July 3, 2015

the year in books :: July 2015


I flew through my June read, Emma Healey’s debut novel, Elizabeth is Missing. Although it was poignant -heartbreaking even – it was also gripping. Healey’s is a truly unique concept: a mystery story that is also an intimate exploration of the fragile mind of its protagonist, Maud.

My choice for July, Emma Freud’s The Sea House was suggested to me by my friend Sara, when I requested ideas for summery books during  this month’s #theyearinbooks Twitter chat. When I learned that this novel’s setting was based on the Suffolk coastal village of Walberswick, where we crab fished in the summer as children, I was completely sold. As luck (or fate?!) would have it, I came across a copy in the charity shop this week, so my choice was made.

The July Twitter chat will be, as usual, on the last Monday of the month (27th) . Do come along and join us if Twitter’s your thing; we’re a very welcoming crowd, and you’re sure to come away with a to-read list as long as your arm, and some bookish new friends to boot. (I’m @circleofpines on Twitter.) If you’d like me to tweet you a reminder nearer the time, give me a shout and I’ll add you to the list.

If you’re joining in with #theyearinbooks over on Instagram, you should now be able to add your Instagram posts to the linkup below by following these instructions.

You can find Year in Books blog buttons, and all the details about the project on the YIB information page. Here’s a quick reminder of how it works:

The aim of the Year in Books project is to read (at least) a book a month during 2015. It’s not a conventional book club, so we don’t all read the same book, the project is about trying to ensure that we make space for reading in our busy lives, and is a way for us all to discover more lovely books (and lovely bibliophiles). At the start of the month, we blog about the book that we are intending to read, and, if we want to, write a few words (thoughts, comments, a review of sorts) about the previous month’s book.

If you would prefer to share your book choices over on Instagram or Twitter, please use the hashtag #theyearinbooks so that we can find your posts. You can share as many books as you like in this way- it doesn’t have to be restricted to one a month. I am @circleofpines on Instagram and on Twitter, if you’d like to tag me so that I can see your posts.

There’s a Goodreads group for this project, and all are very welcome to join, whether or not you have a blog of your own. Finally, there’s a Year in Books Pinterest board, do follow along for all manner of bookish inspiration. If you would like to pin to the board, let me know in the blog comments and I will add you as a pinner. (If I should have added you, and haven’t, do nudge me! Pinterest is a little problematic on the issue and it sometimes takes a couple of attempts.)

It doesn’t matter whether or not you have linked up before- everyone is welcome and it’s never too late to get involved. Please do link back here from your post.

Thank you, and happy reading!

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June 30, 2015

patchwork June, 2015


June, lovely June. I feel as if I have failed to savour June’s precious moments, and yet, when I look back, there are many that I captured….

After-school strawberry picking and the first batch of jam, endless elderflower gathering for litres of cordial. Walks in the meadow, posies from the garden. A perfect bouquet of home-grown roses, and photographic experiments with light. Nights under canvas on the first camping weekend of the year. Blowing away the cobwebs up on the common, where the skylarks soar. An exciting opportunity to photograph the gorgeous home of my friend Lou, and all of her wonderful natural treasures.

The days have been full, the evenings long and bright. June, I’m sorry to see you leave already! As ever, I’ve been looking back- to last June’s patchwork – and to the month ahead, with a Pinterest board for July.

July on Pinterest

on the June table, 2015

junetableOnce again, my ‘On the Table’ post comes right at the end of the month. I’m a little heartbroken that June is over already, it’s flown by, in all its balmy dreaminess.

Here on the table, a bunch of scented sweet peas, tumbled into a favourite French jug. I’d love to say that they were grown in the garden, but ours haven’t flowered yet, and I picked these up at the farm shop, slipping them into the basket with punnets of strawberries and a loaf of crusty bread.

Tea, always tea, in a pretty Wood’s Ware Iris cup and saucer, given to me by my lovely mother in law, along with a couple of Beryl plates and some other assorted pretties. Once again, I’m reading Ladybird books. I bought these from the charity shop for 50p each. Ostensibly they are for the boys, but it’s actually me who pores over their lovely illustrations.

A single white rose, from the prolific bush that rambles all over the side of the house, filling the garden with its sweet, heady scent. It sits in a tiny jar, hung from a delicate chain: the utterly wonderful Foragers Necklace that I was given at Sisterhood Camp. It’s made by talented jeweller Emma Mitchell, who is a long-term online friend of mine, and true creative spirit. I’m lucky enough to already have one of her beautiful necklaces, with a teapot charm and dinky silver teacup and spoon. It was a wedding anniversary gift, and I treasure it. Emma’s foragers necklaces are inspired by Victorian tussle mussies and I love picking different pretties for mine. Cow parsley was a spring favourite, now I’m enjoying lavender, with its soothing scent.

I’ve been experimenting with branch weaving, inspired by 3191 Miles Apart and by Kirsten Rickert. On a recent camping trip, the children collected forked sticks for me, and we sat on a blanket in the sun, with a basket of yarn scraps, weaving and chatting. It’s a really lovely summer activity, I highly recommend it. Of course I was so busy helping them, that I didn’t quite finish my own, I shall do so when a quiet moment next presents itself…

Pale blue and creamy white : the June 2015 table.

{last June’s table}

{January’s table}

{February’s table}

{March’s table}

{April’s’s table}

{May’s’s table}

Village England :: a competition with This Is Your Kingdom

bag-3For quite some time now, I’ve had the pleasure of being part of the team of writers over at This is Your Kingdom. If you haven’t come across it yet, it’s somewhere that you can discover the very nicest things to see and do, the best places to eat and drink and the loveliest places to stay, all in the UK. This is Your Kingdom have recently re-launched with a dreamy new site, and they’ve partnered up with brilliantly British bag company, Village England to run a rather exciting competition.

Village England is committed to making beautiful bags crafted for real life, with many of their bags made right here in England. Inspired by a uniquely British sense of style, their elegant designs portray what they call ‘an urbanised view of the countryside.’

As the name suggests, Village England bags are all named after villages in England. I was sent this lovely bag, currently called the Bainton, to test out. I’m a big fan of cross-body bags, life is so much easier when your hands are free, and this one had plenty of room for all my essentials, and assorted paraphernalia belonging to the smalls. It’s made from gorgeous, quality leather that would age beautifully over time.

Village England and This is Your Kingdom have one of these lovely bags up for grabs in their competition. All you have to do is choose the bag its new name. Pick a village in England that you would name this bag after, and tell them why. The winner will get to name the bag, and will receive one of their own to keep. Head over to This is Your Kingdom to enter the competition, it ends at midnight on 8th July, so be quick!


There are so many gorgeous villages in this part of the world that I was hard pushed to choose a name, myself. In the end, though, I plumped for Amberley, a pretty village on the edge of Minchinhampton common, which holds an annual and uniquely British ‘Cow Hunt’, with the best tea tent in all the land. It seems a fitting name for a truly English bag.