outdoors

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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 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

12 years

This post is a little different from my usual – but it’s something I feel passionate about. I always have ever since I was little. And now the clock is ticking….

I worry about my children’s future – as any mum does. But when it’s October and the temperature gauge in the car says its 23 degrees and its warm until their bed time alarm bells start ringing. This, just a day after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that we have 12 years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen …

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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 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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In Outside

August August

August, the height of summer, some may think. Or perhaps its depth.Either way this year has been the kind of summer that children store up as memory of all summers. Sunshine and barbecues, icecreams, open windows on hot nights and paddling pools.

In one of those neat word plays, August is named after Emperor Augustus, (after the latin for venerable or consecrated)  and originally had only 30 days. It was thought necessary to add another day in order that Augustus might not be in any respect inferior to Julius. Thus Augustus was exceptionally august in altering August. The only Augustus I can think of is …

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In Outside

Dog days and birthdays

Seamlessly we sweltered from June into July with a prolonged warm dry spell that children will remember in their adult years and adults will remember in their dotage. The dog days are truly here,  sultry days and still nights of heat, drought, fires, thunderstorms, lethargy, mad dogs and Englishmen out in the sun. Even the birds seem to languish idly in the suspended in the humid air, barely moving their wings for flight, as if it’s too much effort. The buzzard is more present and seems to follow me; flying over the garden, perched atop his telegraph pole on the school run. Hot and hungry …

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In Outside

The greatest show

Once you start opening your eyes and training them to see, you will notice all sorts of wonderful things. Whether it is the flower that grows in a crack in the pavement, the buzzard circling overhead, the damselfly zipping through the air. You may even start to appreciate that just like humans, wildlife have their preferred spots to hang out, it may be the same branch, the same telegraph pole, the same field. I used to notice all these things as a child on the way to school; there was a favoured spot of an owl and I would look for him (or her) most …

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