Three night digital detox in a countryside cabin

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this holiday and I certainly didn’t feel like turning my phone off and staring into a field for a couple of days, but it turns out that’s exactly what I need to do more of.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, but keeping up a travel blog when you don’t really go anywhere is pretty difficult. There’s a few draft posts in the database which I started at various points over the last 3 years, but I can’t remember what actually happened now and so they’ll never be finished.

I really enjoy writing blog posts, but my recent ADHD diagnosis might explain why I can’t seem to stay consistent with them or finish what I’ve written. Let’s hope I get to a satisfying endpoint with this one, hey?

At the end of May Mark and I stayed in a little off-grid cabin for three nights, somewhere by the side of a field in Willington, Tarporley. The stay was a treat courtesy of Mark’s bosses (thanks Blush!) and was booked with a company called Unplugged, who offer remote cabins for people who need a break from the internet and some time with their own thoughts.

When you arrive at the location, you park your car just off the road at the end of a rough path, throw all of your things into a wheelbarrow, and walk around 8 minutes to reach the cabin. On the day we arrived the weather was lovely, so it was like walking straight into a scenic desktop background. The cabin looked really peaceful just sitting at the edge of the sunny wheat field.

The most basic way I can describe the cabin is a posh wooden hut on wheels, just big enough for a double bed, a kitchenette, and a bathroom with a non-flush toilet, with basic devices for heating and cooling the space, all plugged into water mains and solar panels for hot running water. There’s also a map for the local area, a cassette player, books, board games, and an Instant camera with a pack of film that you can take 10 photos with.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this holiday and I certainly didn’t feel like turning my phone off and staring into a field for a couple of days, but it turns out that’s exactly what I need to do more of. I’m pretty good at switching off when something else acts as a guilt buffer, but there are very few of those floating around and the constant hum of stress is often difficult to notice.

I’m not going to pretend we didn’t use our phones all weekend, but I think we did managed to limit it to less than 30 minutes per day. I had to use a piece of paper to write down all of the things I wanted to type into Google, which is always a lot of random questions. We took a few of my sister’s old cassette tapes but mostly listened to Classic FM because it just seemed to allow more room for thought and relaxation.

On Saturday we walked 3.4 miles to Tarporley via the Sandstone trail, dodging walkers doing the Sandstone Trail Challenge and being beaten by overgrown nettles. When we arrived in the town I treated myself to a slice of raspberry frangipane and a box of plasters for the blisters on my heels. We also stopped in a pub for a drink and some snacks before the return walk.

The local farm shop we visited on Sunday had an area for visitors to see some of their animals outdoors. If you know me then you’ll know I love to watch animals just wander around and eat, so I was made up.

We tried not to fill the weekend with much activity because I find it harder to switch off when you’re pushed along by busying yourself, so most of the time at the cabin was spent making easy meals and relaxing in the sun. The evenings were spent watching the sun set to some quiet classical music.

The weekend was really restorative, allowing me to just relax without rules and not be tied to a digital device feeling like I needed to be doing something at all times. It made me think back to when we stayed in Port Barton when we were backpacking, which was a much needed break in the middle of our 7 month trip.

Unfortunately the day we checked out we decided to visit Delamere Forest, which was packed with families and dog walkers on a sunny bank holiday Monday. We headed straight for the quieter paths through the trees, but being surrounded by so many people and so much noise was a shock after escaping it all for a little while.

Returning home to our flat above shops on a busy road was also a challenge. I was acutely aware of the noise pollution I was being bombarded with, hearing beeping horns, buses, people and dogs all day. At least now that I’m aware of it I can take steps to manage and escape from it, but I would not be surprised if it was a contributing factor for my high blood pressure.

Since the break I’ve been going for walks more regularly to get closer to nature sounds at the beach and in the park. I’m also writing this with noise cancelling headphones and a 6h 41min playlist of nature sounds on drowning out the busy road.

I should finish by saying I’m grateful that I got to experience the break, which has really helped me to think about my surroundings more. I may not have the budget or organisation skills to book more breaks like this, but I know that I can at least take an hour every few days to escape, just by walking in the direction of the beach.

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