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Reform Magazine | September 19, 2021

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On the pilgrim way ‘We were literally outside our comfort zone’

Sheila Maxey stretches her comfort zone

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In June we spent two glorious weeks in a self-catering cottage in Mallaig – boat trips to islands, amazing views of mountains. There were no easy chairs and the two sofas were uncomfortable. We were literally outside our comfort zone, but it was worth it.

I realise that I mind about comfort much more than I used to, and that I am also in danger of getting set in my ways. The pandemic encouraged this in me because a routine helped us through the strictest lockdowns: exercises after breakfast, 11am coffee, 1pm lunch, afternoon walk, 4pm cup of tea, 6pm supper. (I have guiltily left out the cake, morning and afternoon). The great thing about this summer of partial liberation is that we have a stream of visitors from our far-flung family – but what about my routine and my comfort?

Two young adult grandsons came to stay. One of them sat in my usual seat for breakfast and the other one used my favourite Taizé bowl! One drinks gallons of milk, the other dislikes the fact we keep the bathroom window open and always shuts it. But because of them, we got out the folding wheelchair and set off for London. We found the Sky Garden with fantastic views of the Thames and then walked over London Bridge to the Shard (one grandson’s birthday treat). From the top, the whole of London seemed spread out before us and the ‘birthday boy’ was thrilled. We were completely exhausted – way beyond our comfort zone, but worth it.

Next came a 17-year-old granddaughter, a sweet and easy person. She is a meat eater who likes very few vegetables and even fewer fruits. My normal routine is to cook large quantities and freeze meals for two, but now I have to cook each day – well out of my comfort zone. However, she is a great reader and disappears with a book for hours, wherever she can find a sofa to herself. Even better, she is a very good pianist, so we hear our piano beautifully played and she gave us a concert of her Grade 8 pieces – Bach, Schubert and Debussy.

In a few days she will be joined by her mother, our daughter, and, just for supper, by our son. Both are vegetarians. The next day, her sister arrives, whose dietary preferences I do not know – except I think I remember she does not like raisins. I expect there will be nonstop talking and much laughter.

This is all wonderful and we are very blessed. While they are all here we plan to celebrate by setting off the fireworks we bought for last Boxing Day’s family gathering that never happened.

Sheila Maxey is a member of Brentwood United Reformed Church, Essex

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This article was published in the September 2021 edition of Reform

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