'Little and often' is the secret to my happiness at this stage of my life. Whilst I know many people experience 'wedding come down' in the weeks following their big days, I'm already excited about the next few things we've got planned. I choose weekends away and regular fun experiences over blowout two week holidays just once or twice a year. I am impatient by nature, so having to wait 6 months for the next big thing brings me down rather than buoys me up. It's far better, for me, to have something to look forward to every couple of weeks. Our trip to Kielder was one such event - taking place just a couple of weeks before our wedding, which was perfect timing. You can't stress about table decorations when you're in the middle of the forest in the sunshine. In fact, you can't really stress about anything.
The whole thing was Joe's idea; he wanted to go to Kielder Observatory, and we decided to make a proper weekend of it, staying in the nearby Kielder Lodges. It's a gorgeous part of the world, completely cut off from the rest of civilisation by virtue of winding roads (which wound through endless fields of baby lambs, much to my delight) and lack of phone signal.
Our trip to Kielder Observatory was first on the agenda so, just before 11pm, we dutifully put on hundreds of layers as instructed by the website and jumped in the car, winding our way up a seemingly endless track to the Observatory itself. It was pitch black and freezing cold. Dar from the big domes and scientific instruments that I was expecting, Kielder Observatory looks a lot like a high-tech shed. There was a wood-burning stove and mugs of hot chocolate, and blankets to curl up under on the viewing deck. It was really kind of magical.
The night was unfortunately cloudy for the most part, but we learnt all sorts and got to hold some crazy space dust that had landed on earth (it was metallic and so awesome!). I fell a little bit in love with the incredibly enthusiastic Geordie astronomer - it is my favourite thing when people are passionate about something niche - and we had a thoroughly good time. The clouds parted briefly so we did get to have a look at the stars through a fancy telescope, which was pretty incredible. When you live in a city, you see a couple in the night sky on a good night but there are thousands - and the pitch black at Kielder meant you could see it all! When we left at 2am I was exhausted but totally buzzing.
The excitement of the weekend wasn't over yet, of course, and after a massive lie in and a bumper breakfast we set to exploring. Nick and Helena found their happy place at the Birds of Prey display, and we investigated Kielder Castle (which wasn't much to look at but had a cute cafe. And then it was time for my favourite part of the weekend - the walk around Kielder Water!
Most people will tell you that I am not outdoorsy, and they would be right. But when the conditions are right I am more than happy to pull on my walking boots - and this was perfect. The sun was shining, the scenery was beautiful and I was with some of my favourite people in the whole world. What a dream. Of course, you can't walk around the entire thing (or you could, but it would take you hours!) so we planned a short little jaunt. I practically skipped the entire way, beaming. It was so gorgeous and life feels so magical when you're walking in such a beautiful place. I am grateful that I get to do things like this, and that we live in Britain which is chock-full of surprising, stunning places like Kielder. I could have walked twice as far as we did, giddy as I was, but I was over-ruled by the group who wanted to get to the pub (fair enough) so we took a shortcut back.
The rest of the weekend was for eating large amounts of delicious food, drinking wine and playing Cards Against Humanity. It was truly perfect - and I would recommend it highly for a bit of rest and relaxation!