Wednesday, 14 December 2016

The Book of December: Life Lately

On Sunday, I woke just before dawn. I was early enough to hear the cockerel crowing and the sloping valley in front of the farm was drowned beneath a blanket of winter mist. I crept out of the house and started my car, the rumble of the engine sounding so unnatural and perverse on this silent morning. That Sunday was enchanting. I drove to Dartmoor for the first time to meet a good friend (known fondly as Abble Pie by me) who got engaged a few months back and to take some photographs for her and her fiance, D. The drive up there was beyond beautiful and therapeutic and I'm going to use the word 'serendipitous' here for the first time. Everything about that morning was accidentally perfect and any winter blues that I may have been feeling were dissolved by the comeliness of the landscape on a midwinter's morn. It seemed Cornwall itself was sleeping beneath the mists and as I drove up hills, I rose out of it to be greeted by clear blue skies and to witness the world as one sees it from an airplane; beneath an ocean of cloud, with the odd wind turbine and families of trees peeping through the fog. I wish I could have photographed those moments. I was overcome by the sheer perfection and serenity in the moment, to see the sun like a golden orb gleaming behind the haze of the sea fog, to see the hills rise like islands above the clouds and to be listening to the Sunday morning folk sessions on radio two. I wept like a babe to the sounds of Kate Rusby and the sight of a world I barely felt worthy of witnessing, a special world reserved for one winter's morning a year at the crack of dawn.

It's true, I am an emotional mess.
Below is the creek that lays in the valley beside the farm we live on. I drive past this every single day to get to town and it never fails to take my breath away as I drive over the old stone bridge. This was the beginning of that morning.

By the time I reached Dartmoor, I felt so at peace and humbled by the natural beauty of the earth that my head had emptied itself from the usual lint and fluff of trivial thoughts and all I could do was look upon the landscape, wide eyed and feeling tiny as a polly pocket. I have no issue of feeling this way, in fact I feel much happier knowing that I am small and insignificant and just a small acorn in the enormous garden that is our world.

December has been kinder than November; it's been filled with many a pleasant afternoon and the usual storms have not come this time. Instead, it's graced us with feats of enchanting 5 pm sunsets, crisp moons with smiles like a cheshire cat (or toenails as George prefers to call them) and cuddles with the farm cats. There have been wellington walks through the crisp brown leaves, kicking them about, evenings sat wrapped in the soft rug, hypnotised by the dancing flames and bouts of feeling like I'm getting back into the spirit of my novel.
Life lately has been kinder, gentler & in the spirit of December; sweeter and abundant with goodwill.

This is quite a photo heavy post... as I've been so lax with blogging these days (irregular and sporadic) I wanted to round up what has been a month of small adventures into one place. To break up the weight, I'm going to present it through in chapters.

C H A P T E R  O N E :  D A R T 

We rambled to Wistman's wood. It was everything you'd hope to see in an ancient and most curious woodland; gothic, gnarled, mossy and ridden with lichens. The light was spectacular and we tumbled over wobbling stones to the noisy river that ran through the heart of the valley. To reach the wood, you can park in the little free carpark opposite the 'Two Bridges Hotel'. It was a sunny day but we'd hoped for some mist to descend upon us while we were at the woods and lo and behold, fate provided and we saw a majestic blanket roll over the hill and down into our valley. 

C H A P T E R   T W O:  L E R R Y N 

I decided to go the Plymouth way back to Cornwall and crossed a very misty Tamar Bridge. I ended up getting quite lost as the visibility was so bad and found myself in a part of Cornwall that I had known as another, younger version of me, once upon a time. It was quite enchanting and nostalgic and strange, I recognised a name of a village on a sign post that I had once visited many years ago and so I decided to pay it a visit, remembering it to be extremely quaint and beautiful. I parked up the car and strolled about the creek banks, talking to the ducks and marvelling at how extraordinary it was. 

C H A P T E R    T H R E E :   T R E M E N H E R E 

I was delighted when my boss informed me that he was inviting our small team to Tremenhere Kitchen for a christmas staff lunch. There's only five of us in the team including him and his wife (six if you include his adorable toddler) and I absolutely LOVE being a part of such a small business. They have great taste for Tremenhere is just wonderful and I had been itching to go for a long while after hearing so many good words about it. The plant nursery was one of my favourite parts... it was too misty and raining to explore the sculpture gardens - we thought we might give it a go after lunch but we were all in food-coma states by that point after a delicious spread of steaming mussels to share, tortillas with fresh salsa and homemade hummus, baked breads & game stews. I marvelled at this enchanting roof garden - I wish I lived in a cabin just like this! After our meal, our boss Adam, presented us with little succulent terrariums from the nursery as Christmas presents - an extremely thoughtful & kind gesture that everyone was delighted with (the guys at work are very protective over their fern and terrarium that they lovingly cultivate in the draughty studios). 
I am most grateful to be part of such a caring small team and have a job that is less than stressful, paced & best of all... on the Lizard peninsula, I feel most fortunate indeed. 

I also did a little christmas shopping in the gift shop here and took home a posy of anemones (one of my favourite flowers) I'd highly recommend popping over to Tremenhere Sculpture gardens and stopping for a bite in the cafe - it's located in Penzance, sitting just out in the countryside overlooking the bay. 

C H A P T E R   F O U R :  T H E    V A N I S H I N G    C A S T L E 

Marazion was eerie but I went anyway. In fact, I loved trudging through the sea fog in my boots, crunching the sand and picking up bits of sea glass and limpet shell. The castle on the mount had completely vanished and the tide was out which made the beach feel even creepier. It was almost possible to walk to the castle's harbour which was barely concealed by the mist, imposing and dark. I passed other walkers and the light was fast vanishing - I became obsessed in taking pictorial style images, photos that were barely recognisable as photos, just washes of shadow, grey and blur. I was fascinated by the shades and reflections and fogs, of the objects that stuck out from the mists and the devoted walkers that I met along the way. 
The little village of Marazion became illuminated and  the homes glowed menacingly, Christmas lights glimmering, giving the overall feeling of some grungy noir horror drama. Legend has it that Mounts Bay is the beginning of the vanished land of Lyonesse, it's easy to believe in those sorts of myths when castles vanish and steely grey seas lap at fog ridden shores. 

I know this [post] is a little different, more of a documentary than a tale. With little point other than to record moments, pictures, places. Pictures from walks, pictures in passing, a glimpse into my life without all the structure. Moments when I stopped the car, jumped out to capture a lane in the mist, or stopped impulsively in a village I'd never seen before to get out and explore it. A lot of these moments were impulsive, unplanned, and now I have these memories. Sometimes there's a lot to be said for riding on whims. Most of my favourite experiences and memories came from obeying my whims and random spontaneous needs to explore a place. 

December is beautiful, it is calm. I'm listening to Radiohead and feeling oh so slightly melancholic and today is neither crisp and sunny nor hazy and austere - it's downright wet and miserable. I guess that doesn't always help a great deal. 

I'm hoping to write more these days, to do more with this blog - create more variety, something real, documentary and honest. Is there anything you as readers want to see more/less of? Any aspects I don't include enough/at all? I welcome your feedback and ideas :) You are each appreciated because you are wonderful <3 



  1. No YOU are wonderful, and these photos especially! I'd like to see more about what a day in the life of Sarah looks like. I adore your photography and your depiction of Cornwall in the winter! It sums up everything I love about the change in seasons! Alice xxx

  2. Some of these pictures and some of these places look otherworldly! Beautiful words and pictures, as always!

  3. You have always been one of the most gifted writers I follow in the Blogosphere, but there was just something about your writing in this post - particularly in the first few paragraphs - that was especially wonderful and that really struck a chord with me deep down inside. Much like you, I love how small and insignificant great nature always makes me feel, but since I live in a city, I sadly sometimes feel disconnected from that feeling of humbleness I cherish so much. For me, December has somehow been harsher than November - I've found myself stressed out and unkind more often than I would like to be - but your words today have definitely brightened up this gloomy day a little bit. As have your pictures! I love how moody and mystrious they seem!

    In regards to your blog, I really don't have any wishes - I love your content as is, especially the fact that you manage to focus on both writing and photography in equal ways.I'm sure I'm going to enjoy your future posts no matter which shape or form they have as long as you're approach to life is going to stay similar! :)

  4. Your photos are absolutely stunning!

    x Annabelle

  5. Gosh, what a stunning post. Some of those photographs are just extraordinary. I love this style of post - not a how-to or self-improvement plan; just honest and real. Than you for sharing these tiny pieces of your life in such a beautiful way. I think "When I Stopped The Car" could be a great series! I'm really looking forward to seeing what you post in the near future.
    Lx | Lightly We Go

  6. What beautiful photography! Tremenhere looks particularly beautiful and what a thoughtful lovely Christmas staff lunch. It must be wonderful to be part of a small team where you can really get to know each other.

  7. Your photographs are so beautiful, there aren't quite enough words to adequately describe how they make me feel. You're wonderful <3


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