Usually when I go on holiday I like to explore places I’ve never been.

In the past I’ve roadtripped across Scandinavia, seen the sights of Amsterdam, and explored the old city of Fez.

With travel restrictions in place this year, I looked a bit closer to home when I was looking for something to do during my week off.

Instead of flying off to Europe and having a packed itinerary every day, my partner and I rented a small pod just outside of Hurstpierpoint, a place I have previously been to for meetings and surgeries, and it gave me a completely new appreciation for exploring what the places close to me have to offer.

An appropriate book for a week without technology (and the only paper book he actually read…)

It was our first holiday together, and we both wanted to swap our busy jobs and Brighton flats for countryside, muddy walks, and lazy afternoons doing nothing but drinking tea and reading all the books and articles we’ve been meaning to get around to for months.

And Hurstpierpoint was exactly what we needed.

We rented a pod, dubbed ‘glamping with a view’, which promised a library, views of the countryside and a greeting from Monty the dog.

Crucially, we limited the technology we brought with us—I brought my phone in case we ran into any problems, my partner took his iPad to catch up on saved articles and newsletters, but it was a laptop and WiFi-free zone.

The pod had an interesting mixture of crockery, so we had to share our morning oats

The pod’s remoteness meant it was pitch black at night, with barely any light pollution in the sky, and its privacy meant we could sleep with the blinds open and wake up with the sunrise (or a few hours later…).

We spent most evenings in front of the wood burning stove, which Monty loved to lie in front of while I spent a lot of time tending to and reliving my Scouting-childhood, reading and drinking endless cups of tea.

But when we felt like venturing outside or needed more supplies, it was only a 20 minute walk to the High Street, so we weren’t completely cut off from the rest of the world.

We had vegan tapas at The White Horse Inn, spent our last night at The New Inn, and celebrated three months together at The Fig Tree, which had an incredible vegan tasting menu.

Monty, the main event!

It was very different to any holiday I’ve had before, and at times was a test of our relationship (a kale related incident led to us both banning the food from our homes), but during such a stressful year, taking time to relax and connect was exactly what was needed.

Going into the second lockdown, I’m going to try to adopt some of those ideas into my day-to-day life.

Last time I was busy with my mum, helping to run her sewing business, while, like everyone else, trying to adapt to the new normal.

It rained every day we were away, but my boyfriend is British and I’m Irish, so we weren’t going to let a bit of rain stop us from going on walks

This time, I will luckily still be working but I’ll try to consciously take more time to be tech-free, read through the books I’ve accumulated, and live a bit more slowly.

I might even finish learning a language this time around!

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