Those Meandering Days

One late November morning though, the great grandfather clock in the hallway intruded on my sleep and woke me up as the sun was rising. I climbed out of bed, tentively padded across the room and drew open my curtains. Perched on top of a valley, my bedroom overlooked the fields and villages beyond. It was one of those perfect early winter mornings. The ground was covered with a heavy, glistening frost and the sky appeared as though it had been blended with pastels under a veil of calm water. A rosy hue had settled and engulfed everything as far as my eye could see. I opened the window and was suddenly struck by the cold air. It expanded in my chest as I breathed it in, invigorating me and wrenching me out of my sleep induced state. I knew in that second that I had to be out there and be a part of it.

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A Knife and Fork in the Road

Stress. It arrives like an unwelcome houseguest, brazenly walking through the door without being invited in, dropping its bags overflowing with anxiety, tension and agitation at your feet. It pushes past you, takes root in your chair and throws its feet upon the nearest table. It looks at you with controlling eyes as if to say, ‘I’m here now and I’m going to call the shots’. You stand there, feeling as though your strings have been cut, feeling the full weight of your body from the vacuous air above.  You hope that if you ignore it, it’ll just shrivel away. But it doesn’t work like that. It’s like a petulant, needy child, constantly seeking attention and demanding your time. If you give it the silent treatment, it’ll just shout louder in your ear. 

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A Perfectly Portioned Autumn

It’s that time of year again, my favourite time when the smell of autumn lingers in the air and everything feels new and possible. Every year I have such high hopes for autumn. I promise myself that I shall be out revelling in it as much as possible. I imagine the long walks in my favourite knitwear, my ochre scarf wrapped around my neck as I kick up leaves in my walking boots. But for me, autumn always comes with a side serving of trepidation and fear. Because autumn is as much about food as it is about being outdoors. It’s the season of harvest and abundance, tempting me with big roast dinners, warming stews and wholesome soups. I love to plan walks where I know there's a cafe so I can sit and enjoy my cake and coffee as the light fades around me. For me, autumn gives with one hand and cruelly takes with another. 

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When the Skylark Sings

As my heart filled with the sights and sounds of the world awakening around me, I drove further. I ventured out to the north of Perthshire, following old bridle paths and nature trails. I took off my navy jumper, tied it around my shoulders, exposing the skin of my arms and and the gentle folds of my stomache through my colourful breton top. I was happy. I was fulfilled. I felt as though I was seeing the world for the first time with the eyes of someone who had lived as a silhouette for far too long. As I climbed over gates, and searched for paths, I felt the weight of my worries lift from me. It was springtime and I overwhelmingly pleased to see it.

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A Life by Numbers

Like most people, I also know exactly where I was when news of the tragic death of Princess Diana broke. My husband and I were living in Cyprus at the time. We were driving to the outdoor pool when the announcement came across the radio. We neither of us spoke. Again, like most of us, I know precisely what I was doing when the World Trade Towers were hit. I was a few weeks away from giving birth to Eliza and I was resting on the sofa when the programme I was watching was interrupted. I couldn't take it in. I kept watching the footage and then gasped in horror as the second tower was hit before my eyes. As I cupped my arms around my huge bump, I knew that the world was never going to be the same again. And yet with all of these memories, both wonderful and horrific, not only do I know where I was or how old I was, I also know exactly how much I weighed. 

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The Smallest of Things

Then there are the shafts of light that suddenly seem to appear around the house. You walk into a room and there they are. Beautiful vignettes, each breathing new life into a forgotten patch on the wall or a corner of the furniture. In a brief moment, it holds everything in its path in perfect clarity as the edges around it gradually fall into shade. And if by chance the ray catches a nodding, humble flowerhead in its path, the moment is elevated into something more than mere light and shade.  

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Pie Crusts and Promises

For me, January is the slowest month. It has an honesty and effortlessness to it after the frivolities and chaos of December. Each day is fleeting, holding within it the briefest of moments, which fall untarnished and remain unmarked as the sun fades and time disappears into nothingness.  Despite the shorter days, I feel as though I have all the time in the world. There is nothing pressing to do and very little to occupy my mind. It's too early for my seedlings to appear or to start the ritual of spring cleaning the house and it's too late to worry about the things that I didn't achieve last year. The mistakes I had previously made and the worries that I had carried with me were put to bed as I turned over the page of my new calendar.

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Notes from the Aga

I think about everything, from the trivial to the profound. I can spend an entire hour wandering whether we eat enough fish or whether our duvet has the right tog count for the time of year. But just lately one question has dominated my thoughts. I live a small but important life. I end most days with a feeling of satisfaction and fulfilment. But do I keep my life intimate because I like it this way or because I am fearful of trying something new? In the years to come, when I approach the late autumn and winter of my life, will I feel as though I have done enough? Have I grasped the opportunities presented to me and left a legacy on this world?

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A Contented Month

Autumn though is a time of contradictions too. The early darkness forces us to slow down, to retire the day earlier than usual. As the winds pick up and the air finds it's bite, we retreat. We batten down the hatches and wait, finding solace in our domesticity. Yet I often find that this time of year brings about a new vigour, experiencing a rush of energy and creativity. The crisp days lure me outdoors where I'm not startled by a squintingly bright light but instead I'm beckoned by a low sun that is soft and unobtrusive.

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Forever a Piece of England

I have always been an early riser. Those first few moments of the day, when the memory of slumber still lingers in my bones and my senses are gently stirred by the whisperings of a new day are my favourite. I will often wrap my grandmother’s shawl around my shoulders, pull on my thick, woolly socks and step out into the garden, mug of hot tea cupped in my hands and listen to the muffled choruses and rustlings of nature as it awakens around me.

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A Place to Belong

'I lived a 'suitcase existence' never forming an emotional attachment to any of the places we were sent to because I knew my time there was temporary. On our arrival at any new quarter, I would quickly unpack our boxes, place furniture and objects around the rooms and hang curtains and pictures. After a while this process became almost automatic, perfunctory. My only aim was to get sorted as quickly as possible so we could get on with the day to day routines. I wasn't building a home as such, I was simply filling the abandoned spaces with familiar things, which would one day be packed away again. '

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