Saturday, 12 November 2016

When the Swallows Left Us Behind

Winter was sudden in Cornwall. There was no slow build up, no gradual accumulation of frost and gentle dropping of the leaves onto the winding country roads.
No, there was a gust of wind and overnight, the idling autumn became winter as if somebody had reached the end of the chapter of a book. It was sudden and wilful. I was not prepared for it and all the dread and foreboding that I usually reserve for the winternoons had no time to manifest. 
All that there was was joy, relief and the now. Now was winter. Now was serene and calm and isolated. Now was the most beautiful moment that ever was. 

The view from our bedroom window 

So far, I have enjoyed one blissful week of winter. It's rare for it to begin in November, I find that autumn often dwindles and becomes a warm, humid & wet mid-phase that's neither really autumn or winter and this carries on till January. Then the frost and bitter cold hits and occasionally for us, snows may come (or at least a slushy sleet) and it sticks with us till around April by which time Christmas is well and truly past and I'm begging the seedlings to pop up and begin spring already. How strange isn't it that we're so obsessed by the seasons? (at least in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia & some parts of America where we feel the impact of them.) I enjoy watching my Instagram feed follow similar patterns year after year - acorns & pumpkins galore in the autumn, star shaped biscuits and pie flatlays in the wintertime, gardens & cherry blossoms in the spring and endless ice creams and beaches in the summer. It's like a wheel that keeps turning and turning and tells me that the rest of the world (or a portion of it at least) are completing these yearly rituals & it's almost reminding me to get on with it, start baking some star shaped shortbreads and do the same. 
We are obsessed with our seasons and we cherish them close, myself included because they are like chapters by which I set my life by. I try to perceive what it would be like to live in a place of endless summertime or desert with no trees to watch the leaves fall and I struggle. How could I hibernate when there is no nature to tell me to do so? It's like trying to imagine a bizarre, alternate reality... a reality where July is the middle of the winter and Christmas involves a barbecue on the beach. I need the seasons because they are beautiful & offer change to days and weeks that can wear us down. They promise us that change is coming, that we can recharge our batteries and refresh. 
But I only feel this way because it's what I'm accustomed to. I, like so many like me who have grown up on this rainy isle are driven and fascinated by the alternating seasons. No matter how big technology, the modern world and media get... we will always be enchanted and obsessed by the seasons.

One of my other obsessions is the concept of home. For the first time in so many years (after living in student accommodation) I feel settled in my own space, I feel like I can breathe and drift and wander and curl up on a comfy sofa. I feel so happy and at peace. I feel guilty for experiencing this joy when the state of politics is as horrifying as it is, but it's easy to let the isolation of living in the middle of nowhere lead me to believe that it can't touch me, that I'm safe here. 
Another benefit of living on the farm is that I've truly learned the meaning of 'slow living'. Life is exceedingly slow here - and I love it. But it's dangerously slow, to the extent that I begin to let myself spend whole afternoons just drifting and daydreaming (easily done when you have ADD) and achieving nothing. I feel like I've fallen into a little hole between chapters... in that space in the book that is never described because nothing is happening. The people just flit and drift and exist peacefully without significant drama, it's the liminal space. It's so easy to let myself live this way and I cherish it, it's oh so peaceful. I wish I could share it with you. It would be easy to continue like this forever but I can't lose sight of my goals, of the things I know I'll regret if I never do. 
I was hit yesterday at work suddenly by regrets - two of them. It winded me and left me feeling hollow, that I'd wasted opportunity because I had chosen the quieter and calmer path. A couple of years ago, I auditioned for a seasonal job at Disneyland Paris. I travelled for London after several phone interviews in French and then did this big interview near Leicester square (also in French) before getting accepted. After that, they kept sending me offers for work over the holidays and every time I came up with an excuse as to why I couldn't do it that time. This went on for two years until they finally emailed me to say they were taking me off their talent pool system - it stung that this option was closed to me and that I'd never have this life experience because I watched it go past. 
I guess what I'm trying to say, is never talk yourself out of doing something. I never thought I was the sort of person to accumulate regrets, but here I am, I have them. They are unpleasant & achy & worse than the nerves involved in taking on the venture. 

I feel ready to embrace the winter time this year. I feel like there's nothing I want more than to make a house nest, listen to the thrumming of the rain and wind on my window and hear the crackle of the warm fire. I yearn for the bleak walks in the grey mist and the colour that the sea turns in a storm. Cornwall is my absolute favourite in the wintertime. It's empty, silent & wild. I love the storms and how they menace the ocean, riling it up into a fury. I love the colours & the fight to be outside, against the elements. There's no moaning about winter for me this year, I'll savour every moment.

I finish work early in the afternoon which I love because it gives me the rest of the day to do anything I can dream up. Recently I've gotten into the habit of letting myself be swallowed by the squishy sofa and rhythmically editing photography work by the fire. My newfound cat-like lifestyle coupled with my part time job (which isn't very active compared to other jobs I've worked) has meant I've gone squishy, lost any muscle mass I once had and have seen my fitness levels massively drop. It's my mission this winter to get strong again and not become all floppy like a jelly so today, instead of letting myself become consumed in working on freelance work, I took myself on a little trip around some of my old haunts around the Lizard.

It was then that I encountered a mysterious peacock down a country lane. Mr Dapper peacock had decided to take himself on a walk down to the creek but wasn't very obliging about posing for a photograph.

Today I feel like I have more photographs than words. All afternoon, while I was rambling about in the grey, my mind was spilling with lines for prose, words that lit up my imagination & titles & themes for stories I'd like to write. But then George & I decided to take a spontaneous Friday night trip to the Shipwrights down on the river and he treated me to a yummy dinner there of fresh mussels & wine. I now feel thoroughly warmed & fat & well fed and I'm in one of those lazy stupors where words can't really come. They're dormant elsewhere. 

Here is a little more documentary of life at the cottage. We still haven't got the study sorted yet & still haven't finished properly arranging it how we want but I'm so happy here. It's the nook I've always dreamed of, it's honey for my soul, for the now - this in-between year of taking a break from manic-panic living  - it's perfect. 

I don't often buy new clothes anymore (kicked the habit) but I felt in love with this shimmery zara crop top when George and I were in Swansea and I talked myself into it under the pretence of wearing it to lots of Christmas parties. 

 My current delight's (because obsession is an unhealthy word :P) to prove I'm not just a nature hippy fairy who is minimalistic, immaterial & unfazed by commodity fetishism include: 
  • The smell of this seaweed foaming bath by Neal's Yard
  • Blue glass bottles 
  • The soundtrack to 'where the wild things are' 
  • Ferns 
  • My new fat face coat because it was the exact  dream coat that I had been searching for for the last five years even if it did wipe out my bank balance for ten years
  • Still Narwhals (always Narwhals) 
  • Knitwear in the colour mustard (I now have far too much) 
  • Poking the fire with the coal spade 
  • Black Mirror 
  • Things in ticking stripe 
  • Anything with green tea in it (gimme that caffeine!) 
  • The sound of rain 
  • Radio 6 at work 
  • Sassing my two work colleagues 
  • What we do in the Shadows (because I just can't stop watching this film & then quoting it)  
  • Trampoline Parks 
  • Bon Iver, Marika Hackman, The National & anything else that is basically moody, hip & melancholic. 

Coat: FatFace // Scarf: H&M // 
// Everything else: Ancient & threadbare //
(no that's not a brand, just my moth-eaten wardrobe) 

So this week Donald Trump became the president of America. I'm not about to delve deep into the subject of politics on my blog - a lot of us seem to be on the same page already and I can only recycle and reiterate everything that's already been said. We're afraid for the future. we're afraid for our neighbours, for our muslim brothers and sisters, for other minorities, for precious individuals who's lives could be upped and shaken out like a box of crayons because of simply being who they are and nothing more. There's a lot of fear. I don't believe in walls. I don't like them at all. I like equality, I believe in striving to understand and accept each other without condition unless a behaviour is causing significant harm to others. I'm trying to put the fear away and move on because in truth, I had emotionally prepared myself for this outcome months ago. Brexit prepared me for it, I truly did half expect this, in that way you pessimistically half expect the meteor to crash into us at the end of the Mayan calendar. 
All I can do is pray for a softer outcome and move forward, treating people with the values I wish to uphold, even if those values aren't necessarily shared by the larger powers. Kindness, equality, respect, acceptance, fraternity, grace, gentleness. Maybe things will be okay. Maybe there will be revolution, or maybe nothing at all. I'm not speaking from knowledge nor am I speaking from experience or wisdom, I'm speaking from hope, because it's all that I have. 

But the Swallows have moved on now, and things like this don't matter to them. They come and go as they please, travelling to warmer climes in the winter, leaving us behind with the scraggly wind-beaten birds, skeletal trees & little robins. I wish they'd send me postcards, from wherever it is they go, for now, it's just us and the farm owls. 



  1. Such a wonderful and jam packed post - I just wanted to read on and on. Your words are so calm and full of wisdom and your photos are stunning - I love visiting Cornwall both for my family and the fact that it's absolutely beautiful and adorable and perfect for taking time out to rethink perspectives!

    Winter is a lovely time of year (mainly for cosy nights in and Christmas) but I'm still in the stressed mode of university final year where I can't quite enjoy it until my life's in order. But it being my last year, and maybe one of the last years I know what to expect from this time of year, I want to enjoy every little bit and soak up all the nature and beauty in Winter time.

    I'm glad you're feeling settled in your new place and are choosing to take all opportunities head on - such a wake up call that I do the exact same thing about using excuses to do something scary/out of our comfort zone!

    Once again your photos are fantastic - Mr Peacock looks lovely and sassy there, must have been a lovely surprise to come across him! I also really love your outfit in these pictures!

    JosieVictoriaa // Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle

  2. This post and your words and photographs really resonated with me - what a beautiful sentiment and way of thinking. I've always loved Cornwall and can't wait to return again soon.
    P.s. your coat and boots are gorgeous!

  3. I'm reading your wise words in sunny Sydney, where we do enjoy seasons, just in different months to you.😊 I love the photos and the glimpse of another existence that they afford me. Thanks.

  4. I love everything about this post, I can certainly tell you're living a much more slower way of living and isn't it great? I love it, I let it consume my whole body and it fed and nourished my mind and body. I feel better for it - like it was a long time coming.

    I love Autumn so I'm so glad I got to see every stage of it, I know the squishy look (you look fab btw) so I set myself a few mile walk everyday to exercise the pup and myself but witness the change of seasons.

    Cornwall looks great no matter what season it is, I can't wait to visit again!

    Enjoy winter.



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