Despite three years of a biology degree, everything I know about bird identification I learned from my husband. There was a time when birdsong came and went with ignorant appreciation. I enjoyed the symphony without being able to name a single instrument. That’s ok; there’s beauty enough in the simple wonder. But over the past few years – and particularly those with the vernacular of ‘lockdown’ unexpectedly inserted – I have been slowly, accidentally, picking up some of the nuances to be able to name the visitors to my view as I tap away on the keys.
To the point where this year, it was me who pointed to the sky and said: “Is that the first swifts?”
Two sets of eyes scanned the skyline.
Black arrows cut back and forth across blue. They’d likely travelled from the African continent to be here, and signalled this happy news: warmer weather was here.
A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to share some of the thoughts I’ve had and things I’ve learned about being neighbourly in the 21st century. Around 40 women had gathered to share breakfast and friendship, and to hear about an amazing charity called The Gate which works with women in the sex trade in Southampton. I had the privilege of putting the work of The Gate in the wider context of a call to be radically neighbourly in our day to day lives.
I don’t enjoy shopping. Saturday afternoon in a shopping centre is my idea of time poorly and stressfully spent. I do however love an hour spent pottering around a street lined with charity shops, taking the time to hunt for bargains and to marvel at some of the stranger donations that have arrived onto the shop shelves. I’ve written in the past about second-hand wares in the home (read ‘the why’ and ‘the how’) but I’m immensely satisfied that most of my clothes are secondhand. Without the opportunity to pick the version of your desired item in any colour or size, shopping second-hand can be more challenging, but more rewarding for it.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years to help make the most of secondhand shopping: Continue reading →
I headed off to university accompanied by a newly bought laundry basket, a fabric symbol of soon to be tested self-sufficiency and independence. It was perfect for my transient life – just material and a spring, it folded down flat for storage during the weeks outside of term-time. Ten years on, my life is a bit more settled but that laundry basket is looking pretty tired.
Friday evening had arrived. The work was done, or at least paused with sufficient peace to leave it for the weekend. It was an evening marked by early autumn – just enough light in the sky, warm enough to begin in a jumper; jackets would be pulled on later. The day’s stories would have to wait for when darkness came. For now we hastily found out high vis jackets, lights, shedding to-do lists and perceived obligations, and got on the bikes before any more light slipped below the horizon.
I’ve been showing a lot of love for my local library on Instagram recently, which caused me to pause and consider the reasons for this adoration of these homes of books. In no particular order: Continue reading →
We bought a strawberry plant. We watered it. We repotted it once. Pollinators came and went. Strawberries flourished, taunting us with their green state until they gradually blushed red. I am absurdly proud of this achievement. Continue reading →
Holidays have always been a big part of family life for me. Each year as a family we would have a treasured three weeks traveling together, moving every few days, keen as we were to keep exploring new places. We’d take a stash of books that we’d all work our way through, sharing hushed conversations about unexpected twists in the tales, away from those who had not yet read them. As most of our holidays took place on boats, we’d often dine on delicious locally-caught seafood in small tavernas. Continue reading →
With the exception of a couple of emergency bookcases (too many books!), all of the furniture in our home is second-hand. In Part 1 I considered why we’ve made the choice to source our furniture second-hand; Part 2 looks at how we’ve managed to do this, from a combination of free sources and some requiring us to spend a little money: Continue reading →
An unintended consequence of our house move is that, after all that moving and sorting, it’s actually the small rectangle of space found beyond the back door that draws me most. From our first days in the house, in dry weather (wooly jumpers overcoming the challenges of temperature) I could be found out there, usually sat with the laptop or a good book, a coffee or glass of wine. The impact this small space has had on my well-being has been pleasantly unexpected. Continue reading →