Morning on Mottistone

Mottistone Collage

Holidays are always more exciting when they start with a crazy-early wakeup call. So, even though we weren’t headed for an early airport checkin, or even a ferry ride, we still opted to start our holiday early, with a sunrise trip to the top of the Downs.

At the top of the windy climb, we hunkered down amidst grey skies and watched the land beneath us change colours. It didn’t seem gradual; one moment it was windy and grey, the next the fields were golden and the sky was full of birdsong, a fiery sunrise burning thorough the leafy edges of the forest behind us. I was startled and delighted by the sea change.

The other glorious advantage to an early holiday start is that it demands a gentle pace for the rest of the day. You officially have to take it easy if you’ve got up at 4am. So, we’re settling in to an easy pattern of quiet days with no plans bigger than eating, walking and napping (yes, lots of napping.) Holidays are tough.

Wild Summer Reading

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June’s read became July’s, readily interrupted by the growing pile of ‘how-to-sort-your-dog’ books (embarrassing, I know). Once I recovered from my brief hiatus into behaviour modification theory, I relished returning to the Appalachian woods where Kingsolver’s ‘Prodigal Summer’ is set.

If you want a dose of fresh air and organic thinking, I’d heartily recommend this book. It weaves ideas on our relationship and responsibilities to the natural world in to some very readable fiction. Kingsolver creates beautiful sentences and charming characters (the grumpy old man being my favourite).

Tom and I are off this weekend to indulge in a fresh pile of books for the summer break. We’ll be out in the Island countryside for much of the holiday so I’m sticking with the wild theme and choosing Feral for one of this month’s read. I also want to buy a book on log cabins; I won’t be building one any time soon, but it’s fun to entertain the thought.

Any holiday reads to recommend? Let me know on twitter or instagram. Join in with Laura’s Year in Books here.

First Thing in the Forest

Buzzard Way

All these years I’ve been living next to a beautiful old forest without ever exploring its depths. And I’ve always dismissed any hour before 6am as entirely inhumane. Yet now you’ll find me weaving between beautiful old trunks before the sun has even hit the canopy. As with most things these days, I blame the dog. Seeing him bound around the paths with the super-speedy enthusiasm of a hound released from his leash is always a cheery way to start the day.

Forest Collage

I’ve never spent so much time paying attention to a forest waking up. Every day is different and the same. Some mornings the dew soaks my boots as we creep through a thick mist. We notice the spider webs hanging from the tips of grass blades, keeping their residents dry. At other times the pink light streams way out west to light up the Downs in the distance. We see a buzzard swoop directly over our heads, seemingly perturbed at such an early intrusion.

Morning Dew

With the damp green smell and blossoming bird chorus I can pretend for a moment that I’ve emerged from canvas after a night in the wild, rather than having just hopped out of the car. The tall pines take me back to my Humboldt roots and I indulge in memories of backpacking adventures.

Foxglove Avenue

Beyond the odd buzzard, most of the wilderness stays well hidden. Good job too. Given Rolo’s predictable passion for sticks I’m all too glad that no squirrels have flashed a tail in our direction.

Early morning starts have become an unexpectedly delightful habit. These summer days are just made for it. I’m not too sure if I’ll still be tramping these trails at 6am in January, so for now I’m just enjoying the delights of the very earliest of summer starts.

Wet Grass Lane

Alphabet 15: The Halfway Edition

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For the second year running, I set out with 26 goals and ideas to see me through 2015. Now I find myself the wrong end of June realising half the year has already passed. The business of setting up a business has cram-filled my days, with the demands of ‘D’ filling in any spare moments. We’ve decided to stay close to home for the summer break, so I’m looking forward to having some of those stretchy, timeless days where I needn’t always be thinking of tomorrow.

I started my year Brushing the dirt off, and riding my Skateboard round the city. I hadn’t anticipated B to be quite so literal, but sprawling in a heap to general public amusement and getting back up again does feel good practise for doing the same with the other shit in one’s life.

Tom has really nailed the Homemade pizza, thanks to a great Smitten Kitchen recipe and some kneading know-how. I Played the Piano and learned this tune (it stands up to repeated playing.) I Made a mini movie, Quit sugar (for maybe 48hrs) and did some simple carpentry (nothing I would sit on).

This summer is for Wild camping and catching up on some long-dreamed-of afternoon Zzzzs. I’ll be trying a new craft (with this pattern) and watching the garden Grow. The Running and Juggling might just have to wait for the autumn; it’s far too hot for any of that nonsense. But really, the Yoga should be happening now (I think I’ve managed 10 minutes total this year.) Maybe I’ll blame it on Y being late in the alphabet.

Blogtacular is brought to you by the letter C.

Balloons

Blogtacular was a flurry of colour, friendly faces, and words of encouragement, just as expected. I didn’t expect it to take me days for everything to percolate down to words on the page. Most of it still lingers in the corners of my mind, just out of reach. So, for now, just a few of the things that caught my eye…

Blogtacular Collage

Creativity: an oft overused term that felt perfectly justified in a building filled with people sharing new ideas and generally making stuff that rocks. Marte really inspired me with her persistent focus on the things she felt passionate about in life and ability to carve out a career by focusing on her three great loves: travel, food, photography.

Connection: to walk across a room and be able to give a cheery hello, be it to a stranger or a friend, is so refreshing after the many winter months when we only connect with each other online. I’d be inclined to say it was lovely, but that was one of the ‘banned words’ on Mollie Makes’ talk.

Community: Blogtacular builds a sense that we’re all part of something exciting, even for those joining in through the weekly twitter chat, or the virtual conference. Grace Bonney‘s reminder that there is room enough for everyone only added to a sense of camraderie. We all have our unique and valuable perspective. Community is always better than competition.

Collaboration: I was inspired by the collaborative efforts of Judith De Graaf and Igor Josifovic, sharing their passion for house plants with a growing online community, with a focus on giving back to the huge international group of urban jungle bloggers they have brought together.

Coffee: I was pleased to join in the early morning photowalk with Xanthe and a group of other bloggers wielding cameras and bright balloons. It was so much fun to coordinate shots as part of a group. I’d never before come across #instagrammerdown or that clever person-repeated panorama trick (you know the one, right?!)

Getting to the photowalk in time required a 5am start, so the day was full, and requiring of much coffee. Top tip for next year – pack Jelly Beans. I wouldn’t Walk the Wight without them, and a full Blogtacular day requires just as much stamina.

I was glad I’d taken my bike to London; the slices of fresh air I squeezed in to my day (through St James and Hyde parks, round the back roads of Mayfair and Soho) were just what I needed to polish off a colourful day.

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Finally, the many conversations I shared over the weekend convinced me to close comments on my blog. I love having conversations with people who read my posts and it’s so much easier to properly chat on twitter or instagram. So, do please say hello!

Photowalk_staircase

An Early Morning Ride

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Sometimes it’s worth setting the alarm for 4am…

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There will be other grey, less inviting days, when the sun hides under its cloudy duvet and so can you. But, when it’s bright and full of promise, why not get up with the birds? These are the days that afternoon naps were intended for.

Tom

The whole beach to ourselves, quiet air, smooth tarmac, and a thermos of coffee are just a few of my favourite things. I find a bag of oatmeal and raisin cookies also helps ease an early morning start, with the promise of a bacon sandwich on return. When you get up at 4am anything’s allowed.

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The Year in Books: 2015 So Far

Year in Books

Last year I accepted Laura’s challenge to read at least one book each month. I enjoyed the prompt to write about books and read recommendations from others. Somehow it fell by the wayside this year. I’ve lost the daily hour of reading that my old commute carved out and have struggled to find my reading rhythm without it. Despite this, I’ve enjoyed some beautiful books this year. This rainy day seemed the perfect excuse to read through my book of books and catch up on the year so far.

Last year I discovered a love of nature writing, which carried me in to January on a dark musky trail in pursuit of badgers. I now spot many more tracks and setts, but haven’t gone to the same lengths as Barkham to spot the animal itself.

In complete contrast, I read about the history of women in skateboarding and felt outraged and inspired in equal parts, by the prevalent machismo and the success of many women regardless.

It would be hard for The Goldfinch to live up to all the hype, which made me hesitant, but I wasn’t disappointed. It really was a delicious big fat read, full of life and love in its many facets. Both The Son and A Fine Balance offered up grand swathes of life on opposites sides of the globe (Texas and India) whilst Lemon Cake was a little quirky slice of a child’s life in LA (with the added magic of tasting emotions in food; what a burden!)

Prodigal_Summer

Despite the storm that passed through our town last night, I am optimistic in my reading, and have chosen The Prodigal Summer for this month’s read. Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is one of my all-time favourite books, but I’ve never before read any of her fiction. I’m looking forward to getting started. What are you reading this month? Why not join The Year In Books?