These past couple of months have brought with them so many life changes. We relocated from the busy city of London where our everyday environment consisted of lots of cars, busses, fumes, buildings, pavements, ambulance sirens, noise and people rushing around in too much of a hurry to even say hello, to country life in the New Forest where our everyday consists of horses, cows, donkeys, forests, heathlands, fields, seaside, woodland streams and birdsong. This is a place where it’s become a common occurrence for me to connect and chat with people I’ve just met. Since moving here I’ve had so many beautiful random human moments. I’ve been in that beautiful state of relishing in the unknown, where life feels so new and full of possibility.
I guess, at least for me and Nixie, our everyday life has transformed completely, but it's a different story for Kevin. He still commutes into London for work everyday and it's a long journey (about 2-2½ hours each way) which he willfully does 10 times a week!! He wakes up at 5:30 and gets home just after 20:00. I am forever grateful for the sacrifices he's made in order for us to have a life closer to nature, he really is the most incredible, kind, supportive and loving person I know and he's also my best friend. I feel so blessed that our lives crossed paths almost 13 years ago!
Kevin had lived in London 30 years, whereas I had lived there 12 years and of those 12 years I spent so much of it mostly dreaming about being somewhere else. I'm just not a city girl and always felt a bit like a fish out of water. Although there were lots of things that I did think we're great about living there, it still never felt like my place, it never felt like a place I could call home.
We always talked about moving out of London, at one point we said we were gonna move to Snowdonia in North Wales and then it was Spain, Morocco and even Sweden. But looking back, as great as some of those ideas were they weren't very realistic for us, Kevin still wanted to be able to work in London. After so many years of just talk but nothing ever changing I began to slowly let go of my dream of living somewhere closer to nature and thought I just needed to be grateful for all the other incredible aspects of my life that I did have and be at peace with living in London.
But then I read some old writings during the last week in December and a deep, intense yearning, that I had been trying to just cover up and brush aside, all came back to me with the most intense force. We all have our own unique needs and for me one of those needs is a life closely connected to nature, but wild nature, nature in its purest form and this need is even stronger now that we have Nixie in our lives. I really want Nixie growing up with a deep connection and respect for nature, to grow up running around in the woods, climbing trees, seeing animals, running on the beach, getting dirty, but in a place where nature is untamed and where you can go out and not see a single person, a place where you can feel nature in its purest state. I shared my thoughts and feelings with Kevin and he shocked me by saying OK let's make it happen! Three months after that conversation we were driving down to the New Forest to pick up keys to our new place!
With all the changes i’ve been going through on so many different levels, my mind had started to feel full, too full and whenever i get this feeling i know it's time for me to stop, take a step back, relax and let go. So that is exactly what we did. We have just gotten back from a week camping in the woods, the first of many camping trips we plan to have this summer.we spent 7 incredible nights at Holland’s Wood campsite in Brockenhurst and this wouldn’t have been a possibility for us if we hadn’t moved from London. The campsite is just a 10 min drive from where we live and Kevin was able to go to work from the tent and go home to feed the cats in the evening, it is a bit strange camping so close to home but so perfect at the same time because now we can have these prolonged immersions in nature regularly, it’s become a part of our new lifestyle. Words cannot express how happy this makes me feel.
This time in nature was exactly what my soul, heart, spirit and mind needed in order to have the chance to reflect and let go of any tensions & anything that no longer serves me. It was a time for us all to really connect with each other without all of the busyness around us and to slow down and be absolutely present in each moment. It was a week of purely following where your heart and mind decided to take you with each breath.
I haven’t had the chance to be in Nature for a prolonged period since Nixie was born, we did go camping last summer but it was just for two nights, and not enough time to truly be able to let go and get into a different kind of rhythm. I haven’t had a chance to be immersed in nature for this long of a stretch for years, actually since 2009 when i briefly lived in jordan which is another story for another time!.
I can easily let go when i’m in the wilds. My body becomes so at peace. I feel a Presence when i’m in nature, and it is the most soothing Presence. It’s pretty much impossible for me to truly find the right words to describe this feeling but it’s a feeling of being so tenderly and lovingly held by some unknown yet familiar and comforting force where at times i feel so relaxed as if i could just dissolve into the earth completely. And during this past time in the woods I could feel all the built up tension from so many years being drained away and absorbed by the earth leaving me with feeling of absolute renewal.
As much as the week ended up being so blissful and perfect for us there was an adjustment period of figuring out a new way of doing things. Camping with a two year old comes with its unique challenges and with the added unpredictable british weather even more so! I learned it’s best to be in the state of mind of unknowing and being prepared for anything. It took us about three days until we found our new rhythm.
Nixie isn’t a child who stays in one spot, she’s an adventurous little explorer and all she wanted to do was say hi to all the other campers, she hasn’t yet mastered the art of personal space and would run into other people's tents or motor homes (luckily everyone loved her and didn’t mind!) so it was a bit challenging figuring out how to cook and do things without her running off! And I also discovered that after a few hours of socialising and being out in the woods she really needed some quiet time in the tent to just draw, hang out or do puzzles, so that she wouldn’t become over stimulated learning this made the world of difference and made her feel settled, at peace and happy. Before I had figured that out we had some challenging moments where she wasn’t very happy and i was doubting my decision to go camping for a whole week!.
Another challenge at first for me was the weather, I had dreamed of a warm sunny camping experience but the universe had other plans for us, and decided that we were meant to experience torrential rain and storms for a few days. One of the mornings i woke up really wanting to just go home, not wanting to deal with wet rainy weather,it was so tempting to just go hang out at home and come back when the rain slowed down but then i realised it was the experience we were meant to have.
Camping with NIxie through all the rain and wet soggy weather was exactly what my soul needed, it reminded me to let go of preconceived expectations and instead connect with the beauty and aliveness that is only present in this state of environment. The rains bring their own magic to the woods, they turned dried dips and bumpy paths into giant muddy pools of water for nixie to play in, in her eyes everything became a spectacular natural water park! The colors a beautiful rich wet green. There’s so much more depth to everything when it rains.Another great thing about the rain, it brought all the horses into the campsite to shelter,and they surrounded our tent the entire time, it was magical, at times you’d be laying down listening to the rain bouncing of your tent and then about a meter away from your head you’d hear horses galloping by, the rain seemed to make them giddy!
Since i knew it was going to rain really hard for a few days i had come a little prepared with some arts and craft material so that we would have something interesting to do if we had to be stuck inside the tent, and one morning before the heavy rains started we went out to collect twigs, leaves, flowers, moss and whatever else to make a nature collage which proved a big success & Nixie loved helping to gather “treasures” for our art project, picking up and studying intently each little piece of nature before putting it into a bag that i had brought with us. Being stuck in the tent ended up being such a great experience beyond our little art projects because not only did we continue to be entertained by the horses all around us we also had birds and squirrels climbing on the top of our tent and seeing their little feet and the outlines of their bodies from underneath was the most incredibly hilarious thing Nixie had ever seen,& to see the look of wonder and pure joy that she had on her face in those moments made the challenging weather worth it.
The best thing about camping was waking up each morning to the sounds of birdsong and as we are in the height of mating season, their songs were louder and even more vibrant than usual. But what I probably loved the most was just being able to flow through the day following Nixie’s lead without having anything else to do. Our days were filled with endless wonder; on every explore we would discover so many things that caught Nixie’s attention. Hanging out in the woods or in the woodland streams we would come across so many little creatures; a beetle, a slug, butterflies, ants or bees, and each one would bring NIxie into a state of awe and every time i saw her in this state it reawakened more of my own sense of awe and we would spend ages just sitting back watching so many different little creatures go about their days, it was such a beautiful way to spend our time. I felt so connected to everything that matters. Life really is so beautiful when you can see through the eyes of a child.
Also being surrounded by so many trees was definitely good for NIxie’s soul, she has a true love affair with the trees and she had the time and space to be amongst them for long stretches at a time. She even came up with a new game where she tells me which tree is a ‘mummy’, a ‘daddy’ or a ‘baby’ and then she’ll run with her arms spread wide open towards towards them giving them either cuddles, hugs or kisses. It was the sweetest thing ever! She continues to melt me and turn me more and more into mush each day.
Nixie really thrived during our time in nature, it seemed like her development and personality just skyrocketed! She is super social, there’s not a shy bone in her body and when the camp was busy she loved making new friends, she was especially drawn to the older kids aged from 8-12, she had so many positive human experiences and it made me feel so happy and proud of her. I love her confidence and am in awe at how beautifully open her heart is. Nixie is the most settled and at peace when she is in nature’s elements and this last trip proved that even more to me. I guess she takes after me.
There was something so wonderful about hiking through the woods and across little woodland streams with her on my back, I had such deep feelings of peace, and feeling so thankful and grateful that i get to have all these incredible experiences with her. This was the childhood i always dreamed for her to have and now it’s no longer a dream but our reality.