Autumnal

The days may still get warm and are often in the low 20ies, but there is no doubt that autumn is here. Leaves are changing, the morning are crisps and on Saturday, we had such a wonderfully foggy morning, it was a delight.

Saturday, I also went on a course about the uses of herbs called “Natural Health Chest” hosted by Rowan Mconegal. I travelled to the wonderful Ledbury (another trip will be required there, I judge all towns by the presence of bookshops and on my brief walk along the High Street I spotted two).

I have always been interested in the uses of herbs and have used many herbal things in my life. I think growing up in Germany, these kind of things are just more present. So when you have sinus issue, you go and get Sinupret (basically a tablet made of Cowslip, yellow Gentian, black elder, sorrel and vervaine) and for coughs you reach to equally natural concoctions. Even your GP will tell you to get those before he prescribes you anything else.

Recently, I felt very much drawn to all things herbs after having discovered the absolutely altering effects of a tea called Deep Sleep which helped me overcome a particularly nasty bout of sleeplessness. I just wanted to learn more.

The course was lovely, full of conversation (which for me is the best way to learn and be inspired) and the little group (there was 5 of us, plus Rowan) was lovely. What it did is to give me some tools and above all permission to explore more.

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Happiness tea to chill me when work gets stressful

Yesterday, I signed up to a self-study course about herbs – this does not mean I will become a herbalist, this is all just for my personal use and exploration of a topic I am interested in. Not only is it useful, but also does it fill this void in me that I have in terms of missing learning, this will keep that itch of mine sufficiently soothed.

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Elderberries from the garden, full of Vitamin C and great in teas.

Yesterday, I made some tea mixes, dried my elderberries and rosehips from the garden in the dehydrator (see affiliate link below for the one I use), made rosemary oil to use in creams and for cooking (particularly nice in salad dressing) and I can honestly say, I have not felt as happy and content in a long time.

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Rosemary oil simmering away in the double boiler

 

 

The Lost Days of Summer

Apparently it’s Wednesday. My phone says so. Which means that unless there has been some international data breakdown, I assume this is right. It’s week 1 of the kid’s summer holiday and I already lost track of days. I am trying not to be disturbed by this but I admit to failing.

It is odd really, because at Christmas I do really enjoy the loosing track of days, when each day becomes just like the other filled with food and family and board games and reading by the fire. In the summer though, I have stuff to do. Deadlines to keep, so losing track of the days makes me anxious, because what if I forget to deliver that job or reply to that email? What then?

It’s great for the 11 year old, though. I remember summers as a kid, the days seemingly stretch out in front of you forever. Possibilities of what I could do every single day, I miss that boredom, miss hanging out at the lido, miss riding my bike everywhere, reading without interruption. And then at the end of the summer, I looked forward to going back to school (yes, I was that kid) and having a bit of a routine again, but while it lasted, I loved every minute of it.

Now, I am grateful that I work from home, I am grateful for it every single day. Yet, I admit that summers change my routine of “kid is at school, time to work”. It’s 6 am. I have already been at the computer for more than an hour doing some admin stuff for my work. Planning what I need to do today. I am quickly typing these thoughts down and then roughly at 6.15, I will start my work day. The work day is fractured with time spend with my kid, because a) goodness knows how much longer she wants to hang out with me b) I like spending time with her and c) I am easily distracted when she is around anyway.

I am often faced with people that tell me that this sort of working cannot be productive. Or that, because I work this way during school holidays, means that what I do is not real work. Years ago, that really bothered me. Now, I just smile. The amazing thing I have learnt is that these fractured days are mostly super productive in terms of work. The work load gets done. I am happy, too, because I get to do stuff with that human I have created. And then when I sit down, my brain just seems to slot into whatever job I am working on. And every year, I think: Look at this, you work well this way, why not incorporate it into your life when September comes, get up early, do some work, then after lunch when you are tired, you can snooze for 30 minutes. Yet, every single year, as soon as September comes, I return back to the way of working that society seems to find acceptable: Sit down at the computer and work for a solid 6-7 hour block. Push through that tiredness, forget about going for a walk, forget about taking care of yourself, that is for those hours outside of the work block.

I have plans to push through this conditioning this year and have put reminders in my google calendar that say: Remember summer, remember all the work got done and you still had fun.

And now, some coffee and work. It’s 6.10.

Windy, with a side of snow

Last week, weather happened in the UK and we ground to a halt. As a country, we are ill equipped to deal with snow at the best of times (for the most part, it just does not happen enough) but combine this with two stormfronts, well, then you got chaos.

We mainly stayed inside apart from sledging when the wind finally settled on Saturday. And now, today as I look out of the window, the snow is almost gone. Amazing how 8 Celcius can feel almost tropical.

There is a lesson there. And I am not saying that the weather happened for me to acknowledge something to myself, yet the weather totally helped.

For one: I am super creative making the contents of my fridge/freezer last and come up with delicious meals out of sheer nothingness. A tin of tomatoes, some random lentils and bits and bobs of veg made one of the best soups ever. I baked bread. I made oat cookies. Hearty dishes for the freezing temperatures. It pleased me and I am not always good at acknowledging this talent of mine, because a talent it is.

Two: When it comes down to the knuckle, most things can wait. You can just let it all go, because stuff mostly can wait.

Three: As a family we are good at being cooped up with each other. That’s good to know too.

Now the snow is going and it’s back to normality. Soon we shall be in Scotland quite frankly, I cannot wait. Right now as I look out of the window, I see houses and cars. When we are in Scotland, I will see the loch, the hills and maybe a boat.

Flavia De Luce #9: The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place

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I remember reading my first Flavia De Luce mystery 4 years ago and being instantly hooked. Everything from the disheveled manor house, the horrid sisters, the housekeeper/cook that cannot really cook nor keep house, the general factotum Dogger… to last but not least Flavia herself, 11 year old chemist, lonely and very precocious.

Now, imagine my surprise when I recommended this series to a friend and she did not like it because of Flavia. I nearly took offense, because at times, we do take insults to favourite fictional characters rather personal. Yet, thinking about it, I can see that Flavia may split the lovers and haters quite distinctly.

I adore her. I laugh out loud reading it, I am often feeling very sad for her. I know there is a huge part of me that can identify my own 11 year old with Flavia.

The series also captures a certain post-war mood in 1950ies Britain, the manors of the former rich now broke were falling apart, rationing was still going, it just did not really feel like a war had being won.

I was delighted when I got send a digital ARC for book 9 in the series. Ecstatic. Delirious. And I immediately sat down and read it. The De Luce girls are on a little holiday, punting along a river, when Flavia accidentally (is there any other way) dead body floating in the river. More cannot be said about the plot as this is an ongoing series.

Naturally, I highly recommend this. But start at the beginning. If you hate precocious children, this may not be for you. Otherwise, find a comfy chair, make yourself a cuppa and fetch a plate of biscuits and enjoy.

I certainly did.


Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 8th 2018 by Orion (first published January 30th 2018)
Thanks to Netgalley and Orion for the advance copy.