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.
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful time, wherever you were. After Christmas we escaped at the first light of Boxing Day to make the long journey back to Harbour Island, which looks like it’s becoming a tradition for us. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a place that has more personal style than Harbour Island. Of course there is the obvious beauty of the immaculate pink sand beach, the perfectly clear turquoise ocean, the adorable pastel-painted cottages, and countless palm tress silhouetted against a spectacular sunrise and sunset day after day. But beyond that, the island just has an inherent sense of style emanating from everyone and everywhere. The locals have their hand-painted (and often cheeky) shop signs, their outrageous and meticulous costumes at Junkanoo (the local street parade that takes place on Boxing Day), and their over-the-top Christmas decorations. The hotels – especially the Dunmore and the Ocean View Club – keep getting chicer while adding onto their original charm and character. And the people who visit also share a love of this place that has all the style and beauty you could crave yet still embraces imperfection and everyday life.
The other thing I love about Harbour Island is that each member of my family – myself, my husband, tweenage Zach and teenage Coco – are all equally happy there. I live for my jetlag-fueled sunrise walks on the beach, Coco longs to be under the water with a snorkel looking for sharks, dolphins and manatee, Christopher has his routine of going to the local coffee house in the afternoon to sketch, and Zach is happiest when being pulled behind a boat at top speed on any kind of floatation device on offer. Zach has a close friend that is usually there when we are, but Coco has twice now arrived hoping to find a like-minded teenage girl and is now 2 for 2 in spontaneously meeting a wingman (wingwoman?) who is likely to become a lasting friend.
With all that said, Harbour Island is a major schlep to get to, especially from Europe. The absolute minimum travel for us is two planes, a boat and two taxis. We thought we were clever renting a minuscule charter plane to get ahead of the commercial flight that is often delayed, overbooked or cancelled, only to sit taxiing on the runway for three hours in a chlaustrophobic 4-seater. However, arriving at night, as we always do, to a warm welcome (in the form of a hug, a glass of wine, and a home cooked meal) from owners Ben and Charlie and all the regulars that have become our friends at the Ocean View Club and waking the next morning in my idea of paradise is worth every minute spent in transit.
There’s no arguing about the fact that English winters bring gloom – it’s pitch black by 4pm, the wind howls so loud it wakes me up at night, a glimpse of the sun is rare, and we wake in darkness each and every morning. When we moved here from NYC three and a half years ago, it was these wet, dark months that made me most nervous. How would I cope? One New York friend – a doctor who had lived in England during his school years – advised me to get a light box to ward off depression. Others implored us to book a holiday somewhere sunny over both Christmas vacation and February half term. ..
Hey you all. Happy New Year, even though it’s a bit late for that. I am back settled into my routine, and over the next week I am so excited to share with you everything about my 3 week trip to Japan over the holidays and also tell you about my writing schedule since so many of you have asked. But first I want to tell you about the incredible January we are having here on the farm. It’s completely different to the first month of last year when there was snow on the ground for much of the winter, and it was very, very cold...