A reflection from late autumn finally posted in the chill of early January. Call it late, call it a symptom of these new year days and pandemic years, when time seems to slip and slide and leave you grasping.
I’m not sure if this moment is full on autumn, or the first bite of winter. We left town for the hills one Sunday. Clocks claimed it was mid-afternoon but the oncoming dark made it hard to place, hard to shake the sense of enclosing night. Given the hour, I say ‘hills’ but really it was ‘hill’. One hill. Height enough to let go every sigh and find the corners of ourselves that the countryside seems to guard in our absence. Our feet found one hill, but maybe it really was ‘hills’. One folds into another, a ridge that you could follow on your way to the Cotswolds, or turn the other way to skirt the edge of London. We stay where we are. On one hill. Eyes resting on another, and finding the pocketed fields below.
We left. Left the warmth, encased ourselves in winter coats (should have been washed before this first wearing?), scarves, hats that didn’t quite keep out the gnaw of the wind on one side. An ear bore the brunt of this foray. Pass indifferent flocks, turn right at the trees and enjoy their shelter before heading up again. A slope that felt gentle but, on turning round, had opened up the sunset sky. Stop. Breathe. Exchange humble notes on this messy and beautiful world.
A few years ago I broke my elbow. Over the weeks of healing I was a pretty difficult person to live with (sorry husband). It wasn’t the pain that prompted me to stop behaving like my usual (vaguely) reasonable self; it was the loss of my independence. I, like so many people, struggled to ask for help.
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 →
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 →
So much has been written, more eloquently than I ever could, about Marina Keegan’s ‘The Opposite of Loneliness’. Keegan’s collection of essays and short stories was published posthumously, as this brilliant writer, actor, journalist died in an accident when she was just 22 years old. She had graduated from Yale just a few days earlier and was tipped for greatness. Much is rightly said of the tragedy of it all. Continue reading →
Craftivism: “a way of looking at life where voicing your opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper” – Betsy Greer.
I became aware of the Craftivist Collective over a year ago, but it wasn’t until last summer when I watched Sarah Corbett share her story that I began to understand the power of this kind of slow activism. Sarah talks about how as a worn out activist, she discovered the power of pairing her enjoyment of craft with her passion to see the world changed for the better. This change in her personal approach has grown into the Craftivist Collective, with people across the world taking part in craftivist projects, sometimes on their own, sometimes in groups, but always in solidarity with the movement. Continue reading →
It was TED’s fault. A couple of years ago I was trawling online for some generic ‘inspiration’, when I stumbled across Sarah Kay’s TED talk, ‘If I should have a daughter’. It was a revelation to me. I had always loved reading and writing poetry, but I had never before experienced spoken word poetry. I was instantly taken with the idea of poetry that, as Sarah Kay puts it, “doesn’t just want to sit on paper; something about it demands it be heard out loud or witnessed in person”. Continue reading →
As a longtime devotee of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy I would’ve picked up Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine’s ‘Last Chance to See’ regardless of the subject matter. The fact that the book details their attempts to see some of the most endangered species of the 1980s just meant that I gained an extra level of enjoyment, beyond their hilarious retelling of jetlag, excessive aftershave purchases and empathy with chickens (I’m not sure fellow passengers on public transport were as blessed by my stifled laughter and shaking shoulders). Continue reading →
I have always made time for words. Reading them, arranging them, pondering them…
At the age of four I was proud that I knew my letters. Even on the day that we moved into our new home, the most important thing to me was practicing them and showing them off. This was for some reason not appreciated by my parents when I chose to show off my writing skills on the side of a new chest of drawers (the perils of stray biros and four-year olds!). For the next 15 years the letters stood as a blue-inked monument to my early priorities. Continue reading →