I mean, if you follow me on instagram you will know the outcome to this weekend edit already. If not, you are in for some fun!
Monday - It started out as quite an anxious week as I knew I could enjoy 3 days and then my head would go in to anxiety mode about the upcoming journey to Stamford. I finally decided I was going to give it a go so went to booking.com (first time ever using that) and booked a hotel for 2 nights. The offer was there to stay with my parents but I didn't want to feel in the way, or my dad to feel obliged to look after us whilst he was already looking after mum. I kept myself busy cleaning the kitchen and living room. This room still gives me such joy and it was this time last year that it had just been finished!
Tuesday - A bit of a moot day, I had to look back in my phone to see if I did anything of note, which I didn't so I assume I worked all day? I received this super cute card from Laura (my So You're Getting Married events girl) for the blogs 8th birthday. In my anxieties of last week (I was potentially going to travel last Friday) I totally forgot to celebrate the fact I have been blogging for 8 years. Simply Weekend is still a baby as it only launched in May but the reception and stats have been so encouraging. I hope to start blogging a bit more on here in the coming months as Autumn/Winter is and always has been my favourite time of year.
Wednesday involved a lot of washing and ironing as I wasn't sure what to pack. We then enjoyed date night with a misty dusky walk in the park followed by bangers and mash with gravy in front of the fire and TV and caught up on Bake Off, Liar and Dr Foster. TV is SO good at the moment. I started Tin Star which is also so worth a watch.
On Thursday I tried to get some work done so I didn't have to worry about anything over the weekend through to Tues. I made a fire, watched my 'cosy' films which consisted of Home Alone 2, Elf and Harry Potter 2. We weren't leaving until Friday evening so I had the whole of Friday to get myself together and pack.
I didn't sleep on Thursday night at all. I put IT crowd on my phone and listened to that but I think I woke up every couple of hours or so. I got up and popped to the pharmacy to get my stomach ulcer drugs. I then went to Tesco to get a dog tag made for Atticus as he was staying with my sister (just in case he ran off etc). I also got spare batteries for my travel sickness band. I then came home, packed, watched Christmas with the Kranks in the bath and got everything else ready. Michael got home from work and it all started to become rather real. I hadn't travelled further than 30mins in 7 years, and even when I was going back and forth from Scotland/Leeds/Stamford I was always wrecked with panic and anxiety.
7.15 and I popped my diazempam (Valium). We got in the car just before 8pm and off we went. I vlogged the whole thing which I will get up ASAP on our channel so please do subscribe if you would like to watch me cry my way down the A1. I frequently saw my phone lighting up with good luck messages. They helped so much! I was going to take the journey in steps. We weren't taking the usual route out to the A1, as I wanted to avoid the motorway part that is just outside of Leeds to Pontefract so we joined at Pontefract. This was the moment. I cried. Anxiety was bubbling at a steady 8/10.
It wasn't as terrifying as I remember, the next stage was to get to Blyth services, which is roughly half way. It got a little bit too much so we pulled in to a garage about 5 miles in. I went to the toilet and just composed myself a bit. We got back in the car and made it to Blyth.
It's bland pink interior has not changed at all. It was a relief to get here, the next stop was Grantham. Then it was plain sailing. Well, it turned out the A1 north of Grantham was closed in both directions due to road works so Michael plotted a diversion for us (ended up being the same one the road workers chose also). I was happy seeing signs for places I knew, but hadn't seen one for Stamford yet, was getting increasingly motion sickness and I think we had hit the 2 and a half hour of travelling mark. We finally rejoined the a1 then it said 20 mins to our destination.
Driving down Casterton road in to the town was such a relief that I just burst out crying (again). I actually couldn't believe I did it. Even writing this, I still can't believe I did it. How did I go from 30mins to Harewood House last weekend to 3 hours (including stops...a lot of stops) down the fricking a1 this weekend?! HOW?!
We checked in to our room at The Crown. I am going to mention them once, and that will be it as the actual stay/service there was beyond appalling. I am not going to link to them as I don't want to give them any SEO. The room itself was a good size and I was relived to be on steady ground, in my home town and in the proximity of what looked like a comfy bed (it wasn't).
The superrrrrr fun thing about my anxiety is that I was already anxious about the journey back so didn't sleep particularly well. I woke up with a headache (this was due to my travel meds) but nothing breakfast, a bath and some kind of secret potion wouldn't fix.
The hotel has had a refurb since I was last here, was pleasant. Buffet style choices down here and then you are brought a menu for hot choices. Anything for gluten free? No. Any avocado I could have with my salmon? No...because it's just for lunchtime. So I had, a plate of salmon for breakfast.
Thankfully I am now such a well travelled gal that I always pack food with me. I had some nut bars, popcorn and gluten free flapjacks back in the room. I went back up for a little bit more sleep and 10am we got dressed and walked in to town. My first port of call was Miss Pickering, THE best florist in the world and happened to be my wedding florist and all round inspiration for joining the industry.
I think my anxiety at this point was starting to calm down, it was lovely to see Miss P. To go places that I have missed SO SO much and I still hadn't been up to see my parents yet. We walked up streets that I spent my childhood going back and forth from and arrived at home. My home proper.
We spent the afternoon catching up, I hadn't seen my mum since Christmas and since her diagnosis. She had obviously changed, but was still her sassy self. We left her to have a little snooze around 4pm whilst we walked back in to town to order indian for Dad and Michael. We stopped at a Stamford insitution on the way (The Burghley - where I learnt to drink) and The Wine Bar. Gin was awful here.
Stamford is so beautiful, and I am sad I didn't get to take more photos of it. Here is a wikipedia link ha.
I cooked myself chicken and broccoli, in the same bashed up John Lewis pans my mum has cooked so many meals for us in. We settled in front of the fire and watched Strictly. It was lovely. My heart was so happy.
We left around about 8ish and walked back in the rain to our hotel. Got in to our PJs and watched some of the hobbit and then The Hangover. Perfect light entertainment. The next day we planned on getting up, checking out and heading to the antique centre then a walk around my favourite parts of town. Well, my anxiety had other ideas
After another terrible night sleep due to our room being above the kitchen and generator noise keeping me awake I woke up anxious. More anxious than the Friday. I wanted to go back up to Leeds, but I also really wanted to stay and not travel ever again. We could make it work, I could stay in Stamford for eternity and Michael could visit. He could bring Atticus down to me? We scrapped all our plans, checked out and headed to Mum and Dads. I was crying a lot. My tummy felt dodgy, sweaty, palpitations. I didn't want to leave but I wanted to go home. It was hard. I was worried the longer we left it, the more anxious I would become then I would legit end up living in Stamford.
We decide just to get on the road and see how it goes. I said goodbye to them, and to the dogs. Did another cry. Then tried to focus on the journey. Taking it step by step. Services by services we made it home. I was on the verge of a panic attack around Doncaster but managed to breath my way out of it. And to whoever told me there are less lorries on the road between 11-1pm - I love you so much. There were hardly any and that made the journey a little easier. We went to McDonalds, I got a bun and cheese free big mac and fries and then picked up Atticus from my sisters. I got home. I was safe. Nothing bad happened. I didn't have a full blown panic attack and I got to see my family.
I wrapped myself up in a huge throw on the sofa, and snoozed. I tried to reply to everyones instagram messages but there were so many, hundreds. I couldn't believe it. I am so thankful to everyone that sent a little message of luck, headache remedies or how pretty stamford looked. I was so happy I could share this achievement with those of you also suffering from anxiety, hopefully this shows you that it can be overcome. One service station at a time.
That night I lit all the Neom, doused myself in lavender and was so extremely happy to be back in my own bed. As Monday rolled around it was clear Atticus was unwell as he was shitting bones...but that's for next weeks Edit.
Guys. I did it.