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I’m not sightseeing, it’s research…

Article by Chris Mills © 23 May 2014 .
Posted in the Members' Blog ( ).

Much as I look forward to the end of the school year, with all of the benefits that it can give to busy parents (no homework, no games kit to wash, etc) I start to wonder how I’m going to be disciplined enough to continue to write over the holidays. I’m only working part-time at the moment so it’s going to be tempting to regard my ‘off’ days as holiday since school will be out. I love to be able to go on day trips, work in the garden and work on craft projects together but that isn’t going to get anything down on paper. I can always tell myself that I’m garnering material and inspiration but how much of that is true? And does all of that material get used in the end anyway? It’s research, silly; of course it gets used (sometime).

I stopped to think about it and did a bit of a trawl through pieces that I had written over the last few years to see what I could count as holiday/leisure time inspiration. I did actually find quite a few articles and blog posts and I can point triumphantly to the fact that my Irish News Review posts are almost exclusively about places that I have visited. If I ever want to visit an exhibition or garden, I can always justify it by claiming that it will be something that I can write-up afterwards. Now that makes jetting off to visit Russborough or Castletown House work and not a leisure pursuit doesn’t it?

I discover from looking through my files that holidays and family visits have produced ideas surprisingly often. One of my favourite pieces was inspired by the time that my daughter and I missed the ferry back to Dublin and we ended up being stranded in Holyhead for the night. It was quite an adventure for a child and her elephant. The ensuing article has been through two or three makeovers and I think I had one version published in the school newsletter. Now that I come to think of it, we missed the ferry last summer too so perhaps I should do something with that experience (and perhaps be more careful about train times in the future).

That last one didn’t end up being quite an all nighter (thankfully we caught the 2am ferry and had a very peaceful crossing) and it was altogether more enjoyable than the first time round for various reasons. Please don’t think that I make a habit of getting stranded; though we did get caught up in the air travel chaos caused by the heavy snowfall a couple of years ago. Spending hours in Birmingham airport while wondering if we would get back for Christmas was one of those experiences that becomes funnier the further you get away from it. In fact, by this stage I can almost believe that we had a very jolly time of it and sang songs round the luggage carousel to while away the time.

That settles it then:

day trips (holiday) + gardening (holiday) = research + work.

Wish I figured out that equation years ago…


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