When the wider world as beamed into my home seems to be in a permanent state of outrage, a short walk on a beautiful evening after a very wet day, restores a sense of equilibrium...
I think it is my duty to stay sane :-)
I'm taking a tip from Barack Obama.
(That man is the epitome of cool. And I don't usually read the South China Morning Post but it was the most comprehensive review of what Obama said.)
It is July and the rosa glauca and campanula Anna Lodden are blooming together as I hoped they would. Here are a couple of good gardening blogs - struggles in opposite ends of the UK with Christine in the Outer Hebrides, who describes herself as 'the servant of the garden' at Gardening in a Gale and Jessica at Rusty Duck in Devon who will make you laugh about her battle with 'more munching critters than you can shake a garden fork at'. And see why Lucille will never be self sufficient...
Some of you will remember that I spend a lot of time in my garden sitting, and looking!
There are lots of different seating areas and I began to describe them here, in May last year....this one too has a sculptural quality I like, and this piece of wood also conveniently drifted up onto the shore. It was very very heavy to carry up to the garden. We sat it on white metal trestles in front of a nicely weathered modern seat from our previous house and we often have lunch there, or as today enjoy the shade from the hedge behind in the late afternoon.
It's completely private and faces the shed and the colourful cutting patch.
I hope you too found a place to sit in the sun today....
..and do something completely different when the computer is driving you mad...
for me, a walk in the forest can do the trick.
A lot of rhododendron has been cleared from the forest floor this year.
A few pickings later
a wreath began to take shape..
larch and some crab apples.
A useful tip - leave it on a flat surface for a day or two till it hardens or it will s t r e t c h into an oval!
What do you do to stay calm when things get a little too hectic?
Do you have strategies?
Gretchen Rubin believes that 'Outer order contributes to inner calm'. Would you agree?
Feet up this evening, and escaped into Tan Twan Eng's The Garden of Evening Mists.
Have you read it?
I was supposed to be saving it for a long train journey later this month, but having peeped at the first few pages I cannot put it down!
The view from the hammock this morning.
(I do work sometimes, but in between, when the sun is shining, I lie in the hammock!)
Have you ever lain in a hammock on a windy day? The wind was strong enough to move the trees, which moved the hammock - it was rather like being at sea.
I was totally chilled out when....
I saw this!
A secret enemy?
And how do I fix it?
Because it was so hot while we were away, I spent a lot of time sitting in the shade in this small town garden (which I designed for friends) reading Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall.
When we did venture out I found myself looking around York thinking that the characters in the book knew this city, walked these streets, Cardinal Wolsey would have arrived from London through that very gate. We visited Lincoln and the old part of that city too would have been familiar to some of the real people Mantel brings back to life so effectively. We went to Easton Walled Garden which may have looked much the same as it did in Tudor times and the Cholmeley family who have owned it for 14 generations were around in Henry VIII's time.
We went to a wonderful concert of choral music by the scholars of St Martin in the Field in an ancient church in York and I realised that some of the music would have been known to Thomas Cromwell, and would probably have sounded just the same.
I became more immersed in the book and the period than I ever have before with any book, and it was a lovely experience. I'm now reading Bring Up The Bodies....
All because it was 26 degrees.
It's been a warm sunny evening and we had our meal outside, but just as I began to light candles and place them all around the garden, it began to rain..
'Let's put them in the greenhouse' said my husband, old romantic that he is!
So we did....
The midgies liked it too, but the citronella candles soon got rid of them, and I thought 'Hm, nice photo opportunity' only to find the camera battery was flat!
While waiting for the camera to charge...
I opened a bottle of wine, sliced some sourdough bread, made some good coffee, and with a piece of Brie de Meaux and a bit of Isle of Mull...
Our 6 x 8 greenhouse became a magic place.
It's what you make of what you've got really, isn't it.
Did you know today was World Saunter Day? (Thank you Cornflower!) Not the kind of walking to make me fitter I know, but I do quite a lot of it, so I thought I'd show some recent photographs of Things Seen While Sauntering -
One of my favourite things to do in the garden is to sit looking at it!
I have seven different sitting spots.
This one is just by the door of the shed and gets early morning and evening light.
It's made from a weathered piece of wood which washed up on the shore... and is sheltered by a thick hedge at the back.
It's a place to pause between jobs..
like chopping sticks for the fire,
And to watch for the fat buds of some oriental poppies to open, and to enjoy the random plants which self seeded or just ended up here for no particular reason.
It's a spot that wasn't designed, but just happened, and has a relaxed unpretentious workaday pleasure about it.
A nice spot.
I took myself off today to a gallery, and didn't think of all the things needing done.
Learning to Simply Chill has been one of the best things I've done since starting this blog. A rather serious person (I always have been - look at this photograph of me at about four years old!) I've learned, and am still learning to lighten up.
The sky doesn't fall in if I take a day off, change my mind, let myself off the hook, do something to a less than perfect standard, let the phone ring, skip a meal, or even do nothing at all!
Can you do this? Simply Chill?
Slow down you're going too fast....this is for my friend who, in her own word, hurtles through life..
Simply Chill is a really important category in Live Simply Simply Live.
It is about relaxing, savouring time, picnics, pottering, reading, days out, silence and stepping back.
Lots of links - I hope you have time to click (on the coloured words) and look, or to browse!
How do you chill out?
'Twere ever thus.
Talking of a different perspective on things in yesterday's post and comments....you may find this quote interesting:
The condition of man is already close to satiety and arrogance, and there is danger of destruction of everything in existence.
You may find the date of it even more interesting.
It was written, in Strabo's Geography, in 327BC.
This morning on the way to the city via the busy motorway to meet up with friends and do some shopping in department stores with artificial lights and heating, musak and noise, and colour and crowds, I stopped to photograph this animal perfectly attuned to its wide watery environment
I felt it might be saying to me
Where are you rushing off to in your fast machine....
Do pop over to Emilie's Daughter for a wonderful little film about the Keep Calm posters.....see here
Have you been to Barter's Books? Amazing.
There are worse times to be ill I suppose. We've just taken delivery of a good load of cypress logs - heavenly smell. We are stocked up well with food and drink. Cards and paintings have all been sent out to galleries. Can finish the Christmas shopping online. Good wishes are arriving daily in the form of Christmas cards. In the frost and snow I wouldn't be going far anyway even if I could (turns out to be more than a cold and require antibiotics and rest....) so I shall take a few days blog holiday! Plenty time to recover fully for Christmas.
Enjoy the preparations....
A photograph from last winter. Haven't put my nose outside the door today.
Isn't it odd how, after a very busy time, you relax - and get a cold!
Am off to bed with a hot toddy..(actually just a Lemsip - I am a Scot who doesn't like Scotch! Or porridge..).
Click here then type The Snowman and The Snowdog in the search box for a tiny preview of the sequel to The Snowman.
Can it possibly have the magic and enchantment of the original I wonder?
I LOVE The Snowman!
This little preview is just too short to tell....will have to wait till Christmas Eve!
In more ways than one....
If you get the chance one wintry day, to snuggle up in a cosy rug and read all day long, I recommend The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. Magical realism, which delicately swings between the magic and a gritty realism in a most intriguing way. A certain amount of willingness to suspend disbelief, a log fire, mugs of tea and frequent snacks, snow falling, and by the time I finished it (I read it in one day), a starry sky and moonlight on the crisp snow all helped make this a memorable read, and a memorable day for me.
One simple change on my computer has reduced my stress level every single day.
On my Yahoo!Mail page Yahoo very kindly gives me news headlines every time I log on.
I always say to anyone who will listen that human beings are not designed to receive the whole world's bad news on the hour every hour 24/7 (no-one has ever agreed with this - I'm usually met by silence when I say it!)
It is particularly insidious and anxiety inducing when, as lately here in UK, the news is of a missing child, or a natural disaster. Each and every time you read the headlines (and you do when you are waiting..) it gets a little bit more awful. Knowing, expecting, dreading the headline that tells you a body has been found, or there are no survivors....
Once a day, and at a time of my own choosing, I like to keep up with what is happening in the world. Like most people I care about these things. If I thought that by suffering a kind of low grade continuous anxiety I would help the situation I would willingly suffer - but this scenario is going to play itself out whether my feelings are involved or not. I can have no influence on any outcome - unless it is happening in my part of the world in which case I would be out there searching too, and I can and sometimes do donate to the disaster appeals, but....
I've not yet figured out how to remove this unwelcome feature from the page, but I do have the option of having Top Stories, News, Sport or Finance. I chose Sport as it was the option I was least interested in, therefore least likely to distract me from what I am trying to do - which is deal with e mails.
What do you think?
I take this shot every year - looking out of the front door as the evening light slants across the garden. Every year it's a little different. This year the pots on the steps are overflowing with Mexican daisy and linaria.
For the first time in what feels like weeks I had a couple of hours in the garden in the evening. Warm, dry, no midges, pleasant tasks to do - planting the last of the poppies grown in plugs, picking gypsophila Covent Garden, deadheading; the smell of the honeysuckle wafting over and the rumble of thunder never far away. Now the rain has come and the sky is dark and threatening, but I've had my fix and am feeling content..
I enjoyed the piece called Care For The Spark by Tara Sophia Mhor on July 3rd - click here and scroll down.....and tell me what you think of it.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)