As I type this on a gloriously sunny Sunday morning I feel so lucky to have just had the opportunity to take a two week break. I called time on all of my obligations and commitments, distanced myself from the news and social media and removed all expectations of what I ‘should’ be doing. I am aware of how fortunate I am to be able to do that, so appreciated every morning waking up knowing that the day was mine to do with what I wished. Not only that, it was wonderful to have spent some much time outdoors, instead of hunched over my laptop working and managing my daily life online. It was hugely restorative.

The first week, I spent winding down. Although I have been one of the lucky ones who was able to work from home since Covid-19 restrictions were enforced, with Mr Bee out of action since April with the return of his frozen shoulder, I have been feeling quite overwhelmed. By working together and supporting each other though we got ourselves into the position where we could take advantage of the resources we do have. We waited patiently for the opportunity to present itself, and sure enough it did! Now pain free during the day, Mr Bee felt he could manage to drive as far as Derbyshire and be able to enjoy a break in the countryside.

It didn’t take long to get the van ready, and although we had left booking campsites a bit late, we found one for a couple of nights and just winged the rest – it seems like everyone is camping this year! Still in need of its finishing touches, the van has all the basics needed for a comfortable stay. Spending time in it again got the creative ideas bouncing around inside its compact space. Though Mr Bee has independently completed the ingenious build, he has involved me throughout and of course I have made my creative contributions in cosying it up. It is really well designed to maximise on space and some there is still plenty of storage to keep the living space clutter free.

Loaded up with all the essentials, including outdoor gear and lots of changes of clothes, we prepared for a few nights of parking up where we could find a space. Kitted out with a gas stove, fridge cooler and running water we knew we could be self sufficient for a while. There is something incredibly freeing about only having ‘what you need’ with you, I didn’t once miss my laptop or hairdryer! And l that time outside getting natural exercise, you know the ones our bodies were actually made for, just seemed to unfold all those creases and unknot those tense muscles. Walks through woodlands are good for rainy days, hill climbs for cloudy days, lakes and beaches for the hot ones.

We embraced the sunny, windy and rainy days. The wettest day was perfect for snuggling in with tea, books, music, cards, Scrabble and a perfect view out of the back windows. The van is great base for walks and just to hang out, the best days where when we could fling open all of the doors and let the outside in, especially that fresh green scent after the rain. We were out walking almost every day but there was plenty of just sitting and simply being. In a world that bombards us with information and expects up to be continually busy, getting out in nature must be one of the easiest ways to restore balance – and it’s free!

One of the highlights of this trip, apart from the stunning scenery in the peaks and having the chance to relax, was cooking my first meal in the van. Preferable with the door open, we didn’t bother on our last trip, and if you are out all day then picking up fishing and chips or popping into the local for a pub tea are much easier options. Nevertheless, it is good to know how easy it is to make some of your favourite dishes on a two burner stove and with only two pans. This simplified version of jambalaya was good to try as it is all cooked in one pan, and washed down with a glass or two of red wine, it was the perfect end to an eight mile walk starting at Froggart Edge.

Oh, and let’s not forget the fried egg baps, devoured on misty mornings on deckchairs outside the van, whilst allowing the cool country air to gently nudge us awake. It’s the little things, right?

And now I am back, thinking that if there is some good to come out of this pandemic then it has to be this. Being grateful for the freedom and choices that we do have, and taking control of what we allow to clutter our lives and our minds.

DU