A Little Dartmouth Getaway

Bromance on the beach

I attended a wedding this past weekend in Dartmouth, Devon, UK. If unfamiliar with the coastal town, its nearest large city is Exeter and the American city of Dartmouth is indeed named after here. A truly picturesque postcard-perfect sort of town, on the southwestern coast of England.

We embarked on our journey in the late evening Thursday and arrived at the lovely self-catering Longbow Barns Apartments in the dead of night. Oh, how delightful it was to be greeted by a warm apartment after a 7.5h car journey! Dragon had woken up around midnight and proceeded to play ‘I Spy’ for some good thirty minutes before continually drifting in and out of sleep until our arrival at said destination. After swiftly unpacking our belongings in our home for the weekend, we set off to sleep…

….to be greeted by the most glorious sunshine and a view overlooking the harbour. Oh how delightful indeed! My darling husband immediately nestled himself in on the couch, announcing that he would quite happily live the rest of his days there! After the arrival of my in-laws/the wedding babysitters, my husband being true to his personality trait (yes, I profiled him, too!), had cabin fever and bundled us all in the car to set off to the nearest beach, Blackpool Sands. We have visited many a beach, as you may have guessed from some previous posts (hubs being a water addict!), but this was truly stunning. Tiny skimming stones in all shades of beige and grey made up the beach (which remarkably resemble walking through quicksand!), encased by impressive rock formations on either side. On the cliff tops, sheep were grazing happily and wind-swept pine trees dotted the hills behind. And I was obviously not alone in my admiration as we spotted seals on our seashore adventure! AMAZING. What a wonderful introduction to Dartmouth, truly.

 

Sunshine and wind on Blackpool Sands
Sunshine and wind on Blackpool Sands
Fun at Blackpool Beach
Fun at Blackpool Beach
Kite-flying at Blackpool Beach
Kite-flying at Blackpool Beach

That evening we strolled down to the town centre to meet up with the wedding party for drinks in a proper old man’s pub. I enjoyed a G&T (or two) for the first time in months and admittedly, it didn’t take long for me to feel very jolly! Conversation and drinks flowed as we caught up with dear old friends and the bride and groom. We left at a reasonable time – a toddler who wakes at 5 is no joy, let alone with a hangover! – to be greeted by walls. Had we really walked down these hills!?!? How were we going to scale up them to return to the barn!? I was out of breath five steps in… this was going to take a while. Neither Huz nor I said anything the whole way, just panting for air, sweat dripping from our foreheads in the cool November breeze. It was sobering… and the aching followed heartily the next day.

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The wedding ceremony was the following day and proceeded at three o’clock ON THE DOT (like, wow! Talk about time-keeping!) at the very quaint and exquisite Royal Castle Hotel on the harbour front. I’m sure half the buildings were built before such a thing as a spirit level existed! Or they just liked to eye-ball it…?! My friend, the Bride, was escorted by her father with a nervous but excited Groom awaiting her at the other end. Pure happiness in the air… followed by lots of merriment in the bar below and local restaurant Alf Resco. I won’t go into the details as they’re a bit hazy…

We returned in the wee hours of the morning, collapsed and repeated the early wake-up call for yet another day. Little man with so much energy needed an escape so we returned to Blackpool Beach… with all adults looking a bit beaten up and a toddler running circles around them… But in that tired moment, walking in these peaceful surroundings with loved ones around me, I took stock of everything that I have, how the best things in life are free (in the words of Janet and Luther), and that made my heart smile.

Fun at Blackpool Beach, splashing the water
Fun at Blackpool Beach, splashing the water

How Making Hard Choices Becomes Our Identity

So, if you read my last post, you’ll remember that I’m going through some kind of self discovery mission. Or identity crises. Call it what you will, I’m trying to find out where this is all going. Deep, huh? I guess I’m quite contemplative and reached a point where I feel I’m more of a by-stander than actually in charge…

I came across this book by Paul Tiger, Barbara Barron and Kelly Tiger: Do What You Are. (I’ll add it to the shop section so you can easily find it.) It’s based on the concept of Personality Type – also known as the Myers-Briggs Personality Type. If you’re not familiar, it’s something that I also came across for the first time in grad/post-graduate school only five years ago. Essentially, it measures your preferences across four areas and determines how you might fit an organisation, for example. A lot of companies apparently use this, and in our university, it was an experiment for putting us into groups and observe the performance, the theory being that compatible personality types will work effectively and efficiently. My group did very well, but it certainly wasn’t without its struggles! In hindsight, although I wouldn’t necessarily class any of my group members as “friends”, there may have been something to this. So I got curious.

You’re assigned four letters which makes up a personality type (out of 16). This isn’t to say that you don’t have some tendencies from other personalities. Some preferences are stronger than others and you could fall anywhere on a spectrum of Introvert – Extravert, for instance. I couldn’t remember my letters from the comprehensive test at university, so I have had to go back and self-assess based on preferences I’m aware of, and by reading examples. So it tells me I’m this combination: ISTP – Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving. I don’t want to bore you with the details, so here’s a summary: A realist. I’m very analytical and see things as they are. Practical, fair and logical, base decisions on hard facts. Quiet and reserved, can give of impression of shyness, cool or aloof.

There it is. LOGICAL. It’s almost fair to say that I’m obsessed with it. Things need to make sense. That’s probably why I used to love mathematics in school so much. My husband often jokes that he should get a shirt made up for me that reads ‘Maths makes sense’. Reading the full personality type description, it fits me like a shoe. So what’s my career? What should I be doing with my life? Ah, it’d just be all so easy if the answers were written in a book like some kind of formula, wouldn’t it? And then randomly, last night, I couldn’t find anything I wanted to watch and stumbled across some TED talks on Netflix.

I watched a playlist, and some I’d seen already so I wasn’t paying all that much attention until Ruth Chang started. She talked about how to make hard choices. Ultimately, this is what has lead me down this path, isn’t it? Read my previous post and you’ll see that my head is just a jumble at the moment. I can’t seem to make much sense of the chaos within – should I or shouldn’t I return to work? If I do, what will I do? Is it worth it if there’s a chance that we might move again? What’s the most transferable career that I can do in case we do move again? These are big questions! To me, anyway. You may be a bit more pragmatic and find it easy to come up with a solution. I could just do any job, but as I find myself in a rather privileged position of having time to find myself, I’m being choosey. Too choosey, even. It’s like being a vegetarian in a vegetarian restaurant. I’m used to having two – if I’m lucky, three – choices on the menu. I’m overwhelmed in a vegetarian restaurant. Everything sounds SO GOOD. How do you choose? So Ruth Chang, in this TED talk, has this incredibly LOGICAL way of explaining (which utterly appealed to me, obviously) that hard choices are not founded necessarily on facts or one being better than the other. It’s just not clear-cut like that most of the time. She explains that it boils down to what is it that I want.  Where do I see myself going with this? Where do I want to be?  These hard choices we make, make up the person we want to be. Take a look.

A lightbulb went up in my head. So I’m back to square one. I won’t find the answer spelled out in a book. I won’t find the answer by looking around; I have to look within. While this personality type book explains in what setting I probably would be most satisfied – certain criteria that are more or less met – I need to figure out what life I long for. How I want to live my existence.

So start number 2: Do I start with what I enjoy doing? While I have a long list of things I class as hobbies, I never take the time to really immerse myself in any of them. Sewing, drawing, painting, pottery, photography, going for walks. Or perhaps meditation and taking a time-out each day is that way forward…?

Where would you start?