to stay last minute. It wasn’t in Bakewell, but it was only a 20 minute drive away. We still managed to grab a bell-tent too; this time in Buxton, (land of water and lovely pale ales) which offered similar inclusions and the campsite was absolutely adorable, located in the woods with everything you need for a pleasant and peaceful break away. Not forgetting all the gorgeous bunting and fairy-lights draped along the tent, and there’s a little farm nextdoor…. fabulous! We were so lucky! The place was called Staden Grange.

glamping staden grange

Long story short, we arrived at the campsite, unloaded and enjoyed our surroundings for a while before deciding to take a walk into Buxton. We walked for about half an hour before finding a pub called The Blazing Rag; it was a very ‘local pub’ with friendly people working it and the beer was good, but the area wasn’t very ‘tourist’esc’, so to speak. One pint later we decided to head back to the bell-tent.

Trail of terror

Rob thought it would be fun to take a more rural route back. I refused. “No way! Iam notwalking into that jungle all the way back, no!”He turns left into the rural path and says”come on, stop whining!” So, I reluctantly humoured and followed him into a path leading to a field that you couldn’t see the back of. Tall grass, narrow paths, and lots of winding trees surrounded us; nature is mystical and sometimes quite scary; your imagination runs wild with all the dark, hidden spaces and wonders of the unseen… Just me?

“What’s That?”

I noticed high up a hill, in the distance what appeared to be a row of slender men, all dressed in white trousers, walking eerily in sync accross the hillside. Silently, I stood still, staring; pointing. Rob hurried me along, and I said in a shakey voice, “no, look! Who are they? Why are they doing that?” For a second, he looked just as scared as me, but then he squinted for a better look, and reassured me that they were just cows; run of mill, black and white cows. I was wearing my glasses, (which I often forget to wear), so it must have been the pint of beer that stirred my imagination, who knows?

Cows rural route

Panic over right? Ohhh no; this is just the beginning! As we walked on a little further I come to realise that we will be walking on that same hillside, with the slender man cows and NO fencing will be between us… oh dear. “I can’t do it!” I cried. “yes you can, don’t be rediculous”, Rob replied. I started to feel a little brave, and then I see it. Directly in our path; A very big, a very scary, a very close…. Bull! It had horns and everything and was glaring at us like we were trespassing on his territory!

Please ground, swallow me! I thought, but I was quickly reassured that this is a public walkway, therefore it had to be safe. “Okay, okay, just don’t look at it, let’s just walk swiftly past and get out of its way.” By the way; Rob both looked at the Bull and talked to it as we passed. Not funny!

seriously?

Walking on, we find some pretty photo opportunities, a lovely big bridge, and the path itself was beautiful; especially if you don’t mind being in the midst of large animals. “we’re nearly there!” Rob shouts; to my relief. Then we approach a large metal gate. My initial thoughts were, what’s behind this gate? What scary animals are lurking around here? Is this a private farm? Will we get shot? Eeeeek! Then I remembered, it’s a public walkway; all is safe and well in our world, I repeated near 50 times in my head.

buxton

My Worst Fear… nearly

BARK! As I push the large and annoyingly noisy gate open, a big ginger dog runs out about 30 feet from us. It’s okay, It’s on a lead; but it is still in our path! This dog looked like a Chow or something it was quite fluffy and big. Rob walked in first and as he walked towards the dog and attempted to stroke it, the dog jumped, suddenly. It didn’t bark, but how can you predict how a dog’s going to react? You can’t; simple! Silent but deadly sprung to mind.

I was shaking in my boots (pink running shoes); I’m next to walk passed this unpredictable creature. But, I had two choices: Either walk passed the dog or walk back for 25 minutes and cross the bull and scary man cows again. Squeeeeeek, went the gate.

Yes, I am alive and well; in-case you were worried. I have no idea what the dog did as I walked, (ran like a mad man), past the dog; I really wish I had more to tell, but I had my hands over my eyes while baby crying towards Rob in the safe area.

Finally,our destination is in sight. We crossed some chickens but they were fine. I have no phobias of chickens. Balloons, spiders and even holes; but not chickens. (I used to like the series’ American Horror Story, but the latest one, Cult; is all about everything I can’t stand. Don’t watch it. I’m almost certain you will, now).

Easyville

So, we got back to the tent after this crazy ‘walk to the pub’, and had a lovely time roasting marshmallows by a fire, with little tree stumps to sit on, and enjoyed a glass of prosecco, or two, and belly laughed about our mini adventure. The next day we explored Bakewell (I drove there, duh); it’s the most gorgeous and interesting town ever; We are already planning to go back again. So much to do! One amazing example is this really cool museum: Old House Museum

Although, I hate being taken out of my comfort zone, I am ALWAYS happy I was. When it’s over, of course. It creates fond and hilarious memories, and my fears and anxieties seem to melt away more and more each time. I am glad we took the hard road. If we took the easy road then we wouldn’t have experienced what we did, and learned from it. If we took the easy road, then all I could have told you about is that we walked down a paved road with passing cars, and that we held hands. Nice, yet dull.

If you think about it, most times the easy road, in life, will lead to normality; no change; it’s just safe. Most times, the hard road in life, though scary and uncertain, leads to success; in learning, growing, understanding and self belief! You wont know unless you go! X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving Me Crazy

The First Step Towards The Rest Of My Life – Driving

One day last year in February, I decided I wanted to make a change in my life.  I wanted to defy my self beliefs of not deserving great things. I thought, what’s the main thing that limits me to what I can do? That thing was transport. Driving my own vehicle and getting my independance was my next goal; and at the ripe age of 32, I knew this was going to be a challenge.

I had many, many lessons, spending most of my money on learning to drive, (and taxis). And I spent most of my time on studying the high-way code and then passing my theory test in March 2016. Then a few months passed and I was ready! My instructor said, I was definitely ready to take my practical test.

DrivingCrazy

My first practical driving test was in June 2016. I remember feeling quietly confident when driving to the test centre with my instructor, but then as we started to approach the building where I would meet my examiner, I immediately began to feel unexplainably terrified. I was visualising over and over in my mind, visions of myself being told, I am sorry, Sarah, you have failed.

Flapping Like A Pigeon

I tried to remember all of the answers to the ‘show me-tell me’ questions, where you must either show or tell the examiner how you would, for instance: check your oil, know when your brakes aren’t working and/or turn on your windscreen wipers, etc…. but I couldn’t think of them. I knew them all before, but now I don’t. Just don’t cry; do not cry! I told myself. My stress levels continued to rise.

Basically, I totally flapped! I was flapping like a pigeon stuck in a chimney. Everything… well near enough everything that could have went wrong, did. So, the lady examiner called my name, and we head outside towards the car I was about to drive her around in; for 40 minutes; whilst being closely examined on my every move.

Okay, I’m not ready, I am sooo not ready, I thought.

Biggest Fear Followed By Bigger Fear

As we get closer to the car,what did I notice swarming all around it? It’s one of my biggest fears: Two inch long, winged insects with black and yellow striped bodies, armed with a little stinging sword on their butts and an irritating buzzing sound to top it off… Yes, they were WASPS! They just had to, didn’t they? Today of all days! And did they have to sit on the bonnet just as I was asked to open it? Ohhhh, of course they did! I thought, resentfully.

As much as I was scared to start my driving test, I just wanted to get inside the car away from the taunting wasps. At this point I was really worked up inside. The sweat was literally dripping down my face and into my eyes. This is not good when you wear glasses and are also wearing quite a bit of mascara. Not waterproof, by the way. This was out of the ‘norm’ for me as I am not usually a ‘sweaty’ person. So there was also that added paranoia that the examiner was thinking, my god… who sweats like that? 

When I started the car, my hands started to shake in an embarassing and very noticable way. I could feel my feet trembling on the pedals. My entire focus was stuck on what my body was doing and on the fear of doing wrong. It was not good.

The Bitter Ending

Inevitably,  I didn’t do well with my driving. I started in the wrong gear, I hit the curb and I nearly knocked off the left wing mirror on an old brick wall along a narrow country lane… as well as another 10 x driving faults. My previous lessons went extremely well, though. What was my problem? Anyway, of course, I failed my test. Hey! I must be psycic because that’s exactly what I imagined I would be told. This is me being sarcastic; I’m no psycic. I didn’t fore-see my future but I certainly did create it.

About Turn!

I went on and booked another test. And another. These kind of ended the same way, although, in result of all these tests I wasn’t as nervous but I still wasn’t completely confident in my abilities. I wasn’t in the here and now; I was over-thinking everything, getting worked up and then making enough mistakes to make me fail. Again. Something had to be done, and more driving lessons was not the answer this time.

followtherainbow

Finally, I booked my fourth test. I booked it for the 17th January 2017, 14:32PM.

My instructor, who I had been learning with since Jan/Feb last year, was due to retire mid December. I had no one to give me lessons for my up-coming test booked for the following month. Before Christmas I called every driving school around and each of them told me either they were fully booked up or there not taking bookings until after the new year.
So anyway, I continued my search, but no such luck. I then thought, it’s fine, it’s all going to be fine. Surely something will come up.I just need to have faith all will work out for the best.

I continued on with my life after new year and enjoyed time with family and friends and my partner and I played with our new toys we got for Christmas. All was good. One morning we had decided to go for a walk and my partner, Rob, could have a go at flying his drone on a nearby field. We head out, and as I walk out of our front gate I notice a sign that read, Chris Kelly Driving School. It was sat on top of an instructor’s car.

As Rob walked out after me, a man appeared from around the corner and walks towards this car with the sign, and opens the door. Rob says, “Sarah, go and ask him if he could fit you in for lessons,and take you to your test!” I felt a bit shy, and thought,I don’t know. Chris Kelly Driving School told me that they’re fully booked.

Rob then shouts towards the man, “Excuse me mate!” The man said, “hi, you okay?” Rob continued “my girlfriend has booked her test which is just in a couple of weeks, and she has no car to be able to do it, could you fit her in at all, and maybe for a couple lessons in your car to get used to it?” He replied, “yeah, that’s not a problem, any time your free,just give me a call later.” Then he gave me his mobile number and everything went smashingly from there.

The lessons I had with the new instructor were completely different to what I was used to with the old one. I was left to my own skill and gained much needed confidence from them. I felt at ease. And I began to feel like a driver, and actually enjoyed driving!

Was it a coincidence that the ‘Chris Kelly’ car was at the right place at the right time? Or was it because I had faith that all would be fine? Over the Christmas period I done a lot of meditating and really worked on trying to see the good in every situation. I like to believe this is why everything worked out.

You Can Do It

A couple weeks later I had my fourth driving test.

Taking a different approach this time, while waiting in the waiting room for my examiner, I breathed slowly and deeply counting each breath, and noticing my breath. When I felt myself getting nervous in the car I made a concious effort to ‘stay in the now’ and be aware of my surroundings, from the feeling of my hands on the steering wheel to the colour of the cars infront of me. All the while remembering to breath and believe, I can do this!

Finally, we approach the test centre. The place I once, twice, three times dreaded, I now couldn’t wait to park up! I already knew the outcome. No time was wasted as I parked I was immediately told I had passed! I only had two minor faults! Amazing! The second I was told I burst into tears and banged my head on the steering wheel leading to histerical laughter. I was Over. The. Moon.

pass
I passed on Tuesday and had my own car by Monday evening. I just could not wait!

Someone ‘Up There’ Loves Me

I got a car on finance from Vauxhalls, a lime green Adam, nicknamed: Sweet Pea. I love her so much. It was strange how I initially was refused finance, after having a quote and two hour appointment with the dealer. So then Rob said, “I’ll pop over with you and It can go in my name, we’re going to have you driving babe.”

We arrive, Saturday afternoon. We take a seat and the dealer, a lovely elderly man named Tony, asks Rob, “okay, can I see your driving license, please?” Oh great. I thought. You need a license to get finance for a car. Of course.

Tony looked devastated for us. Or maybe for the sale, he has just potentially lost, who knows. Tony walks back and to from a little office in the corner. Then he walks back over to us and asks Rob if he could just get a bank loan of £7000 to buy the car. This was not an option for Rob, nor would I want him to do that. Tony then has his head in his hands, and suddenly darts off to the little office again.

He returns with, “Right, we can attempt to try this through a different finance company; it will have to be hire purchase, over five years instead of three, and it will be about £25 more per month. Shall we try?” I said yes. I just want to drive, yes please try this, Tony.

He walks off to the mysterious office once more, and returns shortly after. He says to me, “I’m sorry, I’m not wearing my glasses, can you just read that word at the top for me please?” I looked and readout slowly, “app….rov….ed. Approved!!” The man laughed in delight as did we all. I am a driver.

sweetpeaandme
Monday night, straight after work I was able to pick up my car, (oh-my-god), and drive it home. All on my own. I can’t describe the feeling; Independance, joy, excitement!! So many feelings. At 33 years of age, this is one hell of an accomplishment.

Everything worked out perfectly. Though there were some events that could have disheartened me, I didn’t allow them to. I continuously thought, what’s meant to be will be. Full stop.

Coincidence or not, believing that everything is fine, has got me where I wanted. Not all in one day, but eventually. No bad feelings, just faith that it will all work out for my highest good. You’ve just got to carry on going for your dream. In this case, it was my Sweet Pea. My Sweet Pea and me.

Driving miss daisy
driving miss daisy

God speed.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Tree Adventures

spreading thelovespreading Christmas cheer

Feeling Adventurous (or a bit crazy)?

My partner and I were decorating our flat to look festive and cheery, the year before last Christmas, and we found that we had a few extra baubles, tinsel and fairy lights; so naturally I thought, wouldn’t it be awesome if we decorated a random tree outside with our left over decorations? 

I proposed the idea to Rob, saying, “we could choose a tree that’s all on it’s own, a little one, preferrably in sight of passers by so that it spreads a bit of cheer?” He immediately loved the idea, I am so blessed to have met this guy, he’s just as weird as me. So, we packed up our decs, pulled on our wellies, he grabbed his Canon (camera… ), then we hopped on our bicycles and headed down the road.

It was a cold night, but I felt so happy inside that the weather was the absolute last thing on my mind. The goose-bumps I had were only from the thrill of a new adventure! We cycled for around 20 minutes; uphill, downhill and then down a dark, narrow country lane. Finally, Rob stops in front of me beside a large metal gate surrounded by large bushes. I could hear my heartbeat, it was so quiet. I was well aware of the slightest noise either made by us or the small animals which were hiding in the bushes.

Up and Over

My partner hopped over the gate and helped me to climb over from the other side. Our eyes were adjusted to the darkness by now, so when I looked ahead I seen that we were in a large field. Right smack in the middle of this field stood one large tree with branches winding in all directions; it appeared to be mystical and full of life.

The boggy grass was slushing under our rubber boots as we walked towards the large tree. Then, just a few feet away from the magical tree was a little tree with no leaves, just standing there all alone, and looking rather insignificant next to the big one. Rob and I looked at each other grinning and without words we unpacked our little bag of joy.

Let The Madness Commence

We draped the tinsel, carefully strung the lights, and scattered purple baubles on it’s frail little branches. Once finished, we both stood back to look at how magical and proud this humble little tree has become with just a little caring and attention.

We looked towards the gate where we entered the field to see cars driving past, and I thought, I hope that this cheers people up when they see it. I like to believe that it had, and that a little happiness had been spread out into the world. Or, maybe they thought we were a bit mad? A laugh; a smile… same thing.

My partner and I sat in silence for a while by the little tree,enjoying what we had done and savouring the moment. We left the decorations there, when we left, and went back a few days later to see it again. All the decorations were gone. All but one of the small baubles. I thought, whoever had taken those decs, I bet that they smiled before they took them. Or, maybe I’m really naive and they cursed whoever cluttered this poor tree? I guess, we will never know; unless the person reads this blog. In that case, I’m sorry. 🙂

Spreading christmas cheer
December 14th 2016

New Holiday Pass-Time

At 8:PM last night we decided to decorate another tree. This time the destination was a 15 minute walk away from where we live. Rob already had a tree in mind; one that he noticed one day when he was out taking photographs of mist laying along a field, and he said this tree stood out in the picture.

This time it was a bit too high to decorate, and we didn’t have as many decs, but the memories we made doing this again was definitely worth it.

I was quite scared as we were walking through the woods to this field. It seemed like the birds in the trees were following us; flapping and squarking through the trees as we walked. Water from the treetops was dropping down through the leaves, making a sound that resembled people running through the woods. My mind was trying to play tricks with me; but I was fine. Although the owls that were hooting away in the distance did make me jump a couple times.

one bauble
Shining light on one bauble to remember the humble little tree from 2014

Wonderfully Weird

Most of the people we know would probably be snuggled up on the couch with a tin of bisquits or decorating a Christmas tree indoors in the warmth; but there we were, out in the woods decorating a tree in the dark and freezing cold.

We had such a laugh together, trying to get up the tree and jumping because of all the random noises. We stopped at a local pub for a night cap on the way home as well, which was nice. I am looking forward to next year’s Christmas adventure, although there is still time for another one this year!