A Little Weekend Read

Seethaler Whole Life

I planned to take a photo of this book out in the forest today. But, as the dog is curled up with a poorly paw, I’ve had to settle for a coffee shop pose. Such hardships!

With a wet and windy weekend ahead of us, I wanted to share a little one-sitting read. One to read start to finish in your favourite chair, complete with fluffy blanket and hot chocolate. I’ve fallen in love with slim editions recently; perfectly proportioned, carefully crafted, saying so much with so few words.

A Whole Life is a perfect example: a story of one man’s life living in the mountains of Germany. The small but significant moments (lying next to his wife asleep, watching the snow) are given as much attention as the large (work or war).

I’m an easily distracted reader, so it was a strange treat to sit down and finish a book. I’ll be keeping an eye out for other little gems. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them over on twitter.


Forest Puddle

Every year I brace myself for November. Always hectic, it’s the month to keep your head down and just get on with it, whatever your ‘it’ happens to be. I’ve been filling up plenty of notebooks this month. Pen and paper and a million lists. I’ve been finding my feet and plunging in to new business challenges. I’ve been doodling, talking and singing. All the typing done has been for reports, plans or miscellaneous paperwork.

Looping Up

So, Hello blog, quiet little corner that reminds me where my heart lies: in those swaying branches high above my head, standing deep in the forest, with the dog at my feet, amongst the wind and bundled leaves. When we take that sharp turn down the hill on our quick lunchtime route, I finally remember to breathe.

Yesterday we escaped in to the last of the day, right after the dark skies had swept through and left behind some late pink light. A few trees were felled in the storm, so we scrambled over the bark’s wet moss and ducked below smooth old twigs. As usual, the dog handled it far more gracefully than I.

Spider Webb

Holed up in my office, on these rainy days, I’ve become a ridiculous fan of white noise (wind/rain/chatter). I’m terrible at paying attention amidst any background distraction (unless in a coffee shop, of course). The white noise feels like focus over distraction and, more crucially, stops Rolo from barking at random happenings outside. When I’m not filling up on white noise, I’ve been listening toHighasakite, The Jezabels, and Beth Ditto.

Wednesdays have become the beginning of our ‘weekendlet’: a little break midweek. Tom now doesn’t teach on Thursdays, so we steal a lie-in and drink coffee over books like there’s no work round the corner. It’s funny how even a couple extra hours in the middle of the week feels like this beautiful, precious, elusive thing. Hard won, but worth the fight. So, here I am, grabbing a moment of calm in the storm that is November, just to remind myself how sweet it feels to take a moment and simply write.

Dew Drops

Morning fog and wet feet – a weekend on Dartmoor

Dartmoor succulents

When Tom said that he’d like to run on the moors for his birthday I was happy to agree, whilst being certain it wasn’t my kind of choice for a weekend away. I imagined dragging my tired limbs and wet feet through boggy land, arguing with grumpy cattle and secretly dreaming of a spa weekend.

Bridge Hopping
Moorland Gate

Whilst we may have had a run-in with a feral cow and certainly didn’t keep our feet dry, it was still seriously good times. It’s ridiculous how much I love getting tired, muddy and lost. I just sometimes need a kick up the ass (and some magic jelly beans) to remember that fact.

Morning Fog

Orange is the New Tom

The wild runs up on the moor were tempered with some luxury accommodation (thank you Helene) and some delicious pub grub (with thanks to The Elephant’s Nest). We studied maps and had plenty of cake and champagne. Not that far removed from a spa weekend after all.

Pub Time

A Dip in the Sea

Compton Jump

It takes an extreme kind of procrastination to somehow leave ten months between sea dips. Last summer I was full of the joys of a salty swim, but this year it just didn’t happen. I was loathe to let the entire season pass without some wild swimming. After all, the water is at its warmest this time of year.

The added delight is that now, after years of my solo swims, Tom will jump in too. It is hugely more fun to splash about in the white water when you have a partner in crime. Of course, it’s a tradeoff, as he seems to think that a run is required before swimming, that one must get hot and sweaty to warrant that chilly dip. So last Friday found us escaping work as soon as possible, to dash out to the far west coast.

Compton Sunset

We parked our old rust bucket (love that car) in a gravelly layby and rattled east along the cliff path. We ran past Hanover Point and on to Brook beach, before turning back and running west along the wet sand, filling our trainers with icy splashes on our way to far Compton Fields. By the time we got there, the vast smooth beach was empty. Good thing too as we only had our smalls to swim in (scoutly preparedness not being in my nature).

It just felt so good. Sure, it was a bit chilly, but it only added to the fun. We whooped and crashed through the waves, braved it up to our necks and generally rolled around until we felt justified in abandoning the water for the warmth of our fluffy towels (we weren’t entirely unprepared). So, with another Friday coming round oh-so-quickly, we might just have to do it all over again. There’s few better ways to welcome in the weekend.

Post Swim

A is For: Always Show Kindness

Bird Hide Dog

We’re nearing the half-year point of living with Rolo, the rescue mutt. When I flippantly chose this ‘kindness’ phrase back in January, I had no idea of its pertinence. When Dog came along, inevitably acting like a lost abandoned pup, he was a bloody nightmare. And so many people suggested we be mean to him to fix it quick.

Whether bike, passerby, plastic bag or (God forbid) another dog, everything would send him in to apoplectic rage. I abandoned all previous pretensions of being a sweet, polite neighbour, as I wrestled my hell hound round the block. No wonder we retreated to the wild places.


I couldn’t believe one canine was causing such disruption. So I was happy to take advice, anything that might help us figure out our daily life together. I was surprised by the number of people who recommended choke chains, shock collars, or compressed air canisters. I can’t understand why any animal stressed enough to act inconveniently should be answered with fury.

Jumping Dog

There seems a portion of everyday dog talk that still suggests cruelty as par for the course. It’s unnecessary, but god, the human patience required to get there without being mean feels like a far greater challenge.

Over the months we’ve seen our persistence pay off. I’m glad we were able to find a kinder way, particularly for such a crazy mutt, with plenty of thanks to Ian Dunbar, John Bradshaw and Zak George. Apparently there really is no magic recipe or quick fix. If you volunteer to take in a dog that has been abandoned somewhere down the line, you’re volunteering to take on a mystery challenge.

Beach Dog

It’s funny to welcome into your home someone whose history is completely unknowable. Likely not from a town and, judging by the scar on his head, hanging with a few tough canine associates. I’m sure he hadn’t experienced a lot of the things that he is now slowly, and sweetly, learning about. He’s become more puppyish as he settles in, letting down his guard and starting to trust that here with us is where he stays.

Now he’s sitting by my feet, only glancing as the school-run sound of scooter wheels and shouts drift up to our window. We’ve figured out how to celebrate our awesome ‘working-from-home’ days together. He’s a bad yoga buddy, but the best excuse for a midday run through the forest. I have appreciation for the effort he puts in. Now every time a van drives past without him lunging I silently whoop. He adds extra hilarity to every day and is never anything other than delighted to see us. The kindness is paying off. I think he’s a keeper.


Rock Pooling


I love the runs that turn in to mini adventures, when we explore new places and I get an extra few moments to catch my breath. I swear we only went rock pooling because I was trying to postpone the inevitable steep climb back up to the cliff top above St Lawrence. The coastal path is a great route, barreling through tiny holloways beneath thick dark foliage and then out on to a high bluff, the path winding away down to the beach.

Tucked round the corner from St Catherine’s lighthouse is Woody Bay, a deserted stony beach. There’s a small cluster of old low houses above, with quirky homemade greenhouses and trampolines set in to the soft grass. Down below, the smooth stones are almost as inviting, settling in to a surprisingly accommodating shape for my tired body.


We lay on our backs and threw pebbles at targets, before jumping up to lob yet more stones and marvel at their bounce. We discovered a teeny tiny baby lobster and woke limpets from their rocky outcrops. I told Tom how we used to smash the limpets off the rocks for crab bait, which sounds shockingly cruel now! If I hadn’t holidayed with kids full of the best sort of wild, I might never have been so willing to wield a rock. A moment scrabbling around mid-run was a perfect little reminder of childhood summers.

Even after the beach break I didn’t manage to run up the full height of the cliff. We stopped for drinks at the village post office, then marvelled at a peacock family holding court on someone’s porch roof. There’s always something interesting to warrant a quick stop mid-run.

Looking Down

Early Autumn


September has heralded in the most perfect autumn days. Suddenly there’s mist in the morning, defusing the light and giving the bark on the pine trees a pink glow. It’s chilly enough to warrant some knitting, or at least to go home and browse patterns.

We hold the sun’s warmth on still afternoons with barely a breeze, dozing under old oak trees. The twigs feel snappier under foot, everything a little dried out, having spent its summer sap.

Before too long, I’ll be lighting the first fire and choosing some fat historical novel to read. Any suggestions?