country life

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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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In Wellness

An afternoon making bread

There is a Swiss proverb which is particularly apt to this post; ‘Avoid those who don’t like bread and children.’ We recently had both in abundance in a classroom above one of my favourite Cotswold bakeries. As a little pre-back to school get together a friend had organised a cookery lesson at Hobbs House Bakery in Chipping Sodbury for 10 children.

With our hands washed and aprons on, we perched on stools around the table. The flour hit the table top with a soft flumff and in swift …

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In Outside

Blessed be…

…the fruit.

I used to think blackberries were only for picking in September; a truly autumnal fruit, so I thought. Every year I was disappointed to have missed the best of the crop. Amateur. Because the secret to blackberry picking is to go earlier than you think. The last couple of weeks of August is probably the best time, before the birds have pecked at them, before the weather rots them and before others pickers have been out. This year they seem to have ripened even earlier.

I have always gone foraging for blackberries – even in London on Putney Heath. Blackberry picking offers rewards …

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