Daily Habits

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about daily habits.  I wish I’d stuck to my daily yoga, and I kick myself for not spending more time cooking from scratch in the kitchen. Small things I surely should be able to fit in to my day.  But, a few daily habits have managed to stick.  Black coffee for starters (there was that one time I had a nutribullet instead but is was scary green and had no caffeine.)

With Rolo’s reproachful eyes, there’s no skipping the routine of a daily dog walk.  The forest feels different every time.  Even when it starts as a chore, once I’m standing under the sway of those tall trunks, navigating fallen branches and searching for badly thrown balls, it can’t fail to improve my mood.

I’ve also been sticking to a daily diet of at least 25 pages a day.  I’ve taken to the habit easily, steadily consuming some great books. Reading Lolita in Tehran was a surprise find in Oxfam and an unexpectedly compelling read.  Look out for it; seriously good.   The Orenda was equal parts brutal and beautiful, one of those books that leaves you a little wrung out at the end.  

Right now I’m reading See You Tomorrow, but cheating on it with the odd chapter of Rebecca (because this weather), The Zombie Survival Guide (essential reading, of course) and Children’s Speech Sound Disorders (for the day job).

In our days of speedy information, eyes flicking over the tl;dr summaries of endless useful articles, it feels an expansive luxury to spend time with a book, to listen to just one story.  This year I’ve challenged my die-hard digital-age brother to read a real book.  He often has to bear me harping on about the beauty of books.  I think there’s something special about holding bound paper in hand, carrying it around with you everyday, spilling coffee on it, breaking its spine or bending a corner to save that thought.

Meanwhile, Brother has inadvertently set me the challenge of knitting with cobweb lace weight yarn, thanks to a beautiful silk bundle of the stuff he gifted at Christmas.  I’ve found a pattern that suits itself to TV-watching attention levels so here’s hoping I can squeeze in another daily habit.

A Spruce Up

As January closed, I started noticing peeks of spring out and about. Underfoot, the nibs of early bluebells and daffodils in such abundance it’s almost old news. Our own garden remains in wintry disarray, while I cling on to the excuse that the winter wildlife need some weedy cover.

Indoors, I could no longer cling on to the small fur tree that held it’s fairy lights long in to last week, but equally couldn’t say goodbye to the hygge goodness that comes from a string of lights. So, they remain, with some new greenery around.

Ever since listening to Igor and Judith at last year’s Blogtacular, I’ve been wanting to bring more plants into the house. Things have improved since the days of one lovely weeping fig languishing in the corner, but there’s still plenty more room for new plants. I’ll be joining the Urban Jungle Bloggers community this year and I’m looking forward to filling a little more of every day with greenery.

Meanwhile, you may have noticed some sprucing up on my blog home. Thanks to the efforts of the brilliant Alec Rust, Rusty Rambles has had a new lick of paint for the year ahead. I’m excited to have a bright new canvas to share some of this year’s adventures.

A Little Solitude

How is it that some weeks feel so fraught as a whole, even when filled with good little fragments? I finished this week feeling wiped out and stormy inside. So, I retreated to my childhood home for the night, to enjoy the peace that comes with having nothing but the fire for company.

I felt the swell of hours around me. No screen nearby; just piano music, the pages of a good book and a yoga mat. I had the most analogue and granny-paced evening all by myself. It was marvellous.

My brother returned home hours later. We hung out, ate pizza and seriously put the world to rights. We spotted some constellations and watched the most incredible moonset finally fade to a triangular glow on the horizon.

The following frosty morning I was alone again, enjoying the chilly air from the comfort of bed, with coffee and room to stretch out, watching the Downs glow pink in the rising sun and listening to the seagulls murmur in the field by the sea. I sat while lazy, hazy-formed thoughts drifted over me.

I returned home to my man a few hours later, refreshed and ready for a sunny Saturday of baking brownies and catching up. We chased the last light on a quick yomp up Headon Warren, to watch the sun fall behind the Needles.

It’s incredible how spending a little bit of time with noone makes me so much better at being with someone.

Why I Run

Several years after first donning trainers I’m finally happy to call myself a runner without giggling at the very thought. Sure, I could be faster, go farther and simply get out there more often, but I don’t feel such a fraud for trying. So, in the spirit of all the new year fitness talk out there, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite things about running.

It’s quick. You can be out of the house for under half an hour and still feel like you’ve achieved something great.

It kickstarts the day. Sitting down at my desk in the morning feels far better if I’ve already been out pounding pavements.

It’s outside. Fresh air beats the smell of stale gym sweat. The beauty of nature distracts from the exhaustion and when you’re really pooped you can stop to just soak it all in.

It’s an easy adventure. In these winter months, splashing through puddles and careering across soggy fields, you are guaranteed to return home covered in mud. So, even a short distance feels like an adventure. Sometimes I like stopping at the supermarket on my way home, just to revel in my muddiness amongst all the people in their bundled layers. What’s the fun in running if you can’t share it?!

It feels good. Humans can’t fly, but this is the next best thing.

With thanks, as always, to Tom for the photos.

PS
How Instagram keeps me running.
How to run when you’re not a runner.

Roadtripping with a Poodle

My mutt is way too much of a crazy pup to be a good #vandog (yet!) so I lived vicariously through Steinbeck’s drive across America with Charles de Chien in their purpose-built truck. Though Travels with Charley was published over forty years ago, I was struck by how relevant his musings remain. He complained about overcrowding, gridlocked traffic and mounds of rubbish (then one page later extolled the virtues of single-use frying pans!) Perhaps every age feels that they are suffering a great demise.

Steinbeck’s spare but incisive observations of people and places was an absolute delight. His description of the quiet hush of solo breakfast diners was perfect. He balances quirky musings on his dog with beautiful insights into the places he visits. I was thrilled to read his description of my own little home corner of the west coast:

I stayed two days close to the bodies of the giants, and there were no trippers, no chattering troupes with cameras. There’s a cathedral hush here. Perhaps the thick soft bark absorbs sound and creates silence. The trees rise straight up to zenith; there is no horizon. The dawn comes early and remains dawn until the sun is high. Then the green fernlike foliage so far up strains the sunlight to a green gold and distributes it in shafts or rather in stripes of light and shade.

Now, it’s probably appropriate to end this post with some summery puppy spam, right?

PS – Here is another perfectly-formed slim read.