Thursday, 2 August 2012

What I FELT on my Holidays

We've just come back from a week's break in North Yorkshire and are now on the second week of our staycation at home. I'm reflecting on the whole experience here, not from a learning blog perspective, but from a FEELING perspective and have focussed on five moments, each different, but all significant in their own way...

Family: We spent an evening at my Brother's home in Sleaford on our way up North, with my Brother Malcolm, my Sister-in-Law Diane and my Nephew, Daniel.  Always good to meet up with them, but there was added significance in the turn of conversation.  I blogged back in December about passing the age my Father was when he died, and the realisation for me that I had been gifted the time that he never had.  At one point in the evening, over coffee, Malcolm said, "Not sure whether to raise this or not, but sitting here looking at you, Niall, is like sitting here looking at Dad. You look exactly now as I remember him before he died."  My Sister-in-Law chipped in, "I only knew him for a short time, but he was the age you are now when I did, and it's spooky how much you look like I remember him".  I was profoundly moved by this, as it resonated with my feelings when I wrote my blog on that topic in December Age - Appropriate.  It's nearly 30 years since we lost our Father, and Malcolm and I haven't really talked about him since then.  This evening, we all spoke of our memories of him and our regrets at what he missed in our family growth.  For me, this was also a healing experience, as things were difficult between my Brother and his then fiance and our Mum and Dad at the time he took ill and died.  I felt that we had finally put that time and those feelings to bed and had collectively honoured my Father during our visit.

I FEEL closer and better connected to my family.

Theatre: When Mandy and I were in Scarborough, we went to the theatre to see Alan Ayckbourn's new play "Surprises".  Scarborough is the home of the Stephen Joseph Theatre, the cradle of his play writing and directing for many years now. I was totally caught up in the drama and humour of the piece, totally engaged with the characters and thoroughly enjoyed the faultless performances of the ensemble cast. The three acts flew past.  At the end of the piece, as the cast took their bows, I found myself applauding enthusiastically, but with tears streaming down my cheeks. I was moved and sad at the same time.  Why?  Because - if you didn't know this already - I used to be a professional actor.  I went to Drama College and graduated with the intention of becoming a Drama Teacher.  However, I elected to follow the theatrical path and became an actor, a career I pursued for some 12 years, until other priorities (like earning a decent wage, being able to pay the rent, save for a house, start a family - you know, that stuff), became more important and I stepped away and moved into training.  But I remember the feeling of performing, being part of an ensemble, interacting emotionally, exercising and developing my first choice craft, and, yes, soaking up the applause at the end.  I still miss it.  I need to find that passion and inspiration again in my work life.

I FELT torn - enthralled and energised by the play, but sad that my first choice career never worked out.

Trains: We spent a day on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, travelling from Goathland to Grosmont, then all the way to Pickering and back. This is without a doubt the best working 'heritage' railway I have ever visited.  Mainline steam trains travelling through stunning scenery for up to an hour-long journey.  The trainspotter geek, the inner free child and the nostalgia fan in me were all fully immersed and satisfied in the joy of a day with steam trains.  Mandy said that half of her enjoyment of the day was the pleasure of seeing me enjoying myself so much, and in fact, she tweeted a photo of me expressing my excitement, which I reproduce here, for your enjoyment/amusement.  You can see the pictures of the day, as well as the rest of our holiday, on my new Flickr site at

I FELT unalloyed 'free child' joy and happiness.

Marriage: Throughout our holiday, Mandy and I are spending quality time together, without considering the day-to-day issues of work/life imbalance, financial worries, managing the household, etc.  We walk, we talk, we laugh, we dine out, we drink, we read, we argue, we smooch... 

I FEEL a deeper love for and connection with my wife.

Olympics:  During the home-based week of our UK staycation, I am watching a lot of the London 2012 Olympics, and am genuinely and pleasantly surprised at how much I am enjoying the experience.  I have watched so many different sports, and really got caught up in the excitement and the emotion of each and every one of them.  I am so impressed and inspired by the passion, commitment, strength and athleticism of these young people - and, having been a bit of an Olympics sceptic beforehand (impact on London commuters, G4S, ticket lottery and empty seats), have been completely won round by the logistics and the organisation of the whole event.  It's a pleasure to see the athletes and the public united in enjoying this unique event in London.

I FEEL proud to be British. 

(On further reflection, that Olympics paragraph ties in with the concluding contrary remarks of my last, rather downbeat, blog, "We're only little - and our time is short"- "I actually think that there is much to love about us humans; that we can do remarkable things and show astonishing creativity, compassion, generosity, mindfulness and tenacity.  That's why I'm in Learning and Development.")

So, why are all these experiences resonating?  Because in each case, I was/am caught up in the emotional, sensed moment - not intellectualising, not over-analysing, just being.  And that's a damn good reason for making sure that  we have a lot more holidays and tune-out time, in the gift I have been given of the time that my Dad never got to enjoy.  So, to conclude...



  1. What a totally absorbing, emotion-packed, heart warming blog Niall. Knowing you both pretty well as I do, you both have always struck me as such a model to follow for all younger people - fun, interesting, honest, a perfect couple. I am honoured to know you both and am delighted to be working with yor better half.

    Thanks for writing this. I feel a whole lot better than I did before I read it.

  2. Brilliant blog Niall - thanks for sharing - I felt many emotions reading your blog and connecting my own thoughts and feelings on some of the topics you covered. Enjoy the rest of your break and working out how you can re-introduce the fire-in-your-belly which acting ignited!

  3. Thank you both for yhour kind comments. This FELT like the blog to write, given the experiences we had. I'm glad it resonated for you both. N.