Are you still there? I hope so.
The summer has definitely passed, and so many recent things feel like distant memories. I know that I made icy cold jelly and swam in the hot sun, but even the thought of it on this chilly autumn day makes me shudder.
Although we’ve lived in this house for several years now, we’ve never spent so much time here – at home, in the village, in England.
I’ve picked apples from the abandoned orchard behind our house, fruit clumped tightly together, ladybirds huddled in the tiny gaps, on branches that have seen no care for decades.
I’ve walked around the village. Spotted a dead fish and a rogue potato. Found a small bundle of kindling, a piece of burnt paper and an empty deodorant can.
Tutti got me a bird for my birthday. A house sparrow from a house cat. Very fitting and slightly weird – where did she get it from?
My friend Louise had a book published about her work and I was delighted to be invited to write a comment for it. Cambridge University would have been hosting her 40 Year Retrospective exhibition this summer, but of course – all change. The book is a lovely way to be able to celebrate Louise’s work though, it’s full of beautiful images and good humour. Just what we need right now. (If you’d like to buy it you can get your copy here).
I’ve spent afternoons in my friend Lara’s orchard, eating apple crumble in the dappled sunlight under the trees as tiny birds blasted past to the bird bath and dragon flies danced (literally twerking) by the pond. She’s gone back to LA now, for work, and I think she might have taken the sunshine with her!
I bought some old plant pots at auction and filled them with gaudily bright pelargoniums. They are so cheerful.
I wrote Foodie Finds for Surf4 about beautiful wines and delicious olive oil from Terre Di San Vito. A few years ago I met Johnny, whose family run the business in Italy, when I was a judge at the Bellavita Awards in London. Now that everything they produce can be ordered directly from them, via their website, he sent me a hamper of Puglian delights to enjoy… and I did!
I attended my first virtual press trip. Basically, I had to drink wine at my desk in the afternoon whilst watching two men eat cherry pie on YouTube, and I loved it! Maastricht looks fabulous, and I really look forward to being able to visit, one day, soon. If you want to see what you’re missing too, there’s a really nice little ‘Discover Maastricht’ film here.
We looked at the most amazing house, in the wrong location, and I photographed every perfect retro basin situation for future reference. Pink marble fireplace? Yes please. Secret room hidden behind an alcove cupboard? Absolutely perfect. Our very own cheese loft? We were almost sold.
Since the spring, as everything has been changing, I’ve been undertaking more consultancy work and helping bring new perspectives to other people’s projects. I’ve advised some very well-known brands, including Fujifilm and Group Lotus, and have been working with some interesting start-ups too, such Shower Blocks in partnership with Toiletries Amnesty.
At Toiletries Amnesty we saw the demand on our services rise this spring by over 50%. There’s fear amongst many of the organisations we work with that the second wave is going to increase this drastically, and with the weather changing and temperature dropping we’re really concerned about the knock-on effects of hygiene poverty, including the physical and mental health impacts.
If you can donate toiletries or offer important financial support, however big or small, please get in touch. We’ve never needed the help of local communities more than now.
At Shutter Hub our EVERYDAY DELIGHT (Windows Edition) exhibition popped up in 20 locations across the UK – from galleries and universities to living room windows (including Van Gogh’s old front room in Brixton).
It’s been a really good mix of community spirit and creative activity. For such a simple project the impact was really quite something. You can read some of the feedback here, it’ll warm your heart.
I was auditioned for a TV car show and my big pink face, and my small (and super cool) grey car, were featured in Practical Performance Car magazine.
I’ve not sprinted for almost two years, and have had barely any practice, but this year I’ve gone back to competing in the Lotus Cup UK Speed Championship and I’ve been more than glad to get out in my car.
My first competition this year was at Cadwell Park. I love that track so much. I came 6th out of 9, and I’m very happy with that. LCUK Speed is probably the most competitive sprint series in the UK, with fully fledged racing drivers (and even an ex Formula 1 driver) taking part. I know I can always do better, but I also know that I’d have to dedicate a lot of time to getting that much better, and however much I love it, it’s just not that much of a priority for me right now.
The second round I took part in was the Stirling Moss Trophy Sprint at North Weald. I won a trophy for being the ‘best lady’ and I am not sure if that was for my driving or my looks, either way, I was nearly pipped to the post by a man named Kim.
It’s a funny time for us now as we head towards winter, and I am sure a lot of people will be worried by the prospect of the cold, dark days. Don’t worry, it will pass, it always does.
We’ll keep plodding on towards Midwinter, and then count the extra minutes of light every day. Feed the birds, light candles, keep existing.