2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work


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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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Perfect garden afternoon

IMG_2648The warm weather this weekend seems to have resulted in lots of wildlife getting out and about. I saw three different types of butterfly this afternoon: the Peacock above and the Tortoiseshell below. I also had a Comma land on the table, but couldn’t get to my camera without frightening it off! I’m sure these must all be ones that have been hibernating through the winter.

IMG_2646The birds are also thoroughly enjoying the warmer weather – the bowl we have for Tilly to drink from in the garden makes a perfect sized bath for two or three sparrows, or a solitary starling or blackbird – this one today was having a really good splash!

IMG_2645So, so nice to sit in the garden with my flip flops on (with my feet hideously whitened after many months of thick socks!), read (currently revisiting Enchanted April, which I wrote about last year, and is one of the best books about finding joy by following your heart), journal, bask in the sun and listen to the bird song. Not warm enough to be out of long sleeves yet, but pretty good all the same.

IMG_2650I always want to grab hold of spring this time of year and make it stay longer – things seem to flower and change so quickly, and after a long winter you feel like you want the magnolia and quince blossom to last just as long as the cold weather did.

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Soft light

IMG_2507The yellow and green of daffodils just seems to perfectly pick up the light at this time of year. The days are rapidly getting longer, and when I went for a run this afternoon there were sheets of crocuses out – so much earlier than last year.

IMG_2509White, yellow and green and this soft, low angled light just sum up spring to me.

IMG_2511IMG_2521I’m thinking that next weekend might involve a bit of tidying up the pots, buying some flower seeds and getting out of the office and into the fresh air of a new season. Can’t wait.


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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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Merry Christmas!

I’ve just hit that wonderful ‘pause’ point where you know there are no more ‘to dos’ to get out of the way and just nice stuff lies ahead. This Christmas season has been great for me as I’ve had a long run up to it – for years now Christmas hasn’t felt special at all and I think a lot of that was because I generally worked all day on Christmas Eve and was back at work on the 27th…not much time to get festive really. Being my own boss this year has enabled me to have a proper break, and along the way a lot of the sparkle and magic has returned.

Dramatic sun and showers today:

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Shortly after this a huge hailstorm hit – and then straight after we had sun again. We headed down to the beach and dunes for a walk. Staggering to see the damage from the St Jude’s storm the other week – an entire jetty has been picked up and thrown about 100 yards away at right angles to its original position. Thee are tree trunks and masses of debris everywhere – will be interesting to see how the dunes recover from this reshaping next year.

I always think it looks so odd to see snow on sand:

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The wind was icy, so we headed to our favourite coffee shop for a cake and a warning brew (plus a very welcome tot of port!) before home to finish wrapping the presents and make the tiramisu ready for tomorrow.

IMG_2361Merry Christmas everybody!


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Raindrops

The temperature seemed to have dropped a full ten degrees today, the wind delved through every layer of clothing I had on, and the rain hit hard from grey and glowering skies at about 3pm. Yet shortly afterwards, this happened:

IMG_2333The sunset hit suddenly – and every raindrop on the washing line was lit up by its rays like a miniature row of Christmas tree lights.

IMG_2334Is that why we like Christmas lights so much? Does it remind us of the effect of a low winter sun shining through the rain on tree boughs after a sudden storm and make us think of brighter things to come?

IMG_2335Such magic after such a grey day.


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The happiness of lemon cake

Yesterday was a truly horrible day. The sort of day where everything seems black, pointless, futile…I think most of us have been there at one time or another. After a slightly better night’s sleep (and am sure the series of broken nights I’ve had this week hadn’t helped my mood at all) things seemed a bit brighter this morning. I got some simple work tasks completed, got some emails out of the way and then – my lovely other half asked if he should have a go at making the lemon and cardamom cake I’d had marked out since last weekend but hadn’t had chance to make.

I didn’t need asking twice!

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So many things about this cheered me up – the fact that he was thoughtful enough to try and create a treat for me when he’s not that into cake baking (okay, he’s partial to cake too, he’s not totally altruistic!), the fantastic scent of lemon and cardamom drifting through the house, the collaboration on the tricky bits (‘What’s this maize meal stuff in the ingredients…why can’t they say polenta then if that’s what they mean??’), the anticipation of warm cake after my lunchtime run – they all combined perfectly to lift my mood considerably.

Lemon cake + run + lovely OH = Happiness, for today at any rate. And really, the here and now is all that matters.

IMG_1944(For those of you who want to try it the recipe is from Tamasin Day-Lewis’s book ‘Good Tempered Food’. The only thing we changed was to reduce the cardamom to 1tsp – but I think the full amount would have been okay too.)