country life

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In Outside

Conkers

Maybe I am imagining it, but did conkers used to be bigger? Perhaps it is just that I have grown, but even in my daughter’s small hands there are no Goliaths in our selection of shiny brown nuts from our local horse chestnut tree.

Conkers are the very essence of autumn. They signal that blackberry picking is over and it’s time to embrace burnished amber leaves, pumpkins, colder nights and warming fires. They ignite memories of childhood and conker games. They are often our first forged connection with nature, they are instantly recognisable and have a special place in our collective consciousness.

Yet …

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In Outside

No Gooseberry Fool

I take little pleasure in gathering gooseberries; they are a devil to pick. The low green bush is full of fierce thorns that protrude at every angle. The gooseberries themselves are a bit icky themselves, slightly softly hairy, dangling in pairs like bollocks,  swollen almost taut but with some softness so that you can’t help but give each one a little squeeze as you pick. Hold them up to the sun and they are almost translucent, you can see their insides, their veins and their small seeds which is both magical and disturbing. The bitter sourness of an uncooked gooseberry should therefore be of little …

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In Outside

M.I.A

And all of a sudden May is here. The trees are unfurling their fresh foliage, the veg patch needs tending, the bluebells are nearly over and the evenings are long. April felt like it was missing in action. Disappearing before my eyes like the early morning mist. I hope this isn’t an indication of how quickly the rest of the year is going to vanish.

April was a month of surprises. As the first month of spring we are used to expecting the showers, but the glorious sunshine of Easter seduced us into thinking it might even be summer already. Deer bounded in and out …

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In Outside

Things I see on the school run: March

Big, gawky and angular, I am not sure what it is I am seeing. A matte mottled brown and tan back, with hints of grey, copper and blonde. More colour with richness and depth than one would think, and a pinch of dark fur accentuating a white tip underneath. Both of us taken by surprise, I slow and it quickens. I assume it is a small dog and quickly scan the fields and laneside for its human companion. It follows the verge, preferring to lollop on the tarmac than on the grass and celandines. Then it reaches a break in the hedgerow and an open …

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In Wellness

2019 – full of promise

We have waved goodbye to 2018 and stepped across the threshold into a brand new shiny year. Welcome 2019.  New Year is usually a time for reflection on the past year and looking ahead (as the name January, derived from Janus the two faced God suggests), setting out where we’d like to be at the end of another 365 days. To be honest, I’m still trying to work out what 2019 should and will mean for me. But I know that my starting point is to focus on my comfort zone.

Or more accurately escaping my comfort zone, that sweet sticky trap in which we …

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In Inside

Mistletoe and December skies

He is nothing if not stoic, brooding on his watch tower  like a mottled tawny and brown drowned rat,  tail feathers scraggly forlorn and drooping down, raindrops dripping off the ends. His head turns and he looks straight down at me before swooping off silently over the fields beyond the road side hedgerow. This is how December has greeted us too; swooping and silent.  And somewhat schizophrenically with dismal mornings of endless rain giving way to glorious afternoons of blue skies and long shadows and back to evenings of gales and streams of rain. I yearn for a properly cold spell.

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In Wellness

Why I run

It seems, either intentionally or unintentionally that I have been running for pretty much my whole life (and I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean literally).

In my young teens I ran because we had to (think enforced cross country and athletics). In my late teens and early 20s I ran because I was at uni and felt that I should burn off some of the beer consumption. In my middle to late 20s I ran to counter the effects of sitting at a desk all day and also to keep in shape. It also helped during a difficult period of uncertainty. This was the first …

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In Outside

Why did the pheasant cross the road?

I have developed a rather morbid fascination lately. I count the number of carcasses I can spot littering the road side during my twice daily school run.  Specifically, pheasant carcasses, because they are the ones I see most often. My record was 8 in a 5m stretch of country lane. I find their limp rag doll bodies so sad; feathers frayed, buffeted by vehicles. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I wonder if any other animal ended up dead by the road as often, there wouldn’t be some sort of outcry? To me, they are a disturbing symbol of our disposable lifestyles.

A …

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In Outside

A seasonal tilt

International Coffee Day, Chocolate Week, Halloween, my mum’s birthday, the extra hour in bed: some of the reasons I love October. But here’s my confession; I don’t like ‘spiced’ things – lattes or biscuits, I can’t stand pumpkins (except carving them), I’m no fan of trick or treating (American import) and I don’t like dark afternoons. I do like getting cosy though and starting the move towards winter hibernation and everything hygge. To the Anglo-Saxons this time of year was known as ‘Winter Fylleth’ because at the full moon winter was supposed to begin.

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In Family

I know what I did this summer

The first full summer we had as a young family in the countryside was difficult.  My youngest hadn’t yet started nursery, my eldest had been going three days a week. Our old nursery operated all year round, but this one was attached the primary school he would be starting in September and therefore closed over the summer holidays. And they have long summer holidays. I didn’t know the area well, I didn’t know many people, my husband had a work training course and was away a lot, the house and garden felt overwhelming. I remember feeling so relieved when school and nursery started. I was …

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