A life detox in Holland

22 Oct 2016


I'm sat on a train from Brussels to London and next to my feet there’s a bag full of cheese and stroopwafels and a whole other assortment of (edible) goodies that have come back with me from a four day trip to the Netherlands. The amount of cheese is kinda embarrassing but who even cares? It's cheese. Enough said. Holland really does seem to have a cheese factory/museum on every corner. Heads up fellow cheese lovers; it’s the place to be.

The Eurostar is transporting us back to reality and lol, I ain’t sure I’m ready for it. Having time completely removed from your day-to-day life, a life detox if you like, really does give you perspective.

Because, in between catching up with G’s fam, playing with kids, looking at windmills and, naturally, buying all the cheese; I’ve noticed a few things.

Firstly, I essentially just had four days technology-free (not including the occasional meanders over to Instagram cos Amsterdam is so flippin' instagramable that it would have been rude not to) and I feel so much better for it that it's kind of worried me.

I look at screens all the time. I work in an office on a computer. I write on my laptop/iPad, I scroll through my phone, I watch TV etc. I use devices with screens to read blog posts, watch videos, check recipes, talk to my friends, read the news... you get the idea.

And, really, we all know that can’t be good. They say anything is fine, as long as it’s in moderation, but the amount of time I spend looking at screens is not moderate. It ain’t even close. And that’s gotta change.

I haven't been sleeping great in the last few months. And yes, I know the fact that I’ve moved to a new place and have a mattress about as comfy as a bed of rocks are contributing factors here. But I also know that the nights where I barely looked at my phone, watched minimal TV and spent half an hour in bed reading or doodling, or just taking a few deep breaths and chilling, before turning the light out (rather than scrolling through my phone and turning the light out with my head still whirring), are the nights that stand out because I slept through.

Whilst in Holland, I slept deeper and better than I've done in ages and deep down I know the lack of technology and more fresh air in my day were significant here. It made me realise how much of my life I spend indoors, sat down and looking at a screen.

Which leads me to my second observation; that there are many different styles and paces of life out there and you don’t have to stick to the one you’ve found yourself in. 

And I know you’re thinking duh Kate but you gotta admit we’re all guilty of sticking within the realms of what we know. Doing something completely different or suddenly veering down another path out of the blue is a lot harder than it looks.

But you can do it, if you want.

I don’t have to work In An Office In London. That is not the only way of life out there. I lovelovelove living in St Albans right now, and don’t want to have to give that up any time soon, so I recognise that at the moment, London is the most obvious place to work. But, right down to my core, I know that I cannot keep getting onto a Thameslink train every morning for the rest of my life. I look at those older, tired faces on my train and know that I don’t want to get there. I don’t want to still be slogging through a shite commute just for the ‘privilege’ of working in London in ten years time. There are perks of the big city, don’t get me wrong, and I do take advantage of them. But you gotta sacrifice a lot of time and money, and a little bit of your soul, for those perks and I’m not sure the maths is even here. Those perks aren’t going to make it worth it in the long run.

And I know this. I roll my eyes at people who say they can never leave London, who think the idea of moving into the country or to ‘The North’ (as though it’s a different land) is absurd and feel sorry for those who can’t delve in London’s delights on a regular basis. I chuckle to myself because, as a girl who came from ‘The North’, I know that everyone else looks at those in London and laughs. I think they look at how much we pay in rent and/or commuting costs and think we have literally lost the plot. And I agree with them. So why the heck (northern girl speak coming through) don’t I jump ship? Cos London is what I know now. Perhaps I’ve even fallen into the trap of thinking that this is where the most interesting jobs are. Which is ironic when a) this is crap, b) I spend most of my working day bored out of my tree and c) I know full well that my main passion doesn’t lie in a traditional ‘career’ anyway.

I don’t think I want to spend the rest of my working life in front of a screen. I accept that screens will probably always be part of our lives now. And I want to write and I know I prefer to type when writing at length cos my hands are WEAK and die after ten minutes of handwriting. But maybe I need to look into jobs that have more variety than sat on my arse, looking at a screen. Maybe there’s even some jobs that force more exercise and fresh air into my day-to-day life*. And maybe I need to take the leap and force myself out of London.

After living at a different pace for four days, I’ve reminded myself that I can make these changes if I want. There is nothing stopping me. So maybe it’s time to start making them.

* I danced with the idea of being a post-woman and was on the verge of looking it up when G pointed out I'd have to get up at 4am. Jeez, always stamping on my dreams.