An hour or two in dappled sun..
followed by a lovingly prepared delicious meal.
We've had a very happy anniversary!
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.
This seat facing the bedroom window is my quiet corner. Do you have a quiet place? A place where you go when you just need to have a think, uninterrupted? A place with few distractions and no to-do lists? One of the reasons I sit with my back to the room is so that I'm not thinking I need to repaint that wall, iron those clothes, or whatever. Also upstairs here I can't see the gardening that need done, only the forest beyond which thankfully is not my responsibility (especially as a lot of trees are down in the recent storms).
In summer the window is filled with the leaves of a lovely rowan tree. At Christmas I love to have these lights at the window. They cast a very gentle glow.
On the wall beside the chair is a beautiful pencil drawing by Joan Harrison.
It is of the laundry at Beningborough Hall in Yorkshire where I used to work and exhibit, and Jane was hanging her exhibition as I was taking mine down. I bought this as she hung it on the hook!
I love its simple beauty, and the skill with which she has shown, not just the fabric, but even the very weight of the fabric. I know from her accurately observed drawing that this is linen, not cotton. And the composition is exquisite.
What have you put, or would you put in your quiet corner?
This has been a good spot to sit when I get stressed about still having no phone, internet or mobile after NINE days.....Keep calm and carry on!
Not enough rain to fill a duckpond here in Buckinghamshire! I wish we could give them some of our Scottish stuff....
Wish us luck for our journey home tomorrow. Snow and ice and winds with gusts of 70 to 80mph forecast.
Just hope the ferry is not cancelled (or the Christmas Tree Party on Sunday).
British winters....brrr. Hope you are cosy wherever you are..
To read about the history of the iconic British poster click here http://www.keepcalmandcarryon.com/history/
(I also liked - Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate....)
One of the best things about a holiday is spending a whole day just reading.
I'm riveted, repelled, and very amused by Tim Parks Teach Us To Sit Still . He let's us in on his 'self talk' - that voice in our heads which is often, when we take the time to really listen to it, talking utter nonsense (which we too often believe to be true)....Susan Jeffers in Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway calls it the 'chatterbox'. Byron Katie in Loving What Is suggests you ask yourself what stories you are telling yourself, and Park's guru says 'Always ask yourselves In what way am I contributing to my own suffering?'
A surprisingly good read.
Simply sailed away for the day today on the Waverley ( the last ocean going paddle steamer in the world ) from Dunoon pier, and saw our village from the sea. So completely relaxing - stroll on deck, wave to passing boats,go down to view the engines and paddles, stroll on deck, eat some of our picnic, have something to drink, stroll on deck....
Hope your Sunday was relaxing too.
(..you can click on photos to enlarge...)
There is a difference between Simply Holiday and Simply Chill.
Simply Chill is what I am trying to do at least one day of the weekend (that old Sunday idea). For me it means a commitment-free day, making few, if any plans, requires no organisation and very little effort - doing just what you want - reading a book, going for a stroll, drinking tea or wine, playing with children or dogs - taking it easy.
Actually, I'm not very good at this, but am practising and getting better all the time! I can enjoy it for a morning or an afternoon and find it refreshing and relaxing. It involves switching off my head for a bit (that's what's hard to do!)
Simply living, contentedly....
Do you do it? Now and then? Today? Now? Even for an hour? Why wouldn't you really, when you think about it............
I'm using last year's photo here, because this year's Primrose Picnic (not even deserving of those pretentious capital letters!) was, for a variety of reasons, reduced to a quick dash up the mountain with a flask of instant coffee and a couple of meusli bars....
The primroses were just as lovely though, there were more violets than usual, and the silence was just as impressive and refreshing.
..when did you last picnic?....so nice, I'm planning another one soon..
Criteria for me for a simple holiday:
Ideally it doesn't involve airports and ungodly hours
The place I rest my head should be attractive, or at the very least clean and simple. I don't like to pay for lots of facilities I won't use!
I don't want to eat with strangers, and I hate making conversation at breakfast (am not very sociable at the best of times).
It has to be different enough from home to be stimulating. A new landscape to explore does it for me.
I have to come back with more energy than when I left.
The weather's not that important, which is just as well as all the above requirements boil down to self catering in the UK!
Log fire is a must.
What's your ideal simple holiday? Do share....
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)