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

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Soul::Walking in the Fog

I don't know if it is because I have been reading a lot of 19th century novels recently (GCSE English Literature's new must read) but the fog makes me think of the Victorians. I constantly expect to hear the distant trundle of carriage wheels; perhaps a carriage off to take Mr Holmes to solve another mystery or a Dickensian heroine about to elope with her forbidden lover. There is certainly something gothic about the fog...
I love walking in this kind of weather - there is a special quality to the silence that adds to the sense of enclosure and mystery; it is a weather that allows the landscape to reveal itself little by little and to sometimes surprise you. When I walk in fog I get that feeling of nervous excitement, the feeling that anything might happen.

When we have had our fill of mystery there is the returning home to the warmth of fire and tea and cake. Perfect.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Life::On Grief

It will not have escaped anyone's notice that David Bowie died earlier this week. I liked David Bowie and his music has backgrounded some parts of my life. I liked him enough to go and see him, own a few CD's, certainly I could sing along to any number of his songs - have done at many a party...sometimes I wasn't even that drunk. However I was never what you would call a die hard fan. So it took me by surprise when on hearing the news I burst into tears. Then I cried on the way to work, cried again when I talked to a friend about him and then after I'd finished teaching and had a moment to look at the news. For a while I couldn't get it and then, suddenly I understood. It was Christine.
It is so odd when someone you love dies. They are there in your heart, preserved in memory but. Oh yes, but. 
There is no doubt that time heals the rawness of pain, there are days when they aren't in your head, months in fact. Then something comes along and all that sadness, the well of impossible longing to see them comes back and you are right back where you started. Christine loved David Bowie. He inspired her to live in Berlin for a time and his music was always around her homes. So his death has brought back Christine to me - and, I know, to others who loved her. We are feeling again the sharpness of our loss of a great friend. 
Love is funny like that - the person may have gone but the feeling remains just the same. 

I wrote about Christine's death here