Taking Time Out

Since reducing my hours by half at my ‘day job’ last November (it’s really an evening job as I work out-of-hours shifts), I get a lot more weekends off. After years of working unsocial shifts and often only having two or three days off with my husband Nik a month, I’m still relishing that ‘Friday feeling’ and having a whole free weekend where we can do what normal couples do. (By normal couples I mean sensible people who work 9-5 Monday to Friday like my husband, rather than unsocial 6pm – 2am shifts any day of the week like I do.)

Even when I’m not doing the ‘day job’ the weekends will often be taken up with freelance work, whether that’s researching and writing articles, updating my blogs or editing my novel. However, this weekend just gone I took the whole two days off.

Saturday started off well with a lovely long lie-in (once we’d let our dog Frodo out into the garden at 6.30am), followed by a walk in the park and lunch at the Tobacco Factory Cafe. Dinner was homemade Mexican Beef Mole with rice and stir-fried cabbage and then we lit the wood burner, curled up on the sofa and watched Strictly Come Dancing.

Sunday was a perfect autumnal day; cold and sunny with a cloudless blue sky. Recently I’ve been going for a walk with Frodo through the woods and fields that surround Tyntesfield, an incredible Victorian country house owned by the National Trust. Now that it’s winter dogs are allowed into the formal gardens, so along with Nik and my Mum and Dad we took Frodo there for a walk. The gold, rust red and greeny-yellow colour of the trees punctuated with a vivid splash of scarlet red of an Acer stood out against the deep blue of the sky. The Rose Garden was serene and still beautiful despite it being the middle of autumn. The impressive house with its ornate turrets and towers overlooked formal gardens that had sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Planted with a variety of herbs the kitchen garden had been carefully tended to with row upon row of Brussels sprouts, while the lush green fields that seamlessly continued from the gardens were home to cattle. After working up an appetite we headed to the cafe and sat outside in the sunshine with all the other dog owners and tucked into tasty homemade vegetable soup with croutons.

Slow roasted belly of pork with honey glazed crackling, pumpkin mash and peas were on the menu for our Sunday dinner, so we spent a good chunk of the afternoon cooking as the pork needed to be basted every 20 minutes. It was worth it though. Completely stuffed, we wouldn’t have been able to venture out even if we’d wanted to. Instead it was another cosy night in.

So, the moral of this post? Take time out – it’s good for you.

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