On accidental sabbaticals

I’ve just got back from a week away with my family. We were celebrating my mother’s 70th birthday and I was reassured there’d be internet in the house we’d rented (in a remote corner of Devon) so I brought my laptop with me, planning to squeeze in a bit of work. Blogging from the Heart was starting on Monday, my Unravelling group were about to enter week six, I have a bunch of ebooks to update urgently, not to mention the not-so-small matter of a book proposal to get finished………. BUT THERE WAS NO INTERNET!!!!

I panicked for the first hour. The thing I fear most in this little biz of mine is letting people down, and not being able to email, check the course Facebook and Flickr groups and be there for everyone when they need me is one of my worst case scenarios. Luckily I have an amazing part-time assistant (hi Nita!) who helps me out, and I discovered if I climbed up a hill and stood in someone’s garden I was able to access a sliver of internet, but standing in the rain shielding your laptop with an umbrella is not the best way to work. So last week I had to relinquish my need for online connectivity, and accept that, other than the occasional bit of signal on my phone, I was taking an accidental sabbatical.

I had moments when I wished I could do a quick Google search to find a piece of information. I missed Pinterest and Instagram, the two places I sink into for visual inspiration. I hated being so absent from my course peeps.

On the other hand, I did not miss Twitter or Facebook in the slightest. I also forgot all about my Google Reader — when I got back home on Saturday afternoon I skimmed through the blog posts I’d missed and came away an hour later feeling drained and despondent. Life online suddenly felt so uninspiring compared to a week out in the real world, something i want to hold on to as I endeavour to break out of my hermit ways — balance is needed!

We packed a lot into our week away, and being a full-time auntie for seven whole days was pretty much the Best Thing Ever. Every morning I had my wake up call from a three-year-old cutie opening the curtains and saying: ‘Wake up, Susie, the shine is out!’ My brother-in-law cooked us the most amazing meals all week; we played on the beach; fed “baby sheepies” and a tank full of insane grey mullet; saw deer, rabbits, swallows, bats and owls; watched a ferret race; shepherded a flock of sheep back into a field; held a starfish; explored a pirate ship; discovered a bluebell wood; marvelled at the beauty of nature; walked the Jurassic coastline; met Meggy and Indy, two of the loveliest dogs ever; ate the best fish n chips; fell in love with Lyme Regis; collected shells, pebbles, feathers, fossils and crystals; rode on a tram; taught Noah how to say my “big name” (Sus-nana); had two barbeques; got soaked in the rain; and loved the hot tub.

My favourite moment was Noah choreographing an entire dance routine to a Taylor Swift song, which we then copied down to the very last bum wiggle :)

It was an epic adventure and now I’m sitting here missing Noah like mad. As we said goodbye I tried to explain to him that I had to go back to London to go to work, but that I’d see him again soon. “But I need you, Susie,” he said. And I tried to do that thing where you’re smiling through your tears because you don’t want them to be sad, but I don’t know if I was very convincing. So I just kept cuddling him and kissing his cheeks and promising that I’d come and see his big boy bed soon. And that we’d play ‘Punzel and Nugene. And that he could come to London soon and we’d go see the dinosaurs.

I miss you, baba!

Posted on 20-05-2013
26 responses
  1. Rhianne

    Honestly, an accidental week away from the internet sounds perfect to me… I’ve got a family holiday coming up soon too and I can’t wait after seeing all your photos

  2. Nanette Gordon-Cramton

    Best kind of accident! And gorgeous photos…he is such a sweet thing. xo

  3. Nina

    Recently our internet stopped working for a whole weekend. We did miss Netflix for those two evenings, but when we got back online and I logged in to Facebook, I thought, “What? This is all that’s ‘happened’ in the past 48 hours, and I would have been checking up on it several times each day?!” As you say, balance is definitely needed.

  4. Charlotte

    I know how you felt when you lose all signal for phones and internet access. I may go glamping (glamourous camping), but phone signals are almost always nil.
    I love your photos =3 in fact, i have used quite a lot of your work as inspiration for my A-levels!
    *crossing my fingers and hoping for a C grade this time round!*

  5. Emmy

    Your photos are so beautiful Susannah and your post such an important reminder to accept amd enjoy sabbaticals like this…. I absolutely LOVE LOVE your pictures and three year olds are such a joy, my daughter barbara is almost exactly the same age as Noah and oh the fun!

  6. Molly

    I gave up all social media for lent. Facebook and Twitter have not been the same since I got back. One of these days, I am going to ditch them for good.

    Your vacation sounds incredible.

  7. Ruth

    I love that you’re able to see this as a balance to your hermit ways. Sounds lovely! I often struggle with balancing real-life vs. online life….

  8. Vero Palazzo

    Reading your post and seeing your pictures… I thinks it was just a perfect deal not having Internet during that week! your nephew is so cute!

  9. Debbie

    Your pictures are too cool! In a few days my sister and I will celebrating our mother’s 70th birthday as well. Although my sister and I have about 10 years on you girls from what I can tell.

    As far as internet and 3g/4g free, we won’t be doing that, I’m sure!

    You are awesome!

  10. Vickie

    sounds like it turned out to be the best thing possible – sometimes you just have to be present & enjoy :)

  11. La plume et la page

    Lovely words! Your nephew is a nice boy.
    Lyme Regis… I remember a Tracy Chevalier’s book: “Remarkable creatures”. Very good.

  12. Fiona

    your week looks fabulous. sounds like a sabbatical was just what was needed.

  13. Jill Salahub

    I’ve spent the last two days in my garden, only checking in from time to time, letting myself get behind in everything, and it’s been wonderful. I’m so happy you got away, (and that you are back).

  14. Angie

    Whoah! Wait a minute – there’s an outside world? That sounds amazing; must google to verify and get me some of that! x

  15. julie

    thank you so much susannah. I loved this post…so full of life and vitality. All the more to infuse your online world with…you are so blessed to have noah in your life and he to have you in his.

  16. Anna

    Looks like you all had a wonderful time away! Internet free time is always good once in a while!

  17. SweetMarie83

    Sounds serendipitous to me! You work so hard I’m sure the time away did your heart and soul and mind a world of good. And who wouldn’t want to spend a week with Noah? I got to spend a couple days last week with my 3-year-old nephew and I didn’t want him to leave (I cried when I read what Noah said…both days when Logan left he said to me “You come with me? You come home with me? Please? Please!” and it broke my heart (while also making me feel really good)). Also, those pictures are stunning. I’m glad you had a good time! :-)

  18. Iris Ztarr

    I’m so glad you got to have that wonderful week away with your family and oh so cute nephew. It made me think that I spend way too much time on Social Media in my day to day life and I need to get away too, very soon I’m going for 4 days holiday in Lithuania and really looking forward to no internet! Lots of love, Iris XX

  19. Sandra Pawula

    Wow, that is so telling!

  20. Aime

    Who cares about the Internet???? You have the most important with you!!! Your Family… You have to value the treasure that is time spend with family…that time nevers come back… Your pictures are beautiful!!! <3…. By the way… FB starts to become bored… I'm back to my books ;)

  21. Roxanne

    Sounds like you had a magical week. A bit of digital detoxing once in a while isn’t such a bad idea, is it? I love Lyme Regis, too.

  22. Sheila Bergquist

    Missed you while you were gone, but it was a well deserved vacation for you and I’m glad you had such a good time. Noah is so cute and obviously LOVES his aunt! You are very lucky to have him in your life.

  23. helen

    Happy birthday to your mother! What a lovely week you’ve had. I can relate to the initial panic and the guilt, but it seems as if it was really good for you. I’m sure everyone on your course understood and was fine. You should do it again…

    Noah is adorable!

  24. elizabeth

    ohhhhhh! you sound SO great! and wow– what a revelation to get some distance from the blog / internet world and see how it can affect you. LOVE this energy– love this vibe– hope it carries forward for you in the weeks ahead– xoox, e

  25. kathryn

    last summer i went to my cousins cabin in WI for a week and he had no connection there either…no phone or internet for a week!! i came back home on a high for weeks after…mentally revived!! how glorious it was…my kids and animals were fine, the world didn’t fall apart without me participating in it for a week!!!

  26. gerri

    From the looks of it, your sabbatical was worth every second… xxO

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