Sunday, 29 June 2014

Balancing my Life

Had a quick visit to Sidmouth before the retreat.

It’s been a lovely couple of weeks for me here – must be something to do with all that cosmic energy that I keep hearing about!

I finally got to go on my Yoga Retreat and absolutely loved it.. My yoga teacher, Jane, hired out a whole holiday complex for us near Honiton in Devon. It consisted of a barn converted into 4 beautiful cottages and then further barns which housed dining/yoga space and a small fitness room plus outdoor hot tub. The hot tub and gardens had spectacular views over the Blackdown Hills. Now, I was a little nervous leading up to the retreat – I don’t always find it easy to meet new people and before the event I knew a grand total of one person. But, I was brave and tried not to worry about the thought of sharing my room with someone I didn’t know. (We discussed this concern at work and decided that no one could be weirder than me so it should rightfully be the other person who should be worrying!)

A view of the yoga barn

However, this concern proved unfounded and everyone I spoke to was very friendly indeed. My roommate happened to also be called Karen which made things nice and easy and the other ladies in our cottage were lovely (they even brought sneaky alcohol).

A beautiful view for journaling and relaxing!

The yoga was awesome – I had lots of chance to deepen my practice and really try new things and push myself a little bit further. Added to the yoga was opportunities to meditate, enjoy some wonderful healthy food and in between the classes we were free to do what we wanted. For me this meant trying the hot tub, having a massage and mostly reading. I brought along some deep and meaningful self improvement stuff but actually ended up reading from the Game of Thrones tome. Most of all I got the chance to RELAX and think and just be. It was truly blissful!

More Sidmouth

However, the downside of all this blissed out peace was that the new week back at work hit me like a ton of bricks.... Part of my deep thinking was to make some changes to my own routine – more yoga, better diet (ie less snacking), more time in the garden/allotment, less time on mindless TV and computers. However, after a couple of days I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the new changes I was asking of myself. So I decided to slow down and make smaller adjustments but all heading in the right direction. In a moment of pure synchronicity I found this book in a charity shop. We have been struggling a bit with keeping on top of our allotment recently and DH came home a couple of weeks ago in a major downer because all our hard graft had simply provided the world’s best picnic for the slugs. Not a single pea remained, not a carrot to be seen, even the onions had been nibbled! So I decided to do a sneaky thing and not tell him that I have been doing half an hour at the ‘lotty every night after work. So far there is not much of an improvement but I can see the onions again through the weeds and I have been picking copious amounts of raspberries. I have also dug a patch (the size of a postage stamp – but small steps, remember) This method is suiting me perfectly as I have a short attention span and it means I still have time to fit in all the other self improvements. Healthy eating? Oh yes. Snacking? Not a single thing has passed my lips (well, apart from an oat cracker the other night). Yoga practice? Most mornings, even just a cat/cow stretch is better than nothing! Technology? Yes, I have neglected my blog and mostly ignored Facebook.... I just have to get the balance right!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Exploring the Trenches.

An impressive tree.
I have mentioned before that we have a really exciting set of World War 1 practice trenches very close to my workplace in Wytham woods.

This Saturday saw a big festival take place at work, part of which was a guided tour of this area of woodland. I managed to sneak onto the tour as a ‘Joe Public’ person so I could relax and enjoy the experience!

A view across towards Wytham village.

The woodlands at Wytham are world famous for all manner of really important scientific studies. From badger populations to the calcium spots on Blue Tit eggs – from climate change to bats, Wytham has it all.

However, my real interest was in seeing the trenches and I was totally amazed at how much remained and how deep they still were considering they have been slowly filling in for the last 100 years.


Our land manager has been strimming the trenches and says they go on for miles – much further than anyone had previously thought.


When the trenches were first dug, the area would have been heathland – the trees have grown up since. They were created to give the new recruits some experience of trench warfare. I wonder how it compared to the actual horrors they would have faced?

These trenches were linked to the Oxford University Training Corps, attached to No. 4 Officer Cadet Battalion. Our Hill End founder, Raymond ffennell was a Major and there is speculation that CS Lewis (of The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe fame) was an active member at this time and so may well have spent time in these very trenches.


Our plan is to eventually recreate a section of the trenches and build an education programme around it so that children can get a taste of what it may have been like. Anything that brings history to life like this is so valuable and I think it is also important to remember what was happening around us. I will keep you updated as we continue with the project!

Monday, 9 June 2014

Garden inspiration

Clematis in my garden.

The last couple of weeks have seen an explosion of exciting things happening in the garden. Not only in my garden but also elsewhere.

Here are some pictures I have taken - Enjoy!

The strangest garden sculpture!

These hostas looked like they'd been painted.

I just love the texture and shape of these alliums

A more grown up version of a cress head I guess!

I think I took a similar picture last year but I love black and white :)

Decorative garden features on a grand scale!