Working in a school comes with the fab perks of school holidays! And of course, this week has been October halfterm.

In an attempt to make the most of my week and get some adventures in, I’ve jumped in my fiat and quite literally travelled across the country.

Part one: Country roads and National Trust visits with Lily

Stop one of the halfterm road trips was Daventry in Northamptonshire to see Lily. During the pandemic, we literally didn’t see each other beyond a phone screen on facetime and now this year we’ve seen each other twice in the space of a month thanks to our graduation in September.

This road trip has been a significant confidence boost for me. I’ve got so much better in my driving and driving fears and so I was feeling ready for the long drive up North to swing by Daventry to see Lily on my way to visit Asia, my friend of 10-plus years, in Derby.

If you missed my graduation blog you can read it here.

So on Monday, I jumped into my little car with a flask of tea and disappeared 125 miles up the motorway to pick up Lily for an old lady outing (one of my fave types of outings) to a National Trust place called Upton House from the 1930s.

Unfortunately, my sat nav decided to take us the scenic route that ended up taking us an hour and a half rather than the supposed 40 minutes. So many country lanes: I feel like I did all types of driving that day! My poor little car isn’t the best with bumpy roads and potholes, and roads with big humps in the middle that scrape the bottom of my car giving it an accidental shave!

When we finally made it to Upton House we were ready for some fresh air and a stretch leg. Thankfully the sun stayed out long enough for us to check out their pumpkin patch, stroll around the lake, and take some piccies in front of pretty flowers while we had a good natter.

It was also just about warm enough for us to enjoy lunch outside in the courtyard. I went for a trusty jacket potato (it’s got to be a jacket or soup this time of year), a cuppa tea, and a hot choccie because I could not decide between which drinks I wanted so why not get both! Although, all the liquid did increase my wee stops!

I then dropped Lily home and continued my journey up North!

Part two: Many many giggles and a chilly wild swim with Asia

Despite the confusing roundabouts and the bus lanes, 228 miles later, I just about made it to Asia’s student house in Derby.

With all the excitement of having not seen each other in quite some time, I just about managed to stay awake surprisingly late for me (11:30pm) to have a lengthy catch-up whilst we cosied up in bed (the North is much colder than at home).

The following day has got to be one of my favourite adventure days EVER.

We got up pretty swiftly and after a brew, headed straight into the car (thankfully Asia’s trusty Yaris as my car and I deffo needed some space from one another). We arrived at Bakewell, home of the Bakewell tart, desperate for both breakfast and lunch. We ended up in the Lavender Tea Room and surprised the waitress with just how much food two hungry girls could eat!

Fuelled for our adventure, we took a road trip to the Peak District so that we could walk to Three Shire Heads.

It felt so good to be back on a hike with my favourite hiking buddy. Our friendship is very much rooted in hiking as we both did Ten Tors together meaning every month we’d go through highs (and lows) on long distanced walks. The poor gal has even had to deal with my blisters.

So with big smiles on our faces, we descended the hill to Three Shire Heads, chatting utter rubbish as always. Now, to my complete and utter delight, the Peak District is in full vibrant Autumn; it became a running theme for me to pester Asia by pointing out the particularly orange tress by saying “That tree, look how beautiful it is”… I’m not sure I’ll ever be forgiven for saying beautiful as many times as I did in that one day.

Upon arrival to the Three Shire Heads, I realised why Asia wanted to bring me here, it is a stunning spot, particularly for a wild swim. We had the place to ourselves so we quickly took advantage of it, got changed into our swimmers, and got in.

This year I’ve really been loving a wild swim. I love the sensation of swimming, and when you add in the beautiful views, it’s just perfect for your mind and body relaxation. Now, I am aware that it is October, so yes we may look a little nuts for taking a dip but it was totally worth it…. and we only lasted 8 mins before we were ready to get warm again.

Once dressed and layered up, we climbed up the hill… and quickly delayered again. A hill after a chilly swim is definitely the quickest way to warm back up! Our organs must’ve been so confused with what was going on.

The drive back was when the giggling hysterics kicked in… to the point where we did indeed have to pull over. From getting cake crumbs all over, to Asia almost spitting her squash across the windscreen, it’s a drive I will certainly always remember.

This was then followed up by a lovely Asia special homemade veggie curry, and a games night. Was the most beautiful day — sorry I could not resist.

Part three: Muddy boots and forest walks with Riss

Having got home from Derby on Wednesday and heading straight to my Grandma’s for lunch, on the off chance I dropped my uni friend Riss a message to see if she was free this week as it has been a wee-while since I’ve seen her too. Luck was on my side as she was free on Thursday, so we looked at where was halfway for us to meet and we ended up at Haldon Forest in Exeter.

So this time heading 87 miles South to Devon, I packed up some pumpkin soup and a flask of tea to meet Riss and her doggos for an autumn forest walk.

I’ve been to Haldon forest once before, but quite a few years ago for a bike ride so I was pleased that it was just as good as I remembered. We picked up the 6km Butterfly trail and set off for a short afternoon autumn walk. Although not as autumnal as it was up North, the forest was still giving me all of the autumn vibes and looked stunning. I think as we picked the longest of the trails on offer, we ended up being the only ones on the path for quite a while which was great as it gave us the opportunity to see a deer right up close.

For October, it was incredibly warm, I ended up in just a t-shirt and was still sweating when we walked up the hills!

Part four: Games nights and the Malvern Hills

Will came with me on this adventure, we went to stay with Rachel (another uni friend) and her partner Matt for Friday evening and a walk Saturday morning in the Malvern Hills.

They treated us to a lovely carbonara, a cocktail and an evening of games. If you know me, you know I love a games night. We played The Mind and Codenames, two games where you do actually have to think quite a lot so perhaps it was good that I had just the one cocktail.

After a small lie in after a late night, we got up and ready for a walk and a bite to eat in the Malverns.

I’d actually been to the Malverns earlier this year for a gal’s holiday so I was pleased to have actually recognised Britsh Camp. I had forgotten quite how hilly it was though.

If you missed my Gal’s weekend blog post you can read it here.

We did a 6.3km walk, and were pretty lucky to have had it stay dry for us after what had been quite a soggy morning. I’m very fortunate that on all the adventures I had this week I didn’t have to pull out the waterproofs.

Pleased to say that we all also managed to stay upright as it was rather slippy in quite a few locations — no muddy bottoms on this occasion.

After a very enjoyable walk, Will and I drove home and enjoyed a couple hours of chilling before heading to a Halloween party for the evening.

The Halfterm road trip = approx. 650 miles

As a once super nervous driver, I’m so proud of how much I did this week and the opportunities I’ve had to see some of my favourite humans who live far away.

I still hate roundabouts and parking, but I’m super chuffed about how far I’ve come (pun not intended) over the last year since I bought my car.

Very thankful to have had this week off of work and to have been able to really make the most of it. Hopefully, I don’t go back to work as tired as I was when I left! Although all these adventures outdoors have really refreshed my mind. Nature is the best thing for my mental health and well-being and I really did get a big dose of it this week!

To all my lovely friends who came out on an adventure with me this week; thank you, I loved it, and it was great to see you all.

I of course made lots of Instagam reels from these adventures so if you want to check them out, head to my Instagram: @abislifeinwriting

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