As holidays go, Easter is easily my favourite. Much like Christmas, it’s the only holiday when work completely comes to halt and everyone, in the UK at least, takes a long weekend, guilt-free in the knowledge that their inbox isn’t going to be backing up in their absence. Unlike Christmas, however, there is less of a risk of being totally inundated with stodgy food and alcohol for the duration, as cabin fever builds and the wind and rain roar, making the thought of venturing outside rather unpalatable.
For me, Easter brings to the fore childhood memories of sunny days playing outside in the North Yorkshire countryside with my sister and cousins. I think of BBQs and listening to the cricket on the radio with my dad, of daffodils, lambing season, Easter egg hunts and painted egg competitions (the latter two of which, I have to confess, continued well into our later teenage years).
Easter is about new beginnings all round; it is about shedding your winter skin, weight and wardrobe and getting ready for summer and sunshine.
My yogi recently commented that New Year as the calendar dictates it is actually one of the worst times to start your resolutions and reset for the next 365 days: who wants to start a juice detox in January when it’s freezing cold and all you want to do is bed down with warm comfort food and hibernate until the snow stops? Not me, that’s for sure. Instead, she recommended the equinox as the perfect point to really restart the year. She is a wise woman that yogi, and while I’m a little late for the equinox, I’m going to take Easter as my new starting point.
I often find that while I love living in London there is a juncture, normally every three to four months, when all of the little irritants of city life – the over-full tubes, the masses of people everywhere all of the time, the constant noise and light pollution – just become too much and I need to escape. This year Easter couldn’t have come a moment too soon as the desire to run away had comfortably set in by the time R and I packed up our bags for four days of countryside and family, miles away from the big smoke.
With a week to go before the marathon we were looking forward to a relaxed few days of good food, good company, country strolls and a few, short runs to fulfil the requirements of our taper.
Although Good Friday was rather on the drizzly side (actually it was pretty torrential at points), we still managed a day trip to Attingham Park, enjoying, in the only way that the English can, an anorak-clad walk around the grounds in the rain followed by copious amounts of tea and hot soup in the café. We built a fire that evening and snuggled up in the lounge all toasty warm, to gossip, puzzle and play with my nephews, Seb, Oscar and Harry.
On Saturday we headed out to Shrewsbury for the day and pottered around the town, walking along the river and taking the boys to the playground and out for lunch. Once home we had time for a short run to the next hamlet before supper and that evening we slept the sleep of people who have had plenty of fresh air and good food and who are greeted by total darkness when the lights go out and woken in the morning by birdsong and cows rather than traffic and sirens.
Sunday was perfect Easter weather – all sunshine and blue skies – so we headed out for a country walk, basking in the fresh air and stripping down to our t-shirts and vests in the sun. Having climbed to the crest of the hill, we sat on the heather at the top and enjoyed the view and ate satsumas in the sun, before meandering back down for cups of tea. With the late sunset we had plenty of time for another run after the walk, during which I luxuriated in the empty country lanes and beautiful views. Although the terrain was slightly hillier than in the city, it was a lot softer under foot, making it perfect for a final week Sunday run.
Today we headed up to R’s mum’s house in a village just outside of Leeds for a family lunch. Sunday’s sunshine remained with us and it was total bliss spending the day outside playing with his nieces on the lawn and lounging out on the patio.
It’s been such a heavenly Easter and I feel totally relaxed ahead of next Sunday’s marathon. I’m relishing the reset and committing myself to hold on to this balanced feeling until my next city escape. I am taking tomorrow is the start of my ‘New Year’ and I’m ready for a week of healthy food, plenty of sleep and my final three short runs before marathon day. This time next week, all being well, I’ll have a 26 mile run under my belt, but for now, I’ve just got a lot of long weekend of Easter treats under there!