Spring is usually a favourite time of year for the Inntravel team – it’s when we dig out our rucksacks, track down our GPS devices and make our way to Europe’s prettiest corners to update our route notes, visit our hoteliers and generally ensure everything is shipshape ahead of the summer season.
Not this year, of course. Like so many others, we’re facing a landscape that’s very different from the one we’re used to, and we all have our own ways of adapting – whether that’s by getting some much-needed fresh air on a daily walk, cooking up a storm in the kitchen or making good on a long-held promise to learn a new skill.
Granted, this may seem rather trivial given the heartache and heroism occurring elsewhere, but we believe it’s more important than ever to appreciate the positives in our everyday lives.
So here’s what we’ve been up to…
1) Taking it slow
We’ve long advocated the benefits of dialling down the pace when it comes to travel, and we’re now finding the same applies to our personal lives. While at home, Simon has watched spring unfold outside his 'at-work window', and has found the experience both absorbing and uplifting: “The blossom on the apple – which I have seen bud, bloom and come into leaf – is starting to go over, most of the magnolia flowers have dropped ready for me to mow up, and, as the copper beech is now in full leaf, I can no longer see the pigeons trampolining on our phone wires.”
Others in the team have made use of the extra time at home to rediscover a favourite hobby, with Marie-Louise reading book after book on her sunny front doorstep, and Amber completing a very impressive number of jigsaw puzzles.
2) Getting creative
When lockdown was first announced, Tracey set up a family art group to help her relatives stay connected. Each week, the group takes it in turns to choose a topic, which can then be interpreted however the 'artist' desires. Tracey says, “It’s a great opportunity to sit down and focus on something positive. When I’m struggling for motivation, I remember that I have a weekly contract to fulfil and that spurs me on! It’s also been so interesting to see everyone else’s work and is a great way of keeping in touch – much better than just checking if we’ve all got enough tinned tomatoes!”.
And Tracey is by no means our only crafter: Sarah is in the process of knitting her first-ever pair of socks (“Who knew you could get such a sense of achievement from turning a heel?”, she asks); Rebecca has caught the decorating bug and is giving all her garden furniture a fresh coat of paint; Sally is reliving past Inntravel trips by creating physical photo albums for the first time in years; and Jennifer has rescued a stack of Laura Ashley fabric from her loft, some of which her daughter Philli has turned into a beautiful jumpsuit.
3) Trying something new
There’s much that’s out of our hands at the moment, so it’s quite reassuring to regain an element of control by mastering a new skill. For Inntravel’s Tess, that's meant finally getting to grips with playing the ukulele: Tess first had a ukulele lesson at a folk festival four years ago, but never found the time to practise. Now she can string four chords together and is feeling rather proud!
New homeowners, Charlotte and Adam, are dabbling with gardening for the first time (much to the delight of Charlotte's dad – a professional gardener!), and city girl Raquel is taking a step into the unknown by getting an allotment where she hopes to grow fruit and vegetables. Susan, meanwhile, is anxiously awaiting the arrival of a very exciting something new – her puppy, Coco!
4) Staying active
Everyone at Inntravel is a huge fan of the Great Outdoors, and we’ve all been getting our daily dose of fresh air. My own rambles have thrown up some interesting discoveries – first, a lovely riverside path just minutes from my door and, second, the presence of several enormous animal sculptures on said riverside path. How I’ve managed to overlook a life-size bronze elephant for over three years, I don’t know!
Rob and his family have spent time exploring the farm tracks and paths surrounding their house, and have discovered a really nice cycling circuit through fields and woods, which is fairly flat but with some humps and bumps where Rob’s young son Patrick can practise his ‘stunts’.
Beth’s had more time to enjoy her favourite local ride, too. This “finishes with a long descent across Beverley Westwood, a large area of open grassland and woodland on the outskirts of the town. It’s a great way to approach the town, as you can see the towers of the Minster and St Mary’s Church.” Beth adds, “I’m looking forward to the buttercups coming out, which shouldn’t be long now, as they create a beautiful carpet of yellow.”
5) Looking after the little ones
With schools and nurseries closed, many of our team have their hands very full with childcare. James and Elizabeth decided their only option was to get their one-year-old son, Benji, to start pulling his weight, and he has since been helping in the kitchen and tending the raised beds in the garden. Tom’s boys have been enjoying toasting marshmallows at ‘Camp Lockdown’, while Beccy has been painting, baking and den-making with her three children, though she suspects their favourite new game may be playing in the bonus mud pit that has resulted from the postponed house extension!
6) Keeping it local
It’s ironic, but the social distancing measures have brought many communities closer together. With everyone spending so much time at home, there’s a renewed focus on the local – Rebecca moved to Kirkbymoorside eight months ago and has enjoyed getting to know her neighbours via the recent outdoor bingo evenings in her cul-de-sac (with everyone keeping a safe distance apart, of course).
Kylie also lives in Kirkbymoorside, and is appreciative of the opportunity to visit the excellent array of independent shops in this North Yorkshire market town: “I always felt it was a shame not to use the shops more, but working 15 miles away, it wasn’t easy. Now I can get milk in returnable glass bottles, fruit and veg from a proper greengrocer without plastic, and bread baked from organic flour milled 5 miles away.”
7) Donning our aprons
If you ask anyone in Inntravel’s Holiday Feedback team when their favourite time of the working week is, chances are they’ll tell you it’s 3pm on a Thursday, otherwise known as ‘Cake Thursday’ time. I was delighted to hear this popular tradition has successfully transitioned online, with the team now comparing their bakes via video call. Peter seems to be a particularly committed participant, and has so far attempted Creme Egg cookies, rhubarb crumble, chocolate and orange ricotta cake and a Victoria sponge! Verity has also been busy in the kitchen, pushing the boat out with a series of round-the-world dishes such as homemade sushi, gnocchi and chocolate éclairs.