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?

Life Offscreen

Looking up

Last week had me gathering, pressing, pinning and posting autumn packages to some of my favourite bloggers around the country. I’ve been lingering on walks, noticing small details, things to gather and post to friends. I defy anyone to suggest that brown paper packages tied up with string aren’t among their most favourite of things.

It started with a conversation about the perfect wild restoration of time spent in nature. Ever since Kate and I stumbled upon our shared passion for the outdoors her podcasts have been a regular listen, full of creativity and yarn indulgence. When she suggested we share some seasonal adventuresome ideas I was quick to agree. Add to that my love of pencil and paper and we simply had to involve the post office in our plans.


So began The Life Offscreen Project: a simple action that we hope will cause a ripple effect reminder to get outside and off our screens. The idea is really simple:

– Send a snail mail reminder to a friend to get out and enjoy some seasonal adventure.

– Use your mail as a prompt to notice the little things, to gather and share some outdoor inspiration.

Over the coming weeks you’ll notice other bloggers joining in and little pieces of mail being shared that we hope inspires others to live life on the wilder side. You don’t have to sign up and no one is going to hold you accountable. This is your moment to share and discover. If you have taken part in the project though, we would love to hear from you!

To start you off, we’ve gathered some of our other freedom-seeking friends and created a Pinterest board with plenty of inspiration for a Life Offscreen.

See you on Instagram? #lifeoffscreen.

No Idle Hands


Tom’s grandad always loved to see people busy with their hands. A prolific and talented cross-stitcher himself, he often used to extol the virtues of ‘no idle hands’. Not only was I born to a crafty family, I also appear to have married in to one. Tom’s mum is a stitcher of many things, whilst Tom himself is rarely far from a pencil or craft knife.

I’ve always preferred textile to paper, doubting my artistic ability after plenty of dispiriting childhood moments when the picture in my head would refuse to translate itself on to paper. So, at the beginning of the year when I swore to try a new craft, it seemed natural to pick up some cross stitch. This little amber bee has taken me quite some time. I’m not sure I have the patience for counting squares and fiddling with different shades of thread, but I’m pleased with how it’s looking so I shall bloody-well persevere until it’s done!


I’ve also been overcoming my fear of drawing, thanks to Jennie Maizel’s Sketchbook Club. The project has just enough structure and freedom to make it all seem ‘doable’, with my added delight in now being a frequenter of the local art shop. My grama has always been the one buying the art supplies. Her house is full of beautiful big canvases she’s painted over the years. So, I’m sure she too would be an appreciator of ‘no idle hands’.

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.