How can it be that we’ve entered another season already? It only seems a blink since we were gearing up for the holidays and making all sorts of exciting summer plans. Fast forward to now, and we’re knee deep in routine and tentatively fingering the one hour boost button on the central heating. There’s been a definite nip in the air lately, hasn’t there? All the same, I do love Autumn, and I’m looking forward to all of this….
I couldn’t leave summer behind, though, without reflecting on the season in a special edition of Little Loves. I’ve been reading, watching, wearing (and so on….) lots of nice things over the summer and I wanted to share a few of them on here. I’m also happy to report that my eldest son’s transition to High School has gone super smoothly (and in the main, without the huge surge of emotions – mine 😉 – that accompanied our period of goodbyes before the holidays). Oddly, I half expected him to return from his first week of secondary somehow irreversibly changed into some sort of Kevin The Teenager type. Of course, nothing of the sort has happened (what was I thinking?) and he’s just the same happy boy as ever. It’s such a relief that everything is going well for him, and now we just have to settle into our new (and slightly more hectic) morning and afternoon routines. I do always feel in term times that I spend a lot of my day preparing for the next day. All the same, I’m getting lots done and do seem to thrive on a reasonably structured rhythm within the house.
Enough of the domestics, though, and onto the Little Loves I’ve been speaking of. I did a lot of reading over the holidays, and those of you who follow me on social media will know that I set myself the summer challenge of reading Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I actually went all out on the doorstop classics and read both it, and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. More on these in the reading update I hope to post next week.
My other main reading material for the summer was the second draft of my own book. You might remember that before the holidays I had a pretty-much-finished manuscript of about 75000 words. I was nervous about reading over it, as my first draft had been pretty disappointing (and is it ever a good idea to read your first book alongside some of the world’s most famous novels 😉 ? ) Thankfully, the second draft feels much stronger, and with a few more weeks of edits I think it might be in a state where I can actually let someone else read over it – oh, the fear! Quite honestly, this project has taken so long to get off the ground it’s felt a bit like The Never Ending Story. I can almost hear Limahl crooning ‘turn around’ as I type……
Speaking of The Never Ending Story, one of the highlights of my summer was watching season 3 of Stranger Things on Netflix. If you get the NE Story reference you just get it – quite honestly, it’s the best scene I’ve seen in a TV show for years. On paper, a science fiction horror show about a group of American teenagers battling otherworldly creatures wouldn’t be something I’d imagine myself getting excited about. But I love it – it’s so nostalgic, and the relationships between the characters are so beautifully well drawn.
Beautiful people abound in my other summer favourite – Queer Eye. If you haven’t seen it (and I’m surprised how many people haven’t) – it’s a Netflix show featuring 5 gay guys who visit unsuspecting members of the public to make over various aspects of their lives. It’s one of those shows that will have you laughing, crying and ultimately believing that there are still good people left in the world. I’ve become slightly obsessed with the ‘Fab Five’, their zest for life, and general all-round loveliness and charm.
During the holidays, I also loved watching one of my all-time favourite novels adapted for the big screen. The Art of Racing in the Rain tells the story of Enzo, a dog who subscribes to the Mongolian belief that canines can be reincarnated as humans, and plans to use his years with racing car driver owner Denny to ready himself for his future as a man. It’s a lovely story of friendship and family (I’m actually surprised the film hasn’t had a higher profile – when we went to see it on its release day it was tucked away in the smallest screen in the cinema). Please note that tissues are required from the very outset.
Even better – read Garth Stein’s amazing book and weep.
At the start of the summer, I decided to get myself some
blue-light blocking glasses to see if they might help with some of my sleep issues. Since turning 40, I’ve had lots of problems with getting off to sleep, and waking up in the middle of the night. I decided to give these a try for computer/phone stuff and watching TV in the evening ( as you can tell from the above, I like Netflix!) Although they haven’t stopped me from waking in the night I’m now finding it much easier to nod off in the first place. When I forget to put them on in the evening I really notice the difference in the time it takes me to settle down to sleep.
Another little boost in terms of general relaxation has been these eye masks. They heat up on making contact with your skin (for one use only), and are a lovely way to switch off for a little while. Every time I’ve used them, I’ve ended up falling asleep (I’ve tended to use them on weekend afternoons but I’m sure they’d work just as well at bedtimes). I plan to buy a few boxes for Christmas gifts – at £15 for five, I’m not surprised they’ve taken the Internet by storm!
Over the summer, I’ve also spent a lot of time wearing my new Garmin. I got it at the start of the summer for running, and although I initially felt like I was wearing an electronic tagging device, I now rather like its slightly chunky sports appeal. We’ve been doing lots of running over the summer (ah, those early evening runs in the sunshine!) and even though warmer weather seriously saps my energy, I’ve been really enjoying getting out a bit more often. I’ve noticed a big improvement in my stamina since the air turned cooler, though. Last week I got my first PB at Parkrun for nearly six months (26:31, which is pretty good for me). So here’s hoping for rain, wind, and near-freezing temperatures every Saturday morning for the foreseeable. But just on Saturday mornings mind, you hear?
As usual, I do love listening to the odd podcast while I’m out on my daily walks with Brody. Over the summer, I enjoyed all my usuals – like The Creative Penn, and Sarah Painter’s The Worried Writer (my go-to podcast at the end of every month). I also enjoyed listening to Elizabeth Gilbert talking on Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast – I think I could actually listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s voice all day to be honest. Having said that, the episode was a bit sweary so just something to bear in mind if that sort of thing is an issue for you. I’m not a sweary person at all (although I’m not usually offended by other people swearing, unless it’s really, really awful). I gave my friend a laugh the other day when I told her I still spell bad words out if I need to, rather than repeat them aloud. (Mum and Dad, I know you’re proud! 😉 )
As usual, most of my making lately has been done in the kitchen. I spend a lot of time cooking for my family and while I’m by no means a culinary expert, I do try to make all our meals from scratch. Lately there have been fish pies, chillis, gratins, home made granolas, gluten free brownies – and lots of overnight oats (so handy during term times). Food is a way of showing love, I suppose, isn’t it?
And speaking of the L word – I hope you have a September filled with lots of wonderful Little Loves.
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YES TIME MARCHES ON, LOVE THE BLOG AND THE PHOTOGRAPHS, CHINA
Thanks so much again! 🙂
I love the start of fall too, but am clinging to my favorite summer dress today. This morning was definitely nippy, but it’s warmed up nicely and the skies here in coastal Massachusetts are blue. Congratulations on weathering the milestone with your eldest. How lovely that he’s making a smooth transition. (And you too!)
As for The Art of Racing in the Rain, the book and now the movie have both been recommended to me by so many people, but I just can’t. My heart’s been broken by too many beloved dogs IRL. There aren’t enough tissues for that one.
Thanks for sharing your little loves–always a pleasure!
Oh, thank you Kim, it’s always nice to know that people enjoy the articles. And coastal Massachusetts sounds like a wonderful place to live at any time of year! I totally get what you’re saying about The Art of Racing…, and I know other people who feel the same way about it. Our dog is still very much with us, but the thought of inevitably losing him one day really tears me up. x