Nature Notes #7

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5 things to do this week:

1. Next weekend marks the 2015 Big Garden Birdwatch with the RSPB. All you need is a spare hour and a garden or park to watch. I’ll be bringing you more tips next Wednesday, so pop back then for more info. In the mean time, get yourself registered for the bird count here.

2. Use a rainy day or evening as an excuse to do some research. Find a place you really want to visit and find a date in your diary to do it. I’m thinking of finding a free weekend to actually go and see a Black Grouse lek somewhere…

3. If the weather is also really grey where you are, bring some nature inside with fresh flowers or some potted bulbs. If you have a local Lidl, have a look there- I got some bargainous pots of Muscari there last weekend and they have more bulbs in yesterday’s offers.

4. Look out for a scene near your house that captures the season. Next week I’ll be introducing a new project Capturing the Seasons, and you’ll need a local view or patch. Somewhere that’s likely to change throughout the year will be perfect.

5. Keep an eye out for Catkins- hazel catkins are *pun alert* springing up all around where I live and it really does feel as though the new season is just around the corner. If you’re a Nature Geek like me, you might also know that Alders produce catkins. I learnt a lot reading this blog post about the differences between the two.

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2015 Reading Challenge

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In an effort to tackle number 1 on my 30 before 30 list, I’ve set myself quite a tall order on my year’s reading via a GoodReads reading challenge- to read 50 books this year which works out at just under a book a week. Whilst I’ve never before counted how many books I read in any year, I think this is probably quite ambitious, but still achievable (I hope!). With 10 books already to read for my Book Club, plus those which I tend to read for Bloggers’ Book Club (although I’m yet to make the Skype chat), those alone should make a reasonable dent in the overall total.

If you want to follow my progress, feel free to follow or friend me on GoodReads (you can find me here).

The Week #1

A new year and a new series: meet The Week. A weekly round up of clippings from around the web.

I’ve had a hideous week having been hit by a horrible strain of cold/flu and barely got out of bed from Wednesday to Friday other than to make the next dose of Lemsip. Chris has been an absolute star keeping me fed and watered every evening and I’m feeling a lot brighter- it’s put a pause on my move more, get fitter New Year’s Resolutions though!

Here are a few snippets that made my week that little bit better…

New blog discovery: The Kittchen by Kit Graham is filled to the brim with deliciousness (Plus her foodie Instagram is well worth a follow @thekittchen). I’m planning on making those Lemon Curd and Raspberry muffins with the last of my freezer raspberries ASAP.

Currently reading: This week I finished off one of my Christmas pressies, Tudor: The Family Story by Leandra de Lisle and read the first Hunger Games novel by Suzanne Collins from cover to cover. More detail on my monthly reads and watches at the end of the month. Magazine wise, I’ve had both Mollie Makes and Love Patchwork and Quilting pop through the letterbox this week. Sadly my love for Mollie is diminishing and each issue seems to have fewer projects that I want to try. I’ll see what February’s issue has to offer, but if I still feel the same I think I’ll be cancelling my subscription.

Currently Enjoying: the #30dayyogachallenge from Yoga with Adriene via Youtube. I was loving this 3 days in until the cold/flu hit. Now, I have about a week of videos to catch up with!

Discovering: Project Life, and after a trip to Hobbycraft I’m itching to get scrapbooking and keep a record of my year.

Kept busy by: The big news down here is the grounding of the Hoegh Osaka slap bang in the middle of the Solent. It (potentially) affects my day job, plus Dad’s a recently retired Southampton Pilot too so it’s been very interesting to see how it’s all played out so far. Thankfully everyone is safe, but the discovery of this parody account gave me a good giggle.

Nature story of the week: This is new to me this week, but dates back to last September. Have a good watch of the video linked from this web page about the Canadian fisherman who discovered an exhausted Bald Eagle, took it aboard and filmed the whole thing with running commentary. Brilliant!

A final thought: I suspect I’m not the only one who agrees with the views in this article from . Again, it’s an old article but it came up on The Guardian’s list of popular articles when I was reading the virtual newspaper earlier in the week.

Hope you’ve all made the most of the weekend wherever you are.

Nature Notes #6

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It’s a brand new year- embrace it. Wrap yourself up and get outside for a good long walk.

Make some goals for the year (maybe start a list of the birds or plants that you see this year?)

Look out for big flocks of starlings congregating together for the weekend.

If it’s frosty, document it with some photographs of the world around you.

Keep feeding (or start to feed!) the birds if you can- it’s cold out there. Brrr!

30 before 30

January has got me thinking. I’ve missed this little blog and although I might not post that often, I’m going to get back to it every now and then. I feel better having something here, just for me.

Something that I’ve been reflecting on for a while now is that my 30th birthday is fast approaching. I don’t feel bad about that, I’m actually quite looking forward to it, but I want to use the countdown as motivation to make more of life. Forget New Year’s resolutions, the things on this list are a mixture of what I’ve been wanting to do for ages as well as things that should change my life for the better. Ok, here goes…

  1. Read more.
  2. Read more non-fiction (especially those books gathering dust on the shelves)
  3. Actually add reviews to TripAdvisor rather than just going on other people’s
  4. Start ‘yearlisting’ and keep it up.
  5. Play board games with friends more often.
  6. Learn to let go and ditch things and people who don’t add to my life.
  7. Give blood.
  8. Complete one full ‘photo a day’ year.
  9. Go to Iceland.
  10. Finish my first quilt.
  11. Finally develop the films I used in Venice in 2010.
  12. Get back into film photography and use it to document 2015 and 2016.
  13. Decorate the house non-magnolia.
  14. Go to the ballet.
  15. Book accommodation abroad via Airbnb.
  16. Go to London 4 times a year to visit galleries.
  17. Raise money for charity.
  18. Draw more.
  19. Train to bird ring.
  20. Cycle once a month.
  21. Try yoga.
  22. Make more time for myself.
  23. Complete the 3 Peaks challenge.
  24. Learn Dutch.
  25. Go to the Netherlands and speak Dutch confidently (one for 2016 I think!).
  26. Know about wine than that I like Pinot Grigio.
  27. Go to the cinema once a month.
  28. Get outside and walk every weekend (even if only to the shops).
  29. Learn to scuba dive.
  30. Run a marathon.

I’ll pop this list on a new tab so I can check back, but I’ll come up with an update in October by the big 2-9 to check in on my progress before the 12 months countdown begins!

Nature Notes #5

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5 things to do this week:

There are still so many butterflies around- make a note of those you see.

Enjoy the beautiful light in the evenings at the moment- that ‘golden hour’ seems to be at about 6pm onwards for me.

On a sunny day, take a picnic blanket, thermos of tea or coffee and some china mugs and sit somewhere outside, it’s so lovely enjoying an outside cuppa from a proper mug.

Plan a weekend in October to get outside and see somewhere new on a long walk.

Keep an eye on those leaves, are they just beginning to turn?

Hatton House

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We spent last weekend in Cambridge for a wedding, and used the trip as the perfect opportunity to test out Airbnb. I’ve loved the idea of the site since I heard about it, but Chris wasn’t quite so keen. After scouring the site to try and find somewhere reasonably priced but not too far from the city, I stumbled across Hatton House B&B in Longstanton and placed a reservation. On arriving, I think we were both struck by the serenity of the house and it’s gardens- a beautiful yellow brick house surrounded by gardens and ponds, it was picture-postcard perfect.
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The whole house had an air of tranquility- fresh flowers, candles burning, clean white walls and light filled rooms (both our bedroom and bathroom had windows on both sides overlooking the gardens)- it was bliss and I just wish I’d had longer there to relax in that bath or lounge around longer reading in bed on a Sunday morning. The 8 free-range chickens clucking and scuttling around the grounds were just an added bonus.

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Highly recommended- Jayne was the perfect host and I can’t wait to head back there next time we head to the city. When we found out our room with a delicious breakfast was only £20 more than a night in a dorm room at one of the Cambridge colleges, it seemed even better value, and I can’t wait to book another break via Airbnb.

Nature Notes #4

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5 things to do this week:

Look up and see what you can spot- we saw bats near our house at the weekend.

Go for a walk while we still have this lovely weather here in the UK.

Take part in the Great British Beach Clean.

Look out for flocks of starlings gathering- I’ve been seeing bigger groups of them around and about, preparing for winter roosts.

Make time to listen to what’s around you. Today I heard a fluttering and it was a robin, really close by, having a bath in a stream and was more than happy to continue bathing with an audience.

Nature Notes #3

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5 things to do this week:

Go out for a walk at lunchtime one weekday and get some fresh air.

Make some sloe gin. I made mine last week using Aldi gin and this recipe.

Have a ‘digital detox’ one evening- turn off that phone, TV, iPad etc and do something different (listen to music, read a book, play a board game or look up something nature related you’ve always wondered the answer to).

Take time to notice little things around you- hearing singing birds on the way to work perhaps?

Count how many different autumn fruits you see this week (sloes, rosehips, hawthorns…).

Styling the Seasons- September

I love a good blogging project, so when I came across a gorgeously styled dinner table on Charlotte’s Instagram with the hashtag #stylingtheseasons I was intrigued.The project is a collaboration between Charlotte (of Lotts and Lots) and Katy from Apartment Apothecary and you can see their September efforts here and here.

The idea of taking a bit of time each month to really stop and appreciate the time of year and reflect it in your home really resonated with me as the year just passes so fast it’s difficult to find time to stop and appreciate it. I love the brightness of Charlotte’s dinner table- it makes me instantly happy to see all those colours, and as for Katy’s post, that String shelving has been firmly added to my dream home wishlist (see the whole of her beautiful study here– it’s perfection. I’m off to Winchester tomorrow and I think a trip to The Hambledon for one of those beautiful pastel vases may be in order).

What I’ve loved about this project is it shows how differently we all see the changing year. While others are clinging on to the last bursts of summer, for me this month has been about embracing the new season and enjoying the signs of autumn all around. I’ve been outside a lot this month, so it only makes sense for my September #stylingtheseasons to be all about bringing the outside in, and I’ve been gathering a few bits and bobs from out and about to gather together and style a space- using props on a coffee table, and then bringing them together on a tray on my dining table for something which is a lot more cat friendly.

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You can keep an eye out for other people’s #stylingtheseasons by keeping an eye out for the hashtag on social media, or use it to join in too.