The week after we returned from holiday I found myself feeling rather down in the dumps. Why on Earth was that? I couldn't understand it. I'd just returned from a fantastic fortnight away with my family in sunny Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, our first summer holiday in five years and our first two-week break in eight! On arriving home we were warmly welcomed by friends who had been house-sitting and we still had ten days of the summer holidays left including fun with family so why did I feel so flat?
Last weekend I turned to the internet to try to fathom it out and it turns out that 'post-holiday blues' is a thing. The back to Earth with a bumpness of coming home to piles of laundry, the return to cooking and cleaning and the humdrum of work and home life. Some people dread the return to the routine of work and school but I am looking forward to it - to knowing where I should be and when and what is required of me. I think I need a bit of structure again and am now impatient for it.
I had to give myself a bit of a talking to last weekend to get myself out of the doldrums. I took a walk and looked at the advice on how to get out of the post-holiday blues. The first thing I saw that resonated with me and seemed to work was to...
In the melee of returning home I'd forgotten to be grateful for what I'd experienced, I just felt sorry for myself that I wasn't still there! Although I'm no longer on holiday I still have the memories don't I? I took a few moments to look through my photos and be actively thankful for the fantastic holiday, for my husband who organised it all, for my children for being such fun, for the places we visited, the food we ate, the water we swam in, the sun we bathed in, the toil of those who've gone before who created such marvels as Venice, the labour of those who waited on us in restaurants, cleaned our hotel rooms and ferried us about.
Not just that but I looked through the last three months of photos, a record of a superb summer. Plenty of time spent with friends, a camping trip to Cloud Farm on Exmoor for Felix's birthday and day trips to the beach.
I'm grateful for my creative friends who helped me host a fundraising event for Mind and another successful watercolour painting course.
I'm grateful for the deliciousness of the season - the fruit and veg that has grown in my garden and coloured my plate.
I'm grateful for my volunteers and staff who keep the cottages and yurts clean and ready for our guests and especially for holding the fort while we were away.
Finally I'm grateful for our guests who make it all possible by coming to share a slice of our little piece of heaven in Devon.
I've made a slideshow on my phone I can look at to reflect on our holiday and the summer in general. I might even put some of our memories on the walls to prompt a reminder throughout the year.
The second piece of advice that helped me get out of the dumps was to...
I gave it a bit of thought and decided that on my list will be a spa break with my sister, hopefully in November once the yurts and cottages are closed for the season. I'm tempted to join a yoga retreat in Croatia run by a lady I know from Exmouth but that may have to wait till next year. I might also try to sneak in a little jaunt to Boston, Mass. to see a friend who has recently moved there. As for family holidays well I'm keen to visit the Lake District to take the children to Beatrix Potter's house. Also to Chester to visit the city and the zoo.
What's on your list? A trip to the yurts perhaps? We have one more month before we close for the season in early October. We re-open at the end of March next year in time for the Easter holidays.
Book now to have something in the diary to look forward to!
Many of you know I love bats and enjoy guiding bat walks on the farm for our guests. We listen to bats' echolocation with bat detectors as they fly over the ponds catching mosquitos and midges. Back in June I borrowed a recording bat detector from the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat project for three nights to see what activity it picked up. I located it between our two ponds in our garden at the farmhouse and to be honest I didn’t hold out much hope as the forecast was for rain, rain and more rain. However I was pleasantly surprised when I got the results back after a couple of weeks.
One of my goals this year was to start walking the South West Coast Path after reading Raynor Winn's fantastic book The Salt Path. Various stretches are accessible from Blackdown Yurts - the closest being East Devon, but you can also reach the North Devon and Somerset coastline and South Devon should you wish. We started with a beautiful circular walk from Branscombe to Beer and back, up and over the cliffs to the attractive fishing village for lunch and back along the jungly undercliff.
The National Trust has a good guide to the walk. We parked in the beachside car park in Branscombe (be aware you still need to pay for parking even if you are a NT member). You can charge yourself with a coffee at The Sea Shanty beach cafe before you tackle the hill up to Hooken Cliffs. We enjoyed watching a pair of peregrine falcons hovering and diving while hunting on the clifftop.
A cause very close to our hearts here at Blackdown Yurts, on Saturday 20th July we are hosting a 'Crafternoon' in aid of Mind - the mental health charity.
As well as supporting worthy charities, we're passionate about the local community and so thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to invite families to come and join us here at Blackdown Yurts, as well as our sister business; Halsbeer Farm.
We've got so much space here to craft and play that it seems silly not to open it up every now and again to those who aren't staying here. So if you'd like to come along, there's no need to book - it's totally free so just turn up and get crafting! We'll have plenty of refreshments to keep you going, all we'd ask is that you donate to the charity while you're here.
Here are our top ten things to do this half term and beyond near Blackdown Yurts and Halsbeer Farm. We've divided into places you have to pay entrance for and things that are free. The titles to each attraction below are clickable through to their websites for more information, and we've provided links to some of the blogs we have done previously about attractions we've visited so you can see what we really thought and read our top tips for visiting.
Hooray for the holidays. Have fun whatever you are up to! Katie. x
Mark and I were recently treated to a wonderful evening at nearby Pipers Farm. One of the owners, Peter, ably assisted by his beautiful sheepdog Fly, showed us around the farm which showcases their grass fed, traditionally-reared livestock.
Pipers Farm is actually so much more than this little Devon farm with a view of the Blackdown Hills in the distance. The company supports a network of family-run farms and sells their quality meat online. It has a loyal following of ethically-minded consumers who want to know that the animals are treated well and reared outdoors in tune with nature.
On Tuesday evening I went running for the first time in nearly three months since fracturing a bone in my foot. I've missed getting out in the beautiful landscape and getting the headspace and exercise that comes with it.
I ran from the picturesque village of Culmstock along the River Culm through the water meadows to a little Woodland Trust reserve called Hunkin Wood where I stumbled on a granite gateway with a beautiful poem on it by Elizabeth Rapp.
In Devon's Hidden Valley, discover the abundance of nature and wildlife in beautiful surroundings with a unique glamping adventure.