It must be almost exactly 20 years since I last visited the Peak District and my recollections of that weekend are a little fuzzy if I’m honest. Our eldest daughter was just a few months old so sleep deprivation undoubtedly has something to answer for! I do vaguely remember snow on the ground and a walk to a pub (where I felt desperately uncomfortable breast feeding in public), a rather cold bathroom and a somewhat frantic Sunday morning as we realised that M’s passport was in Hampshire as opposed to the bag I was to drop him with at Birmingham airport on the way home. We are still indebted to a great friend who nobly found the missing document and met us at the airport to avoid me having to make a double trip with the baby. She knows who she is and I still owe her one!

This trip however saw me unencumbered by either husband or children, a rather lovely feeling of freedom and the pleasure of more or less pleasing myself as I travelled.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that GPS has changed my life; I am a truly hopeless navigator and have spent more hours than I care to calculate heading in the wrong direction or round and round in circles. Pre-children on my way to meetings and later with screaming babies behind me or potty training toddlers vociferously sharing their increasing desperation I have suffered many moments of high stress behind the wheel!

However, plugging in my destination and setting off these days is a pleasure I happily anticipate.

It’s not actually so far from Bristol to the Peak District and I found myself ahead of schedule and wondering where to stop and explore when I spotted a signpost to Buxton and realised that one of my ‘pocket pals’ from Instagram is based around there. I hummed and hawed over whether to ping her a message and announce that I was just 20 minutes away and did she fancy making me a cuppa, but in the hope that she could easily ignore my message should an unscheduled visit horrify her I pinged away. She happily responded immediately and I had the great pleasure of meeting another online friend in real life. A reading fiend and wonderfully creative photographer Mel has kindly supported me as I have explored the world of Instagram over the last year and I’m delighted we got together. If you’re a keen reader I highly recommend a look at her blog where she regularly reviews her recent reads, and her instagram account where she shares her imaginative book related pictures.

Photo Credit Mel Rogers seen here at Stanage Peak

Heading onwards through the Peaks I made my way to The Music Mill at Hathersage where I met two more online friends with whom I spent the next 36 or so hours happily immersed in exploring each of our businesses. Being able to freely voice ideas, thoughts, inspirations and aspirations with women who listened, encouraged and offered advice and support but no judgement was immensely beneficial. We talked and talked and talked, we ate well and laughed – a lot! I know that we all left feeling uplifted and ready to take the steps required to work towards bringing our ideas to life and I’m thoroughly looking forward to watching Jane and Rebecca‘s business plans unfold.

The Music Mill, Hathersage, Peak District

The Music Mill, Hathersage, Peak District

I am not a coach, a teacher, a facilitator or an expert in any one thing, but I do know how to be a friend and I understand just how valuable a ‘business friend’ can be. I try to meet up with people whose interest I share often, I’m happy to jump in my car (navigation on!) and meet those I’ve only connected with online. Last week I met another two ‘digital’ friends for lunch and have more rendezvous planned.

I know how lucky I am to be able to live a life flexible enough to accommodate these jaunts, but I truly believe that every connection I make nourishes me and will help find my way. They are the ‘points of interest’ in my personal navigation system and it is these little stops along the way that transform a journey to an adventure isn’t it?

The idea behind the days I offer at the barn is really to offer just exactly what I’ve enjoyed doing for myself. Spending time with others willing to take a chance on meeting new people who might just understand our own struggles and frustrations, who will encourage and enthuse us to dream big, to see the possibilities not the hurdles and to share a sense of camaraderie and pleasure in the process. If you think you’d enjoy a day like this I will be ready to welcome you at Oak Tree Barn once a month – take a look below for details or drop me a line if you have questions.