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A change of scenery, just as a good as a rest

By Joanna Kent
29 July 2021

By Joanna Kent

When the pandemic first arrived, the prospect of taking a break to go on a staycation just didn’t create the same excitement as would travelling abroad to experience new unexplored destinations in a warmer, or perhaps more consistent climate than we enjoy (or endure) here in the UK.

With infection rates rising and travel restrictions changing on a daily basis, I came to accept pretty early on that, for me, travelling abroad this year wasn’t to be. To me, the whole idea of a holiday is taking the opportunity to relax, unwind and enjoy soaking up a new culture, rather than stressing about queuing times at Heathrow, or how many rapid flow tests I need to pack and whether I’ve got enough masks to last a week.

Having come to terms with the fact that the delights of travelling abroad would have to wait, I took a short trip to Whitstable on the Kent coast. What immediately struck me, not even when I arrived in Whitstable, but in the car on the way there, was just how incredibly fantastic it felt to see new scenery. And, when I arrived, the smell of the sea air, seeing new faces, new shops, new restaurants, felt utterly invigorating. After so many months of staring at the same view out of my window, living in the same space, in the same area, seeing the same people, it almost felt like anywhere would illicit the same response. But, damn, it felt so good to experience something new.

It made me think back to when I did a tour of South East Asia. Now, I love my food, and especially love South East Asian cuisine. But, three weeks into the trip, I craved a steak dinner, which I felt so ashamed of at the time. It got to a point that I just couldn’t cope with the idea of another Thai curry, even though it’s one of my favourite dishes. At that point, it really struck me just how varied our lives are. We have such a rich offering of different cuisines that make up our weekly diets, whether that’s Taco Tuesday or Spaghetti Bolognese, we rarely eat the same thing day in, day out. Whilst pondering the overwhelming joy I felt at sitting on Whitstable harbour watching my friends’ son squeal at the delight of catching crabs off the quayside, I realised just how true this is of our lives overall. And, just how important it is for our health and wellbeing to make time to experience new things, visit new places, meet new people.

I know I’m not the first to point out how much the pandemic has accelerated existing trends, such as the meteoric rise in online shopping amongst other things. But, being time poor is one of the more worrying trends that I can see gathering pace. With the absence of a daily commute to help us unwind and switch off from our working day, many of us find that we’re simply ‘always on’. As the pandemic continues to cause chaos worldwide, it’s so important for us to take care of our health and mental wellbeing. Having been bowled over by the positive effects of taking a trip to the seaside, it made me recognise the importance of taking time off to recharge, and if that can be combined with new experiences, all the better.