Seasonal life and light

Since we last wrote it has become Spring! As the season changes, we can really appreciate the fact that we are on a turning Earth and every day feels different, with more of nature awakening.

Mornings now mean sunrises, each one different, and sometimes it’s possible to look at it directly when it’s low and orange. How exciting to glimpse it through the trees…

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…and once you are past the trees, you get to see it owning the sky.

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In the last two weeks the ground has transformed into colour with snowdrops, winter aconites and crocuses, making our walks bright and cheerful.

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There’s also an abundance of hazel catkins this year, eye-catching where they hang on otherwise bare trees. As the sun sets at the other end of the day, it lights up their intricate details.

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We hope your days are warming with the spring and bringing hope and change.

Current reading:
Ali Smith -Autumn
Sara Taylor – The Lauras
Ann Patchett – State of Wonder
Neil Pasricha – The Happiness Equation

Lucy’s current playlist:
Milagres – Glowing Mouth
Christine & The Queens – Wandering Lovers
Lamb – Gorecki
Foo Fighters – Walking After You

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September spending review, cheese & a cold

It was a spendy September! We didn’t save any money, but it’s fine because most of it was costs that aggregate out over the coming 12 months. The good news is our food and drink spend has reduced compared to the last few months:

Food and drink: £14.08 per day
Transport: Annual MOT & service, car tax, two tyres, a windscreen wiper, two fills of petrol and a bus season ticket. We also found out our annual mileage has gone down from 8,000 to 6,000
Home: LED lightbulb, a tarpaulin, a storage box, tea light candles and a little vintage £1 milk jug!
Domestic: Toothbrushes, toothpaste, throat sweets, hair conditioner, soap
Clothes: A rare shopping month. We both bought trousers, Lucy bought two tops, a sports bra and a replacement pair of trainers
Misc: Birthday gifts, music downloads (3 songs)

We may have spent a bit less on food but we certainly didn’t enjoy it any less. For one thing, we rediscovered halloumi, and the tomatoes we grew this year make a perfect tomato and herb sauce mix to go with it, plus mushrooms and broccoli. For Lucy this goes with vegetarian sausages, while Brian also has some bacon.

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Halloumi Sunday

This Autumn we’re likely to buy a storage heater for our living room, for background heat and also with a convector for a boost when needed. For the time being, it’s not very cold and using our open fire on chillier evenings will be enough. We had our first fire on Tuesday night and Brian has prepared and stacked plenty of wood for the coming winter.

 

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First fire, with black poplar on the top

 

Last week we celebrated the fact Lucy hadn’t had a cold for almost a year. We’re not superstitious, so the fact she had a big stinky cold this week means simply that one was obviously due! It was treated with a sensible sick day off work, lots of sleep, a session of watching classic cartoons online and the invention of a new drink: a red berry fruit tea plus half a squeezed lemon. Works extra well when drunk in the bath.

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Home-made cold remedy as served in our funky pink 1960s bath

 

Lucy’s Book & Music Club

SEPTEMBER SOUNDTRACK:
The 1975 – Love Me
Gallant – Weight in Gold
Christine & The Queens – The Loving Cup
Perfume Genius – Fool
Paloma Faith – Ready For The Good Life

BOOKS READ:
Ann Patchett – The Magician’s Assistant
Hanya Yanagihara – A Little Life
Gretchen Rubin – Better Than Before
I also abandoned two short story collections, just couldn’t get into them so I gave up, because life’s too short!

Winter Cycling Report 2015-16

By Lucy

This winter I decided to keep a proper record of how I was travelling to work, and see how much cycle commuting I was doing. Here are the results:

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It definitely has not been a hard winter so I was surprised that I didn’t cycle more. But then it was a very wet winter, and while I don’t mind cycling in the rain when I can see where I’m going, cycling in the rain and in the dark is not fun, especially when you wear glasses (someone needs to invent and produce some teeny-tiny windscreen wipers).

Once I got a feel for how I was doing my challenge was to keep it above 60%. It dropped a few times but I got it back up just in time!

It’s not the most obviously motivating season to cycle in, but there are some things you get from a winter commute that are missing from the rest of the year. Setting off to work under the pre-dawn stars is always surreal, and being able to see a sunrise and a sunset on most days becomes easy to take for granted. Also, you never get too hot, and don’t have to wear sunblock!

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An inky blue pre-dawn sky with blurry crescent moon

 

This winter I have seen so many different skies including the rare rainbow coloured clouds earlier this month. I’ve also heard birds singing in the dark, felt every kind of weather on my face, smelled the first blossom of the year, sung Christmas songs to myself and seen one early-morning fox, with a big rusty orange tail, as it ran out in front of me.

I love the personal thinking time that I get on my bicycle before and after work and this can feel even more magical in the early mornings of winter. I can work through worries, use my imagination and, sometimes, just be meditative and mindful listening to the sound of my wheels.

Even on the Park and Ride days I get several miles cycling to and from the bus depot. I always appreciate the convenience of living near to this service, and on a rainy, windy or icy  day to be able to lock up my bike, head to the back of the bus and settle in with music and a novel is pure luxury. Then I get a nice 10 minutes walk to the office at the other end. However, the cost adds up and so I do always need a good reason to use the bus rather than keep going on two wheels all the way.

My bicycle has done me proud and I was going to give it a big clean up yesterday to welcome the Spring, but I’ve run out of rubber gloves so that didn’t happen. I am sure it can get me through my first week of Spring cycling as it is. And of course I’ll be tracking my stats for the next 3 months and will share how I got on. I’m aiming for 85% cycling at the least!