Hello 2016


I have a confession. Not only have I been off the blogging wagon, over the last month I’ve also been off the planner wagon. Whilst I’ve always loved stationery and nothing more than a shiny new diary to start the year, in February last year I discovered the online world of organising and planning blogs and videos. I ordered my first Filofax almost immediately (after doing a lot of reasearch as to which one I wanted- they’re not cheap!) and got planning!

More on how that went and has been going another time, but I wanted to get back onto the blog and felt inspired to do so when trying to get both Chris and I organised and motivated at home for the new year. I’ve been using a lot of online resources so thought it might be worth sharing them here.

My work diary for 2016 (I have an 18 month one so have been using it for 6 months already and love it!) is the week to view version of Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner. I’d tried out Emily’s products before ordering as she has an amazing array of free printables, which you can access here. The first one I’ve turned to for my own use is the 2016 at a glance which I’ll be sticking up over my desk at home. If you prefer a desk calendar, I love this idea which I spied on Pinterest as how to create your own calendar with photographs. If you fancy a ready made one, I’m still tempted to print out this motivational quote desk calendar.

One of the things I really wanted to do this year was really look at what we want to achieve over the year. I’ve made a lot of changes to my life for the better over the past 12 months and I want to continue that into this year. To do this, one of the thing I want to track is monthly goals. I used to think this sort of thing was a load of nonsense, but I do really think that without a plan, it’s harder to stay on track.

I also wanted a month to view calendar to add the little things we want to achieve each month. I plan to add them to a clipboard on the wall and list one thing for us to do per day of the month. These vary from little things like ‘hang the blind in the study‘ to bigger weekend jobs like ‘dig over whole allotment‘. Hopefully by writing jobs down we can actually make progress as we have somewhere to be accountable to! Our clipboard is portrait A4 so I’ve printed this free calendar. I also love this one which is landscape A4.

Are you trying anything new this year to keep you motivated?

National Chip Week


I know British food doesn’t have that much to commend it a lot of the time. I once read somewhere that English food is all beige, and other than the odd bright burst here and there, I’m inclined to agree. Roast dinner, beige. Fish and Chips, beige. Fry up, beige-ish. Sandwiches, predominantly beige. Toad in the hole, beige. You get the picture.

However, for me the occasional Fish and Chip supper is a real treat. It’s something that always gives me a holiday feeling and brings back memories of the coast: chilly wind, salty sea air and trying to eat lunch or dinner quickly without a mouthful of wind-beaten hair in the process. I’ve got many a happy memory of eating fish and chips straight from the paper on a British seaside. So when some bunting in our local chippy (a 2014 regional winner in the Fish and Chip awards, none the less) on our last visit alerted me to the fact that 16th to 22nd February is National Chip Week, I thought it might be a good time to recall my favourite Fish and Chip moments:

  • Battered Scallops from Rick Stein’s Fish and Chip shops (in Padstow or Falmouth)- at first I thought it might be a waste of a good scallop, but in reality- perfection.
  • Speciality battered catch of the day from what I really think might be my favourite discovery of our 2014 Cornwall trip- Smugglers in The Lizard. Delicious there and then in the centre of town, but get in the car and drive down to Lizard Point of an evening when the sun is about to set, walk down to the coast path and find yourself a bench. A hot, vinegary supper and a fantastic view at the most southerly point of the British mainland.
  • Walking up to town and back for childhood Fish and Chips which was best when we got to bring home a bag of frozen ‘fish for cats’ too. (Can you still get that, does anyone know? I think our cats would love us to eternity and back if so!)

Happy Valentine’s Day


Whilst Valentine’s Day isn’t something we really go for, it’s a nice excuse to take some time to really appreciate your loved ones. I know that’s something that most of us do every day, but it is a reminder for me not to take things for granted and enjoy what you do have.

I also gave myself the day as an incentive to get back into baking, and made some simple little fairy cakes topped with jellybean hearts. A perfect start to the weekend, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not.

World Wetland Day 2015




Have you ever heard of Ramsar? Thought not. It’s the Iranian city on the shores of the Caspian Sea that gives it’s name to the world’s most important Wetlands- Ramsar sites, protected here in the UK under European law. Protecting these sites is something I deal with at work nearly every day, so I know how valuable and vulnerable these sites are, but I saw a statistic this morning that truly shocked me:

64% of our wetlands have disappeared since 1900.

64%. In 115 years. I just find that incomprehensible. Here in the UK we’re lucky enough to have 170 of these vitally important natural sites, and since 1997, 2 February has been celebrated as World Wetland Day, the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971. This doesn’t mean all is well. Whilst these sites are afforded some protection they’re still constantly threatened by our actions- development, climate change, sea level rise and habitat loss.

Happy World Wetlands Day to you all!


So, on the 44th anniversary of the convention, why don’t you consider making a pledge to help secure the future of our wetlands?

As for me, pledge to share the majesty of our wetlands with as many people as possible, both here, in my professional and personal life. If we don’t take small steps to action, we may find it’s too late to continue to appreciate these sites, and reap the benefits they provide to the world around us.

Let’s hope that we (and future generations) can have wetlands to enjoy way into the futures.

The Week #4


New blog discovery: While I’ve followed Helen on twitter for ages, I realised this week that I’ve not actually read her blog before. The mention of this post on Twitter this week was what got me interested, and while she’s far more stylish than I’ll ever be, there’s gorgeous photography and style inspiration galore (although I might just try that cake recipe before an outfit idea…)

Currently reading: All I’ve read this week has been the remainder of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I’ve absolutely loved it and although I’ve not got the sort of life issues Cheryl had to get to grips with, it seriously makes me want to get out there and do something similar. It’s made me realise I could do with a bit more time for self-reflection and self-improvement. I loved this memoir so much, I slowed down my reading rate for the second half so it would last a little longer.

Currently enjoying: Organising, organising, organising! I’d already been starting to get things together at the start of the year, but a comment from my boss has made me take it further. I’ve always been thought of as super organised at work (not quite the same at home, but I’m working on it!), so when she saw how my heavy workload was making me frantic and chaotic with a to do list all over the place, and commented that I should take a bit of time out to get back to myself and my way of working, it spurred me into doing it. Expect a few posts over the next few months, but My Planner‘s YouTube Channel has been kicking me into getting all kinds of organised! It takes time, but I’m feeling on top of things workwise, and have found a system that works for me. Homewise, I’m getting there- a mission for February really…

Discovering: that I’m both fascinated by (and also sick to my teeth already of) the UK general election build up. There’s a fascinating article here about engaging with young voters. I just wish the main political parties took note- I’ve always found that as a demographic, we (although I’m not sure I still count as a ‘young’ voter?!) are often overlooked for other generations, and too often assumed to be apathetic.

A Kept busy by: Planning our very belated housewarming party which we’re finally having in March (only 15 months after we moved in, and we don’t even have any excuses like renovating, we’ve just been rather slow!). We’re hosting a murder mystery by Freeform Games. I’ve played a few of their mysteries before and really enjoyed them, so I’m excited to find out what this brings.

Nature story of the week: Cheating a little here, as this is actually from a few weeks back, but it’s so good it’s worth mentioning again. Possibly my favourite Twitter hashtag (after #SuperbOwl), have you seen #worstbirdpic? Hours of entertainment, or have a look at the summary here instead.

A final thought: I thought that Rosie‘s article here was spot on, and I’ve felt like that myself, time and time again. I’m planning on taking that list of 16 Steps to Happiness and starting on Friday on my day off, I’m going to give all 16 steps a go. Massive thanks to Rosie for sharing, it resonates so much with me and makes me realise that I’m not along in feeling like that sometimes.

Nature Notes #8


Apologies- its a slightly belated #naturenotes this week- life got in the way once again last week but there’s still plenty to do and look out for around you…

5 things to do this week:

1. Get outside and make the most of the cold snap. I love the crisp beauty of cold winter days and there are some gorgeous sights to be had- frozen spiders webs, icy puddles and frosty plants.

2. Look out for unusual visitors to your bird table or garden. In cold spells, more birds are forced into towns and gardens to look for food so it’s possible you could see a redwing, fieldfare or even a brambling popping up in your garden.

3. Are there signs of bulbs around you? The narcissi that I planted back in September are now showing as little green shoots pushing through the earth in our garden and it makes me feel as though the garden is coming back to life after it’s winter slumber.

4. Have a look at the trees around you. Winter is a great time to appreciate the different shapes and structures of different types of trees, and I find that oak trees look particularly majestic without their leaves. I walk past the one above every morning on my way to the station and it never fails to cheer up my rushed commute.

5. Keep an eye or ear out for starling roosts as these noisy birds flock together in winter. You don’t need to go as extreme as to visit the Somerset Levels’ famous murmurations, as smaller flocks can be found closer to home. When doing the Big Garden Birdwatch from my local park this weekend, I counted over 50 starlings roosting together in the treetops and electricity pylon. Their chattering was incredible- starlings really do make the best noises!



Just as I was heading off to bed on Friday night, I picked up my phone to see a text from Mum asking if I wanted to go and see some snowdrops some time in February. After pretty much instantly replying ‘YES!’, I was reminded of a post I’d started many moons ago (WordPress tells me it was 21 days ago although it doesn’t feel that long I’m sure…). The snowdrop season is short but beautiful, so go and see those little white bells of joy before it’s too late to catch them in 2015. I don’t know what it is, but seeing their beautiful green shoots as one of the first signs of garden life every year never ceases to make me feel positive about the year ahead. Here’s where you can track some down for yourself:

Country Living Magazine have a  2015 snowdrop visitors’ guide here.

You can search for snowdrop gardens on the National Garden Scheme website here. This site is also fab for all sorts of open gardens throughout the year, and you can wish away a whole year in planned garden visits without really trying (I know, I know I’m 28 going on 82).

Great British Gardens also have a lovely snowdrop list here if by some miracle you’ve not found somewhere via either of the above!

Finally, if anyone else is Hampshire based like I am, then as far as I can make out, these seem to be the best 3 local sites:

St George’s Church, Damerham near Fordingbridge (although we’ve just missed the 2015 Open Weekend- one for the 2016 list I think)

Bramdean House, also only open on Sunday just gone (if only I’d finished this post those 21 days ago…)

The Church of Our Lady in Warnford.

Do you know of any snowdrop gardens that are a must visit? Is it just an English thing or do you get snowdrops further afield?

The Week #3


New blog discovery: tonight I joined in with Bloggers’ Book Club (organised by Jenny and Alice), and discovered Abigail’s blog Snug. I’m enjoying having a further root through the archives after I’ve finished this post! Until 30 minutes ago, I’d never heard of the Museum of London, so I’m excited to see what else I learn from Abigail.

Currently reading: This week I finished off this month’s Bloggers’ Book Club choice which was The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. Not my usual style, but I did really enjoy something not too ‘concentratey’ for the train to work. Next to be read is Wild by Cheryl Strayed which is my offline book club’s next read. I’m only a few chapters in but really enjoying it so far, although I doubt I’ll finish it in time to see the film in the cinema.

Currently enjoying: Getting back into photoshop. This has no online relevance whatsoever other than that I’ve finally designed myself a custom blog header, which has been in my head since I first started this little blog! I’ve been loving that you can buy a monthly subscription rather than shell out for the full cost of Photoshop. It’s perfect for occasional Photoshop users like myself.

Discovering: That there is such a thing as Adult Attachment Styles. I first saw reference to this in a news article about how women who need less closeness in their relationships feel more pain during childbirth if their partner is present than if their partner isn’t with them. I’d never heard of Attachment Styles before, so I did a bit of Internet research (how did anyone ever find things out before the WorldWideWeb?! I can’t imagine Encyclopedia Brittanica being any good on this one!) and found it fascinating. Your attachment style entirely develops in the first 2 years of your life- amazing. If you want to find out your own attachment style, try the quiz here.

Kept busy by: The RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch, the world’s biggest citizen science event. However nice the food I put out to entice some garden visitors was, it just wasn’t attracting the birds in at home. I spent my week thinking about where to head to undertake the count if sitting at home was a no go, and I spent my hour sitting on a bench in our local park instead- results to follow next week.

Nature story of the week: some good news this week- this article on how India’s tiger population has increased by 30%, but what really brought home to me what a dire place we’re in overall was the following paragraph: ‘The natural habitat of tigers in India – tropical evergreen forests, deciduous forests, mangrove swamps, thorn forests and grass jungles – has almost disappeared outside reserves. Even inside designated zones, unchecked development of tourism and other industries has restricted space and food. Many end up foraging in areas with large human populations, leading to fatalities.’ I find it so hard to comprehend sometimes the scale of destruction that mankind undertakes.

A final thought: have you heard about the Doomsday Clock? I hadn’t at all until this week, when it hit the news that it’s been put closer to midnight than it has in an age, although apparently we shouldn’t be worried.

Photo an Hour- January 2015

If you’ve not come across the wonder that is #photoanhour, then do make sure you join in next month. In 2014, it was organised by Janey of Is That You Darling, but come 2015 she’s sharing the organisation with Louisa over at Duck in a Dress. It’s a once a month event, and you can take part via Twitter, Instagram, on your blog or wherever you fancy. For me, the best part is seeing what everyone else is up to on that day.

This month, I was my usual hopeless self and only realised it was happening at 16:00 on Saturday. Oops. So as not to miss out, I went for it and posted a photo an hour on Sunday instead. Here’s what I got up to this weekend…


10:00- Time to (finally) take the tree to the recycling point at the local garden centre. Continue reading

The Week #2

Here are a few snippets of my online world over the past 7 days…

New blog discovery: Circle of Pine Trees. Another discovery via Instagram, Laura’s blog is beautiful and inspiring. I may have to have a go at making some Marmalade before the Seville season is over.

Currently reading: this week I finished The Bees by Laline Paull which is possibly the best book I’ve ever read. I’ll go into more detail at the end of the month but in short- mesmerising, imaginative and gripping.

Currently enjoying: feeling semi-human once again now the worst of last week’s cold has lifted and I can actually get on with things again. I’ve been whipping things into shape and with Pinterest for inspiration I’m loving reading blogs and watching videos on YouTube all about stationery and organisation. Yep, my stationery obsession has reached new levels! This post is a favourite so far, and one of those organisers is definitely going to be my 2016 diary.

Discovering: the online world of stationery, planning and organisation . I thought I had a stationery tendency, but Organized Jen introduced me to a whole new level of stationery organising and I’ve been watching far too many videos online on ‘How to organise your daily planner’. I feel my washi tape obsession deepening as I plan for how to get my own diary in order…

Kept busy by: Clean and Scentsible‘s Household Organization Diet. I’m miles behind as I lost half of January before I began, but even just decluttering a little feels SO good!

Nature story of the week: bit of a serious (and long) one this week, but if the name Bowland Betty doesn’t mean anything to you (and even if it does), then read this article. I still find it shocking that we live in a culture where all this happens in the name of sport.

A final thought: this article on The Guardian about depression gives a very real insight into how mental health conditions can be misinterpreted, and is well worth the read.

That’s this week all over- back to the daily grind a a new week ahead tomorrow…