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Breaking habits

I always like living in Wales. For one thing, our little valley town is the most beautiful place I've ever lived. From every window in our house, we can see gorgeous, looming hills and mountains. And on the more practical side, not only do we get free medical treatment through the NHS, like all other British citizens, but because we live in Wales, we get free prescriptions, too. Wow. All in all, Wales is a really good place to live and raise a family.

But some days? Some days - like yesterday - I'm reminded that I don't just like living here. I really, really LOVE it, and this is why:

Raglan Castle

Castles are scattered all throughout Wales, and within fifteen minutes' drive of our house, there are two. This one is Raglan Castle, which might just be my favorite castle in the world. Yesterday, we drove out there with MrD and had the most amazing morning running around the castle, exploring every inch of it. All three of us had so much fun.

The sad thing is, though, yesterday was the first time we'd visited Raglan Castle in almost a year. Why? Why on earth did we wait so long between trips? It's not even expensive to get in - Welsh heritage prices are totally reasonable, and if we went often enough, we could buy a family membership for even more of a discount. But somehow, we've gone a year between trips, for no better reason than general apathy. It's just too easy to spend our weekends mooching around the house or going to the same coffeeshop in town every time we go out. Sadly, Patrick and I really are creatures of habit...and sometimes the comfortable grooves we fall into aren't actually the ones we most want.

Yesterday, though, we broke our usual habits - and I'm so glad we did. The sun was shining. It was a cold but brilliantly clear autumn day. My usual castle joy was maximized by a thousand percent because I got to share it with Patrick AND with MrD, who's old enough to love castles, too. As we drove home (carrying, yes, a whole load of castle-related paraphenalia from the attached giftshop), Patrick and I swore to each other that we won't let it go another year before we come back. We're going to try to break our old habits and make at least one cool family trip every weekend, whether it's to a castle or a forest or a museum.

I don't know if we'll manage our goal every single week. Sometimes we'll feel too tired. Sometimes it'll be raining. Sometimes we probably just won't feel like it.

But I really hope we will, most of the time.

What about you guys? What do you wish you could remember to do more often?


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 17th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
NHS Prescription Charges in Wales
Hi Stephanie
Actually, it's us in England that have to start paying at the age of 16. In Wales they abolished NHS prescription charges in 2007 (http://www.wales.nhs.uk/nhswalesaboutus/budgetcharges). Whether they can afford to continue this with the cuts that are being introduce, and the rate the government are choosing to cut the deficit, we'll have to wait and see.
Oct. 17th, 2010 03:19 pm (UTC)
Re: NHS Prescription Charges in Wales
Edited for accuracy - thanks, Tim! And WOW, I hadn't realized that before (proof that I've been pretty healthy since we moved to Wales last year - prescriptions haven't been an issue for me, so it never came up). Now I feel even better about living here! :)
Oct. 17th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a great day! I'd love to see that castle. :)
Oct. 17th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
Come to Wales and I will take you there! *entice**entice*
Oct. 20th, 2010 01:25 pm (UTC)
It's so amazing place.
Castles ))
Oct. 17th, 2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
Chris and I are the same way! There is so much culture here in LA. We could go to a different play every night of the week all year, if we wanted. But we usually stay home on weekends, happy with our simple routine.

Last night we went out to a play I'd found, and had such a good time and felt so rejuvenated and inspired and happy to be living in a city with so many choices and creative people. We vowed that we would not let so much time pass before we went out and enjoyed the arts again.

I hope we can visit you in Wales at some point -- I'm almost half Welsh and have never been there!
Oct. 17th, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
I love live theater! I get really frustrated that our local theater doesn't show any matinees, which automatically means we can't go (MrD won't go to sleep without at least one of us at home right now)...but of course the truth is, there were tons of matinees on offer back in Leeds, and we still almost never got around to going. Sigh. Why is it so hard to motivate ourselves to do things that we know we will LOVE?

I'm so glad you guys had such a great experience! And yesyesyes come visit us in Wales!!!!!! We will take you to castles and it won't even be a long car trip this time. :)
Oct. 17th, 2010 04:21 pm (UTC)
I totally wish I could go visit castles more often. Actually, I've never been to a castle. I want to live in Wales!
Oct. 17th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
I love castles!!!! They have wonderful ones all over Europe, but nowadays I am totally biased and the Welsh ones are my favorites. ;)
Oct. 17th, 2010 04:35 pm (UTC)
Normally we just walk the dog around the fields, but today we drove to Ashton Court Estate for the first time in two months. The deer were out in force, we stopped for a cup of tea, and exchanged pleasantries with the other dog walkers - one has a 15 yo chocolate labrador that we remember from years and years ago.
Oct. 17th, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC)
Oh, Ashton Court is wonderful! Patrick took me there last year when we were house-hunting in Bristol. We didn't end up finding anywhere to live, but it was great to have the excuse to visit the estate.

It sounds like a great day.
Oct. 17th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
Fishing. The kids were pressing for it, and I realized it had been MORE than a year since we'd gone. So we went and restocked on supplies, got NEW poles, and went to Big Lake in the White Mountains of Arizona.

Didn't catch a thing. Had a great time. ;)
Oct. 17th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
That sounds like a perfect day! :)
Oct. 17th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
Castles AND free prescriptions? Wales sounds amazing!

I wish I made more time for yoga. The classes at my studio aren't terribly conveniently-timed, but I always feel amazing and blissed-out afterward.
Oct. 17th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
Funny how hard it is to motivate ourselves to do things like that, that make us feel so good once we've done them! I hope you find time for more yoga soon.

And Wales is amazing! I really love it here.
Oct. 18th, 2010 01:27 am (UTC)
I'm so jealous. But then again, I'm just like you are. I live in an area with tons of historic sites and I only go out and do that sort of thing about once a month. However we have zero castles :(

Last weekend, I went to a picnic at a historic home which at one time was an artist colony. It was inspiring, the views and art. And my dog loved that it is a pet friendly site with wilderness walking paths and free poop bags:)
Oct. 18th, 2010 01:49 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that sounds like a perfect weekend trip! I love that you got to bring your dog, too.
Oct. 18th, 2010 09:15 am (UTC)
Raglan! That's one of my husband's favorites. I'm sorry to say I've never seen it, though the CADW guide once helped me work out the mechanics of a plot twist. (David collected those guides when he was a boy, and we still have them.)

I wish that I baked bread more often. The hours slip by so fast that I keep forgetting to do it till it's too late, but oh... it tastes so GOOD when it comes out of the oven!
Oct. 18th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
Mmmmm, fresh baked bread is wonderful!

If you ever come out our way, we will go to Raglan together. :)
Oct. 18th, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC)
That sounds wonderful!
Oct. 18th, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC)
Oo Welsh castles. Yep, I'm a castle lover too. I grew up in Kent surrounded by amazing castles - especially Dover Castle (in the days prior to English Heritage running it) where I (mis)spent a lot of my childhood and teens running around all the places you weren't supposed to go!

I lived in North Wales for 4 years, so I know and love the castles there too. One of my favourites is Dolbadarn Castle in Snowdonia. It's tiny, but you can't beat the setting:

Oct. 18th, 2010 01:51 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that picture of Dolbadarn Castle is gorgeous! I will definitely have to go there one day!

And I'm so envious that you got to grow up running around castles. So cool!
Oct. 18th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
You have totally made me wish I lived in Wales! Total castle envy is what I'm currently feeling.
Oct. 20th, 2010 11:28 am (UTC)
Wales (I say, with total bias) has THE BEST castles! :)
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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