Summer Snaps

Summer Snaps

It’s been a long luscious summer filled with very little screen time and plenty of fresh air. So many blog posts have popped in to my head, only to be discarded in favour of a walk in the last light. We’ve explored beaches in all kinds of weather, been mountain biking for the first time and walked almost every track in the forest. It’s been a summer close to home, appreciating our local landscape and keeping our eyes peeled for signs reading Land For Sale.

My electronic neglect has rekindled my love of paper and pencil. I’ve picked up old notebooks and bought new art materials, inspired by Jennie Maizel’s most marvellous Sketchbook Club. I love her achievable projects and am delighting in filling every page with shape and colour. I’m cooking up some more offscreen papery plans with Kate from A Playful Day, which I can’t wait to share with you next week.

With the recent rain I’ve got my run back on. Walking in the rain is just no fun, but splashing through puddles at top speed is a different matter. I’m excited about this change to the season. I know I’m not alone in relishing the first golden leaves and chill in the air, even if it means the return to busy schedules for many.

With this, the final week before school starts, we are back to it, making ready for the madness of a new term. It’s been an adjustment and I’ve struggled to get my work head on, still slipping in to August habits (lie-ins, long lunches and the odd afternoon nap.) One August habit I’m hoping to hold on to is my daily yoga. Somehow aiming for nothing more than to turn up at my mat has made it achievable. I think it fully justifies buying one of these.

This week is a gentle but firm nudge, tipping us headlong into the term as we glance back at snaps of this perfect lazy summer.

Tiny Homemaking

Tiny House Living book

Last month I mentioned my plans to spend some of the summer reading about log cabins. The plans to read have, perhaps inevitably, fostered plans to build. I found a fantastic book about the tiny house movement that resonated with so many of my thoughts about living well, it felt like a hundred disparate thoughts all finally tying together. I’ve joked for years about running away to build a cabin in the woods. I now realise that by mentioning it so often it’s shifting from an impossible dream to a determined goal. Other people do it, why can’t we? Heck, my Grama did it, so it’s in my blood!

The drive to consume (information, fuel, electronic goods and more) is thrust at us from so many directions that resisting it feels subversive. But the tide is changing. I regularly come across people sharing their stories of cutting the clutter from their lives. I’m inspired by the conscious choices people share, about what fills their houses and their days. I like the idea that building something with our own hands make us conscious of how we live and what space we need. It would be a privilege to live well outside of the mortgage trap, to find out how little we can live on and grow our lives from there.

I’m in the middle of reading Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, and boy does it. She presents information in a compelling way that demands we pay attention and be informed about our part in the global picture. I’m only a short way through, so I’ll spare you any misinformation, but I really would urge you to read it.

I hope that the trend towards minimalist design goes beyond style. I hope we are becoming more conscious about what we consume, how we travel, where we spend our free time. I hope that I can be more conscious, informed and brave. And while building a tiny house is a pipe dream for now, I can certainly start by reducing the unnecessary ‘stuff’ in my house and being conscious of the wider impact of my choices.

Yoga Every Day


Yes, every single goddamn day. Because I was foolish enough to write it on my alphabet year list and because any day is improved by a good stretch.

I thought August would be a good month to start a daily habit, with long days, plenty of sunshine and a quiet work schedule. My August has started off a little more hectic than planned, but that only further warrants the moment of calm that yoga brings.

I’m not following any particular course (though if you’re looking for one, I recommend Erin’s). Just turning up to the mat every day would be a triumph for me. And if the sun gets a few salutes along the way, or I manage that double pigeon without looking like a crumpled chicken, then all the better.

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


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


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.