Dahlias – How I have missed you. #finally

A photo posted by Lara (@inbetween_day) on

:: Walking along the Thames this morning in the sunshine
:: Drinking tea on the train out of my lovely China travel mug
:: Wearing a coat which was my Mum’s – preloved clothes are the best.
:: Feeling lucky after watching programme on The Food Bank in Dundee.
:: Planning a Blue Moon sweater.
:: Enjoying reading these  posts on World Vegan Day.
:: Following the book recommendations on The Year in Books twitter chat. 
:: Fireworks & sparklers – it’s that time of year! 
:: Lovely comments on my last post – thank you for your messages and texts.  They have done me the world of good. 

On dark dreary day here is another gorgeous bloom #daliahs #latesummer

A photo posted by Lara (@inbetween_day) on

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Summer holiday postcard no. 1: Fresh from the tree #figs #France #allthecolours #latergrams ☀️

A photo posted by Lara (@inbetween_day) on

The difficulty of having a happy place on the internet is that when you are feeling a bit out of sorts or just exhausted, it remains a quiet, silent place. I love this corner of the internet – it is a place for me to share my interests, passions and corners of my life.

But when you are not feeling yourself that becomes hard to do. I have always tried to keep my blog authentic since the original advent of Messy Tuesdays years ago when I realised I wasn’t interested in writing a glossy lifestyle blog. I am more interested how people really live. However, this year has been hard at times and I have been struggling with feeling overwhelmed and quite blue. I tend to minimise how I feel when I talk about things but there have been some dark places this year when at times I have suddenly hated everything. (Well, except my patient lovely family who have been fantastic at coping with me and reminding that actually I don’t really hate everything at all but that I need to look after myself.)

London can jar when you are feeling down – I get depressed by the boarded up shops, the feeling of people being too busy, and the lack of wild spaces.  I have been anaemic all year which I don’t think has helped either and has made me feel exhausted. I have found it harsh, noisy, and expensive. I have struggled to find the energy to do the things I usually love and have at times shied away of seeing friends.

All of this coupled with some work/study deadlines has been the perfect storm and left me feeling rubbish.  There have been tears, days when I have thought I would feel better if I lived somewhere else, put all my stuff into storage and a sense of not being sure where I fit.  I like having a plan in my head and set of objectives/goals to work to but I can see that this also puts a lot of pressure of making the RIGHT choices and can led to anxiety about the future when I should be enjoying now.

At the heart of some of my anxiety is that I actually really like my life and in some ways do not want to it change greatly but I am worried that at some point in the future I might regret this. Having spoken to a few of my friends, this seems to be a shared anxiety amongst us and I think it is partly because the narrative you are presented with ageing is quite reductionist. When you are growing up there is a wonderful sense that there are many different ways to live but as I have got older it feels like you are presented with a narrower range of choices.

As my wise friend Felix wrote in an excellent blogpost, the narrative that is often presented in the media about being a woman in your mid-30s highlights messages associated with regret, fear, declining fertility, being past your prime  and there as Felix argues remains a “collective impression that feminism has seriously lapsed.”  The archetype of the childless woman is as either selfish, driven career woman or a sad regretful Miss Havisham figure remaining sadly unmarried still seem to haunt the popular consciousness and I have certainly been exposed to thoughtless comments over the past few years that I’m sure men my age haven’t had to put up with. There are so many more interesting things to talk about.

In The Bell Jar, there is a wonderful scene when Esther imagines life choices on different branches of a fig tree which as she contemplates them they fall to the floor and wither as she can’t decide which one to choose. This is the best description of how I have been feeling – paralyzed and unsettled by the possibilities.

Fig Tree

Rereading it today I think there are so many conversations that need to be had about how to combine those branches and how complex and rich life can be. I’m not sure that you need to define yourself in one way or another – it is about being happy with whichever branch you are on now.

I have been getting some help and I’m into a better place. I am looking after myself better and feel lighter and brighter than I have for a while. I am going back to my resolve that I had at the beginning of the year to nourish. I’m saying no more to things, avoiding being endlessly busy and allowing myself a bit more space. I am trying to stop putting pressure on things I think I should do and focus on things I really want to do. I’m also trying to make a concerted effort to also do some more active things – there has been too much thinking and I need to find ways to get out of my head (figuratively, not in an intoxicated way).

I’m eating better, stopped drinking completely, sleeping more, doing some regular exercise, building in regular time for reading, making and play. I am in organising mode – making sure my study and work is in good order to help me feel like I’m across things, focusing on making my flat as nice as possible and tackling piles of doom in corners. There are some holiday plans in the offing for next year – I need to see the sea and there are trips to India, Shetland and Amsterdam on the horizon too.

Over the past few things – there have been things I have returned to read:

A Woman Turning 35 by Felix

Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up? by Lauren Laverne

Why It Is Important To Love Yourself  by Hannah from Seeds and Stitches

Throughout this period, I have been counting my blessings and there are a great many things to be thankful for in my life. While I know all this angst could be construed as intense naval-gazing, acknowledging some of these thoughts and verbalizing them has meant that although I don’t necessarily have any answers, having the conversation is comforting and has made me feel loads better.

Instead of it being an albatross around my neck, I’m allowing it to fly free.


Image from here.


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Over the last few weeks my heart has been overflowing with reasons to be cheerful so I thought what better than to remind us all of them while the rain falls down on this grey bank holiday Monday.

:: Celebrating end of Summer (or nearly end of Summer) by heading to Towersey Festival this Saturday with my family; dancing to Bellowhead and Stornoway felt a lovely way to celebrate the seasons change.
:: Spectacular evening sunsets – I have enjoyed watching skies fill with the pink clouds.
:: Libraries – there has been much quality time being spent in them reading and writing my essays. 

Eight #thali #vegetarian #diwana #drummondstreet #delicious #augustbreak2015 #day4 #numbers A photo posted by Lara (@inbetween_day) on

::Delicious dinner dates with friends – thali at Drummond Street and laksa at St David’s in Forest Hill.  It feels like some kind of normality is being reached with crazy work: studying so I’m hoping balance can continue as there are lots of people I haven’t seen for ages and desperately want to see.

:: Returning to WI for the first time in ages to make floral crowns and pretend we were in Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Eleanor’s white and green crown @boroughbelleswi @hcranmer #feelingfloral #floralcrown

A photo posted by Lara (@inbetween_day) on

:: Stir-fries with leafy greens and tofu.
:: Downpours of rain – some of the heavy bursts of rain have felt tropical and remind me of being in South East Asia. 
:: Memories of Wilderness Festival – exciting, inspiring and fun-filled weekend which scratched my camping itch and gave me a great opportunity to play.
:: Spotify ensuring I can find things to please my ears – currently enjoyingDrowned In Sound Summertime Sadness playlist.
:: Owen Jones’s thoughtful blogpost about the challenges ahead for Labour if Corbyn’s elected leader.
:: Handknits keeping me warm while I tap away at my essays.
:: Finally this TEDxTalk by Harry Burns, ex-CMO for Scotland entitled What Causes Wellness”.  It is one of the most inspiring things I have read/seen about public health recently and I have to admit left me slightly misty-eyed. 

It also contains a quote which I think is so apt for the moment:

“What we need is a compassion that stands in awe at the burdens the poor have to carry, rather than stands in judgement at the way they carry it.”


Prince Albert #amazinglight #latergram #proms #rah

:: Peppermint tea
:: Libraries
:: A dear friend getting some new duck friends
:: A baby sloth at London Bridge
:: This lovely article about how to “grow hope” .
:: Sunflowers on station platform
:: Seeing one of Sylvie Guillem final performances at the Coliseum
::Trying new tasty recipes.
:: Colouring in
:: Getting excited for Wilderness Festival.

Ain't no party like a colouring in party.... #colours #colouringin

Sylvie Guillem on her farewell tour.  Astonishing and beautiful #legend #finalbow #lifeinprogress #breathtakingDancing in the breeze #sunflowers  #air #augustbreak2015 #stationflowers #urbangardening #loveyourhood #SE23love

100 words on blog #powerofnow #rightnow

Mornings. Inhale. Exhale. Quiet. Stretching. Hopeful. Multi-tasking. Music. Dancing. Coffee. Decisions. Journals. Lists. Heat. Sweat. London. Rushing. Work. Sister. Laughter. Chatter. Friends. Tinder.  Studying. Libraries. Playing. Proms. Drama. Lights. Beauty. Love. Photos. Notes. Essays. Doodles. Meetings.

Brainstorms. Presentations. Conversations. Submissions. Hiding. Solitude. Sparkle. Cooking. Courgettes. Iron. Sunflowers. Colours. Post-its. Stickers. Games. Organizing. Dates. Messages. Excitement. Patience. Impatience. Disappointments.  Restless. Exasperation. Work. Swimming. Sunshine. Blue skies. Breeze. Drizzle.

Words. Emails. Ideas. Dreams. Friendship. Birthdays. Dogs. India. Holidays. Ventures. Wanderlust. Notebooks. Lunchboxes. Sleep. Routines.  Sewing. Knitting.Wool. Dragons. Crafting. Make. Do. Believe. Repeat.  Trains. Frustration. Daydreams. Reading. Planning. Wondering. Growing. Breathing. Living. Now. 



*Thanks to Susannah Conway for the inspiration.

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Monkl, photographed by the lovely Felicity Ford

:: The sound of rain

:: Swimming: The rhythm of the strokes and the water on my skin.

:: Tidy corner of my house

:: Sweet orange oil scenting my room.

Tidy corner

:: Friends making me laugh; Monkl’s lovely face appeared via What’s App this week!

:: Homemade packed lunches

:: Playing in a tent with my niece

:: Lovely inspiring conversations at Fibre East

:: Zingy bright colours

:: Spending time with my mum

:: Refinding my knitting mojo and fitting few rows where I can (like waiting for a train).

:: Lovely comments on my blogpost – I loved writing it and getting excited about the books.

Oh it's so exciting to be spending a night in a tent #auntielove #latergram #toddlerhoodwoolly #fibreeast #sheep #knittingGorgeous colours at Easy Knits #allthecolours #fibreeastGrabbing few knitting rows while waiting from delayed train. Fibre East was inspiring and brilliant. There is serious yarn in these bags. Knitting mojo has been refound. #sundaymorning #knittersofinstagram #allthecolours

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Today I’m enjoying knitting this in a colourway which reminds me of dragons and playing with paints.

On my table this week I have been enjoying ratatouille. It tastes of summer.

I thoroughly have been enjoying these lovely books.

And listening to The National, Ben Howard and Bellowhead.

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Early morning reading buddies #latergram

Early Morning Reading Friends

One of the (many) great things about being an Aunt is a that I get to indulge my love of children’s books and there is always a book shaped parcel at birthdays and Christmas time from me.   I thought I’d share some of my favourites I have discovered or rediscovered with little L.

Enduring favourites:

Robin Brian Wildsmith

Robin from Birds, Brian Wildsmith, Oxford University Press, 1967. 

:: Brian Wildsmith – Birds. We grew up with a range of Brian Wildsmith books and I love his illustrations with their beautiful colours. Quite a few of his titles are out of print but he is worth looking out for in libraries and charity shops.  Brian was also one of the first authors I met when I started out working at OUP. (He is a lovely man and also rather big in Japan, they have a museum dedicated to him). You can see some more of the beautiful birds on this lovely blogpost.

:: Shirley Hughes – Dogger. No list would be complete without Dogger, an enduring gorgeous classic and has been really nice to see that L loves it as much as we did when we were little. (I still find it a rollercoaster of emotions)

:: Judith Kerr – Tiger who came for Tea.  Because who wouldn’t want a tiger to come for tea?

:: Anthony Browne - Gorilla. I love this book and often try to engineer it into the reading pile if I get a say.  Hannah is a gorilla-mad girl who spends all her time reading, thinking about and loving gorillas. She longs to see  a real one but her father is always too busy to take her to the zoo. Then something truly special happens just before her birthday. The illustrations are gorgeous and explores children’s anxieties and loneliness in a lovely way. It still speaks to me and I have been known to get slightly teary at the end.

New favourites:

:: Emma Chichester Clark:  No More Kissing. This is a gorgeous book about a little boy monkey who is fed up of being kissed by adoring relatives.

:: Emily Gravett: Monkey and Me. Another monkey themed book about a girl and her toy monkey as they are off to see different animals. Perfect for my animal-loving niece. There is a great sing-song rhythm and you can have fun guessing which animal the little girl and monkey are pretending to be.


Image from A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies and Mark Hearld.

:: Nicola Davies and Mark Hearld: A First Book of Nature. I first found this in the Horniman and absolutely cannot rave enough about the illustrations in this book. While L is still bit young for the texts, the pictures are gorgeous.  It is like a scrapbook of poems, activities and facts about nature. It contains gorgeous details about sounds and sights of nature (beachcombing, stargazing, squirrels, worms, starlings). It really conveys the beauty present in nature and I found it hard to give it away. I would like some of the spreads as prints on my walls. (Although I’ve discovered that Mark Hearld has also designed some gorgeous wallpaper).

You can see pictures of the beautiful illustrations here.


A first book of Nature. 

:: Sarah Dyer: The Girl with the Bird’s Nest Hair. A book about a red-headed girl who doesn’t like having her crazy curly brushed. Of course, I loved it. Who does like having their hair brushed?

:: Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen:  Extra Yarn.  A book about the joy of knitting and magic of wool. A must for a niece who’s favourite jumpers are Grandma handmade. Jon Klassen’s illustrations are lovely.

:: Sam Childs: Woolly. Joyful. Woolly is a pink mammoth who is born without a woolly coat, how will she stay warm? She is a gorgeous character and we love this book very much.

:: Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler : Zog. Julia Donaldson had to appear on this list as we love her books. Obviously The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child is a big favourite but we also love The Snail and the Whale and Sharing a Shell.  Zog has been quite a recent discovery but it is brilliant.  Zog is a dragon who is a bit accident-prone and who is looked after by a little girl. The girl is a great character – full of life and funny.  She is a great role model and has the fantastic line “But I don’t want to be a princess, I want to be a doctor.”

:: Chris Haughton: Oh No George! George is a loveable but unfortunate dog who tries hard to be good and has the best of intentions but life gets the better of him and he creates a few disasters. Great fun and we all like chorusing “Oh NO George!”.  Chris Haughton also wrote a gorgeous books, Little Owl Lost, about a baby owl who loses his mum which we also like.

::  Benji Davies: The Storm Whale. Beautiful book about parenting, loneliness, loss and whales. Noi is a little boy who finds a washed up whale on the beach and looks after him in his bath by telling him stories.

I’ve really been enjoying some of the book recommendations on A Playful Day and want to check out Olivia the Fairy Princess (because  a book about pig princesses will be brilliant), Wild (“You cannot tame something so happily wild” and The Paper Dolls (sob!).

Also we need some good books about hippos and rhinos as they are particular favourites at the moment. The poppet loves to sing and last year I bought her The Singing Year last Christmas but I’m also looking for good singing books to help us refresh our favourite songs.

What have you been enjoying with the little people in your life?


 A mouse took a stroll in the deep, dark wood…

Happy Friday #peonies #blooms #flowersinstagramCloudwatching @hornimanmuseumgardens #SE23love #goodforthesoulThis morning spent lovely few hours in park, writing morning pages, knitting and sitting in sun #morningpages #superSunday #earlyrising

:: Blue skies and cotton wool clouds
:: Pink grapefruits
:: Early morning writing and knitting breaks in the park
:: Making things with my hands
:: Feeling the sun on my face
:: My lovely cool bedroom where you can hear the birds and get lovely breezes
:: Snail mail from my sister
:: Peonies and agapanthus: reminding us that summer is here.

Agapanthus: reminding me of the Scillies today #blue #morningwalk #SE23love

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This did indeed spark joy this morning #londonbridge #SparkYourCity #sparkcity #rainbow

A photo posted by Lara (@inbetween_day) on

A few weeks ago I felt a bit grey, I had come back from some lovely days at the seaside celebrating Midsummer and my Mum’s birthday and had the Monday morning blues. However, I bounced out of bed when I realised that there was a rainbow on London Bridge.

For one day only, London Bridge had been transformed into a colourful walkway which Rainbow Brite would have been proud of. This art installation was part of a global art initiative called Spark Your City which aims to “spark joy in everyday life.”  There is going to be a series of activity which links 50 cities all which aim to get talented women to transform ordinary moments in cities – routines, landmarks to “extraordinary living playgrounds.”

So many things to love about this. It was designed by Gemma Cairney who is rapidly becoming new girl crush as she keeps supporting fantastic projects. I love that you can live in a city with exciting things happening and the internet helps you discover exciting things super quick.

The colours did pop from the pavement and it was impossible to not feel cheered by the audacity of it. I loved how grumpy commuters were trying to ignore it and keep walking purposely.  It felt like a generous act, a random act of kindness for the many Londoners who were probably all feeling  a bit, well, Mondayish.

I think the way spaces are designed can influence they way communities feel, think and behave. Recently I have been drawn to funny stickers or ways people are enhancing the local area and I have been collecting examples and ideas in magazine clippings and pinterest.  I love how something as simple as colour can completely transform how you feel about the day.

And my shoes even matched.

Matching shoes to pavements #rainbow #sparkcity #SparkYourCity

A photo posted by Lara (@inbetween_day) on

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