The weather turned last week in the UK. From brilliant sunshine, we suddenly had grey skies, a slight chill in the morning and…. joy of joys for a weather obsessed country… proper rain that meant we could finally talk to each other rather than scrunch up our eyes and mutter “Sunny today, isn’t it?”
I was away all last week… hence the radio silence… and hit my desk eventually today. I had a week of glorious relaxation, rest and recuperation in Scotland, more specifically in Linlithgow. We do self-catering holidays, so it really can be like taking abreak home from home. Our cottage was The Granary at Rousland Farm, a recently opened holiday let. You can see from some of the photographs below that it was nicely decorated, and had the basics that you’d need for the week.
I like to move in to a holiday cottage, even if I’m only there for a week. My husband, when we were child-free and loved holidaying in hotels, always unpacked his clothes and set out his toiletries for any stay of longer than one night. At the time, I found living out of the suitcase appealing, and kept my clothes etc tightly packed there, taking only what I needed and leaving the rest. I’ve learned as I get older that that isn’t the most peaceful or enjoyable thing to do. Now, I get my clothes unpacked and into the drawers as soon as I can, after unpacking everything else the family needs. I feel more relaxed, a better sense of ownership and, let’s be truthful, my clothes are better cared for out of the case than in.
I have other tricks and hacks that I use to add to the hygge on holiday. My aim is, by the end of the first night, to feel truly at home and able to relax.
- Take a couple of things from home with you. I like my decorated stones that I made in Wales last year. They’ve been in my bedroom since then, and they make me smile whenever I look at them. With a crocheted mat and a small candle, they added just the right homely touch to my dressing table top.
- Take candles or a room spray from home. We often forget the role scent plays in our lives: using a familiar or relaxing room fragrance will make relaxing into your holiday much easier. I love Aldi’s Pomegranate room spray or on holiday this year I took a small Christmas Spice scented candle that I own and have never burned. Sadly, I forgot the matches, but even just the wax scent helped perfume the place!
- Add a few little homely touches as you go. I’m a crochet fan, it’s quick, easy and you can make all sorts of things with it. I took my cotton dk collection away with me, and spent some time every day making little drinks coasters. I wanted them for home, but they worked really well as a mindful craft on my break. I’ve also used rock painting, glass painting and model making to similar relaxing effect.
- Don’t over-schedule your days. The temptation, especially in a new area, is to fit everything in. After all, you never know if you’ll be back this way again, the attractions may change in the future, the special event is a one-week only limited chance… we have dozens of reasons why we need to do this and this and this all in one day….. That fear of missing out drives us to aim for quantity, not quality and it’s fatal for our relaxation and happiness. It is far better to be selective: choose only one or at most two things to do a day, give yourself space to enjoy them, and room to appreciate them properly. We were up near Edinburgh for the Festival: we could have filled every day with tightly-scheduled shows and acts. And there were a lot of people doing just that. Instead, we ambled around the city a little, chose only one or two acts that sounded interesting and didn’t tire ourselves out in search of the Next Big Thing or the show that we Must Not Miss.
- Budget carefully, and stick to the budget! I love using cash on holiday: it’s easier to look at and see how much is left, and you have to be pecuniary enough to have some left at the end of the holiday just in case. It helped that we also knew sort of what we wanted to get on holiday: a Christmas decoration, a snowglobe and something Outlander, since we knew we’d be visiting some of the locations used in series One and Two. Of course, it’s even better when you can combine two in one, like the Christmas Decorations below. I will have Jamie and Clare on my tree this year!
- Keep your food comfortable, and easy to cook. When the children were little, I hated self-catering, because I saw it as no more than a transfer of the place where I worked. I was doing everything I did at home, just with a different view out the window. It’s still an effort to get the balance right, especially since we have three active young adults now, so eating out becomes prohibitive and definitely too prohibitive to do every night. I keep my menu easier than at home: we probably eat more prepared meals, or use packets more, but I like to cook on holiday now. We have a takeaway two or three times in the week, that’s my rest days, and otherwise we have breakfast at night, a pasta dish, perhaps pizza and, on at least one night, we have a proper roast dinner. In Wales, we have roasted lamb but in Scotland, of course, it had to be proper roast beef with haggis, tatties and neeps. A lovely home cooked meal, lots of talking and very happy people at the end!
Of course, the things that create most hygge on holidays are never the physical surroundings, nor the food, activities or experiences you have, but the people you spend the time with. This holiday, because we were looking at Outlander locations and my daughter and I both *love* Outlander, I wondered whether the male 60% of the family would suffer. Thankfully, Outlander locations are very interesting in their own right, so the boys were happy wandering around as well. And evenings, after the meal was over and cleared away, were family times. We took some DVDs and games, and sat in the living room playing, watching, chatting or just happy together.
We returned home last Friday, and even though the journey home was slow, full of delays and could have ruined our post-holiday buzz, we have had a relaxing weekend. That togetherness, meeting to watch a programme or to talk about life, that’s stayed with us. It might not absolutely survive a new term at school or university, but I hope it will. I hope we can hygge as happily at home as on holiday.
Being Happier on holiday is good for you: so is being Happier overall. My latest book, Happier is my fourth book. The book contents are completely new, not recycled blog posts.
50 Ways to Hygge the British Way was my first book, and is available in Paperback and Kindle version. It’s a simple look at ways to feel more hyggely in life and at home even though we’re not Danish and don’t have it in our DNA.
Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version. It looks at keeping the Christmas season warm and cosy, with ideas for activities and routines to keep Christmas happy.
Happier is my fourth book. It’s about how I boost my own happiness levels. It’s full of hints, tips and ideas for you to use and adapt to suit your own situation. It is available in ebook and paperback version from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
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