Over the Easter weekend I took some weekdays off for the first time since Christmas. The beginning of 2022 has been really busy and I'm extremely thankful for that. Having set out on my own in September, there was a lot of groundwork to lay throughout the summer in the run up to my leaving date, and in the months which followed. By early December, it looked as though things were starting to pick up and I held a lot of hope for this year, but it's completely exceeded expectations and at times, it's been exhausting keeping on top of the work, the business development and all of the things that go around them.
I could tell in early March that by the time Easter rolled around, I'd really need a break, so I planned a few days up north with family and my parents, tied in with a wedding, and then a couple of days down in London with my 6-year old daughter Harper, taking her to see some of the many iconic tourist spots! The date finally arrived and the two of us flew down early on Monday morning and back late on Monday night. In between we were non-stop!
In among all of the laughter, eating ice-cream and chasing Pigeons, we visited Harrods, the Science Museum, The Natural History Museum, the London Eye, Carnaby Street, Hamleys, the Rainforest Cafe, did the open top bus tour of the city, got off for more ice-cream in Hyde Park, then walked down Oxford St, before getting on the tube and heading towards our plane home and our own beds!
This photo shows what happens when a man who has very little hair is responsible for styling someone with a lot of hair! But we made the best of it and got stuck into the journey and all of the adventures! As always, the time together was a blessing and we made lots of memories. She asked a lot of questions and learned a lot of things, but those paled into insignificance compared to the things I learned from her. Little people bring a different perspective to the world. Here are my top three lessons from Harper's London Adventure:
Find joy in the little things - I have never been as excited about any hotel I've ever stayed in as Harper was about the £30 a night Travelodge I had selected for us! She went around the small room like Sherlock Holmes, finding out what every light switch did, what the view was like out of the window, how the TV worked, which pillow was the comfiest, which bedside shelf was best for her LOL doll and many more useful facts. She was absolutely delighted to be there and it made me appreciate the place all the more. Slowing down and taking time to enjoy simple pleasures and find things to be grateful for is often recommended to support our mental health and nobody does it quite like a little person.
The power of moments - making things special for the people around you, in or out of work can have a remarkable effect. Hamleys toy shop is 262 years old and every morning when they open their doors, it's a performance! Staff are dressed up, they come out into the street, tell the assembled visitors a story and select a lucky child to help with the countdown by ringing a big bell that's kept in a special box, before opening the doors with music blaring and staff dancing or demonstrating toys. Everyone is welcomed in and made to feel special. I know they do that every morning. YOU know they do that every morning. THEY know they do that every morning. But Harper doesn't know that - and it made her day! Every time you do something might be the hundredth time for you, but it might the first and only time that someone else experiences it. Make it special and leave your mark.
Have a curious mind - the open top bus tour was Harper's idea. I think it was mostly driven by sore feet from all the walking, and when I got stung £52 for two tickets, I feared the worst. I suspected she'd lose interest quickly and want to get off, and the money would be wasted. Thankfully, I couldn't have been further wrong! She got her little headphones plugged in, adjusted the volume to her liking, and sat there rapt, listening to the stories of all the places we passed! Lots of questions came and I did my best to answer them, but she was fascinated by the Horse Guards at Whitehall and full of questions about the wars commemorated by the Cenotaph. Everything she learned made her want to learn more and we'll need another trip in the summer to fill in the blanks! We can all learn something from her curiosity and her passion to explore and make sense of the world around here!
And what did I learn? Well mostly I learned that time away from work, spent with people you love and who make you laugh, is the best and most restorative thing there is. I've come back to work today feeling energised, productive and ready to take on the world. And I have Harper, and London to thank for that!