break

A lovely long weekend

For the Easter long weekend my little family and I decided to head up the Coast to stay at my childhood home. My parents had headed west to visit my Nan so it was just us hanging out at home with a change of scenery.

We started Good Friday by riding down to the Fish Markets bright and early to beat the hordes. The day was just beautiful and after we had snared our fish we treated ourselves to hot drinks and pastries on the waters edge.

Blackwattle Bay

Almond croissant

The drive in holiday traffic was horrendous so I shall gloss over that bit and focus on the lovely time at Mum and Dad’s. The evenings were crisp so we lit a fire every night (our first of the season) and it brought back so many memories seeing our daughter sitting in the front of the fire just like I used when I was a kid (though I didn’t have a sweet etch-a-sketch picked up at Vinnies for $3!). So much better than sitting in front of the telly!

fireside

There was lots of  exploring to do. We wandered around the garden collecting lemons and herbs, spotting this little skink hiding in the herb garden amongst the rosemary and pumpkins.

skink

One day we headed over to the back paddock in search of the chestnut tree (turns out it came down in a storm a few years ago so we picked macadamias instead) and visited the creek and billabong. Perfect exploring outfit, don’t you think?

exploring

creek

It was so nice to do nothing and just enjoy each others company in different surroundings. A change really is as good as a holiday, and lets face it, this is what we could afford. By the time we headed back to Sydney we were well rested, well fed, and determined to take more of these little breaks in the future. A long weekend is long enough to give you a real break but short enough to be affordable. How often do you get away from it all? Any tips for a break on a budget?

A Great Escape

It’s been a rough few weeks in the downtown downshift household. We all go through these periods when things get a little tough and it helps to have coping mechanisms. Our daughter was booked in for surgery with a lengthy recovery period to follow so I decided to be proactive and get myself on top of things beforehand.  I stocked the pantry and freezer, cleaned the house inside and out, then tackled my own physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion by running away to the Blue Mountains for 24 hours.

It was bliss. I got up early on Sunday morning (not hard when you have a baby) and jumped on an 8am train arriving in Katoomba at 10.20am. I had booked myself into the Carrington Hotel which is just a short walk from the station. I chose the Carrington because of its location and of course its wonderful history. Originally opened in 1882 this gorgeous old hotel was reopened in 1998 after an extensive restoration, a condition of which was the retention of one wing in original condition. This is where I stayed in a Traditional Room (the least expensive room on offer), complete with marble fireplace and ladies and gentlemen’s bathrooms at the end of the hall- that’s right, no ensuite! The bathrooms have the original deep claw foot baths and wonderful etched mirrors.

Baths

Mirror

I am a big fan of Agatha Christie novels and a traditional room allowed me to immerse myself in the environment I had read of so often in my favourite books. Speaking of books I spent a great deal of time reading, ensconced in this lovely armchair by the fire in the Lounge, flowing effortlessly from one chapter to the next, the only interruptions my trips to the excellent cocktail bar. First of all, however, I treated myself to a massage and facial package. An extremely rare treat that left me floating back down the stairs feeling as though I’d been put back together again, soul and all, ready to relax and enjoy myself.

Chair

Window

I devoured lunch at a café on the main street and spent much of the afternoon perusing the antique shops and vintage clothing emporiums. I didn’t buy a single thing but it was so nice to look at leisure without worrying about inconveniencing my other half. I picked up some crackers, taramasalata, cheese, strawberries, and chocolate at the local supermarket and ate a picnic supper on my bed whilst watching Midsomer Murders. I even treated myself to a cheap bottle of plonk. Divine.

Dining Room

The next morning I breakfasted in the Grand Dining Room (so beautiful, look at that ceiling!) before checking out and leaving my bag at reception. I jumped on a tourist bus to visit a few of the local attractions starting with the historic house and garden Everglades. I was the first visitor of the day and had the house and gardens to myself for an hour. I took full advantage, exploring and stopping wherever I liked to sketch and document with photographs. Then it was back on the bus and around to the Three Sisters and other scenic viewing spots.

Everglades

Flower

Three Sisters

I also popped over Scenic World and completed their 2.4km Scenic Walkway. Normally I wouldn’t pay to do a walk but one of my cousins was lost in the bush for three days after losing his way on an overgrown track in the Blue Mountains and I wasn’t about to put myself in a similar situation. Plus the elevated boardwalk meant I could wear my ballet flats rather than pack another pair of shoes.

Bush

I took the train home again in the afternoon, savouring the last of my uninterrupted reading time. By the time I walked in the front door I was realigned and ready to face the next few weeks head on. So far my daughter’s recovery has been less than perfect but I know we’re coping better than if I was an exhausted wreck. My little escape also reminded me how important it is to take care of myself. It was surprising how quickly I felt like myself again just having time-out. I need to make it more of a priority and now I know gardens and books are surefire ways to do so. How do you centre yourself in difficult times or just look after yourself on a day by day basis?