On Train, on Half Day Holiday and in Flow

Margate yellow field from train laptop pic HDH
London to Margate: the train is your studio. It’s the journey AND the destination that counts.

Half Day Holidays founder Simon Cole explains the joy of being ‘in flow’ and why it’s central to this social enterprise bringing London to Margate for micr0-breaks:

“Half Day Holidays are a state of mind. But when you think about it, isn’t everything? What else do we have but the way we see the world and how we feel about ourselves?

I’m writing this on a daytrip during some ring-fenced time at my mobile office – a mostly empty train that reaches 140mph en route to super-cool seaside Margate. The Javelin train is rocketing through sunny Kent; I’m excited and I’m in flow, doing of my favourite things, travelling and writing.

After getting some important content done for the blog now; I’ll send some emails later over a coffee in the Turner Contemporary art museum while savouring a harbour view to die for.

Half Day Holidays came out of 10 years in travel and tourism – but also a quest. We’ve all come back from holiday or a festival and felt a little flat. We philosophically put it down to the natural ebb and flow of life, the Yin and Yang and the need for balance.

But I’m always wondering how I can take a little of that back into the everyday? We can’t go flying abroad every weekend, that’s just not sustainable. Travelling midweek to Margate from London, we’ll fill mostly empty trains.

But increasingly I’m starting to think that it’s not so much being on holiday as being in flow that we seek, and ‘holidays’ are a way we experience this. As is work or a hobby that engrosses you. Things feel ‘good’ and you’re ultra-present in the moment.

As I focus on projects like this one that excite me and take me on a journey of discovery that can potentially help others, work feels more and more like an adventure and I get that ‘flow’ experience: “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter” (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi).

We all know flow: you’ve emailed an idea to someone then when you call them they were just about to call you and tell you they love the proposal. Or you’re suddenly making all sorts of connections and things are just falling into place. The athletic equivalent is called being ‘in the zone’. You’re creating, making, achieving. For business or for pleasure.

The old-fashioned model of holiday or festival is like boom and bust: you work hard, pleasure is minimised and then for a few days you go crazy and let loose. Then it’s back to the grind again. Repeat until old. But what about a more sustainable longer-term sense of happiness and satisfaction? Isn’t 50 weeks too long to wait for a fortnight of fun?

What if you could have regular injections of holiday or flow into your life? What if we could all be a little happier, a little more often? Some might suggest that happier people make for a better world – once we’ve addressed our own needs then we’ve a little more time for others?

Ultimately, Half Day Holidays is a social enterprise (initially London to Margate daytrips) that aims to bring some people from the city who could really do with a little holiday in their lives, like disadvantaged kids or stressed-out carers. But as Gretchen Rubin says in The Happiness Project, we might think it’s self-indulgent but being happy ourselves rubs off on those around us and makes them happier too.

So I hope we can spread a little happiness this summer, by having holiday fun ourselves. And I hope we can all take a little of that back to our offices and homes. See you on the beach!”

Email us at halfdayholidays@gmail to be notified of the first public tour or sign up your business or group for a seaside fun day or creativity experience.

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