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Any which way but home

Updated: May 18, 2023

If there’s one thing the Easter Holidays have proved a reminder of, it’s that the art of being ‘out and about''s vastly underrated.

The art of day-tripping, place-visiting and generally doing everything possible, to minimise time spent in the stir-crazy confines of home.

The particular reprieve of these ‘third places’ (the parks, cafes and supermarkets) is something which it’s all too easy to lose sight of (or maybe not understand at all) - especially when your home ISN’T a maelstrom of playroom-trashing, toy-hurling mayhem. When the traverse from lounge to kitchen isn’t a veritable gauntlet of foot-puncturing plastic detritus.

When such is the case, the relief of that click of the front door, the closing of the car boot and the start of the engine… it needs no explanation.

Overwhelm, or so I’ve found, has a rather uncanny habit of finding an exit valve in the most unlikely and unconventionally relaxing of places.

Park benches.

The side seating at a soft play.

The half-comfort of an under-sized plastic library chair.

What’s so alchemical about all these places, isn’t just the reprieve they grant from Blippy and bickering, and the subsequent ability to hear oneself think. It’s also the change of scene itself - something which normal, term-time life scarcely allows for.

The ‘scene’ needn’t be particularly awe-inspiring. Just the fact that it’s different - ie not home or the school gates - seems sufficient to an entirely new headspace make.

Not only this, I find that there’s more memory-making potential in ‘out and about’, than there is in the same measure of time behind closed doors.

The back-to-back doing, seeing and experiencing - however surreptitiously stressful at the time - is the stuff of retrospective joy, and this is all the compensation I need, for the fact that the ‘sweetest’ thing about home (during the schools-out weeks at least) is not being in it.

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