S is for Skating


You might have spotted in my alphabet list for 2015 a potentially foolhardy S: skateboarding.  I spent my childhood way out in the countryside, at the top of a steep gravelly drive.  Not ideal for learning to skate, though I did have a classic 80s board, with neon deck and hot pink wheels.  I got as far as sitting and rolling hesitantly.  


So here I am twenty years later with renewed resolve to learn a useful and generally pretty awesome skill.  Walking is slow, bikes are bulky, and buses are just painful.  The obvious addition to my epic commute is a nifty penny board.

It’ll be a while before I’m whizzing round anywhere on these four little wheels.  For now, I am having great fun throwing myself in to something that is deceptively difficult.  I spent the first few days in the house, pushing myself from staircase to countertop, and balancing on the carpet, figuring out where my feet should go.


I’m enjoying being terrible at something, knowing I can only get better.  I would have been way too self-conscious to try boarding in my teen years.  Now I couldn’t care less.  I’m looking forward to the day I can breeze by, without my trailing, shuffling foot.  Even at my slow faltering pace, this S in my alphabet is seriously good fun.


2014: The Year in Books


2014 was the year that I discovered my love of nature writing, the slow pace and startling discoveries made by others. I often plough through fiction and forget much of it, but I usually hold on to the pictures painted in a nature book: the creak of a wild wood in Suffolk, the buzzing insects on a still day in New Mexico, the dark peaty depths of a Cumbrian bog in November.

The natural world is pretty incredible, in its vast greatness and its tiny delicacies. I suspect we are all struck breathless by it at times, yet we don’t talk about it very much. Instead we talk about the immediate: our next meal, what’s coming up on the channel, or what he said to her yesterday. So, reading the words of someone else, hearing how nature inspires us individually, feels like a joy shared.

My favourite book of the year was H is for Hawk. Helen Macdonald’s tale of taming Mabel the Goshawk is wild, beautiful and heartbreaking. With her exploration of wildness, our place in it, and how we choose to respond, it was the perfect read to end the year.

I’m starting out this January with Badgerlands: a delve in to the dark, deeply trodden trails of badgers across Britain. With thoughts of Grahame’s Badger and his perfectly appointed winter kitchen, it’s a good book for the season.

With thanks to Laura who got me reading (and writing!) more these last twelve months.




2014 was peppered with things done purely because we wrote them on some coloured paper last new year’s eve. We flew a kite, learned to lindyhop, found some dinosaur footprints, and spotted some constellations. There are plenty of things we did not do. We didn’t learn to play the xylophone or grow a pumpkin. I avoided running a race and I still hold doubts about the wisdom of nettle soup.

These coloured pieces of card lingered around our house for the whole year, quietly burying in to the bookshelves or the kitchen table pile (every house has one of these, right?!) only to be uncovered weeks later and remind us of all the little things we wanted to do in 2014. Being a lister, I’m much more likely to do things that I write down. Without the alphabet year, the lindyhop class wouldn’t have happened for starters.

So, I’m launching in to another year with a fresh set of letters and plans. Maybe I’ll revisit 2014 and grow a pumpkin after all. But for now I’m focusing on the bright, shiny newness of January with some new (and some more achievable!) challenges. I’m stuck on a few letters. If you have any suggestions, please chip in! Even better, write your own Alphabet15 list and do something new for 2015.


Right Now..


..I’m recovering from a whirlwind week of friends, family, gifts and outdoor adventures. I’m thinking back to races round windy hilltops, and outrunning the tide on a wintry beach; fighting for chestnuts with a pack of cards and choosing outrageous comments for points. We shared our home, and plenty of delicious food, talked books with friends aged 7 – 70, and gifted some homemade goods.


I’m ready for 2015: to say goodbye to some old challenges and relish the thought of those to come. I’m equally excited for the quiet moments and and the full on technicolour happenings.

But, before Monday arrives and we start truly hurtling towards midsummer, I’ll be taking a moment to catch my breath- write my alphabet year and look back on last year’s. So, ’til Monday, I hope you enjoy these late, quiet moments of the festive season to look back on your great adventures of 2014. And may your 2015 be a sweet one.


Easy Festive Wrapping


Potato printing was one of the many homemade crafts I remember doing at the kitchen table as a kid. Twenty years later, I’ve inherited not only the kitchen table, but also the crafty inclinations. Tom and I spent part of our Sunday cutting simple Christmas shapes out of potatoes to stamp some festive wrapping paper.

I discovered that curved shapes are difficult and had a ‘tiny’ childish strop when my snowman didn’t turn out right. But, the great thing about potato printing is cheap materials; and it’s easy to slice off a layer of the potato and start with a once-more-blank-canvas.

Potato printing collage2

I’ve always loved wrapping with brown paper, adding little extras to make it feel festive. There are countless great ideas out there. Tomorrow I intend to forage for forest floor evergreen, to add to my paper-stamped, twine-wrapped, homemade gifts (shh.. I can’t tell you what they are until the 26th!)