Camping – in Tents!

So after Lyme Regis we literally came home, unpacked, did some laundry, repacked, then headed out the next day. The weather was a bit concerningly grey, but we carried on with high hopes into the Suffolk countryside.

IMG_4522M and I had debated what our plans would be if we ended up with fellow campers right next to our pitch, but it ended up being entirely academic. There were a few folks in the cabins nearby, but we were the only ones camping in a tent in the entire section. Apparently the camping season doesn’t really start at the beginning of May as we were soon to see, but no matter – no queues to use the bathrooms in the mornings!

The sun was starting to hide behind some grey clouds, so we put the tent together as quickly as possible. This being our first time putting the tent together, it took about twice as long as the booklet suggested and we may have forgotten to put some bits and bobs in the right areas. Meh, nothing died. Eventually though, we had a tent with an airbed and all our kit for the next 3 nights. This called for a trip to the nearby village for BBQ supplies.

We came back about an hour later with a comical amount of meat and gave the new collapsible BBQ a go. For a little thing from Sainsbury’s, it was really impressive! With meat a-cooking, we had a good first night until the sun set.

With sunset came a wickedly cold wind and an impressive temperature drop. When the jacket, coat, and blanket bundle wasn’t cutting it, a trip to the nearby pub was in order to defrost a bit. The Star Inn ended up being really nice, so we booked a table for dinner there the next night.

The next morning the two of us awoke, cracked the ice off our sleeping bags (I kid, I kid.), and got ready for the day. We discovered that our gas cooker really doesn’t like high winds and had to give up on some perfectly good sausages for breakfast. Had some thick bread from the supplies instead, then cracked on for Southwold.

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Choppy waters when we went.

Southwold is on the coast and is about 30 miles east of Ipswich. It’s an old town, with records of it in the Domesday Book, though the town has shifted and changed a goodly bit since. In 1659 a massive fire swept through and destroyed a large portion of buildings. Some of these sites were never rebuilt upon and have become little greens around the town. There are still plaques that mark these.

Nowadays Southwold is mostly a beachside resort town, with nearly half of the homes there for holiday rentals. Other than tourists, they are also the site of Adnams Brewery – who are the largest single employer in the area. We popped into the shop of the brewery, but didn’t have a booking for the tour. Maybe some other time. Instead, we walked down the pier into the angry ocean. The weather may not have been fantastic, but the off the wall show we found definitely made the walk worth it.

As the rain got worse in Southwold, we thought it best to travel back inland to our tent. The rain did not follow thankfully, and after a short nap we walked over to the pub again to enjoy a nice warm dinner. It did not disappoint! The pub seemed to be having a community night whilst we were there. There was a jumble sale in the back room and a sewing group having drinks in the front while somebody played a random assortment of tunes from his many vinyls near the entranceway.

It was at this point that one of my Twitter friends asked if you could camp at pubs. Well, maybe not at this one, but you definitely can at others. Something to consider when in England I suppose.

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A very determined M heading for food.

The next day we got back in the car after breakfast and drove out to Sutton Hoo. I may have badgered M a bit for this one, as it was geeky archaeology, but he did get some ice cream out of it.

Sutton Hoo is the site of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery. What makes it special is that in the 1930s they managed to find an undisturbed ship burial containing a wealth of artefacts. Not only were the artefacts outstanding in their own right though, but they also gave a lot of new information on the period of early English history. They suspect the person buried in the ship was none other than Raedwald, ruler of the East Angles, who was a powerful king and was a major player in bringing Christianity into England. The burial is often compared with the Old English poem Beowulf, and in the visitors centre they make plenty of comparisons in the artefacts found and the verses of the poem.

The only downside to Sutton Hoo is that nearly all of the artefacts found were donated to the British Museum. They’re all on display, so I’ll likely head down soon to have a look at the originals now that I know the context. In the meanwhile though, the centre did have very well done replicas that gave a feel for the level of wealth and prestige that the objects were meant to have at the time of the burial. The level of craftsmanship in the sword alone was incredible.

We made it back to the campsite in the late afternoon, had another nap, then headed over to the shops for a last BBQ dinner. (I blame these naps on the air mattress, which refused to stay inflated overnight.) It was a bit warmer, but the wind was still biting. After dinner, we ended up in the ‘living room’ area of our tent to escape it.

IMG_4605.jpgNothing says holiday quite like a beach, so we queued up some Death in Paradise and enjoyed our last chilly evening sheltered away from the elements.

Definitely learned our lesson on early spring camping, but I’d like to say we’ll do it again soon. Maybe again later this summer in August when the weather is most assuredly going to be warmer. Will have to see if the significant otter needs a bit of convincing though. All in all we made the best of the weather and now know how to make a makeshift wind break in order to cook breakfast sausages in a pinch. Also that I am rubbish at packing for the weather and should probably listen to my husband when he tells me I didn’t bring enough layers. Maybe. Anyway, it’s getting closer and closer to glorious summer days!

 

— Kate

Newark Park at Eastertime (Spring 2016)

Slowly working my way through the backlog of the year. Our next major trip wasn’t until Easter, when we packed up our bags and drove to the Cotswolds to see the family. We also learned on this trip that when you hire an automatic car in the UK, you pretty much just get whatever they have as most people here drive manual cars. Normally I have ended up with the tiny Vauxhall Corsa I asked for, but this time all they had was a Mercedes C-Class. And they would have to charge me the rate for the Vauxhall because I hadn’t requested it. Oh darn.

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It was a fantastic Easter weekend with the family and we decided to make the most of it by going to visit the nearby National Trust site of Newark House that Saturday. M had just gotten off night shift the day before and was much keener on some sleep, so we left him to snooze for this one.

Newark Park is up a windy country road on the top of a hill, but it has an amazing view of the surrounding countryside. It’s a Grade I listed country house built between 1544 and 1556. It sits on 700 acres of unspoiled Cotswold countryside and gives a view that looks similar to how it would have centuries back.

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The house was originally a three storey Tudor hunting lodge with a basement that belonged to Sir Nicholas Poyntz, a Groom of the Privy Chamber to Henry VIII. It was called the “New Work” and was partially built with materials from the then-recently dissolved Kingswood Abbey nearby. The lodge has been altered over the course of the centuries, but it still remains as the eastern part of the present building.

The home passed through a few hands over the years and eventually became a rental property in the 1860s. It stayed this way until 1949 when it was given to the National Trust. Unusually, the Trust did not open Newark Park to the public, but instead let it out as a nursing home. This continued until 1970 when the estate was declared in disrepair and it was taken on privately by an American architect, Robert Parsons. It was due to his efforts that both the house and the surrounding grounds were restored and its Grade I listing was achieved.

 

The house is still managed by the National Trust and privately occupied, but you can go visit the cafe for tea and enjoy the beautiful grounds. We took it as a chance to go on a grand Easter hunt around the estate!

 

— Kate

Seaside Honeymoon (January 2016)

For our honeymoon, we decided to stay in the country and enjoy the quiet Cornish seaside town of Padstow. Well, quiet in January anyway, but that’s a story for another day. It’s a long journey and at the time we didn’t have a car, so we took the chance to ride in a sleeper train all the way from London to Penzance and then get a cab across to Padstow. It was a really fun experience, but you should know that each cabin contains a bunk bed for two, so decide ahead of time who’s sleeping on the top bunk.

However, you get two places to sleep, a coat rack, some luggage space, a mirror, a window, and a washbasin with a towel and soap all behind one lockable door. We spent the first half of our evening in the lounge car watching the English countryside at night pass by whilst we sipped beverages and ate crisps. The rest we snoozed away in our bunks. We were woken at 7 with bacon sandwiches and left the train to a beautiful Cornish sunrise off the Atlantic Ocean. From there, we managed to get to Padstow and had a relatively laid back first day with a nap and a shower high on the list.

Padstow itself is now a tourist hotspot for foodies thanks to Rick Stein and his series of restaurants across town. Seriously, his fish and chips will ruin all other fried cod for you for life – it’s that good. Originally though, Padstow was an old fishing port that goes back at least as far as the Domesday Book. There are remnants of that heritage in the port tours and nautical themes of art and food around the area, but it’s mostly faded into the tourism industry these days.

We did not suffer for being in a tourist area though. Instead, we feasted like royalty and enjoyed the atmosphere of pubs around the harbour. We wandered the streets of the then-empty town as it was in off-season, then wandered out into the countryside of the Camel Estuary. It was a quiet week for just the two of us where it felt like the town was all for us. I would love to go back again in the winter months and enjoy the peace with my significant otter again sometime.

Sadly, we did have to come back to the real world on the other side of the country, but it was a wonderful week long break to have.

–Kate

 

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Still no visa, but I’ve found a new contact to try. Anyway, a different ramble. So there are interesting problems when it comes to leaving the country. A major one I never thought I’d run into? Licensing differences in medicine.

I’ve never been particularly avoidant on the fact that I deal with depression, and there’s no need to start now. I know there will be other people in this situation that are trying to decide what to do. My main problem is that I’ve failed other antidepressants in my life and finally found that bupropion worked for me. I’ve been on it for the past 3 years and in the meantime have added good diet and exercise into my routine to help bolster my mental health. However… While in the United States it’s licensed to be given for depression as well as a smoking-cessation aid, it’s only licensed to stop smoking in the United Kingdom.

“But Kate, why don’t you just switch to another medication?” you ask. Well, this would be medication #4 for me, so honestly I’d rather just try going off it entirely instead of playing the “Try the Medicine” game again so close to leaving. I’ve spoken with my doctor and they’ve given me a weaning schedule, so I should be off and okay by the time I catch the plane. It’ll be fantastic if I can actually just stay off medicine, but if needed I can still have medicine shipped over for a year or go on something in the UK. A lot has happened to me in the last three years, and I have faith in myself that I can handle it, and if not that I can ask for help.

My doctor recommended making a list of the top ten things I recognize as depression symptoms, and another list of the top ten things I can do that will make me feel better. These will always be personal to me, but if you are someone who deals with this too, it’s a great idea honestly. I decided to write mine out on here so if nothing else I have somewhere to fall back on and find what helps keep me sane. Take it as a starting point for yourself if you’d like, by all means.

 

Ten Things to Do When Depression Strikes

  1. Call a friend. Go out in public. Go sit in a space with other human beings. Just being around other people forces me to stop feeling mopey and instantly evaporates the lurking feeling of isolation. Bonus points if you have the wonderful people in your life you can just talk out the feeling with until it passes, but if not you can always journal. Just getting the feelings into word form can make a difference.
  2. Go exercise. Walk, jog, swim – whatever is easiest to get to and gets you off your bum. I try to nip this in the bud by going for evening walks every night and catch up on my podcast news in the meanwhile. You get some exercise to make yourself feel better (especially if it’s your only major accomplishment of the day) and podcasts are excellent for shutting off that nasty little voice in your mind until the exercise effects kick in.
  3. Write out a schedule and stick to it. Having structure in your life isn’t as exciting as a grand spontaneous adventure, but having a checklist of what you need to do every day can greatly lower the heavy weight of apathy that tends to strike in the morning. Don’t torment yourself though – make sure you put in at least one thing you enjoy and look forward to.
  4. Can’t get ahold of friends? Don’t have any friends available quite yet? Get out of the house and do something, anything. Being a student is useful because there is nearly always something going on. Go to movie night. Learn to kayak in the pool. Heck, go play bingo. Get out, socialize, and stay busy!
  5. Eat well. Don’t restrict yourself to carrot sticks and salad, but eat something green every day. Cutting out excess amounts of grease and sugar makes a world of difference in how you physically and emotionally feel. I must repeat though – DON’T RESTRICT YOURSELF. Allow yourself some comfort food if you’re having a rough day, but limit it to 2 cookies instead of a sleeve for example.
  6. If your depression is being triggered by high stress, have some alcohol IN MODERATION. Yes, it’s a depressant, but at least for me it takes the anxiety down a good ten notches and the world just feels like a better place. If that’s not an option, tidy. Especially when you’re doing things that are more abstract, sometimes having an organized fridge is incredibly satisfying. Having a clean environment in general is good for coping, even if you are a clutterbug by nature. Sort it into boxes and enjoy a visually appealing living space while knowing your stuff is not being sacrificed to do so.
  7. Set silly goals and rewards. Make a list of things to be done and stick a reward at the end of each. Did you take a shower and make your bed? Have some of your special tea for breakfast. Finish the readings due by the end of the week? Go watch that movie you’ve been meaning to.
  8. Challenge your perspective. Convinced you aren’t really good enough to be where you are? Dissect the question and make a pro/con list if you want. Think you’ve irreparably annoyed someone you love? What did you do and what is actually the more reasonable response? Try to get in the habit of seeing life as an adventure and when the worst thoughts crop up about a situation, if you can’t think of a cheery result, at least think of a more realistic one.
  9. Volunteer. Help a stranger. Make your friend’s day. The phrase that giving is better than receiving is one of the truest I’ve known. You appreciate what you have more and seeing the smile on someone else’s face knowing that you instigated it is amazing.
  10. Change your vocabulary. Just little tweaks of your words are surprisingly powerful.

— Kate