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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Living Simply: October 2016

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Red and gold leaves, sunrises and sunsets and Strictly Come Dancing – there are many reasons to love the autumn and especially October! We’ve enjoyed it so much this year, and had a relatively simple month although there were some big purchases.

Our washing machine broke after 13 years of service, which is hugely impressive, so we didn’t mind at all spending a day in the city looking for a new one to arrive later this week. Lucy is on a week’s holiday from work and we made a special day out of it with a café breakfast and lunch, and another unexpected purchase shown below.

Here’s our October spending summary:
– An expensive food/drink month, average £16.13 per day but the treats were worth it
– Set of USB charging bicycle lights: no more batteries!
– Bus fares, one fill of petrol
– Green paint for our windows
– A washing machine
– A Christmas decoration
– Shoelaces
– Haircare, soaps
– A pair of Doc Martens!

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These were an unplanned buy, made after walking into the city to choose the washing machine and noticing that one of Lucy’s winter boots was slouching uncomfortably to one side. After a discussion about the fact most women’s shoes are badly designed for cold seasons (hard to wear with socks), we ended up in the Doc Martens shop investing in these. They weren’t cheap, but should last for years.

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The sky puts on a display on the way to work

October is a spectacular month full of free natural wonders. After the summer’s long days, to see sunrises and sunsets again as part of the office-hours day is a privilege. This month has been particularly stunning, with lots of rainbows and even seeing the full moon set one early morning. There is so much going on out there: every day something special.

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Early morning moonset

 

Lucy’s Book & Music Club

OCTOBER SOUNDTRACK:
Anohni – Drone Bomb Me
INXS – Never Tear Us Apart
Christine & The Queens – Safe & Holy
Tame Impala – The Less I Know The Better
Sophie Ellis-Bextor – Crystallise

BOOKS READ:
Anne Tyler – If Morning Ever Comes
Anne Tyler – Back When We Were Grownups

 

A Rare Rainbowy Sky

by Lucy

On Tuesday morning I set off to cycle to work as usual and the 7am sky was still dark and overcast. About 2 miles in, everything had changed – as the light broke through, the sky was like layers of rainbows. I only had my phone with me, but I managed to take a couple of photos which do show the colours accurately:

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I thought it might be some sort of sun dog, but the colours were everywhere to the East – I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like a still version of the Northern Lights.

At around 7.45am the sun was through and the shapes had separated into bright patches in the blue sky.

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What a magical start to the day. I still had no idea what it was. Then yesterday I noticed the same sky in photos posted on EarthSky and it turns out that what I saw was a rare type of cloud called nacreous clouds. They are not often seen as far south as England, and it would seem that on Tuesday morning our area (East Anglia) was even an internationally notable location of sightings!

I feel very privileged to have cycled underneath these rare and spectacular clouds on what was otherwise a normal Tuesday morning. Who knows what amazing things might be about to happen when you wake up on any given day…

January 2016 Simple Living Review

January sunrise

We’re saying goodbye to January today, a month that hardly anyone looks forward to but which has actually been quite magical this year. Starting and ending the day with starry skies on cloudless days, beautiful sunrises when the sky is cloudy, and every day a bit more light and a few more signs of spring. Everything is waking up.

We have some very flirty birds in our garden now and today we spent an hour doing the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. The highlight was two tiny goldcrests with the brightest fiery orange crests we’ve ever seen, busily catching insects on the Norway Spruce.

This month has also been very motivating, and this has come from a diverse range of sources: reflecting on David Bowie, getting angry about events in the news, being moved by incredible music and writing, and seeing some of the ideas we care about becoming more mainstream (such as the new series of Tiny House Nation starting, and finding out about another tiny house series starting soon). The best thing we saw this month was Satish Kumar’s Earth Pilgrim documentary set on Dartmoor. Whenever we feel like we’re just a drop in the ocean, we look around us and realise we’re actually part of a tide!

Financial review

We’re been good savers this month, with 15% of our income left over. There were more No Spend Days than ever before. Here’s where the spend money went (other than the usual bills etc)

Food and drink: We averaged £11.75 per day. Our original £10 a day goal looks like it was quite unrealistic, but we’ll keep it for now as it is still motivating us!
Transport: Parking at the seaside, one fill of petrol, Park & Ride top-up
Luxuries: MP3 downloads, and a plain notebook to cover with fabric for Lucy’s next project
Home and Garden: We bought a handheld blender for making soups, £20
Health & wellbeing: Dental check-up, soap, shampoo and special offer sunblock (thinking ahead!)
Clothing & accessories: Lucy has to confess now to an impulse buy, a set of 3 sparkly stud earrings from a supermarket of all places. It was an unplanned purchase but they were really, really sparkly and it was only just after Christmas! (A £5 moment of weakness).

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Green tea break

 

As we get more used to our new balance of roles, some of the ways we spend our time are changing. Lucy is doing more reading and more yoga and is nurturing the thought of trying some creative writing and/or playing her guitar again. She has also developed a love of decaffeinated jasmine green tea!

Brian is managing his time more in tune with what he needs physically, to minimise pain and the risk of injury with his back, neck, wrists and knees. We’re almost ready to research and shop for new kitchen flooring as almost all the horrible sticky floor tiles have been removed. Once all the day’s work is done, evenings are often spent working gently on one of his home-made walking sticks. More about those soon!

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Words and music (Lucy’s nerd corner):

This month’s favourite songs:

David Bowie – Lazarus
Low – Point of Disgust
Love – the whole of the Forever Changes album
Billie Holiday – This is Heaven to Me
Antony & The Johnsons – Bird Gerhl and the cover version by The Unthanks

This month’s reading:

Colm Toibin – Nora Webster
John Boyne – A History of Loneliness
James Kelman – How Late It Was, How Late