Monthly Archives: January 2016

Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder, Where it’s so white as snow

Lucia is convinced that Christmas comes when it snows, when the 25th December rolled around last month she was slightly dubious that it was actually Christmas day due to the lack of snow so I’m sure you can guess what type of conversation we had on a Sunday two weeks ago when we woke up to a blanket of snow!

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The long climb up

Having finally convinced her that it wasn’t Christmas, all other plans for the day were set aside so we could get on with the business of playing. I am exceptionally lucky to live in the countryside with a garden that backs onto the most perfect sledging hill. A few years ago people are skiing on it. Having put on at least three layers of clothing, made my coffee and popped it in a thermos we dragged the bright red sledge out of the shed and off we went. Lucia is five and the last time it snowed enough to sledge  was the month before she was born so this was the first time she had really experienced snow, she loved it, it was also the puppy’s first snow experience and she had her very smart Barbour coat to keep her warm. Livia (the puppy) she enjoyed it for a bit, chased a few snowballs and then started climbing my leg to be picked up. In fairness as a mini dachshund pup she is very low to the ground so her tummy was cold as were her little paws so I relented and carried her.

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Just before the puppy demanded to be picked up

Of course sledging down a hill is fantastic fun, the trudging back up again grows tiresome quickly but Lucia was super and persevered longer than I would have. She also proved very useful to the other children sledging as her extra weight in the sledge made it go faster. We retired home after about half an hour when Lu said her feet were getting cold and when I got her undressed a pile of snow tumbled out of both boots so she wasn’t joking. Hot chocolate, open fires and our traditional Sunday breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup and bacon satisfied all concerned and by the time the evening was drawing in the snow had all but gone.

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Sledging literally at the bottom of my garden

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My week in pictures

 

Monday

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Not feeling my best so lots of napping with the puppy

Tuesday

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Highjacked a mug I had bought as a gift

 

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Made good use of my Abel & Cole delivery

Wednesday

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More hospital tests

 

Thursday

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Ate ALOT of the Christmas left overs for dinner, ‘waste not, want not’.

Friday

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Lulu was with her dad for the weekend so Livia & I had a Duvet Day 

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I mustered the energy to put up the Habitat light decoration I have had unopened for about eight years.

Saturday

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Taken out for an afternoon tea treat at the Montpellier Chapter Hotel, Cheltenham, gluten free off course. The fan is the only elegant way I can keep my body temperature down thanks to the Tramadol ‘sweats’

Sunday

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Woke up early and enjoyed luxury of coffee and TV in bed

ps

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Shout out the ex husband who brought me a surprise care package before he collected Lucia from school on Friday for her weekend visit with him

How slow can you go

I very much enjoy the life that I have created for Lucia and myself, apart from the rubbish illness obviously, and being virtually house bound for so many weeks has allowed me the luxury of thinking about how I live my life and if there are any things I could do to improve it. It has been a really interesting process and has led me to the Slow movement, minimalism and a smidgen of self sufficiency. These are not new concepts to, me or even new practices, but they are gathering support from many others and there is a wealth of literature and forums out there now that are easily accesible.

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This was taken a few years ago – I haven’t had any alcohol for nearly 2 years! 

Slow is a movement that I first came across a few years ago on a lovely trip to Champagne in France where my ex husband and I had been invited to visit some of the Champagne Houses and sample the wares (I know!!). However, the day after our arrival I was rather poorly so stayed in the hotel room reading while my pals went off and drank their body weight in fizz. The book I had brought with me was In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed written by Carl Honore. Essentially it is a collection of essays in which the author ‘examines our compulsion to hurry and chronicles a global trend toward putting on the brakes.’ We live our lives believing we must do everything as fast as possible when this isn’t actually the only way to live. The Slow Movement has gathered pace, including the Slow Food Movement which describe themselves as follows on their website. ‘We aim to reinvigorate people’s interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us. Recognising the importance of our local food traditions and the years of accrued knowledge and culture that accompanies this, Slow Food promotes true enjoyment of good food, and food production systems that provide good, clean and fair food for everyone.’

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I have been a long time reader of The Simple Things magazine which I adore, the focus is on taking pleasure in the smaller things in life, appreciating the things around us, taking the time to live well. I would highly recommend it. I also came across a wonderful blog called Me & Orla, that advocates a simpler way of life, including minimalism. Minimalism is a movement that has been going for a very long time, and no, it doesn’t mn selling all your possessions and living with one cup and plate!  My favourite source of information is The Minimalists blog who describe minimalism as follows, that there is nothing ‘inherently wrong with owning material possessions. Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves. Want to own a car or a house? Great, have at it! Want to raise a family and have a career? If these things are important to you, then that’s wonderful. Minimalism simply allows you to make these decisions more consciously, more deliberately.’

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I also love Be More With Less. This blog also encourages #project333, basically you choose 33 items of clothing to see you through 3 months (a season essentially), it takes away a certain amount to choice, makes like simpler. I am fascinated by it but haven’t taken the leap just yet. Currently I am concentrating on a ‘spending ban’ apart from food and toiletries, I am not including Lulu in this ban but I am making more conscious choices when it comes to  purchasing things for her. Such as cardboard toys, which can be recycled once she is bored of them, I have my eye on a little cardboard cottage she can paint and decorate herself. I am also tackling a wigwam for her using this amazing post from Corinne, and I am using a duvet cover I no longer like. This will definitely make it much cheaper than the average price of £100 to buy.

I worry that I’m not really explaining this properly but it makes sense in my head, I don’t want to find fulfilment in rushing around and then saying at the end of the day ‘wow, I’m exhausted it must have been a good day’, I want out of the ‘cult of busy. I want to appreciate the things I have, all the books I have bought and not yet read, use the sewing machine that has been in its box for nine months, use the bottle of Jo Malone body cream -not save it for a special occasion. So I shall. This also involves a certain amount of de cluttering which I always find hugely difficult but when I’m in the mood – very cathartic. Its something I’ve been doing since my ex husband moved out a few years ago but on occasion it overwhelms me but I’m still doing it, and that is better than not! I won’t allow myself to be miserable, denial is not something I get a kick out of, I’m still buying the expensive Clarins face oil because its great on my skin and I’m worth it but I’m not going to buy all the magazines I used to which I rarely got round to reading and then threw away. I feel like I’ve found my place in the universe, philosophically anyway, and as I continue my investigations into this way of life the massive bonus is saving on money and gaining on good times.

We keep this stuff in this photograph, we made these memories for ourselves

I didn’t want to do a ‘review’ of 2015 as, whilst looking back is interesting in some respects, for me over analysis is not always helpful. I am always mindful that ‘the past is a nice place to visit, but certainly not a good place to stay.’ So, I have chosen 12 photos that illustrate my 2015, there isn’t one from each month but one from each of the significant significant events that happened.

12 photos, 12 months

1.We got a Puppy

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2.Lulu started school

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3.I was off work and in ALL the hospitals

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4.I fractured my wrist

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5.I went to New York for the first time

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6.I went to Suffolk (twice)

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7.My Decree Nisi was granted

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8.Christmas happened

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9.I saw my mum, alot

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10.I planted and harvested from my allotment

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11.I got offered a place for my Phd at Oxford Brookes

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12. I turned 41

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That it couldn’t be me and be her inbetween without you

Oh those inbetween days from Christmas to New Year, luckily for me I don’t work during that period so it settles into a haze of not knowing what day it is and pottering around which makes me happy. Here are my in-between days in photos.

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Me & my girls having Christmas day cuddles

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One of Lulu’s four Disney Princess dresses

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Lulu went off to her dad’s on Boxing Day

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Another hospital appointment for me

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My car & my washing machine broke down

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New Year’s Eve cuddle

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She made it until 10.30pm

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New Year’s Day walk the woods

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Muddy puppy in smart Barbour coat

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Wendover Woods – such beauty is good for the soul.

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Well deserved hot drink

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Slightly soggy but gorgeous puppy.