On Friday morning I got into a car and was driven a little over an hour away, to a large house surrounded by countryside. There was no mobile phone reception and I hadn’t taken my computer, so the free wifi was useless to me. I was with a group of people who I knew either reasonably well, slightly, or not at all, but there was never a sense that anyone was unwelcome and by the end of our stay I had made many new friends.
We were there for a little over forty-eight hours, but it feels much longer. And also much shorter, at the same time. Now that I’m back, sitting at my little desk surrounded by things I need to sort out and confronted by two large Post-It notes with my extensive to-do list, I can’t quite remember how it felt to take a leisurely walk through (muddy) fields and watch the birds and rabbits getting on with their lives, or to curl up in an armchair and read for hours on end without any sensation of guilt. We ate huge delicious meals and talked companionably into the night, and then slept soundly in comfortable beds. On Saturday afternoon I had a three-hour nap.
Having returned, and with the start of term imminent, exams are feeling a lot more imminent. But I’m feeling relaxed and ready to go to work. I think it’s the best possible combination: a short break that felt much longer.