Tag: featured

A Simple Life

Christmas came and went. I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas break. Ours was a relaxed one which was what we wanted, so all good here.

2019. A new year. I used to make New Year’s resolutions when I was younger. I haven’t made one in ages although I’ve been thinking a lot about what I wanted to change in my life and I’ve come up with only one thing:

I want to lead a simple life.  

I’m not really religious but Pope Francis Christmas message did hit a chord with me. He said:

Forego the greed, gluttony and materialism of Christmas and to focus instead on its message of simplicity, charity and love.

I’ve seen photos of children on social-media opening presents and they had piles and piles of presents, more than they’ll appreciate. I saw a toddler sit in front of a pile and the child didn’t even know what to do with the tons of presents in front of him.

How much does a child need to be happy on Christmas day? Do we really need that much? Do we really need expensive presents to make us happy? Thank goodness I’ve never been brand conscious and designer clothes/bags have never appealed to me. I don’t want to sound self-righteous but I don’t think I’ll be able to justify to myself spending that much on something knowing that other people have nothing.

At the moment, I want to do a massive clear-out of all the stuff we don’t need. We have loads of crockery courtesy of my in-laws. Every time they get rid of stuff, without even thinking whether we need it, my usual response is “We’ll take it!” when they ask if we want it. As a result, we have more dinner plates I’ll ever need. We have more than a couple of gravy bowls, milk jugs, as if we’ll ever need more than one. My husband says “But you break things, Dean”. True and when I do, we’re lucky there’s always something to replace it with. But do we really need all that stuff?

I’ve resolved not to buy anything unless we really need it. I resolve not to buy anything just because I want it. That will be my mantra. Hopefully, I’ll stay true to my word. After all, as I’ve mentioned, how much stuff do we really need? Surely we only need the basics?

What about you? Do you also aim for simple living?

Afternoon Light

It’s mid November.  Surprisingly, the temperature is still mild, although if the weather forecast is correct, it will turn cold next week.

We’ve been having lovely weather lately.  Everywhere you turn is beautiful especially in the afternoon autumn light.  I’m currently loving autumn leaves.  When the light is lovely, I rush outside with my camera in hand and click on whatever catches my eye.

Let me share some photos with you.

My husband hang a bird-feeder outside our bathroom window.  It’s lovely to see the birds feed from it.  But I’m never able to capture it.  I think the birds know when I’m holding my camera or my phone as soon as they see it, they fly away.

The autumn afternoon sun amazes me.  Sometimes I just sit on the floor and watch it form shadows on the wall, or watch the way it beams from the window and explodes inside a room.  If I’m lucky it stays that way for more than a couple of hours before it darkens and everywhere you look it is gloomy.  Then without warning, the temperature drops and I feel the cold in my bones.  Thank goodness for warm, fluffy socks!  Days like these, I hold unto the small joys.

What about you? How’s your autumn going?

Autumn in Canons Ashby

While Summer is by far my favourite season, Autumn is dear to me too.  As mentioned, I love the rich changes of the colours of the leaves.  It’s nature weaving out its magic in its finest, isn’t it?  What’s not to love about Autumn?  Yes, it’s definitely colder, but it’s also an excuse to wear lovely chunky knits, and warm over-sized coats!

We went over to Beds to see family during the half-term break.  It was also T’s grandfather’s 90th birthday.  We’re pleased to see him really well and strong in mind.  He has a youthfulness which I hope will always stay with him.

While over there, we also had the chance to visit Canons Ashby, a National Trust house in a small village with the same name as the property.  Built in the 16th century, it’s been home to the Dryden family for over 400 years.

Highlights from the visit – finding medieval doodles on the wall.

According to one of the guides there, in the 80s, when this particular bedroom was stripped off its rotting panels, they found lovely etchings that dates to medieval times.  If you peer at the photo above closely, you’ll see a child-like doodle of a girl obviously made by a child.  The next ones (as seen on photos below) were obviously done by someone older.

All on this wall:

T enjoyed poking about in the small rooms in the house.

While Canons Ashby doesn’t have a large garden like the other National Trust properties, it was still a joy to walk on, or in T’s case, skip about.

The vibrant autumn colours were in full boom in Canons Ashby.

We also visited the13th century Abbey nearby.

Like all National Trust properties, the place is steeped in history.  Our link to the past, or if you’re an 8-year-old little girl like T, a place to skip and jump about.

So far, I haven’t visited any National Trust or English Heritage property and was disappointed in the end…. Have you?  Do share.

The Flowers of Castle Drogo

I must have flowers, always and always.  – Claude Monet

And it’s no wonder that the famous the French artist went on and created paintings of them one after the other.  I’m no artist.  I knew that as an early child when mum hired a local artist to teach my brother and I how to paint. He did well.  I did not. I cannot paint flowers but I can certainly photograph them.

But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

I have a friend who can name every single flower there is.  She tried to teach me once, but I’m afraid my memory retention is bad and it’s only going to get worse (hopefully not!), so I’m afraid I won’t be able to name any of the flowers above apart from the roses.  After all, who can’t?

These beautiful flowers can be found in Castle Drogo in Devon. They were taken in the summer so I’m not sure if they’ll be as colourful and beautiful as they were in those photos, but still worth a visit.  The castle is still surrounded by scaffolding but the gardens are definitely worth visiting especially if you love flowers.  If you find yourself in the area, do drop by and visit the flowers of Castle Drogo.  They have wonderful grounds too, perfect for autumn walks.

What about you?

Are you good at identifying flowers?

S is for Surfing

And as Storm Callum ravages the UK, I sit here on my desk, warmed by the heater and sipping a mug of hot tea looking at these images of little T surfing over the summer and wishing I could could go back to those moments on the beach, watching my little girl as she misses a wave and has to do it all over again with that determined look on her face I love so much.

After several tries, she manages to pull herself up and ride with the wave.  I asked her once what it was like, she said it’s like being on top of the world!

And she loves it.  She absolutely loves it and it’s also a thrill to watch her from ashore.  I don’t worry about her, because my husband is never far from where she is.  Admittedly, the waves here in Widemouth Bay in North Cornwall can be very rough, but he’s never far and we also make sure that there are lifeguards around.

If you happen to find yourself in North Cornwall next summer and you think you or your kids would be interested to learn how to surf.  Do contact Miles, little T’s coach.  He was brilliant with her and her friends.  He had them all standing by the end of the first lesson.  Click here to find out more about him.  He is the best coach in the area.

Back to reality, as I hear the winds thrash our house and the surrounding trees in our garden and I’m reminded that summer is indeed over and that I’m wearing wooly socks to keep my feet warm from the cold.

Wouldn’t it be great though if we could step into these photographs of our summers on the beach, lighting our old rusty bbq, and staying till sunset and till the last of the surfers are gone.

Summer on the Beach …

… that’s the theme of our whole summer of 2018, although to be fair, that’s an ongoing theme in our family life since we live close by to the beach. You’ll find us there whether it’s summer, autumn, winter or spring.  This is a part two of what we’ve been up to in the warm months, you can click here if you want to check out part one.

We did think of going abroad, but with the “heat wave” a close friend said “Why go abroad when it’s as good as anywhere here when the weather is as warm as this?”.  And that’s exactly what we did!  We didn’t even go very far.  Just over the border, into Devon…

Lyme Regis

Charmouth Beach

We’ve been to Charmouth before, but I’ve never seen this much fossil hunters on the beach!

, Our friend was right, when the weather is great, spending summers here in England is as good as going abroad.

What about you?

Did you go abroad this summer?

Our 2018 Summer in Photos (Part 1)

Hello again.  It’s been a while since I’ve last posted anything here on Little Steps. I’ll be honest, I’ve lost my blogging mojo and I’ve been trying to get it back.  In the mean time, I’ll try to say it in photos and hopefully the words will come…

Porthleven

Perranporth Beach in the fog:

And then the fog lifted …

To be continued…

And Spring finally Sprung … I think …

This post has been sitting in my drafts for about a couple of weeks now and I think I’ve just jinxed it.  As I type this I can feel my hands cold, because we’ve switched off our central heating weeks ago.. after all it’s supposed to be Spring and it’s the second day of May for goodness sake!  Who has their heating on in May???

Have I really jinxed this?  All because I’ve left this in my draft for some time now?  Apologies.  Things have been a bit manic in my life lately.  I’m busy trying to tick off a list that has been on for the longest time.  But let me remind you what the weather was like about two weeks ago…

It was absolute bliss.  I even managed to hang some laundry out.  We haven’t done this since last year!  And that to me is a win.

Is it sad that watching my laundry hung out to dry in a warm day like this make me happy?  Does it?  If you say to me “You need to get a life woman”  My reply would be “But this is my life and I’m content and watching my laundry dry in the sun does make me happy. You ought to try it”.  Small joys, you know.

Sitting on lounge chairs, with the sound of wind chimes being blown gently by the wind, watching my laundry dry in the sun and little T, sitting beside me eating her lunch with Doc sniffing around, hoping she’d drop a piece of bread, so he could snatch it, is what I call a perfect day to me.

Occasionally, you’d also hear the mooing of the cow in the nearby field and the distant sound of a tractor and the farmer’s dogs in the distance.  I’m hoping someday little T will remember this day, of how she put on what she called a “show” for her mum while standing on her swing, which was really more like a monologue of what I would call “the ramblings of a seven-year-old” I really should’ve recorded it.

Even Doc seemed happy and content that day.  Oh please bring back the warm days, we really don’t want to switch our heating on again.

What about you?

What’s the weather/temperature like on your side of the world?

Easter Break: Two Little Girls and a Beach

On Monday, T and her friends go back to school.  This Easter break was all about visiting and spending time with family up in the Midlands for us.  We also had a lovely short city-break at Birmingham where we were lucky enough to watch the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain perform at the beautiful Symphony Hall in Birmingham.  T was absolutely enthralled just watching them play, especially the cellos.  We think she was very much inspired by them.

And so we’re back in the sticks, where our life consists mainly of play-dates and impromptu trips to the beach after the husband is done with his work.  It’s lovely now because Spring seems to have sprung out of the depths of wherever it was hiding when Winter overstayed its stay.  Temperature has risen and it’s possible once again to walk on the beach without looking like an Eskimo or a North Pole explorer out for a ride with his wolf-dogs.  And so the husband went out with shorts and sandals …

I must admit.  I wasn’t as brave as him.  I still came out with a coat (although to be fair, a much lighter one), and the kids were also in hoodies and wellies.

And so we found ourselves on our favourite local beach, Sandymouth which I’ve mentioned more than a dozen of times on this blog.  I can’t repeat myself enough, it really is a must-visit beach if ever you find yourself in North Cornwall, especially with kids in tow.

The two girls decided that it was way more fun to walk around in bare feet even on a pebbly beach, so they plonked themselves on a drift-wood and took their wellies off, before deciding to try to climb the many interesting rock formations found on the beach.

Why do kids never listen to you when you tell them not to do something?  I told them not to climb higher, they ignored me.  And so I said, “If you get stuck, you’ll have to spend the night there, because I’m not climbing up there to get you down”.  Thankfully that worked and they slowly made their way down again and joined the husband exploring by the rock pools.  He found them a little crab to play with before setting it free.

We love it here.  It’s perfect for a long walk on the beach, especially when the tide is low. There are lots of rock pools to discover which both my husband and T love.

We ended the day with the two girls, walking back with their beach find of the day …. driftwood.

What about you?

How was your Easter break?

 

The Beast Returns! (A Delayed Post)

Well, they called it the mini-beast-from-the-East.  While it wasn’t as bad as the first one, we still had a lot of snow – pretty snow, everywhere you looked it was covered in white.  It gave the light a weird, eerie but beautiful and unusual glow.  Sometimes, it looked more like silver and not white.  T loved it of course, by Monday though we (not my little girl) were all a bit fed up with this winter wonderland and wanted it to be Spring.

When you’re little though, snow is still fun and magical, especially when it happens so rarely in the place where you live.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, it never really snows here in Cornwall, we usually get blasted by heavy wind, not blizzards, so when it happens, it’s the kids who really enjoy it, not the adults, although admittedly, we did have some fun too, even Doc did!

Snow fights, making snow angels, sledding, or just trying to slide down a snowy hill, is so much fun, if you’re a little child like T, especially if your school announces a free day, what’s not to like?

On the third snowy day though, we were just a little bit fed up with it.  I’m wondering how people manage in colder countries where snow is but the norm?  I guess, you do just get used to it – as for the rest of us, we’re really not equipped for snow, when it happens, everything slows down just a bit which to be fair isn’t really a bad thing.  But really, snow in March? I pity the daffodils that were squashed by the snow, I think they were a bit confused too.  Who wasn’t?

Even Doc seemed fed up with snow too.  Thank goodness, it’s all gone now.  Spring I think is finally here.

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Incidentally, apologies if you’ve been trying to access this little space of mine. I’ve been offline for a few days due to problems with my domain.  But all is sorted now thanks to good friends of ours who happen to be web developers.  If not for them, I’d be thinking of quitting blogging so if you guys are in need of a good team you can trust, do check them out here.  I owe them big time.