Sundays #14 Continued

I wrote about a little overnight stay in Thetford Forest that I had with my boyfriend and our friends back in May. Having just plugged in my SD card to go through our Scotland photos I then discovered the photos I had taken on my camera rather than on my phone, and wanted to share them on here.

I'm not sure what I'd done to make the photos so blurry but we'll pretend I knew exactly what I was doing and that it was the affect I was going for, ok?


Soulby Village, Yorkshire

On the way back from Scotland we decided to stop off in Yorkshire for the night. It's a long journey from Scotland to home and although it was manageable on the way there it was different on the way back. As my boyfriend said, you don't have that excitement to push you to get there as you do when you are going on holiday.
We also wanted to have a look around a town on the Scottish coast on Friday morning so our depature was later than when we headed to Scotland the week before.

We camped in Kirkby Stephen and after eating way to much in the local pub, we went for a little drive to a nearby village that my boyfriend wanted to visit. A village sharing his surname.
We had a little walk around and then headed back to the campsite, but decided to go back the following morning to have a longer walk and a closer look.

It was absolutely beautiful. We do usually like looking inside churches when we visit new places, or even locally, but although this one was open we didn't go inside as we could hear some people and felt a little uncomfortable.

It was such a beautiful little village, the hot sunshine definitely made it look really special although I can imagine it looking beautiful all year round.
We only saw a handful of people, it was so quiet, with doves flying from the rooftops to their nests in the side of old barns.

We probably looked a bit random to the locals by pulling up and walking around taking photos of their village.
But it was totally worth looking random for.




One of the things I love about camping is sitting inside and looking out on the view. To be honest, even when the view is pants or not at all inspiring, I like just sitting inside feeling surrounded by the tent but with the freedom of having the door wide open.
At the Isle of Man I would open my tent door as soon as I woke up and would get ready with it open.

The first morning of camping in Scotland I decided to take a photo from inside the tent.
Being surrounded by green and woodland was so pretty (despite the midges!!) and I really wanted to capture that.
The second night there was a beautiful sunset and with the net down, it was so warm we couldn't have the whole door zipped up but wanted to keep the midges out and have some kind of privacy, so I couldn't resist taking a photo of the view from inside.
And there came my idea to photograph each view we had during our trip. I also really like having the view framed with the tent doorway.
5 campsites and also 3 nights of Wild Camping meant we would have varied views and I'm really glad I did this as I have loved having it to look back on.



I've never heard silence like it

We made a footpath to get from the road down to the mossy, story waters edge. This Loch was absolutely stunning, with certain aspects that reminded me of Jurassic Park (minus the Dinosaurs).
We walk along by the water then up towards the greener area, noticing fresh(ish) poo but no animals in sight.

As we walk a little further I notice, amongst the stones, a thick tooth. We walk a little more and my boyfriend spots a bone, and a few steps more we find parts of an animal skull.

As we walk over to another part of the water we wonder what animal the skull belonged to, and where the rest of it is.
What animal had been here not long before we arrived?

We stopped and listened.
No sound at all.
What I described as 'eerie' my boyfriend described as 'perfection'.
It wasn't eerie in a scary, uncomfortable way. But in a "far away from my norm" sense.

As we walked on some more my boyfriend continued exploring but I sat down and took in the view in front of me.
It was one of those views that you do your best to capture in photographic form but can never truly do it justice.

I decided to take this opportunity as the perfect time to meditate.

I usually meditate to then either work with my cards or to link in with my guides.
However this time I decided to meditate to connect with my surroundings. To completely immerse myself in this stunning, peaceful, calm environment.

Slowly breathing in and out, grounding myself, I became aware of what was around me. Of the sounds I heard. The light and rare whisp of the wind. The soft cracking of seaweed. The gentle sound of the rocks and stones as they gently tumbled and tapped together underneath the almost still water.
The song of wild birds in the distance.
All such sweet, soft sounds that you only really heard if you tuned in to listen for it.

Then the odd car whizzing past and not being able to stop yourself wondering if they appreciate this landscapes. If they stopped to view it themselves to see exactly what is here for them.

Free to view.
Free to listen.

I've never heard silence like it.


William Dunlop

I had been asleep for around an hour or so when my boyfriend returned to the tent after going for a walk to the local pub to see how England did in their World Cup match. Camping on a hill on a remote Scottish Island means no signal or Wi-Fi for us unless we are at that certain spot.

As he got into bed I woke a little and he said "Lauren, England won" I just about mustered an "Oh, that's good" then he said "But I've got bad news too. And you will cry". Immediately thinking about my children, my mum, my brother, my cats, the tortoises, my house. He told me not to worry but it is bad news and would make me upset.
I have to admit, the fact he knew this was big news for me, and that he even remembered that this name was one that was important to me and a big deal to me was impressive. But the words were some I didn't think I'd hear.
Unexpected he said "William Dunlop died today".

I burst into tears. "What? No he hasn't. No he hasn't. You are fibbing". And he said it again.
Then showed me screenshots he'd taken of the news on the BBC Sports site.
I sat there in shock, in tears. And then feeling like I had no right to cry. I'm no one to him.
Then I justified my feelings to myself and realised I had every right to cry.

This man, William Dunlop, was unknowingly part of my change to who I am now. He, and the Dunlop family, were part of what ignited my passion for the TT. William and Michael were the ones I supported when I went to the TT.

The day I spoke to William on the phone, was another example of how he, unknowingly, changed my life. That morning I had split up with my ex-husband. My brother didn't even know what had happened that morning.
I will never forget that phone call. I will never lose my appreciation for my brother asking and for shy William Dunlop calling me, and even admitting on the phone he hasn't done that before and didn't know what to say.

Then the following year I remember walking up to the paddock and knowing that I was about to meet a Dunlop.
Walking around breathing heavily hoping he would be around somewhere then all of a sudden, there he was, stood in the middle of the walkway talking to someone.
I remember turning to my brother and constantly saying "Oh my god. Oh my god. William is there. Oh my god". He told me I'd have to go and ask for a photo but I couldn't bring myself to do it.
"William mate, can my sister have her photo taken with you?" my hero brother said as we reached him.
Between a caravan and an awning I stood with one arm round William, his arm around me and the words going round in my head "William Dunlop has his arm round me. He is touching my sweaty back!".
He was so sweet and so quietly spoken but we joked about me hanging up on him last year and talked about the TT that year. He wasn't having a great year but I said "You looked good on Gooseneck last night". He replied in his strong Northern Irish Accent "Yeah the corners are going well".
No William, that's not how I meant. Haha.

We said our goodbyes and I did as my brother instructed and managed to stay cool...until he was out of sight and then with my head in my brothers chest I sobbed.

Never before did I think that meeting a motorbike racer would be my equivalent to a girl meeting a member of One Direction.

Later that week I got the letter D tattooed on my wrist. D for Dale (my brother) and for Dunlops.

I remember being grumpy whenever I went to the TT and he and Michael were out of a race for whatever reason.

Maybe I'm so naive but I never thought I'd be hearing that a Dunlop had died.
They've not even had serious accidents like Ian Hutchinson or John McGuinness...or their dad.
But not Michael...And not William.

The same age as me. He is just the same age as me. It's far too soon to be gone.
Younger than his Dad when he lost his life, and his Uncle, both losing their life to the Sport they love. Just like William now has.

I can't help but to think about his mum, having to bury her son. His grandmother already having buried two sons and now a grandson. To his girlfriend who had a baby last year and is now pregnant again.
And to his brother, Michael, who will now face never sharing the paddock with his brother, never looking out for his brother on the track, and never sharing the roads with him again.

Brokenhearted, but glad I got to see him race, to speak on the phone and to meet him.
And grateful of the change he brought to my life. His, and his families, passion for the sport that made me who I am.



Recharging and "Mum Guilt"

For many years I didn't know who I was. I dedicated all of my time to my husband and my two children, which at the time was fine and it was my role but looking back I had a void of a social life, of time to be Lauren. And in 2015 that time came.
It wasn't the easiest decision, and it took a long time to get the courage to say "This isn't my life anymore".
I felt like I was going to start to rebel if I didn't change my life but I suppose that kind of happened anyway.

Once I got my own house and the family home was sold, we got into a good routine of 50/50 shared parenting with the children.
I am incredibly lucky that my ex wants to see the boys as much as he does and isn't just a "one weekend a month" guy.
He has them the days I work and has them every Saturday and every other weekend. I take over every Saturday night.

We have always let the other have flexibility with somethings and at one point we were swapping days we had the boys as we asked the other one "I have a date on Tuesday, can you have the boys?":
Not that we chose dating someone as a priority but it was always done as a swap. So the children never missed out.
In 2015 the boys had their first 5 days away from me, and my first break away by myself, as I went to the Isle of Man.
2016 it was 10 days in the Isle of Man and then a week when I went to Ireland with my brother.
2017 two weeks when I went to the Isle of Man.
The boys are treated and although I spend that time away from them we will also have weeks where I will have them for a long stretch of days so their dad can work or have a break with his partner.

This year, being my first year with a boyfriend since my divorce, I had two holidays planned. One week to Fuerteventura and one to Cyprus...which then changed to 10 days in Scotland.
Fuerteventura was guilt free. And my Isle of Man trips have been guilt free too. Because I do them for me. For my mental health, for me to relax and to reenergise and to come back and be the best I can be.
And being in a new relationship I felt Fuerteventura was a real treat for me and my boyfriend to actually spend some quality time together. Which every couple deserves.

On Thursday I go to Scotland and, although what we have planned wouldn't be easy with the boys, for the first time I am not completely ready to hand them over.
I've felt it before. A desire and need for them to be with me but that would mostly be when they've been away from me for a few days, back for one or two then back with their dad.
However, I've had them for 10 days straight and usually I am itching for a break. For them to see their dad and for me to breathe a bit before I get them back.
But this time I don't feel like that.
I feel like 10 days have been nothing and that this is the best stretch of time I've had with them for a long long time.
Don't get me wrong, I am really excited about Scotland and so much has gone on the last 2 months that I need some time to clear my head, to take in Nature and to embrace my freedom but also to spend some quality time with my special person.

Not going to the Isle of Man this year was much harder than I thought.
Being Spiritual I have realised that actually there is something about that island that makes me me. It's almost like visiting the island tops me up and makes me feel like the full Lauren.
And I've lost that this year.

My hope is that Scotland will be a good substitute. I am hoping that the islands we are visiting will be peaceful, clear and "zen" enough to take some time to soak up what I can to be me again.

But there is a lingering feeling of mum guilt. Something I don't get all that often, but I do at the moment.
I don't even know if guilt is the right word.
It is more a longing of wanting more time.
Of wanting things to be different.

I know I will have an amazing time. And I know they will enjoy their time with their dad. And that they will feel no guilt when they go on holiday with him at the end of August.

I think I have felt so lost lately and have been thinking so much about life and the life I would like, which obviously involves the boys, has made it hard for me to switch back into this reality.
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