Ikea and Family: 2013 365 Challenge #56

The School House Hostel, Dargville NZ. More colourful (and less comfortable) than a UK YHA!

The School House Hostel, Dargville NZ. More colourful (and less comfortable) than a UK YHA!

Our strategy for survival today was to take the kids to Ikea. I don’t know why we thought that was a good idea on a Sunday but there you go. Ikea was heaving. I spent a large amount of time hiding in one of the kid’s rooms watching the kids pretend to go to sleep.

My hubbie’s Auntie and Uncle live near our local Ikea, about an hour away, so the day was made special by a lovely catch up and some cake. All topped off by a visit to grandma and grandpa on the way home. It was nice to have a day with a plan instead of sitting home and moping. Hopefully it will give us all strength for nursery drop-off tomorrow which has become tortuous recently (both kids sobbing). It makes me sob too because, even though I am working I’m not earning money and it’s hard to justify them getting so upset. Except we all need time apart and generally, once they’re settled, they have a great time doing craft and playing with their friends. Still I’ll be glad when one of us is earning some money. It isn’t going to be me anytime soon, certainly not with Dragon Wraiths. I knew it wouldn’t sell easily without marketing but no one even took up the free download coupon offer! Ha ha. Back to querying agents for sure!

The front cover for Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume 2

The front cover for Two-Hundred Steps Home Volume 2

On the Claire front, I have been very disappointed in Beth and Chloe. They were introduced into the story to help Claire bond with women, but they were too giggily, too loud, too young maybe. They soaked her on the kayak trip and excluded her at the hostel, almost causing her to lose Josh’s friendship too.

I wonder if Claire needs to meet someone new to travelling so she can have a sense of superiority. Not in a smug way – I think she’s beginning to learn her lesson on that front – but to show her that she has learned something on her journey already. She needs a buddy to support her while Ruth is sick and with Josh it’s complicated.

Alternatively she needs to befriend an older woman who can mother her and impart advice. Claire is the baby in her family and is used to coming last and not being heard. Her mother is distant and unemotional. Claire could meet a surrogate mother (maybe even a couple?) who will teach her what family love should look like.

I am actually planning a few days ahead for the first time – only because I’d quite like to end ‘Volume Two’ (i.e. February) with a bit of a bombshell. I’ve already done the front cover for the February Volume (did I mention I rather like designing covers?) and I think it would be good to have a hook so anyone reading it is drawn back to the blog. The first volume just reached 100 downloads today (yippee!) so I know the ebooks are worth the effort. It’s tough though because I find the idea of selling myself hard and I don’t want to do things just to get readers. Still, everyone loves a bombshell, right?

I’ve also discovered that I really want to take my family to stay in a YHA hostel. All my research has shown me what great buildings and locations are on offer and how much more appropriate it is as accommodation for us than a hotel. Being able to cook breakfast and dinner and have sofas for the kids to jump on. Besides it would be great research! I’ve yet to convince hubbie so I’m thinking of taking the kids on my own – get a feel for what Claire might experience if she ends up hostelling with Sky.


Claire caught her lower lip between her teeth and let herself into the dorm room. She had hoped for a private room so she could get her head straight and concentrate on Ruth, but the hostel didn’t have any left. At least it’s a single-sex dorm. Her last conversation with Josh rang through her mind. Men are more trouble than a room full of creative directors.

Peering round the door Claire thought for one hopeful moment that the room was empty. Then she heard strains of David Grey playing quietly and the happy bubble popped. Pushing the door wider she scanned the room, relieved to see only one bed with obvious signs of occupation. A grey-haired lady sat crossed-legged on a lower bunk writing in a journal of some description. The music was coming from an iPad on the bed next to her.

At least she isn’t a twenty-something Swedish girl. She doesn’t look like she’ll come stumbling in at 2am reeking of vodka.

The woman raised her head as Claire closed the door behind her. Her face lit up with a warm smile and Claire felt herself smiling in return. “Hi, I’m Claire.”

“Maggie. Pleased to meet you.” The woman nodded down at her iPad. “Will the music bother you, shall I turn it off?”

Claire’s eyes widened at the unexpected politeness. “No, it’s fine. I haven’t heard David Grey since I was a student. It’s rather nice.” She headed for the bunk tucked in the corner and kicked off her shoes. She needed to put something on her blog, even if just a paragraph, and knew she needed to get onto it before sleep dragged her down. Her eyes felt like a horde of partygoers were bouncing around inside them and prodding at the walls with their beer bottles.

Staring at the blank page Claire tried to remember what had happened that day. The kayak seemed a lifetime ago. All that resonated was the call from her sister and the implications. Without stopping to let her subconscious talk her out of it, Claire decided to write from the heart. Isn’t that what Josh told me to do. He’s a man of hidden depths. Maybe I should listen to him. David Grey’s voice swept through her, the words tugging at her stomach. “Life in slow motion somehow it don’t feel real, Life in slow motion somehow it don’t feel real.”

She began to type.

 Life in Slow Motion

I am sitting in Grasmere hostel listening to David Grey. The lyrics Life in slow motion, somehow it don’t feel real are resonating deep in my gut.

A hostelling life is a life lived in slow motion. Some days I don’t move more than ten miles from hostel to hostel. The highlight of my day is a smile from a stranger. I have left the speeding motorway of city life and I feel as giddy as if I’ve stepped too quickly off a travelator at the airport. I went kayaking this morning and watched, bemused, while larger-than-life girls splashed water at each other with their paddles. I found myself seeking a quiet corner of the lake to absorb the sound of bird song and admire the reflections of the hills broken apart by ripples.

Since starting this adventure I find I walk more slowly, breathe more deeply, sup my Earl Grey tea with appreciative pleasure. This blog is meant to record the excitement of a life lived outdoors; the thrill of hiking, biking, abseiling and rock climbing. What I hadn’t appreciated until today was the simple joy of silence. Having received some bad news I was grateful to climb into my basic little car, drive along quiet winding roads and let my mind be still.


Claire read through what she had written, unsure whether it made sense, fearful that it made her seem like a hippy. Her eyes itched with tiredness and unshed tears. The music had moved on from Life in slow motion to From here you can almost see the sea. The haunting melody took her back to university days – battling hangovers and fatigue to churn out essays so that she could go party with her friends. Back then she hadn’t appreciated David Grey, he sounded far too maudlin, but her flat mate had been a fan. Now, lying back on her hostel bed staring at the underside of the bunk above, she felt serene. A nagging thought that she was losing her mind whispered in her ear, but not loud enough to keep her from sleep.


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