One grey afternoon in January after a long morning at church, the following conversation happened in our house.
Me: I’ve been thinking about our holiday next week.
Nathan (cautiously): right…
Me: How about we don’t go to Oxford? How about we just get a nice cottage not too far away instead?
Nathan: What? We agreed we were going to Oxford! I marked the pages in my Good Food Guide and you Youtubed Things To Do In Oxford!
Me: Yeah but we haven’t actually booked a hotel yet and I’m tired and it’s so far away…
Nathan: Why do you have to change perfectly good plans?!
And what followed was a long conversation between two very tired people who just needed to get away. But where? We discussed Oxford (again), Edinburgh, Rome even, but then on a whim, Nathan googled ‘holiday cottages in Cheshire’. And what popped up is our newest slice of heaven: Combermere Abby.
The sight of a little cottage with a log fire just over an hour away put all thoughts of a packed mini break in Rome with a 3am start out of our minds. I hadn’t been great since our last holiday at the start of November, and we’d had the oh-so-lovely-but-very-busy-and-what-does-my-husband-even-look-like Christmas season since then. The cottage looked perfect- and it was.
We set off on Friday night and we drove. We pulled up, unloaded the car and unlocked the door. In the kitchen, a tea tray was ready, complete with cherry bakewell biscuits. In the living room, there was a fire made and ready to be lit. In the fridge, there was a bottle of milk ready for as much tea drinking as we desired. It wasn’t just a lovely place to retreat to, it was all so well put together in a beautiful and thoughtful way.
The next day, the Asda delivery arrived and then it was just us. I am delighted to say that apart from driving, I didn’t lift a finger the whole time. I literally didn’t even make a drink, let alone a meal!
Quickly, all the tension from the last few months melted away. I could feel my shoulders relax and my body seemed lighter. Several naps in, I remember thinking about how nice Nathan is. Not that I’d forgotten, exactly, but I’d been too busy to really notice just exactly how lovely he is.
I’m certainly guilty of giving Nathan the remaining bit of myself. It’s not second best, it’s much further down the list than that. On a normal day, we get up and we chat a bit, then I go out to say morning prayer at church. I work all morning in the office which is always a hive of activity and it’s very people centred. Then I come home for lunch a bit drained, by which point Nathan is gearing up to go out somewhere, usually on a visit or suchlike. I then tackle some admin, or a sermon or I head out too. Late afternoon one of us cooks while the other works. Most nights we have a speedy tea so that one or both of us can go to a meeting. It’s not a bad little pattern and it usually works quite well, but the Christmas season is just something else. I’d been pushing myself and giving to a lot of different things, and up until the point that we arrived at the cottage, Nathan had got the clammy, gritty, grumpy dregs of the bottle that is Poppy.
When a holiday is coming up I almost always inevitably have the thought ‘it would be so much easier if we just stayed here and had pyjama days rather than going away somewhere’. But that’s completely daft because getting away is so important.
I’m less than 18 months into my marriage and we had to go away in order for me to be reminded that my husband is a really lovely guy. What?!
This is utter nonsense and it didn’t help that we hadn’t been away just the two of us since the previous April. But that being said, when we are in the middle of a normal week, we could certainly be better at making time for each other then too.
I don’t want to get to that point again. So I’m going to try to be more present when we do have time together. I’m going to make sure that we don’t go so long with so little quality time together. And sometimes good enough is going to have to be good enough when it comes to curacy, church, parish because Nathan is just as important.
We cannot spend our lives on holiday, but we can make sure that we try to have more peaceful, quiet and special moments together in the whirlwind that is everyday life.