Last night we returned home from our 3 week road trip around France and Spain. I can't wait to share our experiences, reviews and feelings from the trip over the next couple of weeks. But firstly, I have a few reflections about arriving home. Whilst we were away, we lived such a free and adventurous lifestyle, with no routine and very little plans about where we would go next. Of course, there were domestic chores to do, but there's something a little more enjoyable about washing up when you're outside all of the time and the temperature doesn't fall below 20c. After such freedom, I always find it eye opening to return to everyday life and back to British culture and surroundings. The biggest issue I observed today was how miserable everybody seemed. I popped in to the town centre for a visit to two shops and the only two interactions I had were with people complaining (one about someone blocking the path and another about the parking machine in Sainsbury). Surely the more we complain about innocuous things, the more unhappy we are going to feel and the cycle continues.
The other thing that became much more clear to me today was the consumerism trap us parents get stuck in for the new school year. Do our children actually need new shoes, even if their last pair still fit? Do they need a new plastic coated lunchbox each time their tastes change just slightly? The queue outside skoolkit snaked across the entire town square. What's up with the sweatshirt they wore 6 weeks ago? Why not just wait until they grow out of the last one or inevitably lose it in the bottomless pit of the classroom's 'jumper dumper'? So on Wednesday my children will be heading off to their new classes with exactly the same shorts as they did on the final day of term and I'm pretty sure the teacher will have a billion other things to be looking for and judging rather than their clothes.
Now I'm settling back in the work and school routines, I'm determined not to slip back into the busyness and hamster wheel of everyday life. Rather than feeling depressed about the closing summer season, I for one will be looking for any little opportunities for mini-adventures, small moments of peace and tiny signs to be grateful for like the smiley bobbing bush of sunflowers on my way to work (seriously, the sunflowers were on a bush- I've never seen a plant like it!) And if there's nothing else positive about our return home, at least the cat is happy to see us.