It was Caroline’s birthday on Sunday – which should provide a little less strain on tech consumption, but still throws up it’s fair share of technological pitfalls. We all spent a late night watching Eurovision (phones safely away so we laughed with each other, rather than with a virtual crowd), and then had a slow start the next day.
One of the best things you can do to help with a day off from gadgets is buying a National Trust card (if you’re in the UK). It really doesn’t matter where you are in the country, there is always somewhere close to visit, and once you are out and about the impulse to be virtually connected starts to fade.
We make great use of our cards, and yesterday we planned on heading to Cliveden House for a birthday picnic in the sun. Our 13 year old daughter Jessica decided that we should take scones, and would normally have pulled a recipe from the internet. With that option unavailable, she raided our cookbook collection and tried a new Jamie Oliver recipe – one set of scones with sultanas, one without (we have some fussy eaters).
These got packed along with some drinks, some strawberry’s, some jam and some cream, and we headed out into the sunshine where we hit the first major obstacle of the day.
Birthday’s have become strange affairs. I am touched when my friends leave comments on my Facebook timeline – there’s something great about that connection across the years and the miles that separate us, but if a birthday lands on a Sunday, then there’s a one day delay in seeing the messages and posts.
Likewise with texting – we try and avoid texts on our digitox days too, so we won’t see happy birthday messages that way either. Many of our friends will call – using mobile phones as ‘phones’ can be something of a novelty, and we also have a wired phone in the kitchen.
These were not the big issues of the day though – we like to share photo’s of where we are and what we’re doing, typically limited to our private family photo stream, but we do try and avoid the sharing (not the photo taking) on Sunday’s and then do some selective distribution when we can. Yesterday we decided that sharing a few with the family was OK – Caroline’s mum and dad couldn’t join us, and we wanted to include them as best we could.
This is one of our success secrets – sometimes the rules have to be flexible, for the right reasons. Caroline is the least addicted to tech, so she did not get distracted by the text message deluge and the alerts – sharing a couple of pictures with our family was the right thing to do, including the one at the top of this post as we rocked down the motorway singing “Mr Blue Sky”.
And of course Caroline gets a two day birthday, one without tech, and then the Monday catch up in with the wider virtual world.