When I started Lost in Thought I was in a pretty dark place. Four of my good friends had recently left the town where I live, and I was feeling lonely. This is the story of how I started this blog, and why I'm ending it.
A dark place
In the autumn of 2014, I wasn't very happy. In addition to my friends leaving, work was stressing me out. I was thinking that I'd had enough of running my own business. It was affecting my sleep, and that was making me tired and annoyed. I dreamed of quitting work and cycling around the world.
Kat and I weren't getting on that well either. She was starting to feel more like a friend than a partner, and I didn't feel loved.
My notes from that time read:
Maybe I just need a new hobby?
And that's how I came up with the idea for Lost In Thought.
Rather than one new leisure activity, I would start the meta-hobby, industrialising the process to have as many new experiences as possible.
So I sat down and wrote a list of all the things I wanted to do - there were about fifty items on the original list.
Some of these things are still on the list two years later, and I hope to make them one day: golden syrup, elephant toothpaste (what?); magnetic putty.
And some of those are still to be experienced: prepare a body for burial; find a tardigrade; hold a fluorescent tube under a power line and watch it light up.
A new me
I set aside Fridays for my new hobby. Friday mornings I check my work email and reply to anything urgent, then leave the office to add something new to my life.
Lost in Thought has made time pass more slowly for me, it's taught me to be more inquisitive and think more analytically. I love having the time to consider everything in as much detail as I want. For me, time is the ultimate luxury.
I know it sounds daft, but Lost in Thought has given a real purpose to my life and has completely rejuvenated me. Losing 5% of my body fat probably helped.
I honestly feel like a totally different person to that sad Mat of late 2014. I have a renewed enthusiasm for the world and a love for life. It's given me huge amounts of confidence and made me realise that I can do just about anything if I put my mind to it!
In addition to the posts I've published here, I've written others that are just for a select group of people, and one that I wrote just for myself.
I've been overwhelmed by the number of people who've read my posts. 5,000 people have read about my experiences making salt from seawater, and 6,000 read my post about making Nutella from scratch. The video of making my bronze sword has had over 125,000 views on Youtube!
I've discovered that I love writing, and I've been overjoyed to find that other people have enjoyed reading it, getting involved with comments and suggestions about new experiences I might enjoy. I want to thank you with all my heart for reading this.
But it's come to an end now.
Two days ago Kat and I moved to Valencia in Spain for a new adventure for a couple of years. Our lives have become considerably more complicated, where even a trip to the supermarket is a fascinating experience.
I've spent the last few months trying to decide whether to carry on writing Lost in Thought from Spain. I'd love to chronicle everything I'll be experiencing, but I think it's going to be challenging enough for me just to live it without also having to write about it.
But more importantly, I've come to realise that writing this blog was just another hobby for me. It's been beautiful and has changed me more than I can express, but I think I've had enough of it. I might well write the occasional post, but this is the last regular post for now.
Thanks for coming with me on this journey, and I hope to see you in Spain!
Five things I'm going to miss about Cornwall
In ten days we're leaving the UK for new adventures in Spain. It's made me look at our home country in a different way, so I wanted to share the top five things I'm going to miss about Cornwall.
It's a truly beautiful county at any time of the year, but my favourite month in Cornwall is September. It's usually still warm and sunny, with a good amount of daylight in the evenings.
There's also a real feeling of peace and tranquillity at this time of year. Cornwall takes a deep breath in July before everyone works flat out over the summer to make the tourists happy. Then when they all leave at the end of August there's a county-side sigh of relief, and you can see the locals smiling more.
Don't get me wrong: I love tourists, and I absolutely love living in a place where people come on holiday. It makes me feel like I'm on holiday too!
But it's great when they leave and we get the county back for ourselves.
#4 Polridmouth beach
Polridmouth is our local beach and my favourite in the whole county.
It's a 15-minute walk from the nearest road, so it's pretty quiet even in the middle of summer. It's sheltered in a valley, so it's often calm even when the coast is stormy. It's a gently sloping sandy beach, so it's perfect for a swim and often has crystal clear waters.
Some of my favourite evenings of the last ten years have been spent sitting around a fire on Polridmouth beach.
#3 The coast path
For the last few years, we've been trying to walk the 300-mile length of coast path that runs around the edge of Cornwall.
We've seen some astoundingly beautiful places, like the old mining areas between Cape Cornwall and Zennor, and around The Lizard peninsula. But the whole thing is spectacular.
I'm really going to miss the wide open, green space in this part of the country.
#2 Lost in Film
It's been suggested by several people that the whole reason we're going to Spain is to escape our local community cinema Lost In Film!
This couldn't be further from the truth, the success of the film club is one of my proudest achievements and I'll really miss being involved in it.
We've shown over 130 films to an audience of more than 5,000 people over the last eight years, and there's a great team of people in charge who will keep it going.
#1 The people
My favourite thing about living here are the wonderful people. We've made so many good friends over the last decade.
But more than that is the amazing sense of community here. I'm really going to miss saying hello to a dozen people every time I nip out to the shops.
We'll miss the people most, and you're the main reason that we're coming back after our adventure!
What are your favourite things about Cornwall? Leave a comment below!
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