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:: It is May and there are lots of good songs about May. This weekend we have been enjoying singing to My Father’s Farm by Megson. (So good for singing with small people).

:: David Attenborough. I have been greatly enjoying all the DA 90th birthday celebrations, particularly the programme about Darwin this weekend. Made me teary at the end when he read the closing paragraph of Origin of the Species.

:: Poppies – there are gorgeous red and orange poppies spring up in unlikely places at the moment which injects bright pops of colour onĀ pavements & roadsides.

:: Trip to Manchester where I visited the Whitworth and my favourite veggie/vegan cafe.

::Ā Trip to Green Dragon eco-farm. Sheep. Kids (as in goats). Bottle-feeding lambs. Go-karts. Piglets.

:: My veg box contains sorrel this week. I love that my box magically appears on a Monday morning.

:: Being nearly at the end of a book and loving it so much I can’t bear to finish it. I have been labouring over it for some weeks but the time has come!

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:: I have a new gorgeous little nephew (or nephlet as I like to call him) which is so so lovely.

:: Sunshine – bright gorgeous days make make such a difference. I have been revelling in the sunshine.

:: Sadiq Khan being elected as London Mayor. It made me feel all warm towards London.Ā 

:: A lovely long hot bath while it is still light outside in the early evening. It feels much more luxurious somehow than a regular bath.

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:: My local neighbourhood today, it is open studios weekend and I have had such a lovely day getting to know the area a bit better.

:: Delicious veggie and tofu stirfrys and peppermint and liquorice tea.

:: Sara Pascoe has written a book, Animal ,which sounds really interesting and I can’t wait to read it. (She is also wearing a lemur tail on the cover which gets extra points in my world).

:: Trees look spectacular this time of year – both with new green leaves and blossom.

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:: Birds of Peckham chirping happily away throughout my early morning yoga class.

:: Lovely colleagues. I feel throughly spoilt this week with beautiful flowers and kind words.

:: Orange and almond cake.

:: Planting up the front garden. Eeek!

:: Ballet.

:: Nobody loves microbeads – hurrah one day we will be free.

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:: Having coffee in the sunshine.

:: Gardens can teach you lifeskills.

:: Kind words on my recent blogposts. Thank you!

:: Lemon and spinach orzotto. Delicious.

:: My indoor collection of succulents. I’m worried I’m addicted.

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Sometimes ideas appear to you at the right time, finding their way to you when you need them the most. Today, I went to a talk hostedĀ by the School of Life on how to cultivate resilience and bounce back from adversity.

The talk discussed that rather avoiding bad things when they happen or getting thrown off course we need to find ways to accept and learn from it. It isn’t about merely “getting over it” or “moving on” but rather it is about accepting loss and change as part of our everyday lives. I think that this is fundamentally a positive outlook and one that resonates for me, I have always felt thatĀ it isn’t what happens to you that is important but how you deal with it and what you learn from it.

However, accepting that adversity is a natural part of life or inevitable is challenging. It means weĀ need to embrace the idea that we can’t control everything. The workshop advised us to consider adopting some thinking from the Stoics (who are frankly a bit too miserable for me) by accepting that adversity in life is inevitable and that we should mentally prepare for its occurrence. By expecting it to happen, apparently we will be less thrown off course when it happens. While I completely understand the logic here, there is a fine line between anticipating changeĀ and being fatalistic.

Resilience is affected by the neural pathways in the brain which were created in first five years (although in teenage years they also get re-wired which can fundamental change how people respond to situations). In our early years, we develop core beliefs and mindsets which impacts our coping abilities in later life. Resilience can be learnt in later life but like lots of other behaviour change it requires changing ingrained habits and mindsets. There are lots of exercises and ways to retrain your brain and responses but it requires regular practice to do so.

I was taken with the idea that we need some ‘grit in our lives’. It is the ‘daily grit’ which helps teach us things, helps us adapt and grow as a person. It is the ‘grit’ which helps us create and appreciate beauty.Ā Ā Like oysters, we can createĀ shiny and beautiful things by embracing the difficult aspects that life throws at us.

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I grew up surrounded by plants and green space. It is something that I crave and need to relax. One of the reasons I love South East London is how leafy and green it is. I would love a garden of my own but my flat, alas, has no outside space and allotments are hard to come by these days. So I dream of garden, building my plant knowledge slowly and saving links to Pinterest in anticipation of the day I get my first proper garden.

I have been thinking recently about how to live more in the now and so I have been thinking how to scratch my gardening itch. In my front garden there is a tiny patch of neglected land, so small and insignificant it has scarcely seemed worth it. But working in the Elephant and Castle I have witnessed first hand the lovely planting that Richard Reynolds has created with his careful tending of unloved spaces. London could be transformed if everyone did something nice with their front gardens rather than concreting it over and filling it with cars and bins.

Our space hasn’t been very loved. It was full of brambles and rubbish.Ā Ā It doesn’t belong to me but I have decided to cultivate it and show it some love with a few plants anyway.

Today, under blue skies the first plants are in the soil.Ā Hurrah! Ā The sense of achievement is great – this small place will be perfect to practice some gardening. Today, Mum and I planted hollyhocks, lavenders and thyme to see what happens. I kept also some stray pretty flowers from next door. Ā It has poor soil and I wanted plants which could quite happily thrive in dry, stony conditions. I hope that the lavenders and thyme might spread.Ā I also wanted plants which would be bee-friendly and aromatic so when weĀ brush past we catch a whiff of something nice. Ā I think there might be space for some fennel, purple sage and some nasturtiums in the future but we will see.

It felt great – hands in the soil, sun on my face, chatting with my mum as we planted the area. I’m excited to see what grows. Gardening can teach us so much; it is full of hope and love. I’m hoping this little patch flourishes but for now it isĀ full of anticipation and possibility.

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1. I can drive but I often choose not to. Learning to drive was a traumatic experience involving 4 driving tests and including taking a wing mirror off a parked car. I am clearly *not* a natural driver.

2. My favourite colour is blue. All shades; turquoise, sea-blue, teal & azure.Ā 

3. I donā€™t have a middle name so I invented ones for myself. Rosebud. I tried at Primary School to get it added to the register, they wouldn’t. Boo

4. I once broke my knee dancing in a nightclub and didn’t realise at the time. It was quite a surprise the next morning.Ā 

5. I swear quite a lot in real life. Knobhead is one of my favourites.

6. Iā€™m a huge music fan. I played oboe and piano growing up and went to music camp where some of my best friends were made. I love all sorts of music – classical, indie, folk, world. Listening to live music makes my heart beat faster and want to dance the night away.

7. Charles Darwin is one of my heroes. I have a secret love of Victorian scientists but I think Darwin writes so beautifully.

8. At University, I was involved in running an ethical investment campaign which led to our university being the first to have an ethical policy.

9. I am convinced that organic wine doesnā€™t give you hangoversā€¦

10. I Ā would like to be an extra in an Agatha Christie. (Preferably a Miss Marple but at this point I’m not fussy.)

11. I still havenā€™t spent a night in a yurt to my shame. This must be remedied!

12. I have secret dreams to build my own house but considering it took me three years to get a wardrobe we aren’t holding much hope of this happening any time soon.Ā 

13. I still havenā€™t read Middlemarch. It is my book nemesis.Ā 

14. When I was growing up, I had a dalmatian and we lived at 101. Ā 

15. If i was an animal, I would like to be a lemur so I could swing through the trees.Ā 

16. I have a serious stationery addiction.

17. In the fictional heroines debate, I would pick Cathy Earnshaw over Jane Eyre. Every. Single. Time. (while singing Kate Bush)

18. I secretly want to learn to dance – ballet, clog dancing or ballroom are top contenders.


Tarmac Tuesday from Madeira #tarmactuesday #tiles #madeira #funchal

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A little later than usual this week as I am just back from a last-minute trip to Madeira.

:: The ability to travel and just go some place else in the world. I love holidays with a passion. Particularly last-minute ones. Madeira was lovelyĀ – I loved the flowers, the mountains, the embroidery, the fruit and ach, the tiles! Fabulous.

:: Reading Signature of All Things – I never want it to end.

:: Humming Minnie Riperton Les Fleurs to myself. It is sunshine in a song.

:: This might be my favourite thing on the internet.

:: These splendid photos of Edwardian women. Super inspiring.

Happy Easter!

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:: I love the weather today – the bright sunny morning good for walks and rain showers this afternoon to remind you it isn’t quite Spring yet.

:: Lyra was introduced to some alpacas yesterday and she got excited when she heard them humming.

:: There is so much spring loveliness on Instagram at the moment. (Take a look atĀ #embracingtheseasons hashtag)

:: My loft is now insulated with wool! So pleasing and warm.

:: Quentin Blake’s handwriting has been made into a font.

:: This week I have discovered Modern Love podcast which I’m enjoying as a refreshing take on modern relationships. I have also started watching Love on Netflix which I’m also enjoying.

:: Ella Gordon is the patron for Shetland Wool Week, I love Ella’s blog and she has designed a truly gorgeous crofthoose hatĀ to celebrate it too.

:: It is Easter. Hurrah!

Hope you are having a lovely Sunday and have some good reasons to be cheerful today too.


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Chick races #happyeaster

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Hurrah! It is the Easter break – a chance to celebrate Spring. It is such a hopeful time of year Ā – celebrating new life, new beginnings and longer days. SinceĀ the equinox onĀ Sunday, I have been feeling that Spring is really starting with some blue skies and gorgeous spring flowers. I have been enjoying listening to birdsong and charting the longer daylight hours.

This week I have been really thinking about the rhythm of the year and cycles and how we should adapt our lives to suit it.Ā The longer days give me more energy and I want to be outside, move more and eat lighter foods. I have been on a massive declutter; spring cleaning/clearing is well underway in the Lara nest. I’m enjoying clearing the dust from the corners and feel like it is shaking off the dark winter months.

Celebrating the seasons is a useful way to bring you into the present, into the now and connect you to you to the world around you. For me, Easter is a celebration of nature and spring which I love. Ā However, it is worth bearing mind that the environmental cost of Easter can be high and each year, more than 8,000 tonnes of waste is generated just from Easter egg packaging and cards alone. SoĀ over recent years, I haveĀ  experimented with different ways to mark the festival.

:: Go for a walk to look Ā at beautiful spring flowers. I am partial to hellebores, cherry blossom and I have been enjoying the parks in London planted with crocus and daffodils. I alsoĀ love having spring flowers around my house. Beautiful flowers are in season at the moment and have pots of daffodils on many surfaces.

Trip to see snakehead fritillaries in Cotswolds: field full of these subtle beauties. #flowers

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::Ā Support fritillary open days. Snakehead fritillaries are beautiful subtle flowers and once common place in Britian’s water meadows. Sadly, this habitat is harder to find and this plant is an endangered species in the wildĀ (mainly because of intensive farming methods) but there are few places in the country where they can be seen during April. Near Cricklade in the Cotswold, there is a field which fills with fritillaries Ā which I visited few years ago. (I warn you the aubergine colour is subtle against grass but it is still a really good thing to support).

Easter Sunday – cooking for family and celebrating spring.

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:: Creating an Easter feast. Last year, I decided to celebrate Easter by creating a Jerusalem and the delicious Ottolonghi book of the same name. I enjoyed celebrating spring eating food inspired by such a holy city where three of the major world’s religions had been born.

Easter Feast inspired by city of Jerusalem #ottenlenghi #jerusalem

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For the Easter feast, I made Roasted chicken with clementines, lamb meatballs with broad beans and lemons and then plenty of salad goodness for the vegetarian options so I didn’t go hungry! These includedĀ Baby spinach salad with dates and almonds, root vegetable slaw with labneh, basmati and wild rice with chickpeas, currents and herbs, with pitta breads and humus.

It was fragrant, delicious and felt suitably celebratory. My sister made an amazing rosewater meringue for pudding which we decorated with figs and honey.

:: Easter crafts are a joy and I have a Pinterest board full of origami bunnies,Ā and flower wreaths. I used to love painting eggs when I was younger and my grandad used to save goose eggs for me to paint. Another favourite present for Easter is a knitted washcloth alongside a foil wrapped egg.

Daffodils of dreams

:: Air is the element associated with Spring, which feels very apt on such a windy day. In Japan, they celebrate the coming of spring with colourful kites and in Tibet, prayer flags are used to bless the surrounding countryside. I love the idea of using colourful streamers or kites to welcome Spring.
::Listen toĀ Ā the ‘Power-charging the Equinox’ episode of Love Life. It is a eco-hippy podcast and thoroughly enjoyed it last year. I have already re-listened to it for this year.
However you are marking this Easter weekend, I hope you are having a splendid time.Ā Happy EasterĀ and roll onĀ Spring!

Beautiful blue skies and my favourite view in London #spring #springhassprung #livethesimplethings

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:: Today is the Spring Equinox and it really feels like Spring has arrived.

:: Yoga – I did a gorgeous workshop today. Stretching, talking and meditating in a lovely sunlight studio in the company of other woman was a great way to spend a Sunday.

:: Fresh flowers. At the moment I have flowers blooming all around my flat which is a lovely way to bring the outside in.

:: Watching my niece in her first music concert.

:: Sitting in my mum’s garden – sun on my face listening to a robin sing/tweet on a nearby bush.

:: Coffee. Delicious coffee.

:: Birds eating fat balls from the bird feeder.

:: Listening to Simple Gifts after hearing it on Jill Paton Walsh’s Private Passions. Originally a Shaker folk song, it feels perfect for this time of year.

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