Tuesday, 1 November 2022

sunsets, hikes and the isle of wight

hello, how are you? i hope that you are well; i know there's a lot of sickness going around at the moment, sure knows we've had most of it too these last couple of months, so i do truly hope you are having a good week so far.

last week was half term here in England, which means a week off school & pre-school, and a week filled with activities and adventures. we ended the week with a last-minute trip to the Isle of Wight, which is a short ferry trip away for us - and we had so much fun! so i wanted to share some photos and anecdotes here on this little blog for y'all, because if you've never been to The Island, then consider this a little heads up to book yourself in for the off season next year.

we've been to the Isle of Wight several times before, but not enough to know it very well at all, and this time we visited a part we've not explored before - it's quite wondrous how such a small island can have so much to do and explore. 

half the fun of the adventure is going on the Red Funnel ferry across the water, and this time was even more magical as we left as the sun was rising and came back as the sun set, so it felt very special. we love driving onto the ferry, we love guessing whether we'll be top deck or bottom deck, we love listening to the sound as you cross the ramp, and we LOVE to see all the things there are to see out the windows on the way - tug boats, container ships, the Red Jet, yachts, buoys, seagulls dancing at the back of the boat... as well as all the places we've been to or recognise along the coastline on either side. 

we stayed in Freshwater Bay, which was absolutely charming with a pizza van at the beach on Friday night, and the most beautiful autumnal sunsets of pink and orange and sky trails and grey clouds... in fact Freshwater Bay to me was much more impressive than The Needles, so tranquil and very stunning.


other charming things about Freshwater include this lovely thatched church, a gorgeous old coffee shop called The Piano, and a 150 year old corner shop selling local produce. 


buying local on the IoW is super easy, and the quality is very high - lovely rich yellow butter, tomatoes, eggs, honey, beer, yogurt, ... we were spoilt. and had we stayed longer i would've sampled more - it's a foodie paradise. crab, lobster, quince, garlic, cheese, preserves, tomato passata, the list goes on.


we spent our first day taking the kids to Tapnell Farm, which was great fun, and the kids mostly loved the go karting - though there were also trampolines, live music, animals, a climbing wall, dry sledding, crazy golf, a pumpkin patch... it was great.

then the second day we spent hiking to The Needles, which are definitely more spectacular viewed from the mainland, but the walk itself was beautiful. lots of climb - we were glad our airbnb had an off-road pushchair we could borrow as our just-turned-3-year-old slept almost the whole journey (my husband got a good workout).

the views over the bay were lovely...


we walked over 20,000 steps and over 36 flights of stairs, up to the Tennyson monument, and then back down and then up again to The Needles, and then all the way back again on a far flatter and quicker route. on the way back we stopped for a late lunch at a farm, and had a pasty and ice cream - very English indeed. with a little packet of olives, some local apple juice and some local beer on the side.

that evening we drove to another village to see their little shop and buy more local produce, i got some water-milled oats and a packet of Rolo's (so i could teach my son the importance of "the last Rolo"), and we headed home during a gorgeous sunset where the whole sky looked like it was on fire. the coastal road on the south side of the island is really quite something.

the following day we had a slow start, and then headed to the beach at Fort Victoria, it was a beautiful walk, and felt truly like we were in another country for a moment. we made a mental note to visit Hurst Castle sometime next early summer.


we had some Sunday lunch at a disused railway station, called Off The Rails (worth pre-booking), followed by a little walk. we also made a mental note that it would be fun to hire bikes and cycle the old railway tracks and surrounding area. 

we then popped into Yarmouth to grab a 'posh' coffee from a fancy coffee house, and made another mental note that Yarmouth would be worth stopping at for longer next time for lunch and a mooch around the shops. then we headed back to the ferry for the journey home...


we had so much fun! it does sound rather like we went all that way for a Sunday roast and a very long day of walking, but it was SO much more than that. we made so many memories, and had so many special moments. take the very last moment of the trip; it was sunset on the ferry and we saw the Queen Victoria setting sail, followed by the Aurora - you can't get much more up-close to the ships (without getting on them) than when you're on the IoW ferry, and it was so exciting to see both at the same time.
it was totally dark by the time we were going to get in our car to disembark, and it's such a romantic thing, getting in the car, in the dark, over the water, with the dock lights and city lights twinkling, the sound of the water lapping against the ship, the smell of salt and burning marine fuel, the mild cold on your skin of the autumn sea breeze. my husband hugged me close as we both appreciated how special a moment it was, how perfect it was.

watch more of our trip here...


thank you for watching, and i hope you have a lovely day x

Wednesday, 12 October 2022

my sustainable wardrobe, part 4 : take it slow

it's funny, i just did my autumn wardrobe switchover for probably the tenth time in my whole life, and oddly it was the first year i didn't really get rid of much stuff. it was about six items. which for me on a wardobe switchover is hardly any at all. 

at first i actually felt bad - like maybe i wasn't in the right mood to do the audit, or like maybe i didn't do it right or something?! but then i realised, its a good thing!! and that led me to a few conclusions...

1. i'm getting to know MY STYLE better.
thank goodness, i'm finally being slightly less experimental and settling into what i know i like, what feels comfortable and what i think looks good. it's taken a lot of me stepping out the house feeling not like myself, for me to find out what actually does feel right. who would've thought it would take me so long! in fact, really i've been dressing in a very similar style my whole life, now it's more about finding silhouettes i enjoy and outfits i can repeat. it's a lot more these days about quality too.

i've been obsessed with fashion for such a long time, i just love how what we wear can affect our mood, and other people's moods too, how it can send messages and tell stories, how it can be a source of creativity and inspiration. but for the longest time i felt embarrassed about my love of fashion, lots of people i knew thought it was silly or unimportant, maybe even a waste of time or money. now, whilst i definitely think it can be all these things too, i'm more inclined towards the more positive effects of what we wear. 

there's a HUGE culture in the 'mum' world to not try too hard, to wear your scruffs because life is tough. and whilst i'm SO happy that it's now politically correct to wear your sweats to school, it also needs to be ok to dress like you're going out to dinner to pick up your kids if you want to. and i feel like most mamas would have happier days if they got out of those pj's, i know i do!

2. i'm becoming more frugal and taking it SLOW.
one of the big changes i've spoken about in recent blogs has been that i'm much more considered about what i bring into my wardrobe, whether it's secondhand, purchased or handmade, it's usually got a lot of thought behind it - i've made too many mistakes, and i've finally decided to learn from them. i'd rather wait a year for the right piece of fabric for a sewing project than spend the time making it with something that's 'ok' but i don't absolutely love. 

and with that comes a frugality, because it's taking more time and it's also much more intentional. things last long in my wardrobe, i use them more and i need less of them.


3. sometimes you just need to REARRANGE stuff.
there's something so powerful about taking it all out and putting it all back in again. i guess mostly because you can see how much you have and what you have, so it gives you a greater understanding of what you could do to help it function much better. most seasons i've realised i need more leggings, more tights and more good socks, just the basics to make sure that the wardrobe works well in every season. 

sometimes i've realised i've got one thing i wear all the time and would be good to have in other colours or have repeats of. sometimes i realise i've got 12 pairs of jeans that i never wear but feel like i should have because everyone else does... 

also, it's so helpful to rearrange it in a way that makes the things you'll use more often in a more accessible place. like coats being more prominent for the winter, for example.

4. a little clearing leads to more clearing.
one of the most astonishing things about each audit has been to get such a clear overview of what i have that in the weeks following the audit i often clear out more than i did on the audit day itself. i guess i realise i've got enough of some things and i can clearly know if there are better alternatives to an item in my wardrobe or not.

the next step in this whole wardrobe process is going to be a little wardrobe styling session - i've threatened it a few times, but i've not actually done it. it would be so good to have photos of styling ideas that already exist in my wardrobe so i can easily put things together in the mornings when i'm short of time. i think i'm ready for that challenge! and i'm ready to make several cringey ones before i get to the ones i really like. it's just going to need me to summon up a load of energy because getting dressed multiple times in a row is exhausting work!

for more about my upcoming making plans, see this video and follow me over on my @handmadeyears instagram...



thank you for reading today :)

Friday, 30 September 2022

my faith journey : let's be honest

perhaps this isn't something to share on the internet, or perhaps it is, and maybe i'll share, maybe i won't, and maybe i'll delete it later on, who knows.

i'm a giant cliché and i'm aware of that. but over the last couple of years i've really questioned my faith. it's something that happened both fast and slow, and it's very much an ongoing journey...

i've questioned all the big things, and the only two things i feel sure of right now are that there is a creator - i cannot fathom that the world just happened to exist, and all of it so perfect and interesting. getting pregnant and breastfeeding was just confirmation for me that we are super intricately designed and miraculous. and then the second thing i think is that i don't believe in an after life, you know, i'm just quite content with living here and that being enough, that we return to the soil and that's that. so then that puts be in a predicament, because those two things don't exist together in the world i used to know, the world of the evangelical Christian. 

so, then, i also really believe a LOT of what the bible has to offer, but i also believe like with any book that it has the power to cause both good and evil, and it can easily be read the wrong way, by the wrong person, for the wrong reason, and cause so much emotional trauma and fear. if Jesus came to spread the message of love, then why aren't Christian's more loving? if the Holy Spirit "lives inside of us" then why aren't Christian's more peaceful? 

i also wonder about why the modern church is setup in the way it is. it absolutely baffles me. it hasn't moved with the times in a positive way, for the most part. and i appreciate that i only have my frame of reference here, and that not all churches are this way... but i'm pretty sure that the intention of the early churches was to build local communities, to be something people envied and wanted to be a part of, to be a servant to it's people and neighbours, and that everyone pitched in because they wanted to. that all ages, nationalities, genders, skin tones, eye colours, etc, were welcomed.

nowadays i don't suppose that's what i see, instead i see a lot of churches paying their staff with the donations, rather than giving them to the community. i see churches that people drive to instead of walk to. i see people going to serve their own emotions and mental health rather than taking part. it's quite a far model from the 'let's sit and eat food and share wine' Jesus that the bible represents. Jesus came to break lots of rules and then Paul seems to add rather a million new ones after his departure...  plus then why do some things get preached on but not all. why does the bible cause so much division with things like head coverings?

ok, that's enough questions. 

i'm still clearly super confused. 

but i am so GLAD i'm asking these questions, because for the first time i'm out of my (very safe) Christian bubble and can see things very differently. i feel the fear lots of others feel, i feel the uncertainty, i understand why so many people are led to addictions and distractions. and i totally GET the desire for safety, peace and HOPE, that the message of the bible proposes.

because a life without hope isn't something i want really. it's negative and depressing. literally. so i guess where i'm at is trying to figure out where to put my hope. lots of people put their hope in their family, their children, their spouse, their football team, their finances, their political views. but i sort of agree with the bible when it says that these are passing things, they aren't sure or firm and they could all end tomorrow. it makes sense to have your hope in something more solid and bigger. 

now i know what you're thinking, 'you're glad to be here?' - well i guess only in so far as it's good to finally see the other side. and that really is good, because i didn't truly understand it before. i mean, i'll never be able to step into everyone's shoes, sure, but at least i can see a different perspective, even if it's just a glimpse, and by goodness that's important.

where do i go from here?

well, i keep asking questions, keep reading, keeping talking to people, but NOT stress about speed and finding the answers right this moment and instead take it easy and let the journey of life flow at a nice babbling brook sort of pace. 

i want to keep immersing myself in lovely things that fuel my creativity and ignite my positivity and love for beauty. i want to hang out with people (in real life and online, in what i read and watch and listen to) that help me become the version of me i want to be - one filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. 

a life lived in fear isn't really a life. there's a quote by Georgia O'Keefe that's 'I have been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I have never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do' - which rings so true to where i'm at.

i hope you find me just quite the same person as always; joyful and able to see the positive in almost anything, always playing devil's advocate, learning to find my voice... clearly today my voice is a big jumble, but i find usually writing things down helps me clarify where i'm at, and that's part of the reason i wanted to start my faith journal again too. if you enjoy the video, please make sure to leave a comment and give it a thumbs up, it really help me know what you're all enjoying and want more of. 


thank you all for your encouragement and support, i always really value it x