Rediscovering Your Happy Places

It feels somewhat overwhelming to think how much has changed since I last wrote on here a mere 3 weeks ago but such is 2020 life. As Manchester finds itself in tier 3 as of last Friday, there is a real sense that nothing is ever really that certain right now and making plans for the future (or simply next week) is stress inducing work. Luckily and completely unintentionally we'd planned quite a lot of "normal"-ish activities into the last two weeks prior to heading into tier 3 including a trip to Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and a very fleeting stay in Cornwall, our only holiday of the year for which I've never felt so grateful (holiday photos and blog post to follow soon). But that's just it with every plan you chance to make this year, it feels almost risky to set your heart on it actually happening! In fact for my own piece of mind I've found it better to look on plans as "yet to be confirmed" until the day before and as pessimistic as this may seem, its probably the most logical way of thinking. If there's one thing we've all learnt from 2020 is that plans don't just change, they can very easily be cancelled all together. Weddings, festivals, holidays, no matter how big the event may be nothing is set in stone and if you let it, this can send you a touch stir crazy. By October on a "normal" year I would have made numerous trips to London, had a few little weekend UK breaks with Joe and Pep, as well as possibly a overseas holiday. I realise in hindsight how much of luxury this was and the idea of a casual staycation away in the UK now seems like dreaming big (Cornwall actually felt like a completely different country)! But as much as I miss the travel and the excitement of somewhere new, it's not all doom and gloom in staying in one spot. One thing I have to thank this year for is it's ability to make me appreciate home much more, whether I wanted to or not. I've found a new lease of enthusiasm for my home town, a much stronger love for my happy places and a whole new understanding of what "home" actually means. 
Home to me as come to mean a feeling of security, familiarity and fond memories steeped in nostalgia. My happy places fall neatly into this new found concept of home. They're not always physical, tangible places which fill me with joy or a surrounding where I'll gladly spend time in my own company but more a feeling, a time of day or in Autumn's case, an entire season. This past month my happy place has definitely been sitting in front of our new wood burner on a chilly October evening watching ALL the (non scary) Halloween films I don't ordinarily have time for and this in itself brings back the best childhood memories. To name a few I've been watching Rocky Horror Picture Show, Death Becomes Her, Lost Boys and of course Beetlejuice. Films which have me asking, "why haven't I seen this in so long?". Well the answer is quite obvious, because ordinarily I don't find a moment for myself and these little joys. Normally life takes over and nostalgia unfortunately has to take a back sit. But this year I can find luxury in slowing down and staying in one spot. FYI this week I plan on carving more than one pumpkin because guess what? I can!
I'm a real creature of habit, me and my boyfriend often joke about how much I hate any kind of change (this is my cross to bear when investing in a new boxset in which there's twist endings, surprise deaths or new characters). I adore traveling and discovering new cities but ultimately I'm a real home bird. Contrary to what my Instagram account might have you believe, I'm really a bit of an introvert and I'm the first to admit this can often be my biggest down fall. I'm comfortable in my own company a lot of the time and being social is a characteristic I have to actively encourage myself to have. All of these aspects of my personality have allowed me in some ways to flourish in lockdown, although I do worry that when/if life ever does back to normal I'm be more stuck in my ways than I was before! Time will only tell I guess and for now I'm enjoy the extra time I never had before to reignite my love for my favourite spots, my happiest of places where I have so often in the past spent time on my own, with my thoughts for company.My mum lives in a little town in Derbyshire called New Mills and pre lockdown this was often somewhere I would escape to (it's only half an hour down the road) if I needed a moments respite from day to day stresses. My mum's home still feels like my home (even though I never actually lived in this house as a child) and I often wonder, at the ripe age of 31 does this feeling about your parents house ever actually leave you? We sit in the kitchen putting the world to rights, me cuddling our family dog Bluebell and feeling very much content with the world. Away from my mums house, New Mills feels like slow motion on ordinary life. In parts its quant and the views are to die for, Autumn being my favourite time of year to look out over the rolling hills gradually turning golden! It's a place to gather your thoughts with plenty of picturesque walks in abundance. I've spent many a Sunday wandering along the canal towpath towards Whaley Bridge or Marple, that being said now my walks are a lot less aimless with a Golden Retriever by my side. Dog walks really have been the hero activity of my lockdown and as mentioned in my previous post finding new places to walk Pep has become a real joy to us. One of my old favourite walks is to Formby Beach in Merseyside and it's actually Pep's favourite too. Ironically I'm scared of water so you'd think this the last place I'd want to be but there's something about beach walks that's good for the soul and clearing your head. The expanse of it all I guess just feels a little freeing and in Pep's case it's great for zoomies...

This month I've managed to squeeze in a few little rituals from pre lockdown life which I think I was subconsciously missing. I know it sounds so small but a trip to Manchester City Centre was exactly what I needed to give me a real sense of normality and I hadn't even realised I was filling this void until I was back there. I love Manchester Centre in October especially St Ann's Square when the pumpkin lanterns are in the trees. It's become a bit of a tradition of mine each year to go sit in the square with a pumpkin spiced latte in hand and people/pumpkin lantern watch. This little tradition is something I've done since I lived in the city in my early twenties, it's the perfect way to gain perspective on how much has changed and how far I've come over the years. It feels comforting to look back and it's this nostalgia that's exactly the kind of happy place I've really learnt to cherish! It's incredibly therapeutic and offers a sense of familiarity in a time when everything feels a little unknown. A real cherry on the cake this month has been taking a trip to an art gallery, one of my favourite pastimes which over the last few months has of course fallen to the wayside. We went to the Walker Gallery in Liverpool to see Linda McCartney's Retrospective Exhibition, something I had planned to see in Berlin earler this year but surprise, surprise had fallen through. Face masks, allocated time slots and social distancing aside, it actually felt like a normal afternoon away from work and I've never appreciated a little escapism more.

 There's no denying that sense of claustrophobia which can come with 2020, there are days when I feel so hopelessly frustrated with how restricted we all are especially in light of the new tier system however on the positive days- the days when I know I've just got to keep pushing through- it's all these happy places which have really come to the rescue. Travelling is great and I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss it but that doesn't take away from the comforting notion that there is really is "no place like home"... where ever or whatever that maybe!

Wishing everyone a very safe and happy Autumn,

Sophia x

(All photos were taken prior to new tier 3 restrictions in Manchester)

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