Sun, Cycle, Study…

…With a little bit of laundry in between!

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Hey there Mr Blue

What a glorious few days we have had. After weeks of April showers (and hail) the blue skies and shining sun are bringing some welcome relief and everyone seems much happier!

The only downside to such beautiful weather is that it is so distracting. With two assignments due in the next month I am struggling to focus on what I have to do because I would much rather be outdoors than sitting with my head in a book about the politics of the English Language.

Don’t get me wrong, I am fully enjoying my course with the Open University, but I am also a big lover of the great outdoors and will use any opportunity to go for a hike or cycle. So, mid-way through this week, after spending time pottering about in the garden and then feeling guilty about it, I made a list of what it was I needed to prioritize over the coming month until the end of my module.

Three things emerged. This is a very personal list, although I am sure it will resonate with others in similar circumstances. How we choose to spend our time and what is important to us as individuals changes dramatically from person to person, but for me in my current situation here’s what came out top of my list:

  1. Laundry – ok, might seem daft, but for me this is the one domestic job that stresses me out. With 3 children involved in football, rugby, swimming and general messy outdoor play the laundry basket is forever threatening to cascade down the stairs in smelly waterfall fashion. It is relentless and that’s not even taking into account the school uniforms, bedding, towels and mine and my husband’s clothes! I like to know that everyone has what they need the day before any activity so there’s not a mad panic in the mornings. Laundry had to make the top 3 for me to keep my sanity in one piece!
  2. Exercise – daily exercise is extremely important to me for so many reasons. This coupled with eating well makes me feel so much happier both physically and mentally. Because I only have a small window of opportunity when the children are at school I like to make the most of my time and get out on the bike. I can cover a good distance, really exert myself and still have time to do the laundry!
  3. Study – for the next month this has to be central to my day’s objectives. I have worked so hard on my previous assignments and am on target for a good overall score in this module, I don’t want to let it go now because the sun has decided to come out and play!

So, with these 3 things my main priorities for each day I am not at work and while the children are at school I have been wondering how to fit them all in in a way that is interesting and fun. I get bored with routine and sitting at home for hours on end studying is not appealing. This life is short, and I believe that each day we should try to find joy and do something that makes us happy.

With that in mind, I’ve been putting on the laundry in the mornings before walking the boys to school, then on my return, I hang it out to dry, quickly put on another load, then head out on the bike taking my study books with me.

Within a short distance from my home there are lots of nice places to go for a coffee and get the books out. I took to the Lagan Towpath this week and rode to the Lock Keeper’s Cottage to sit in the sun and get some work done.

Within 10 minutes of leaving home I was riding alongside the river, listening to the birds, watching the baby ducklings follow their mother and generally unwinding. Just getting away from the house for a while de-stressed me and the burst of fairly strenuous exercise helped me to focus on my reading material.

The more I cycle around Belfast the more I realise what a great city it is. Viewed from a bike seat the city takes on a different persona than when seen from behind the wheel of a car. While cycling by the river, looking in one direction I could see the Belfast hills in the distance, the famous Harland and Wolff cranes and the taller buildings in the town centre and yet I was still connecting with nature.

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Belfast has a lot to offer in terms of culture, with fantastic music events, beautiful restaurants and I personally think some of the architecture in the town is magnificent. Yet, there is a quieter, gentler side of Belfast that can so easily be overlooked if we simply journey place to place via car or bus. Off the main roads there are green spaces to explore, nature reserves, plants and wildlife – there is beauty on our doorstep to be admired if we but take snippet of time from our busy lives to notice it. I certainly feel all the richer for choosing to.

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This week has been a good one. The sun has dried the football kits and school shirts. I have managed to make headway with my study notes and I’ve also gotten some good exercise while getting to appreciate some more of Belfast’s cycle paths and nature.

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