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Tree Hugging at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

I’ve been reflecting a lot on what and where really makes me happy recently.

Don’t worry the white space is sky, not empty post, a bit of reflection space is always good…

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I had a post half drafted about Calke Abbey and happiness, and then, in a moment of serendipity I was asked to take place in the #betterplaces project, and blog about the place that brings me calm.

As my thirties have gone on,  I have become better at dealing with stress, worry and the ebbs and flows of life. Life doesn’t always go to plan, but I have learnt to step back and analyse things, to know when to let things go, when to take a break, what really matters.  I’ve learnt tricks to manage hormones, and see off the headaches, and debilitating black moods hormonal fluctuations have tried to land on me since I turned 30 and had kids. ‘Take something and get outdoors’ repeats Mr A, like a mantra.

Being outside is by far the thing that makes me most happy, lifting moods and headaches and restoring calm when I feel stressed. Switching off from technology when you spend your working life at a computer screen is vital. Being outdoors allows me to be really present, not cluttered by indoor stuff and nonsense. A sense of calm and peace returns. Being outdoors with family is amazing, suddenly all the distractions are gone and we are fully together. Our kids love having our undivided attention, but also the space to roam free. We love the space that gives us to have a grown up conversation. So I thought I would take you to Calke Abbey with us and share why it lifts my mood, hope that’s ok.

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Calke Abbey is a National Trust property in Derbyshire.

With peeling paintwork and overgrown courtyards, Calke Abbey tells the story of the dramatic decline of a country house estate. The house and stables are little restored, with many abandoned areas vividly portraying a period in the 20th century when numerous country houses did not survive to tell their story.

Sometimes when you feel  a bit out of sorts it is nice to visit somewhere where things went a bit out of kilter too. Not that I am gloating, but a well preserved stately home doesn’t fire my imagination, or my sense of self, as much as a decaying one.

Gathering family together makes me happy, Dad was able to join us, Derbyshire being a great halfway point between him and us. Testing your physical limits, just like the kids, that brings me calm too. Dad doesn’t look sure here, but he’s the fittest of 70 year olds, look at him sledging at Christmas!

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Trees and wide open spaces make me feel calm.

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Being outdoors makes these two hug, it’s magic. Suddenly they are best of friends, there has to be something in it.

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And trees, really old gnarly, magical trees. You can’t beat them either.

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Especially when you can climb them.

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The knots in your head start to untangle, the ideas start to flow.

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You re-emerge from the fog, you can see clearly.

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Hugs work for grown ups too. And Max the greyhound always has a soothing influence on me.

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You can’t beat a Dad hug either

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Trees so big and old can completely challenge your perspective on your problems, reminding you are just one tiny human on a spinning planet in a galaxy that has been going for years. Those trees have seen more than you can ever imagine.

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Watching your kids completely absorbed in playing, no fights, no need for help or explanation. They know exactly what to do outdoors.

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Being invited to play too is magical.

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Seeing the ones you love really happy is priceless.

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Clake Abbey is a magical place that’s hard to leave.

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National trust places always involve fun invitations to learn new things, igniting our imagination and curiosity about the world.

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And when you really need cheering up, well there is National Trust cake. And a little bit of nature on the table.

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Reminded me of nature rambles and collecting things as a little one, with my Mum – happy carefree days, they remind me of the personI truly am, even as a grown up.

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All is well with the world once more. Thanks Calke Abbey


This #BetterPlaces post is in support of the Syndol Find Your Better Place campaign with BritMums. Syndol is now formulated for headaches.

Visit www.syndol.co.uk for online resources with information about headaches and how to restore calm in your life.



  1. 26/02/2015 / 2:37 pm

    That’s some gnarly trees! Those pics of R and the kids are great! x

  2. 26/02/2015 / 4:11 pm

    What gorgeous family moments and happy times to remember. Fab place to visit, I must look it up next time I’m in your neck of the woods.

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