Autumn 2018 // Spurred on by kindness (mostly to ourselves)

Photograph of a window with six panes of glass, taken from the inside of the building. The panes of glass are frosted so you can only just see the outline of greenery outside.

“I am committed to this space” I declared through my last blog post.

*two months of silence*

The irony is in no way lost on me. 

And yet, I’m ok with it. Ok with the fact that one area of life required, enforced, benefited from almost full-time attention for a season. And we are learning to be kind to ourselves. Empty the diary and fill the fridge with tasty, easy food. It’s ok to stop baking bread, to get takeout one more time this month, to cancel or say ‘no’, to read all seven Harry Potter books once again (except the end of book five. He was my favourite character; it’s too much). Kindness comes in many forms. 

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Goodbye ads, hello pith

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Funny how looking at something on a different screen can make all the difference. When I think about my blog, I think about a number of things. Honesty. Storytelling. Opening up the conversation. I don’t think about cars. And yet, when I looked at one of my posts on a different computer, that is what I was confronted with. An advert. For a car. 

And this seemed immediately discordant with a blog about intentional, ethical living. 

So, after too long a time (not very intentional I know… I’m a work in progress), I’ve gone ad free on the blog*. And now you and I know that you won’t read a post about decluttering just to be marketed to at the bottom of the page. This sits much better with me. I hope it will with you. 

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Summer 2018 Spurred on by // seasons and swan songs

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As I write this, a storm of conkers just descended onto the roof of our neighbour’s car and it’s 23 degrees Celsius outside. This is our topsy turvy year of seasons encapsulated.

Summer 2018 was, in many ways, my dream season. Weeks of bright, bare-footed and loose-armed days. Dinner in the garden every night, finished off with a teapot of homegrown mint tea. Claustrophobic socks left in the drawer. And yet, it was also a mixed bag. A little too hot to function at times; resilience a little fractured once 30 degree days had turned into weeks. And a creeping concern that this is the shape of things to come, the climate change canary in the mine (something I wrote more about here). 

And then, at the end of August, summer seemed to suddenly and subtly give way to autumn. Things turned. Fallen leaves. Warm evening air found a chill in its edge. Arms searching their way back into jumpers. And, despite a ridiculous long summer season, I wasn’t quite ready for the change. 

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My no-shampoo journey: 6 months update + keeping the greys covered

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Six months ago I finished up my last bottle of shampoo, and began a new rhythm of daily hair-brushing and occasional delving into the kitchen for something to clean my mane. My hope was that my hair would adjust, eventually needing to be cleaned just once every couple of weeks. And,  I’m basically there. These days I can wait more than two weeks before washing it with an egg, or bicarbonate of soda followed by apple cider vinegar. And it’s not three days of fringe and hair down, eleven crammed in a bun under a headscarf. It’s normal looking hair, just infrequently cleaned. 

And, what’s more, it feels like I’ve returned to my true hair. Rustic curls that a friend years ago described as “the kind of hair that you wouldn’t be surprised to find a bird’s nest in”. Yep, that’s the hair I love. Those curls had slipped away a bit over the last few years. I’m delighted that they’re back. 

So I’ve no plans to return to the shampoo bottle. This no-shampoo journey has been easier than expected, but not entirely without effort or compromise. A few things I’ve learned or experienced along the way: 

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The unexpected joy of the beautiful and the new

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Throughout the last decade I’ve increasingly kept my wardrobe afloat with second-hand wares – jeans from a clothes swap, a top from a charity shop, a friend’s handed-on jumper. I’ve written before about how I’ve learned to make the most of the sometimes erratic preloved offerings that line shop rails. And in general, I’ve been able to find what I needed. 

There have been occasions though, when I’ve picked up something new. A pair of brown brogues, after a nine-month search for second-hand proved unfruitful. A brilliant yellow mac as a birthday gift. There has been a pragmatism in these choices. But I also discovered something unexpected: a joy in wearing something newly, beautifully made.   Continue reading

Seven steps to getting on the water

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I learned a new word recently: “thalassophile” – a lover of the sea; someone who is powerfully drawn to & by the ocean. And it named something deep in us. You see, we are coastal people at heart. I grew up gazing out over Belfast Loch, even on to Scotland on a rare, clear day. My husband was further from the sea but spent just as many hours on the water, racing dinghies and yachts whenever he could. And until our move eighteen months ago we had only ever known each other, lived together, by the water’s edge. 

So the move inland was a wrench on our maritime souls. We spent the next eighteen months talking, dreaming and searching for the right vessel to get us out on the river. We didn’t want to spend a lot (nor did we have a lot to spend), or have the space to store something big. We just wanted to potter, to mess about on the water. You know how it is.

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Spring 2018 // Spurred on by my barefooted, best self

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This year I learned a new phrase that I found a particular resonance with: “I’m sorry for what I said when it was winter.” And if this past winter was a long, tough, frozen one, then spring has been its glorious antidote. So glorious that it feels like we tumbled into summer weeks ago. And I am grateful, feeling that my barefoot self is my best self. 

There have been other highlights too, of this sun-loving season.

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