2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work


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Spring outing

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Confession time: I bunked off yesterday (technically I’m not sure I can bunk off as I’m my own boss. But you know what I mean) and headed to one of my favourite bits of the countryside (see our visit last spring here) to enjoy the fabulous spring weather. We ran and walked around Beetham and Silverdale on the Lancashire/Cumbria border, an enchanting part of the world full of ruined towers, beautiful little villages and woods that run right down to the sea.

IMG_2721Our route took us past stately homes…

IMG_2727panoramic views…

IMG_2734hundreds of spring flowers…

IMG_2728and a real live fairy door!

IMG_2729Isn’t this the cutest thing you ever saw? It was just to the side of the path by a viewpoint known as the ‘Fairy Steps’ – a very narrow path up a limestone cliff – legend has it that if you reach the top without touching the sides you’ll see a fairy/get a wish. We didn’t manage it, but we did get to see the door. I would have loved this when I was little, and to be honest it quite made my day yesterday too 🙂

IMG_2730After that we headed downhill at a brisk rate for soup and cake at the utterly phenomenal Wolfhouse Kitchen. This cafe is tucked away in a quiet corner between the woods and the sea and serves the most wonderful cakes. Indeed it was so good that we forgot to take any pics of them in our greed, went for a three mile walk afterwards to walk off lunch, went back again for more cakes and coffee and forgot for a second time to take a picture. I had a rhubarb and vanilla friand first, and then a plum, marzipan and vanilla cake. OH had a strawberry, lemon and almond bundt – twice.

No, we didn’t need to eat much when we got in yesterday evening.

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Unwinding

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I’ve recently reverted to a childhood pleasure: colouring books. This is mainly because of a lovely Christmas gift from my other half of the above book: Secret Garden by Johanna Basford. This amazing book takes colouring to a completely new level – with its minute detail and stunning designs it’s really not aimed at children. Having a quick look around the web today too, it was clear to see that lots of people use it in just the same way I do: it’s a great way to switch off and wind down.

IMG_2692I’ve been using Stabilo pens (pictured on my blogpost here last year) to colour mine and they seem to work really well, they have fine points but also enable you to colour larger areas without leaving too many tide marks. If you’re a frustrated artist looking for something creative and quick, do try this book – I’m planning on framing some of the pages when I finish them as they’re so lovely.

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In addition to my artistic endeavours, I’ve been trying a new scone recipe today:Blueberry, lime and coconut scones from a Jo Wheatley recipe in Sainsbury’s mag this month. They were absolutely delicious, but I had to use almost double the amount of milk stated to get the dough to bind together – maybe my lime was a bit small. I always find that’s a problem when recipes just state ‘juice of a lemon/lime/orange’ as the amount of juice you get varies widely. Beautiful combination of flavours though, highly recommended 🙂

 


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Reflections on the past year – and spring flowers

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Wow, I’ve been so busy with work that I actually missed my blogiversary on the 19th – can’t believe I’ve been doing this a whole year! Thanks to everyone who’s liked my posts over that time, as well as the hardy souls who follow my blog 🙂

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What’s changed since I started the blog?

  1. I’ve learned that I can make a success of running my own business – just coming up to the anniversary of going full time on that, and all is well
  2. I’ve also learned that knowing when to take breaks and rest your mind is absolutely vital to being able to continue to do that
  3. I can actually work our digital camera for the first time in ten years
  4. I’ve got a lot more into gardening and nature as a result of paying more attention to what’s happening in the world around me
  5. IMG_2594I’ve become more relaxed about posting – I blog when I feel like it rather than trying to impose a schedule. As an awful lot of my life is deadline focussed, it’s quite nice to have something creative that isn’t.
  6. I’m following about 100 more blogs than last year at this time – it’s a real highlight of my day catching up with what everyone’s writing about
  7. I’ve posted comments on other people’s blogs for the first time – I’d never done it before this year, but it’s really nice connecting with people half a world away
  8. My knowledge of geography of the USA has got a lot better – I like to see where other bloggers live and as so many of them are ‘across the pond’ I’m finally starting to get a grip on some of the states

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Its also fun to look back on last year and realise that spring has hit a lot earlier than last year at this time – although the sunshine through my patio door today is deceptive, we’ve just come back from a walk and the north wind is absolutely bitter. We could just see snow on the hills in the Lake District in the distance, so even though we’re past the equinox there’s a whole lot of warming still to happen. But the colour and light in the garden today tells me it won’t be long…

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I’m looking forward to another year of blogging and seeing what it teaches me – not to mention what I’ll learn from everyone else 🙂

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A break in the Lakes

IMG_2546We had an overnight stay in the beautiful Lake District to celebrate my birthday, and were lucky enough to get two dry days on the run.

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We ate some fantastic food (can highly recommend Troutbeck Tearoom for superb soup, quiche, cakes and coffee with wonderful views – the picture above of Windermere is just along the road from them) and also had a lovely walk up to Alcock Tarn near Grasmere yesterday.

IMG_2553This was on our path and is apparently the smallest packhorse bridge anywhere in the Lakes. Really beautiful walk, you could see for miles from the top, and there was still plenty of snow around on the high hills, though it felt like spring in the woods and valleys.

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IMG_2561Great to be out in the fresh air and feeling the sun break through the early morning mist – we were away for less than 36 hours, but it felt like much longer. Perfect midweek break.


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Ingredients for the perfect Saturday afternoon

Sunshine, warm enough to take your jacket off and roll your sleeves up.

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Miles of paths to wander and explore.

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Good company.

IMG_2531Loads of plants and wildlife – rabbits scattering ahead of us, buzzards and curlews wheeling overhead, and dazzling reed beds.

IMG_2536Quick drive home for a cafetiere of freshly ground coffee and a newly made Chocolate Guinness Cake.

IMG_2539Such an easy cake to make – one of Nigella’s recipes – and I follow the recipe exactly except I use half the icing sugar in the topping as I don’t like really sweet icing. It would be a great first cake to make as it’s such a simple technique and tastes absolutely sublime. It’s probably not that low calorie though, so we only make it on special occasions (it’s my birthday this week :-)).

IMG_2542Honestly, make it. You won’t regret it. Unless you are trying to wear something close fitting tomorrow.


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On making time

Title of this post is quite ironic really as my poor OH has just spent the last half an hour trying to get WordPress to upload my pics – don’t know if any of you have had problems with this in the last week or so, but looking at the forum it seems I’m not alone with this glitch. Photos keep vanishing and reappearing on my site. But they’re back for now…where was I? Ah yes. Making time.

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IMG_2496If a sunny Saturday morning isn’t a good reason to create some time, I’d like to know what is.

IMG_2497A bee floated by me as I took the photo above and the garden was full of birdsong.

IMG_2498Laptop & weekend work schedule abandoned, we headed for the woods and the sea:

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IMG_2504The storms here on the north west coast haven’t been as bad as many other parts of the UK, but there’s still been a fair bit of coastal erosion. The dunes in particular have seen some dramatic ‘blow outs’ – in one place the sand had virtually covered a small wood and it was extremely weird to be wading about in sand amongst the tops of its branches…

IMG_2505It’s hard to tell scale here, but this ravine is about 50 feet deep, amazing wind sculpture on the sides, looks like sandstone until you touch it and realise it’s actually still just sand.

IMG_2506Clear skies across to Wales – and so much sand blowing along the beach that we felt like we’d been scoured by the time we got back to the woods.

January and February have been busy, exciting and rewarding months, but what I need more than anything right now is some calm, settled weather, sunshine and longer days, and a gentle glide into spring.

 


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Recharging my batteries

It’s Friday afternoon, I have a host of work that I should be doing, but I know my brain is tired. So I’m stopping. Doing stuff I enjoy, that engages my senses, reduces the stress response – and returns me fresher and brighter afterwards. So on the agenda is:

Embroidery – I’ve been working on this kit since Christmas and am so enjoying doing this for the first time in years.

IMG_2399Stroll round the garden – looks like it’s going to be an early spring this year with a few flowers already out like hellebores,

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IMG_2405heather,

IMG_2402and the silvery seed pods of honesty just hanging on.

IMG_2411A little light baking – I’m planning on making a lemon drizzle cake from this month’s Sainsbury’s magazine.

Reading – currently enjoying ‘By Blood’ by Ellen Ullman, unsettling and gripping tale of someone who overhears sessions with an analyst in the room next door…

A long, hot bath with the luxurious smellies I got for Christmas.

Browse through the blogs I follow.

Spot of meditation…

I feel better already – what have you got planned to help you wind down this weekend?