Happy Friday Links

Welcome to Happy Friday Links where I share my favourite reads of the week. It's great to hear that some of you are enjoying my recent blog finds - I'm all for championing less well known blog talent as you may have gleaned (and if it's from the UK and has a minimalist theme that's an added bonus but not a criteria). There still exists a generous and authentic spirit of blogging on the internet, I believe. It's very much present although not so easy to find these days and I fear some may have lost their way. Wonderful writing, inspirational stories, wellbeing tips, creative nuggets and lifestyles/voices that transcend the commercial sphere. It's all out there. I do hope you find something to interest and inspire you here. 

  • How not to snack by Fiona from How to be chic. Some useful tips to keep that snacking habit in check.
  • What have you done today? from Happening upon Happiness is a good reminder to value the quiet moments of the day and to put health and happiness back on our to-do lists.
  • A Quest for Meaning from Florie at The Nife en l'Air is full of hope and inspiration for a rich life that beckons beyond consumerism.
  • Releasing the pause button by Nancy at between the shifts (yes she's a nurse) is for you if you're about to step back on the hamster wheel of work after a holiday. Get planning those September adventures!
  • How to tie in your sweet peas is a video that's still useful in my tiny and north facing garden. If your sweet peas are over there's tons more gardening tips and recipe videos on Sarah Raven's YouTube channel. How have I survived without this resource!
  • the colour collaborative: dress from Annie Cholewa was a delightful find this week. Annie shares her wealth of knowledge and skilled eye in appreciating The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck. Read the comments from those of us who clicked on the enlarged image and made our own discoveries. Also visit the other bloggers who write on the subject of dress for a fashion fest (listed at the bottom of Annie's post). 

Thank you all for reading, commenting, following and putting up with my lazy summer blogging. Next week there'll be less days out (such as to Bridgnorth in Shropshire pictured above) but hopefully a new leaf will turn and let more routine and blogging into my life. From Tuesday it's back to school for Walsall (where I work) but not for Staffordshire (where I live) or for uni students (obvs) so I suppose I'll still have nocturnal family members asleep by their wheels as I jump on mine. Oh well, I suppose I was a student once. And actually, I prefer routine and early mornings. Enjoy the weekend xo



Happy Friday Links

Hello and thank you for all the lovely comments on my holiday post. It was a much needed break for Mum and it really boosted me too, which I wasn't expecting. In other news my new laptop and I are beginning to bond thanks to a little help (and a lot of patience) from my sixteen year old son. We're having a tempestuous honeymoon my new gadget and I. It's lovely but too precocious by far and easily makes me petulant - not good for someone seeking simplicity. Some weekend, soon, Friday links will be on time. 

We've been trying to get out as much as possible for walks and picnics. The photo above was taken last weekend at Brocton, on the edge of Cannock Chase. The heather was beautiful and we picked enough blackberries to add to our porridge for a week. Today we've been to Leamington Spa not for the shops (although there's a great selection including independent shops and charity shops) but for a riverside walk and to spend time in Jephson Gardens. I studied a painted lady butterfly there for over ten minutes. My patience was rewarded. Moments like this are worth more than things.

Onto this week's links. I hope they're of use.

  • Why We Procrastinate And How Mindfulness can Help by London Mindful blog/The Mindfulness Project. I was interested to read that procrastination is a learned behaviour and mindfulness can help us to accept our fear of failure. I think this one will be useful.
  • A blog I may not have celebrated here before is Zero Waste Home. Bea Johnson and her family are an inspiration. Find out more by reading From a blog to a movement! 
  • Cait Flanders on simple money and mindful budgeting. I don't usually recommend long podcasts but I think this one from Brooke McAlary of Slow Your Home is worth it (approx 45 minutes). I've been reading Blonde on a Budget for the last few months and to hear insights into Cait's shopping ban (now in its second year) was really interesting. Some bloggers can make minimalism sound easy and often miss out the details of how hard it is to break shopping habits and say no to pricey social occasions. Cait talks openly about how she changed her attitude to spending in this podcast. She doesn't possess financial superpowers just tons of experience. 
  • You Don't Need To Instagram Your Washing Up by Me & Orla. Over the summer I've been considering my online habits. I'm glad I never got into Facebook - read Michelle from London Minimalists thoughts on this here - but I do indulge in Instagram faffing. I like the creativity it inspires, the community feel, the way it's improved my skills with a phone camera but not the false reality such high standards of styling and photography inevitably lead to. Sara has opened an interesting discussion about this. She is the bees knees of Instagram and I've learnt a lot from her. 
  • Finally I recommend the last three posts on Zen Habits. Leo Babauta's recent posts have been great, varied and practical. Topics include simple health, his mom and time management. 

I feel like I might have overloaded you at this late stage in the weekend. I hope there's something here for everyone. Let me know your thoughts on any of these links or my musings. Enjoy xo



A Holiday at Saltburn by the Sea

Last week, Mum and I enjoyed four nights away from home - just the two of us. Mum wanted to see the sea after years of not being able to get away because of Dad's very restrictive illness. She wanted to return to Whitby, North Yorkshire, where she'd enjoyed a holiday with Dad when he was still well. I couldn't find anything suitable in Whitby but instead we booked a hotel in Saltburn by the Sea, about twenty miles north. Here are some of my favourite shots of a very restorative break.

Saltburn is a handsome Victorian town. Overlooking the cliffs is a wonderful terrace of Victorian houses. Most are probably flats now. In the evening we would wander past these vast windows as people lingered over meals waiting for a fantastic view of the sun setting. 

It was a quiet resort with plenty of holiday makers but it was never bustling. We spent our mornings and evenings here and it made the perfect base to explore the busier resorts of the North Yorkshire coast. Every morning I enjoyed a run along the long stretch of beach and in the evening we ate out and took a leisurely walk sometimes along the pier.

Opposite the pier was my favourite Saltburn attraction, the funicular cliff tramway. It's one of the world's oldest water balanced lifts and still operational. Beautifully restored in 1998 and climbing the 71% gradient in less than one minute it was an experience well worth paying for.

The stained glass windows were stunning.

Our first day out was to Whitby, We got there early (we're both larks) and used the park and ride facility. We climbed the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey. The ruined Benedictine abbey overlooking the North Sea was impressive in stature but powerfully intimate in its spirituality. When we left the abbey and descended the steps back into Whitby it was much busier and it was a relief to get down them.

Back to everyday seaside scenes.

On our way back to Saltburn we stopped off at Staithes, a pretty seaside village. The colours of the harbour buildings were dreamy and reminded us of Cornwall.

Our last full day at the seaside was a perfect summer's day. We spent most of it at Robin Hood's Bay, another pretty seaside village further down the coast. A steep incline to the beach and stunning views along the way.

That evening we sipped white wine spritzers on the terrace and had liqueur coffees after our meal. There was no stopping us. It didn't stop me getting up early the next day though, for a walk and run along the Cleveland Way, to catch the sunrise. I was not disappointed. It was magical and peaceful as I chased the sun, sea mist and solitude.

That morning we headed off inland to visit RHS Harlow Carr, just outside Harrogate, for some horticultural inspiration. My first visit to a RHS garden and I was impressed.

Can I fill my tiny garden with this much love and colour? I hope so, one day.

Our final stop was the city of York which I haven't visited for many years. We stayed just inside the city walls at a small hotel which was once a former rectory. Another great find and very central for exploring the city. York is dominated by its magnificent Minster which helps if you get lost (we declined to pay to visit inside).

I also managed to snatch a couple of photos of Mum during our little holiday. She is amazing and I know my dad would be so pleased that she had such a lovely time.



Happy Friday Links

It's only been a week since I posted yet it feels like longer. A break away to the seaside has been wonderfully restorative - I can't wait to share the details and photos with you soon. For now here's a taster. A view of Thursday's sunrise taken on Hunt Cliff at Saltburn by the sea, half way along the Cleveland Way coast path. After taking a few photos I sat on the headland and stopped. I sipped crisp chilled air as gentle gilt sunlight broke a carpet of billowing sea mist. The majestic call of kittiwake gulls echoed my excitement. Together we heralded in the morning. It was awesome, magical and timeless. I hope these happy links will restore and inspire you a little this weekend.
  • I've enjoyed reading physical books this summer but now I have my dad's old Kindle maybe I should use it more. The Whimsy Bookworm has some good pro Kindle arguments. Monday Moods: 10 Reasons Why You Need A Kindle.
  • Holidays can be a trigger for me to spend more money. Here's some sound advice to shop less from Intentionally Simple 10 Ways to Change Consumption Habits.
  • I'm currently trying to use my cookbooks more often rather than use the internet for recipes and I don't need any more cookbooks but Anna Jones' books interest me a lot. Anna is author of The Modern Way To Eat and The Modern Way To Cook, worked for Jamie Oliver and is a huge fan of Nigel Slater and Sarah Britten (My New Roots). I like her attitude to eating well and cooking good food for real life. I enjoyed this video interview with her over on The Pool.
  • You know I'm a fan of Michelle and Frank from London Minimalists but if you haven't checked them out already read this, Minimalist travelling - it worked! I'm looking forward to reading about Michelle's minimalist wardrobe as it progresses.
  • Finally if you have three minutes to spare I enjoyed listening to Chris' Pause For Thought on Radio 2 on Friday. "We are more than economics", says Richard Coles and I agree.
With these enjoy the rest of the weekend xo



Happy Friday Links

I'm keeping it simple this week as I have a new sophisticated laptop that seems to have a mind of its own and a very twitchy cursor. Basically it does not want to give me many clues as to how to work it. I feel like I'm blogging from scratch and that the internet has advanced five years during my seven days absence.
This week I've continued to work my way through my 'bottom-of-the-list' list. After finishing H is for Hawk I've launched straight into an 80s classic, The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe, which is our next book club read. At over seven hundred pages (not unusually long for my book club) it should keep me entertained for a few more days.
I've been enjoying using my phone camera and posting on Instagram but only as and when I feel like it (I decided against joining in with The August Break in the end). I feel a little reluctant to use my DSLR too much because of getting to grips with photo editing on this new whizz of a laptop. My phone has been a perfect companion as we've had lots of lovely days out as Tim has been off work this week. Shrewsbury was a highlight where we drank delicious coffee and walked by the river.
Next week I'm off to the seaside with Mum for a few days so there'll be plenty more photo opportunities (and ice-cream sampling) but not much time for blogging. Expect a reliably late Happy Friday Links.
Onto this week's links then before I get over confident with my new technology.
Thank you to these wonderful writers and to you dear readers for putting up with my rather mindless approach to blogging of late. Have a great week xo


Happy Friday Links

In between reading (H is for Hawk - wonderful), painting the kitchen (it looks so much better) and listening to a lot of Radio 4 (you can learn so much) I've plucked these lovely reads from my limited online time. I hope you enjoy them. Sorry they're a day late, everything's a little skewed here what with decorating debris, my son's expedition gear (thankfully he's back from Southern Tanzania) and a poorly laptop which I'm looking into fixing. 

  • A simple approach to improving habits: 7 Reliable Steps to change Your Life at Any Age from Marc & Angel Hack Life.
  • From The Simple Things a simple and delicious recipe for guacamole. I can't wait to make it again. 
  • I met my friend for lunch and we swapped life notes (and paint colour recommendations) as only friends of the same age can. She also sent me this link, How to be a grown up: books to help you with mid-life. Thank you Julie and The Women's Room. 
  • A Calm Green, Grey and White Swedish Space by My Scandinavian Home. I've added a green grey feature wall to our kitchen. The first picture shows a similar shade to the one I've chosen. Is our kitchen calmer? I'll let you know...
  • Keeping up with the new Joneses. I'm thrilled to share this last link as it's a great new find. London Minimalists, launched this month by Michelle and Frank, is a fresh sounding blog where they share some serious but real posts about their mission to lead a more minimalist lifestyle. I've enjoyed every post and had trouble choosing which one to share with you.

Have a relaxing weekend xo