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Monday, 14 March 2016

Life::March


I am really not sure what has happened to March so far - I absolutely did not intend to not blog for two weeks but here I am with a great big gap in my posting. 
Well for a month that came roaring in like a lion it is now beginning to look a good deal more lamb like. This weekend was wonderful and I was so happy that we were visiting friends in Dorset as it gave me a chance to take huge lungfuls of sea air. Malvern is very beautiful but I do so love the sea and feel very landlocked if I don't get to see it every so often. I love it in all its guises but yesterday when it shimmered and sparkled for us we talked about a quote from that lovely children's story "Anne of Green Gables";
“Look at that sea, girls--all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.”
So true.
I have been trying to post a monthly to do list and so half way through here is March's...
1) At the end of the month we have a family wedding in Donegal, Ireland. This will be the first Cunningham wedding in many a year and people will be gathering from many corners of the world. I am VERY excited.
2) I need an outfit! Cue much looking at Toast and Cos. Does anyone else have any brilliant suggestions? I think I am going to have to make an emergency dash to London or Birmingham this weekend to buy something. As someone who runs a minimal wardrobe I do not want to buy a 'wedding outfit' (the idea makes me shudder) I need something that I can wear lots, preferably to work. Am thinking navy dress. Too boring? 
3) I have seen a couple of people mention wild garlic recently. Hip hip! I was especially taken with this post and will certainly be trying Emma's scones out. 
4) My garden needs some attention - I have started thinking about this space and am planning a few new planting ideas - perhaps there will be more on this as things develop...



Friday, 26 February 2016

Life::The Tail End of Winter




I have to say despite an active embrace of hygge and all things cosy I have struggled with the tail end of winter. It hasn't helped that I have spent two weeks battling a flu/cold thing that has laid me low in spirit as well as in body. My family has had to put up with endless sighing and listlessness - it is driving me mad let alone them. What I need is a good shake and a bit of a talking to. In an effort to turn my mood I have been thinking about the great things that have been going on recently...

* The return of the light! Returning back to work this week has been made a great deal easier because I have been driving in the light. It is heaven.
* Soup. We have been making all kinds of soup and hooray hooray Finn has decided after 12 long years of trying to persuade him, that soup is a good think. Anna Jones' two books have been a great source of inspiration. We have been especially fond of this one recently.
* Crochet. I have got back to it after a bit of a break and am loving it. This has been a source of inspiration - although I may swap the neon for something more muted. I love neon but it doesn't fit in my home.
* Signs of Spring. I saw primroses on the way to work this morning and last night when I took Finn to his swimming club someone had cut the grass - oh the smell! And there is magnolia coming out. It is just round the corner I tell you!
* Finally, and most excitingly, we have booked a very special holiday for next October. We are going to New York! I am beyond excited.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Read::Simple Matters


About two weeks ago I noticed a book coming up on a few of my favourite American intergram feeds and, after doing one of those journeys that leads you half way round the internet, I ended up on ReadingMyTeaLeaves, Erin Boyle's wonderful blog. What a total treat - if you don't know it you should check it out. She writes beautifully, in a naturally friendly way and takes gorgeous photographs. Also I really like what she has to say about living lightly on this earth. 
Anyway I digress - back to the book. I had been under the impression that it was only available in the States so I was super pleased to see in in Blackwell's when I was in Oxford last weekend. As soon as I was able I started to read (in a nearby pub as it happens) and I was hooked. There are so many decluttering/lifestyle/look at my gorgeous home books out there but few are as accessible and inspiring as this one. Or indeed as beautiful.
What Erin Boyle does is weave practical advice with stories from her life and her philosophy for living. Her tone is just right, as if you are making a new friend. But more than that she really inspires. I had done quite a bit of decluttering and simplifying last year but had stuttered to a halt. Now I am keen to start again - there is so much more that we simply do not need. My favourite chapter was the last one where Erin talks about travelling around Italy with just a backpack for company.
"I am suggesting that when I think back to times in my life when I have felt truly happy, calm and invigorated, at peace...they've been moments like these. Times when I have had a bag full of clothes to wear, a roof over my head, food in my belly, but not so much at all in terms of stuff." 

I have had the same experience myself and know that what she says is very, very true; things bring a fleeting thrill but lasting happiness comes from experiences, comradeship and love. Nothing else matters. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Adventures::The Welsh House


Have you come across the fabulous The Welshhouse? I first came across Dorian's wonderful houses via Instagram when a few of my favourite bloggers,  Lou, Victoria and Laura went to stay. I then spotted Bryncyn in a copy of 'Modern Rustic magazine and I was hooked.
"Bryncyn" means hillock in Welsh and so late on a Friday in January Mark, Finn and myself found ourselves winding up a hilly path towards the welcoming arms of this lovely cottage. It was very dark and cold that night but we quickly got to grips with the woodburner, the logs thoughtfully provided for our first fire, and a warming supper was soon underway. In no time it felt like we were settled into a place we were happy to call our home for the weekend.
When Dorian first acquired Bryncyn it was in a very sad and sorry state. His inclination is to preserve the heritage of these beautiful old Welsh cottages but in this case he knew he needed to do something a little different. Whilst the National Theatre was inspiration for the extension on the main house he was inspired at the time with John Pawson's work. Study of his philosophy taught him to remove anything which is no longer of use and so he started to take the cottage back to its bare bones. He also added an extension, which I loved, and I could certainly see the influence of the National Theatre there. I have always loved The South Bank buildings and the beauty that comes with simplicity. That isn't to say that the cottage lacks comfort. As Dorian said "This initial style was a little austere so over the course of time I've added more to the comfort of the place" Dorian is, by the way, the loveliest man, so generous and friendly - I am quite sure that that is why his cottages exude a sense of home - they contain some of his heart.




What I loved about the cottage was that the modern section was so very light and bright and this contrasted with the warm, cosy feel of the sitting room with its small traditional windows and lower ceilings. There was something very beautiful about how the light comes in through those little windows, set back into the thick walls; it streams in in beams that lend the room a magic quality.





I have to say though that what really made my weekend was the utter peace and quiet that Bryncyn offered. A lack of wifi meant that the phone checking, the screen staring and the desire to look every little thing up completely disappeared. Even Finn, a modern 12 year old whose love affair with instagram is nearly as strong as his mother's, stopped sighing about the loss of the internet and began to relax into a quieter way of being. We flowed through the day - nothing felt pressured or urgent. I think that I truly relaxed for the first time in a very long time. When I returned to work on the Monday I had more energy than I have had since before Christmas and I am sure it was because I was hardly on line.
For me it was a weekend of gentle pursuits: crochet, card games, candle light, fire gazing, tea and welshcakes and the odd glass of wine. Just writing about  it now makes me want to do it all over again.



Our stay at The Welsh House was gifted to us but all thoughts and opinions are my own. I would wholeheartedly recommend a stay at  one of The Welsh House cottages - rain or shine you would have a wonderful stay.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Life::February Plans



There were days when I thought that January was never going to end and then, suddenly, the end came all in a rush and as I said on instagram yesterday, looking back it was a lovely month. There were some dark old days though...
The arrival of February means that we are on the countdown to spring and it is definitely getting lighter which can only be a good thing.

So February - what will it bring?

1) Pancake day is on the 9th of this month and although I love the traditional lemon & sugar I want to get a bit more creative this year.
2) Valentine's day is on the 14th as usual. I want to do something special, although nothing too expensive, because my love has been especially wonderful recently; he deserves some treats.
3) I have recently bought 'Simple Matters' by Erin Boyle. My attempts to simplify and reduce the clutter in my home had ground to a halt recently but I am now feeling firmly reinvigorated and have started to look at corners that need a real sorting out. I plan to write more about this inspirational book in another post. Anyway some of half term will be given over to re-establishing order onto the house.
4) We also plan a trip to Dorset to see some old friends and to see the sea. Can not wait.
5) I am kind of hoping for a little bit of snow. We haven't had any yet and I would love to see some before the winter has finished with us.
6) It is a leap year - something worth celebrating a little don't you think? It only happens once every four years so it would be rude not tho toast it with a glass of something...

So that is about it - there will also be reading, crochet and my lovely family to keep me busy - so that seems like plenty in actual fact.

I hope you all have a fantastic February x