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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Quiet Time

IMG_2373This past week has been soooo relaxing. It’s been great to get up when we like, eat when we’re hungry, and get out and enjoy the weather between storms. We had a fantastic walk down by the salt marshes on Boxing Day where the sky was just full of different flocks of birds – think a lot of them must have been sheltering there from the gales.

IMG_2367Yesterday we headed up to the Lakes. OH had some Christmas money to spend and his eye on some new trail running shoes, the ones he plumped for eventually are indeed things of beauty.

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It was perfectly clear with lots of snow and ice on the highest mountains: discretion was definitely the better part of valour and we admired from a distance, choosing instead to wander on some of our favourite lower paths.

IMG_2377This is down near Friar’s Crag in Keswick, one of our regular walks. We both love the huge pine trees down there, although sadly they’ve had a bit of a battering in recent years from the high gales that sweep down the lake to this little outcrop.

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IMG_2379The light looks like summer, but the wind was stingingly icy, and we only lingered for long enough to take the photos. In summer, we can sit here for ages looking out at the water and hills…this is one of my favourite spots in the world. It was also a big favourite of John Ruskin: this place was his earliest memory and there’s a memorial to him here which you can see if you click through on the link.

IMG_2378Even the roots are beautiful!

It feels easier and easier to slow down the more time I take off…I want to try and hold on to this feeling when I return to normal routine in a few days time, and remember to allow myself space for regular pausing and appreciation. I’m really looking forward to 2014 and what it holds.

Later edit…OH insisted I add a pic of his new shoes – they are rather beautiful!


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It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas…

I have so missed blogging! The last few weeks have been so busy – so much for my motto ‘because there’s more to life than work’: for the last few weeks there has been nothing but work! All good – but it’s so lovely to now be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and am starting to feel really excited about having some time off.

What’s helped during the last few manic weeks?

  1. Running – just a bit of time out in the open air is an instant de-stresser, and we’ve had some beautiful sunsets too.IMG_2283
  2. Chatting to others, especially online – sharing comments with other bloggers and talking to others in similar situations is a great way to feel you’re not alone when you hit a difficult patch. I follow so many wonderful, inspiring and creative bloggers, and however busy the day, it’s rare I don’t make time to have a quick flick through my reader and see who’s doing what in various corners of the globe. So a big thank you to all of you for really extending my horizons this year.
  3. Staying in the moment – I think we all get overwhelmed if we look at the whole of what we have to do. By picking just one of the most important things, and doing it until it’s done, all the energy goes into the doing, rather than the worrying.

And so, tonight, finally, I have finished posting my Christmas cards and got the tree up. With a whole week to go as well!

IMG_2326The pic’s a bit blurry, but I’m loving the smile on the angel and a bit of sparkle never hurt either…bring it on Christmas, we’re ready for you!

 


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First frost

Fabulously frosty this morning first thing, so ended up running round the back garden in my dressing gown trying to capture it before the sun melted it all.

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You could actually hear and see the leaves falling – like autumn fast forwarded – on the magnolia. It only started to turn colour a few days ago, but the leaves were just tumbling off it this morning. I love how as the leaves fall you can already see the furry white buds that’ll be bringing the flowers next spring.

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And indeed, by ten o’clock, it was all gone. End of November is quite late really for the first frost to hit, but I do love the way it makes you want to get all snuggled up inside and make comforting meals like casseroles. So of course, I went for a run in the freezing air, but that too was quite special: beautiful visibility to the distant hills with mist hanging in the valleys.


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Joys of running

I am loving my running at the moment. I’ve been doing a really slow build programme the last couple of months and am now covering just over 3 miles when I head out. Now I know this is nothing by most runners’ standards, but for someone who couldn’t even get round a 400m track at school, this is an achievement.

One of the things that has made a real difference for me is being able to do it in the middle of the day now that I work for myself (it still feels strange saying that). I find it makes a perfect break after several hours slaving over a hot laptop, and whatever stress has accumulated over the morning has gone by the time I get back.

IMG_2150Of course, it helps no end being able to get out into nature rather than just streets.

IMG_2148The local park is less than 10 minutes away at a slow jog, and most of the way is off-road down a disused railway line, usually deserted apart from the odd dogwalker in the middle of the day and often home to several squirrels.

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So many amazing colours as the leaves give it one last, final blast before winter.

IMG_2151I’d have had to do a lot more than 3 miles though to work off tonight’s tea: cheese, apple, onion and thyme pie from BBC Good Food.

IMG_2156Honestly, I don’t know who thinks up these portion sizes. Serves 10??? Not a chance 🙂


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Sunday outing

Finally, a bright and sunny day that meant I could get a few decent photographs. I’m finding it harder to get inspiration for blogging when the light levels are so poor – everything seems permanently in gloom or artificial light. We headed out to the dunes for a walk to see a particularly brilliant patch of reeds that my other half had seen when he was out running earlier in the week.

IMG_2101I really love this part of town – you feel such a long way from everyone and everything, and there are so many paths that you never take the same walk twice. We still keep finding parts we’ve never seen before.

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IMG_2117You get a good idea of the terrain in the above photo – loads of little hills, infant woodlands and every now and again fantastic glimpses across the bay as you reach the crest of a dune. Also, in the middle of the picture, you can just see the magnificent sweep of reeds that fills the whole of one hollow with silky, feathery reeds as tall as my head.

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I’d never seen reeds en masse like this before and they were just stunning in the bright sun.

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IMG_2127I could just imagine the characters from ‘The Wind in the Willows’ exploring the little streams round here.

Tea tonight was appropriately hearty after all the fresh air and exercise: leek, potato and celery soup…

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IMG_2134…followed by apple and sultana crumble with custard. Easy prep food for a restful Sunday.

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Some days, you just need to run…

I have been so grateful recently for getting back into a regular running practice. I’m still only doing short distances – about 2.5 miles – but it’s getting more each week, and I just love the way that everything else fades away once I set off. There’s a lot of stuff getting me down right now, but running is one thing that really helps. Especially on a day like today where the sun is warm and colours seem extra bright.

IMG_2051How can anyone not be cheered up by those amazing primary colours?? And how great it is that some planning person back in the thirties thought about planting trees on the streets that I run through every week! One road near where I live is lined with apple, pear and plum trees – they’re getting a bit old now and have noticed that as the council remove them they’re replaced by non-fruiting ones. I suppose they’re more concerned these days about being sued by someone slipping on windfalls, but what a missed opportunity to encourage people to pick and eat fruit.

IMG_2052Not that the other trees aren’t lovely too – this rowan was dazzling in the sun.

IMG_2053I do find that taking photos makes me look at things more closely, just like drawing does. The range of colours on this tree isn’t obvious at a distance, but when you get up close it’s just mind boggling.

Half an hour and a couple of miles later, things were seeming much better. We may not get fall colours like America does over here (if you want to see some truly stunning foliage shots have a look at Rowdy Kitten’s blogpost earlier this week), but it’s not half bad 🙂