Recently Zach has been boarding at school every Thursday night. My newfound freedom on Fridays mornings has almost been startling. No 6:40am alarm bell, no rushed breakfast, no 40 minute school run (each way!). So I’ve been making a conscious effort to savour my new start-of-the-day options. Sometimes, I lay in bed reading a book or chatting with Christopher like we used to do on the weekends before we had kids; sometimes I go to my office early to get a head start on a new creative project that requires energy I only seem to have at the start of the day; and I often take the time to make myself a nice, leisurely breakfast. But now that we are in mid-February and the sun comes up into the sky a little earlier, I realised that the timing is right to walk up the hill from our cottage and watch the sun rise before I get started on my daily routine. This morning, Gingy and I set off up the bridle path, and even Fatboy followed us for a while. When we passed over the gallops and up through the old pillars, the sun was just coming up over the horizon. Ginger and I stood together, both absorbing the light and the warmth, until it was too bright to face. Then we walked back down towards home where I made soft-boiled eggs, toast and fresh squeezed blood orange juice. And then I was ready to get to work.
This morning I went on a walk. I wasn’t planning to, but I was all caffeinated up and ready to get going in my day, but I had 40 more minutes before I actually needed to get in my car and drive off to my first appointment. I could have caught up on emails, but then I looked outside and the sky was blue and cloudless. In England, especially in the autumn, this is rare. Even if there are not clouds, there is usually fog in the mornings this time of year. And so I was compelled to go outside. I have a busy day – lots of errands locally and then I’m headed up to London later – and as soon as I got outside I felt grateful for the few extra moments to do something purely pleasurable before the obligations that lay ahead. ..
I did a little collaboration with Anthropologie the other day. I have always loved their home things – I recently bought the Italian Campaign canopy bed for my daughter’s room – and then discovered that their clothes also suit my life on the farm so well. So in celebration of my London launch of Always Pack a Party Dress with Anthropologie, I chose my favourite things from their store and worked them into my life here at Fairgreen. Since then, I’ve found myself checking their website regularly so I don’t miss good things that come up and then go quickly – like a set of copper colanders I bought last week. I’m into it!
Our five month odyssey of babysitting foxhound puppies came to an end the other day. I had been bracing myself for the inevitable tears that I thought would come from taking in eight week old puppies – loving them, training them, walking them, nurturing them and very often scolding them – for nearly half a year and then one day sending them off to go live their intended life with the local hunt. Why had I set myself up for such heartache? But in the end, I didn’t even get to say goodbye to them – the huntsman came to collect them unexpectedly when I was on a trip to New York. And that was ok. I was a bit sad and nostalgic but also comforted by the knowledge that they are just about a couple miles down the road and we can see them when we wish. Mostly though, I was relieved. ..
Hi there! It’s been a while. The truth is, I thought I was done with blogging. Between the long term commitment of writing books and the instant gratification of Instagram, I felt it was extraneous to keep going with the in-between of maintaining a blog. I also felt I’d evolved beyond the look, feel and function of my starter blog, and while there was maybe something charming about the low tech aspect of it, I was left craving a more effective way to communicate with you.
But after a year of freedom from my blog commitment, I missed it. In retrospect I realized that my best ideas had actually come from the discipline of sitting down a few times a week to clarify and express what was going on in my creative mind. Blogging helped me maintain focus and track the progression of thoughts and inspirations. In fact, my next book, about what I’ve learned from living on a farm, was sold to Penguin based on the collection of my blog posts on that subject. I’m always preaching about the importance of gathering visuals and displaying them together so you can actually see who you are aesthetically, and it turns out that my blog is simply that – an inspiration board of ideas and experiences and images that capture my attention. ..
I am a huge fan of all that Todd Selby does – his photographs, his watercolors, his sense of design, the people and places he is attracted to, and his so-goofy-it’s-cool personality. He is creative and talented, and his style – as well as that of the people he photographs – is highly personal. A few years ago, after religiously reading his blog and combing every page of his first book, I found a business excuse to cold call Todd. But what I was really hoping when I called him was that we’d chat on the phone and become friends. Which is exactly what has happened. Towards the end of our long phone call, he said. “Hey, what’s your house like?” I told him that I was moving to England and that I would send him some photos. Six months later, in July of 2012, a month after we had settled into our cottage, Todd was here on the farm paying us a visit. So here he was, running around the farm with a camera taking pictures of the barns, the garden, the treehouse, the cottage, the kids, us and all the animals. I was fascinated to watch him work. As a lover of photography myself I was amazed to see how shooting style differs so much from my own. He is spontaneous, quick, unselfconscious with his camera whereas I am always looking for the right angle and calculating in my composition. We have since kept in touch, calling each other occasionally for ideas or advice, and I am so glad to have such an inspiring new friend.
As the days have been so long in the last few months, I’ve gotten in the habit of taking Ginger out for a walk after dinner. Just the two of us. It’s a lovely way to clear my head, digest my dinner, and enjoy the last of the evening light before settling in for the evening.This field is called Middle Fairgreen, and it’s just next to our cottage. This was in May when the dandelions were everywhere, and the grass was still relatively short...
When we first came back to England in January, I felt that the gloomy weather might finally get to me. It was grey, wet, and dark for the good part of every day. There had been so much novelty in the fall leading up to Christmas – blackberry season, apple season, the changing of the leaves, the first frost, the first hard frost – and now I just felt like everything was dead, and that it would be a while until new life emerged...
I experienced my first English hard frost last week. I have rarely, if ever, seen this in America. I was on my way to pick up my mom at the airport, so I was crossing my fingers for good weather. On the morning of her arrival, I had woken up to thick fog that morning and figured it would clear by lunchtime. Instead of clearing, the fog only got soupier throughout the day. It was kind of amazing as we went out for a walk in the afternoon, but I was actually scared to drive to pick the kids up from school in the fading light. It was the slowest I have ever driven. Slightly bummed that the weather had not cooperated, I went to bed hoping for a better day that followed. The next morning, the sky was clear, the sun was just rising and, at first it looked like it had snowed. Everything was white. I went outside in my pyjamas to take a picture of the garden and then wandered down the bridle path to the horse field and then all the way back up the hill to the view from the pillars at the old entrance to the farm. The difference between the frost and a snowfall is that snow just dumps down leaving a heavy blanket over the land, whereas the frost gently and delicately just lines everything in white. Every blade of grass and leaf on every tree is visible, yet frozen and shimmering. It turns out that the humidity in the air from the fog had settled into the landscape and then frozen over night. Mom and I agreed it was one of the most beautiful things we have ever seen.
It’s been more than three months since we arrived to live in England for our “creative sabbatical” and to be honest I feel like things are just starting to get creative. The summer was filled up with house guests and travel and family time, but now that the kids are settling back into school, I have had some time to find a routine and get a sense of what “real life” will be like for me here. Even though I am really just at the beginning, I already know I am incredibly happy here...