Lights are going up, the radio is booming out the first of many festive repeats, the aroma of fir is in the air. I’m resisting the urge to use the ‘C’ word, dear Reader. I simply can’t even think about all things festive just yet. With no news on the house front, deadlines, the end of term looming and Poppy’s birthday very firmly on the horizon (she wakes every morning with a countdown of days until the big 5), my mind rather resembles the inside of the Old Curiosity Shop at the moment. Too much to do and so little time.
Everywhere I turn of late, we seem to be being encouraged to embrace a perfectly Danish feeling of ‘hygge’. Well…who doesn’t love the idea of curling up in a chair with a good book in front of the fire, dear Reader? However, I can’t help but wonder if, for me, it’s not so much the cosiness of woollen blankets and steaming mugs of hot chocolate that I need to be encouraged to find, but more a sense of remembering to take time to stop and simply enjoy things. This will be our last Christmas in the cottage. That is a strange prospect in itself when the future seems so uncertain. I hate not having a plan! Maybe it’s fate’s way of slowing me down, dear Reader. Maybe it’s alright for life to be on hold? With the button firmly on pause, once the rush to get ready for Christmas is over, maybe I will stop and appreciate all the things which are really important.
Long walks drinking in the views, cooking together, roaring fires, good books, reading to my girls, giggly chats over a glass of red with a good friend, holding hands with Jerry and remembering to moan less and appreciate my lot a lot more – all the things which seem to be easily brushed aside in the full steam ahead of Christmas. Simple pleasures, dear Reader.
I’d better focus otherwise I am in danger of seeping into Boden catalogue territory at this rate. So now that the weather has finally taking a turn for the frostier and December is on its way, I’ll be trying to find some my own hygge both inside and out. Once I’ve stopped furiously tidying for viewings, of course. Amazing what you can shove in the dishwasher when you’re in hurry to hide things, dear Reader.
The following ‘cosy’ finds seem a very good place to start.
Cold hands, warm heart. The perfect warm mittens from Hygge and Fur will make sure that the only ice I encounter will be clinking in my G&T. You can find all sorts to keep you warm this winter on Hygge and Fur‘s site which recently featured in House and Garden, including a rather lovely pom pom bobble hat I’ve got my eye on.
Walking the dogs this time of year always leaves me wondering if I’ve left my toes behind at home. Enter The Warm Welly Co – a chance find on Twitter which has literally transformed frosty walks for me. The Warm Welly Co produce neoprene-lined wellies for both adults and children that don’t cost the earth and will keep your feet warm and dry, even when you’re still chasing down a runaway spaniel after an hour in the woods. FACT. I love that this fab company was started really by accident by a family of farmers in Cumbria who needed warm wellies to keep the children’s toes warm and toasty during lambing. Father Christmas will be delivering a couple of pairs for Poppy and Primrose this year too.
Some of you will know that I’ve been working really hard on a slightly longer project which I hope to be able to share with you soon. So alongside the obligatory large mug of tea on wintry mornings (and late evenings) at the writing desk, I’ve been donning these beautiful cashmere fingerless gloves (Fagin style) from Turtle Doves. Photo evidence below shows that I have loved them so much that I’ve already covered the label with a leaky pen incident…..literally I’ve slept in them since they arrived, dear Reader. One of the loveliest things about Kate Holbrook’s Shropshire based company, Turtle Doves is that their British design and manufacturing ethos focuses on using textile waste to create beautiful new handmade garments and accessories. So ALL of their products are made from recycled cashmere and they collect cashmere from charity shops, textile merchants and even offer a ‘free gloves in exchange for your jumper’ service. What’s not to love about that, dear Reader? Gorgeous items galore on their site, all fit for under the Christmas tree.
I can’t take the credit for this next find but it is probably my favourite ‘hygge’ item this winter. Anyone who knows me well, knows that when I’m not writing (or chasing after small children and/or spaniels), I can usually be found reading. My marvellous friend Florence introduced me to this one – Florence has an amazing knack for always being able to source the perfect gift. Her site, Blue Bowl, is an utter treasure trove of present heaven, ideal if you’re in search of something for that ‘hard to buy for’ person on your Christmas list. (Florence recently shared new children’s subscription, Scoop with Primrose, a monthly magazine aimed at little book worms aged 8 and up which is SOOOOO much better than what the newsagent has to offer for this age group – needless to say it was right up Primrose’s street). Margot’s bookish find this winter? Slightly Foxed, a beautifully put together literary quarterly publication which marries great writing from celebrated authors and passionate book lovers in equal measure. Having recently devoured all five books in Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazalet chronicles, I have been in dire need of new reading material and I love that Slightly Foxed’s issues reveal a whole host of titles, interesting and sometimes long forgotten just waiting to be discovered or reread in an age of pulp fiction. This is the London Review of Books for fireside book worms – unadulterated bookish pleasure on every page and almost certain joy for those of us who love the gems to be found in the hallowed spaces of independent bookshops old and new and cosy libraries. The specially commissioned covers on each issue are a delight in themselves. A subscription to Slightly Foxed is definitely top of my Christmas list, dear Reader. Thank you to Jennie for the bountiful bookish ‘hygge’ delivered by the postman – it is not often he gets a whoop!
Their collection of Slightly Foxed Editions make wonderful gifts too – utterly unique. Ysenda Maxtone Graham’s Terms and Conditions, recently reviewed in the hallowed pages of Country Life, had me in stitches. A must for those who have experienced life as a boarder.
Last but by no means least, the perfect accompaniment to simple pleasures. Gin. Of course, I’ll be needing something to sip as I read by the fire, dear Reader and I think I’ve stumbled upon just the thing. Thank you to the lovely Jane Devonshire for introducing me to Andy from Hampshire’s Gorilla Spirits whose Silverback Gin with No9 Cardamon tonic is simply perfect for a large G&T. With a base of British wheat spirit and warm spices and notes of sweet orange, coriander, acacia blossom and lemongrass, it is a remarkably moreish number. £1 from each bottle also goes towards supporting The Gorilla Organization which works at the very forefront of gorilla conservation in Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo. I am hoping that Father Christmas remembers to leave a bottle of Silverback Gin under the tree this year.
Now it’s over to you, dear Reader. There’s a frost on the ground, a jingle of bells in the air and smoke wisps curling from the chimney pot. What will your simple pleasures be this winter?