September 3, 2015

the year in books :: September 2015


My August choice, Meadowland, was a gentle, almost meditative summer read. I learned a good deal about the flora and fauna of an English meadow, and was reminded to be appreciative (and protective) of the countryside around me. I feel inspired to read more nature writing, starting with Sara Maitland’s Gossip from the Forest.

The inspiration for my September book choice, Our World, came from this lovely piece on Brain Pickings (if you haven’t come across brain, I highly recommend it. I follow them on Twitter, but you can also sign up for a weekly email digest of fascinating  articles). Written by poet Mary Oliver, it is an elegaic reflection on the photographs of her spouse, the photographer Molly Malone Cook, and a celebration of their shared life together. Combining poetry, photography and love, it was a book that I just had to own.

The September Twitter chat will be, as usual, on the last Monday of the month (28th) . It’s always an absolute treat, so 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.

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

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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August 31, 2015

patchwork August, 2015


In a moment of perfect pathetic fallacy, the rain is streaming down the kitchen windows as I write this, on the last day of August and the final day of the summer holidays. I always find it difficult to let August go, and although I tend to claim that the first days of September are still late technically summer, this year it’s hard to feel that way.

August has been such a wonderful month: long, lazy family days without the constraints of routine. Sunset walks, picking wildflowers and blackberries. Exploring cliff paths and beaches, ruins and coastal towns. I try endlessly to capture the light, the warmth, the feeling of these precious days, but although I’m not ready for it, I feel autumn’s breath, cool on the back of my neck. September is just hours away.

As ever, I’ve been looking back- to last August’s patchwork – and to the month ahead, with a Pinterest board for September.

September on Pinterest

Making July

If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember that last month, I co-hosted a hashtag project called #makingjuly with my friend Emma of Silverpebble. We asked people to share photographs either of what they made in July, or of what made July for them, and the response was just wonderful. There were over 1000 posts to the tag during July, all of them beautiful and full of July magic.

It was hard to choose favourites, but here are a selection of the images that particularly spoke to me…


Top row: @c_colli, @bristolparentingcafe, @nordgarden | Middle row: @littlegreenshed, @larksnest, @tesslovesflowers | Bottom row: @lewesmap, @lillalinaea, @hintyprint


Top row: @katylivings, @harryandfrank, @ehpyle | Middle row: @sew_simone, @geoffreyandgrace, @_ewabakrac  | Bottom row: @geoffreyandgrace, @heatheryounguk, @emilytalling

Emma and I each selected two very favourite images, to win one of Emma’s beautiful handmade silver charm necklaces in a design of their own choosing. After much deliberation, I selected these…

Firstly, this gorgeous image by  Emily of @harryandfrank. I love the beautiful styling, and the elegant use of negative space. Lavender flowers are one of the things that really make July for me, and I love that Emily used them to make Lavender Shortbread biscuits. They look delicious, and no doubt smell heavenly too. Congratulations, Emily. If you email Emma, you can start to plan your necklace!


Secondly, this dreamy shot by Lisa of @lillalinaea . Such a sweet capture. I love the muted colours, the calm quiet feeling, those adorable toddler fingers, and a moment captured. I also love that they are using their July gatherings, and preserving memories by making pretty summer souvenirs. Congratulations, Lisa! If you email Emma, you can start to plan your necklace!



Thank you so much to everyone who joined in with the project, it was a delight to peruse your gorgeous images. I enjoyed co-hosting the tag very much indeed and I am already mulling over ideas for a new hashtag of my own, more of which later. Now, do head over to Emma’s blog, where she has chosen her own favourite images, and two more winners…

August 28, 2015

to the lighthouse :: postcards from the golden hour

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The Golden Hour. That beautiful time just before sunset (or just after sunrise) when the sun is low in the sky, producing a soft, golden glow. The hour when the landscape is touched by magic and everything is bathed in ethereal light. To my mind, there is nothing lovelier than a stroll to the sea on a warm summer’s evening, when the land and the water are sprinkled with gold.

Last week, staying in a pretty stone cottage on Strumble Head in Pembrokeshire, we took advantage of every clear-skied sunset. Setting off after supper, we meandered down the narrow lane, hedgerows laced with wildflowers, glimpses of the aqua sea beckoning at every bend. The cliffs were carpeted with springy purple heather, radiant in the evening light. On Ynysmeicl, the islet at tip of the headland, stood the Strumble Head Lighthouse. There is something particularly beguiling about a lighthouse: its pale remoteness, the reliable glitter of its guiding light. We were transfixed; the boys imagining adventures, my love and I breathing in the clean air and timeless tranquility.

Gathering dried gorse and heather for the kelly kettle, we brewed hot chocolates and sat on a rock to watch the seals in the bay below. As the sun finally dipped down to the surface of the water, dissolving into an amber puddle, my love lifted the tiny one onto his shoulders and we made our way back in the day’s fading rays. Touched by the sun, the wind and the whisper of the sea, blessed to be together. A moment to hold fast to, a perfect memory, a golden time.