Posts Tagged ‘The good life’

Whatever the weather… keep a sunny disposition. We CAN change the way we feel…

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Whatever the weather… I have just been exchanging emails with a friend about the weather – why is it that when I went camping it immediately started to rain and when I got back to work it was glorious sunshine? He, on the other hand, couldn’t believe the need for extra jumpers in September – “bah, humbug!” – so I got to wondering how much the weather can influence our mood…
There are plenty of clues in our language about the link between mood and weather: having a sunny disposition or a face like thunder, stormy relationship, frosty reception… and research tells us that the weather can indeed have an impact on us – sometimes as a contributory factor to mental illness. More commonly most of us have felt a sense of gloom after a long patch of grey days; and it is so much easier to count our blessings when they are bathed in sunshine! Of course the impact of the weather is also dictated by what it means for us. A camping trip can be ruined by continuous rain; snow can be beautiful – but that’s unimportant if you know you have to work outside however deep it drifts; a hot sunny day can be uplifting – but less fun if you can only see it at a brief time-out from the factory floor. This of course comes back to the fact that what we think affects how we feel.
We can influence what we think and therefore how we feel. Under canvas, it can be exhilarating listening to the rain falling on the tent; working in the cold snow can be bearable if the focus is on the cup of tea and a hot bath at the end of the chores; looking forward to the fresh air and sunshine of a coffee break can be like anticipating a mini holiday, and like a holiday, the sun soaked up in the minutes of freedom can see you through till the next one! I think it was Billy Connolly that said “there’s no such thing as bad weather – just wrong clothing”. John Ruskin said: “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.“ So here’s to having good weather and the right clothing!

Camping, Dentdale and poetry…

Monday, August 16th, 2010

We have just had a couple of days away camping and climbed Flinter Gill above the village of Dent in the Yorkshire Dales.

The view from Flinter Gill with toposcope

The view from Flinter Gill with toposcope

At the top is a Toposcope(!) pointing to the various peaks and fells that may be seen but also bearing a poem – “Smiling Along” by Kathleen Partridge.  The poem says so much that we believe in at Stepping Off, about getting away from the frenetic 21st century pace of life… and I thought I would be able to find it on the internet, but no! So I only have the middle verse which I can read from a photo…

“A good wholesome breeze sweeps the frown from my forehead,
Here is simplicity, fragrant and free;
It is enough to be living this minute,
To feel and to hear, to think and to see”

Kathleen Partridge Poem Smiling Along

Kathleen Partridge Poem Smiling Along

If anyone knows the poem, please let me know, or I will have to climb Flinter Gill again!

Thanks to Julia Hall who found a picture of the whole toposcope on the web… here is the poem in full:

“Roaming the byways outside the great city
The sky seems to large for my little concerns
Worries are lost in the green of the landscape
A sense of wellbeing and wonder returns

“A good wholesome breeze sweeps the frown from my forehead,
Here is simplicity, fragrant and free;
It is enough to be living this minute,
To feel and to hear, to think and to see

“My values of living take on a fresh aspect,
With every green leaf that I notice unfurled,
Roaming the byways is good as a tonic,
I come home renewed to the work a day world”

Making the best of Blackcurrants

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

I love the summer.  Well if you can call this summer!  Though June was lovely even up here on the top of the fells in Cumbria!

Why do I love it – it is because you see all your work come to fruition. 

Today I have been picking blackcurrants and redcurrants. The bushes are heavy with berries this year.  I wanted to do something different with the fruit – I still have jam from last year.  So this year I have decided to make blackcurrant liqueur – Cassis.  It is lovely in the bottom of a glass topped up with sparkling white wine, Cava, Prosecco or if you are celebrating champagne!

It is so easy to make –

Crush the currents and fill a jar 3/4 full.  Add 150gms of sugar for each pint of liquid that the jar holds.  Fill the jar (leave a gap at the top as the liquid expands) with gin.  Let it stand until all the sugar is dissolved (I will  keep mine until Christmas). Strain the liquid through muslin and pour the juice into a bottle. Simple!

It makes for good Xmas presents or just enjoy it yourself as a treat.  It is really yummy and we convince ourselves that it goes towards one of our five a day!

How wonderful to have the time to do these things – just think I would have been sitting in commuter traffic  or still at the office at this time (20.30) if I was still living my old life!

Downshift to Sri Lanka…?

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Just before the Vitality Show we got back from the most wonderful trip to Sri Lanka, land of Jo’s (and her Mother’s) birth!  She’d not been back since she was eight, I have no idea why – it is an amazing country.

Curiously we have been slightly unsettled… we upped sticks leaving jobs and home in the south ten years ago… are we ready for a move abroad..?  I think we need a Stepping Off course to check on our priorities, values, aspirations and limiting beliefs and then to plan the next steps!

Like most visitors to Sri Lanka we had a chauffeur/guide for the first part of the holiday.  His name was Jally – Hafiz Jaleel, and he absolutely made our holiday!  I promised I would link to his website so I hope you will forgive a little plug for him  He used to work for Kuoni, but  “Stepped Off” and went solo last year.  He has a good fan base on Tripadvisor – but links aren’t allowed.  He helped with all Jo’s strange requests tracing her roots – searching out  old family home and church and her Father’s office at the old brewery.  Her Father and Grandfather ran the Ceylon Brewery between them from the 1920’s to the the 1960’s and it was her Father who started brewing Lion Lager (and Lion stout)  which is still going strong today.  We raised many a glass to her old man as we negotiated the hills, beaches, kitchens and other wonders of  Sri Lanka.  Who would have thought that an island the size of Ireland would have seven – yes, SEVEN World Heritage Sites?

If you are thinking of a trip to Sri Lanka – and why wouldn’t you? – we would be delighted to talk to anyone considering asking Jally to accompany them.  We cannot recommend him too highly; but being one of the best he can get booked up months in advance – just make sure he is available before you book your flights!

May be we will see you there, running a cinnamon farm or a guest house… or downshifting courses…

Fruit of our labour!

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Return to Stepping Off website.

Remember how hard we worked at Easter ploughing a furrow and preparing the ground for our raspberry plants?

Wild raspberries growing nearby

Wild raspberries growing nearby

Well having nurtured them all summer – watering and feeding them and trying to protect them from the Shap weather (!) they are finally bearing fruit.  Not many as yet – as this is the first year.  Also they were  present from our lovely neighbour Alexand she bought us three varieties – which all bear fruit at different times of the season.  Some early and some later in the year.


Molly and I with our first raspberry!

Molly and I with our first raspberry!

Also with the raspberries we transplanted two gooseberry bushes and two blackcurrant bushes and a redcurrant bush.  These are growing well but no fruit yet.

Raspberries with leeks planted in between!

Raspberries with leeks planted in between!

In addition we were also given a few leeks to bring on so I popped them in the ground – in between the raspberries and right at the end where I had about a square metre I planted some seed potatoes and a parsnip!!!   I am new to this and just thought I would have a little fun and see what happens.

Potatoes and parsnip doing very well – very exciting!

TV Stars!!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Here we are on the TV again – this time on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ with Phil and Fern!

We are a little bit anxious – but I hope it will make good viewing and show how our lives have changed so much for the better.  With a little bit of courage and a bit of ‘throwing caution to the wind’ we have created a really interesting and fulfilling life full of variety and based on quality of life rather than working 75 hours a week to earn lots of money.

Do I sound smug?  Well OK, I might do – but I make no apology for it – I think we have a great life and I am proud of it – and it is out there for anyone to do when the time is right for them.

All helped of course as we are experiencing the most glorious weather.  Blue skies, warm sun and no wind (rare for those of us living on top of the fells in Cumbria) and of course the most amazing views.

The view we wake up to every morning!

 The view we wake up to every morning!

Getting the plough out for raspberries!

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Another great day out of the rat race.  This time I was out in the garden with a couple of helpers – Alexandra and Dale – to help.  I had been given a load of raspberry canes by our lovely neighbour – Alex – for my birthday in the autumn and have been nurturing them until the ground was ready for planting.

We had cheated a little by asking our friend Alan if he would pop a plough on the back of one of his old tractors and plough me a couple of furrows for the veg and fruit.  This he did but the ground then needed to be dug over, all the weeds and roots removed and fed with compost.

And so the work began…

Back breaking work - but a beautiful sunny day.

Back breaking work - but a beautiful sunny day.

The great thing about downshifting is that if you get it right it does give you more time – the holy grail of course – but if you work at it – with a little discipline you can get the work life balance right.  Of course this is work of sorts – we grow the raspberries to make jam for breakfast  for our B&B guests.  We also give  jars away as gifts and George is thinking about making rhubarb and raspberry jam this year! (notice the absence of George in any of our photos!)

Still at it!

Still at it!

Interesting that this is of course work but in the old days this sort of thing had to be done at the weekend when all you wanted to do was recover from a hard week in the office.  Now we  have got off the treadmill – it is just a part of the day – and a joy.  Hard work – yes certainly – but 3 hours later the planting began and it all seemed worth while!

Nougat is there to help

Nougat is there to help

I am not sure that I have planted then sufficiently apart – but they all seem to be trying hard to sprout!

Molly - playing forman!

Molly - playing foreman!

We will keep you posted with the progress and of course the jam and wine making.

I love this life in the slow lane!