Open Thinkering


Weeknote 14/2023

Collage of photos from holiday on Dunskey Estate

In early December 2020, after listening to a podcast which posed the question, “Who are you without the doing?” I decided to take the rest of the month off work. That blossomed into an experiment last year into taking my holiday in three discrete chunks. So in addition to April, I will again be taking three weeks off in August and December.

This was my first week off. As I’d left no real loose ends with my co-op work (we had a ‘handover’ meeting!) I felt relaxed almost immediately after turning off my computer on Friday. There were no sporting activities for the kids at the weekend, so we went for a decently-long walk in the Northumbrian countryside on Sunday and had an ice-cream at Spurreli’s in Amble.

On Monday we headed off on holiday to the Dunskey Estate near Portpatrick, Scotland. We spent four nights there (it’s pretty expensive) and it was wondrous. The best way to describe it, given that we didn’t really see anyone else, is like having a National Trust property to yourself. With all of the grounds — complete with walled garden, maze, lochs, beach, caves, waterfall, etc.

The one thing that I’m always a little disappointed about when we head over the border into Scotland is the food situation. My experience has been that, unless you’re in a city like Edinburgh or Glasgow, the options for eating out (and even for takeaways) are pretty poor. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s always very noticeable to us. That was the only downside, and meant that we ended up eating in every night. It was all good, though, as we got to play more Cards Against Humanity.

While we were away, I ran a 6k route down to Portpatrick and along the cliffs a couple of times, past a house that featured on the TV series Grand Designs in 2019. Talking of running, Rob Parker, who I know through setting up last year, came to Morpeth earlier today so that we could run a 10k together. It was a great opportunity to find out more about each other, and we’re considering doing a walk and camp in the mountains together sometime.

I need to up the overall number of steps I do over the coming week, as I’ll be walking 20+ miles per day for six days when I do The Pennine Way. I’ve pushed back the start date for walking the first half of it to Sunday 16th April so that I can be around during the kids’ second Easter holiday week. Our son needs some encouragement to do some more GCSE revision 😉

The new Morpeth leisure centre opened while we were away, so after driving 3.5 hours home, we unpacked the car and headed straight there before it closed early for Good Friday. Although the gym is much bigger, it’s a bit disappointing that you can’t use the cardio machines at all without unlocking them with an app which tracks you. Also, although there are more machines altogether, there are a couple that were in the old gym that aren’t in the new. I shouldn’t complain, though, as I now get to add into my routine jumping onto stacked boxes and traversing the monkey bars!

I’ve got a list of jobs to do this coming week including staining the decking, re-sealing the shower, and planting seeds. All manual stuff which takes me away from screens, which is good. I’ll also be double-checking I’ve got all of the kit I need for my expedition. My new merino wool underwear arrived this morning, and I’ve got some other odds and ends arriving over the coming days. To be honest, though, I got pretty much everything I need for last year’s Hadrian’s Wall walk.

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