When Your Adventure Takes a New Turn

Sometimes you plan an adventure and with the best plans in the world, things go awry.

Getting ready for adventure

My carefully laid out podcast schedule took a tumble this week when one of the previously recorded interviews returned from my producer in a slightly sorry state. Sat amongst packing boxes and a half empty suitcase, I dithered. Did I throw everything to one side and start over? Did I have time to rework something I'd already recorded or did I start something from scratch? 

In the end I came back to an idea that's pretty central to this space. A Playful Day is about having a playful spirit, creating something, having an adventure and giving yourself time to enjoy that. Right now, I'm in the middle of my own adventures. I am speaking at Blogtacular tomorrow in front of some of the world's best bloggers and I'm truly honoured to be there. I travel back to Dorset afterwards to continue packing my house up to move into our Forever Home by the sea. Broadband is going to get sketchy and yes, there's still a few deadlines tucked in there. 

So I flipped on some music, packed my suitcase and put London firmly in my sights. The podcast will be making an appearance over the next few days but the schedule has gone a little awry. I'm a firm believer in waiting until the story is right

So, I'll be back. With more adventures. 


Just give me a few days to see these ones through ok?


Make a Little, Every Day

My creativity is such a barometer to my mood. When I make, I feel good. There was once a time when you would never see me without a pair of knitting needles in my hand. I started learning to sew clothes for my daughter and a few months ago, got a loom. I have hand embroidery half finished, shoved on a shelf somewhere and there's a book about screen printing I keep meaning to find time to read. The fact these projects have been pushed aside to gather dust over the last month or two is a little troubling.

#MakegoodFeelGood- something I return to whenever I can

#MakegoodFeelGood- something I return to whenever I can

The news over the past few days has left me feeling lost and confused. Normally, withdrawing into a little making would be the best way to help me find my feet again. A little time reflecting, thinking about how I can greet hate with love and what this means for me and my community seems much easier when my hands are busy. My hands have not been busy though. In fact, they've been worryingly empty of tools for making and creating. 

It's safe to say I've been busy. A quick check in my dairy confirmed that I have stumbled my way through 19 deadlines in the last 3 weeks alone. I've been preparing to move (t minus 10 days) and there's boxes everywhere. None of them are filled yet. 

So I just did a little stock check. Have I really created nothing?

The APD Seasonal Monthly Recipe- part of the Patreon rewards for the podcast. 

The APD Seasonal Monthly Recipe- part of the Patreon rewards for the podcast. 

Well it's not technically true. I've developed a few new recipes thanks to the monthly recipe I share with Patreon subscribers. I've always maintained that in order to cook, you need to be pretty creative and prepared to experiment. I'm enjoying this monthly challenge for myself. It's good to be creating recipes again. 

Project Calm Magazine, for Mindful Living

Project Calm Magazine, for Mindful Living

Then there's some of the work I've been completing for those deadlines. One project was a little story chasing and photography for a new magazine launch. Project Calm is the new sister magazine to Mollie Makes and I was lucky enough to curate some of their pages. I spoke to some amazing people and spent a couple of weeks balancing stories and images of mindful travel, craft projects and a slower living focus each day. You can find out more about the magazine on the Mollie Makes site, here

I also spent a few days creating video and studio images for a beautiful new knitwear collection designed by Renée Callahan for The Fibre Co. The collection is called The Zen Variations and features beautiful sweaters that really showcase Renee's trademark attention to detail. I love Renée's work and had the pleasure of working with items from The Future Kept too when creating supporting images for this inspiring collection. I spent a day shooting, humming happily to myself and thinking about light, mood and tone. I patted skeins happily and indulged in some imaginary knitting in my head as I worked. 

So perhaps the making has been a little on the periphery but it's there if I let myself look at little closer. Sometimes life just doesn't let you indulge it in quite the way you're used to. I'll get right on that. After I move.....

Renée has very kindly offered readers of A Playful Day a discount code if you need to indulge in some knitting time. You can purchase The Zen Variations at 20% off through her Ravelry store by using the code, playfulELK. Offer ends 27th June 2016. 

Open Farm Sunday

One thing I've missed terribly this past year is growing produce for my family. There's a true joy in tending crops, soothing myself by digging hands into soil, learning from fresh challenges brought about by new weather patterns or pests. The best part though was always taking that all back to the table where a curious 3 year old will try something just because she's seen it grow. My daughter's curiousity about the changing flora and fauna in our new rural home is increasing almost daily but the joy of the first harvest of cucumber or potatoes will be much missed this year. 

produce growing at Goldhill Organics

It seemed inevitable therefore, that I made a beeline for local growers when we landed in Dorset back in November. I've been enjoying getting to know whose bees produce honey for our toast, and whose eggs are the best in the honesty box stretch we cruise regularly. When I stumbled over Goldhill Organics though, I had a feeling I was going to become loyal to their efforts very quickly. I'm delighted that my hunch proved correct. 

We now enjoy a regular supply of seasonal organic produce thanks to their vegetable box scheme. I tear open the box weekly and snap off stalks of celery to feed Little One who has undoubtedly appeared from nowhere to scrounge as I unpack. The family have been growing at Goldhill Organic Farm for over 25 years and it's a story of true passion that I've been dying to find out more about. 

Last Sunday, I packed Little One and I into a hot car and drove across beautiful countryside to visit their property as part of Open Farm Sunday. Open Farm Sunday is a charity event, encouraging visitors to learn about production in farms all over the country. From our first experiences of lambing this year, I knew it was something that would fascinate both my daughter and I so I was excited to attend. 

OPen Farm Sunday decorations
Open Farm Sunday decorations
Open Farm Sunday details

In between fields of cattle grazing, a prehistoric hillfort and meadows, is the farm itself. A family effort that has grown to the productive size it is today, Goldhill Organic Farm represents the word I've come to associate with our new environment: abundant. I stood enchanted as I watched fat bees buzz happily around some of the biggest Chive flowers I've ever seen and Little One helped herself to the coriander bed much like a child in a candy store. It's a magical place. 

retro ice cream van

The cafe and courtyard provided welcome relief after a fascinating, if slightly sweltering, tour of the raised beds and polytunnels. We treated ourselves to delicious ice creams from the retro van, stocked up on a little more produce from the farm shop and visited the studios on site. Local artists demonstrated glass blowing and their stunning paintings for visitors to enjoy and the atmosphere was a refreshing mix of nurturing and enthusiastic. 

When I began The Maker's Year, back in January, these were the stories I wanted to sniff out: local producers creating something truly magical that was sustainable and nurturing to both communities and the environment. Standing in the courtyard, I watched my daughter running excitedly in circles (thanks ice cream), families laughing together, farm members chatting about challenges and victories from this year's efforts and I knew I'd taken another step closer. There is something very special indeed about reconnecting with a growing cycle and knowing why this year the asparagus struggled but the beans have grown wild. I appreciate the fresh new crops just that little more and try to elevate my day to day cooking to make the most of it. 

Studio open day for Open Farm Sunday

It's really added to the pleasure of collaborating with the team for the new monthly recipes I'm developing as part of the Patreon rewards for the podcast. Each month, I'll be treating subscribers to a recipe that is seasonal, easy to achieve and includes tips for family meal times. I knew that these wonderful producers would provide just the inspiration I needed and Sunday's visit confirmed it. I'll be sharing sneak peaks of ingredients and trips to Goldhill Organic regularly on Snapchat, Twitter etc and you can also grab the monthly recipe by joining the A Playful Day community over on Patreon

Do you love growing produce? I know a lot of you do. Tell me how it's gone this year. I love these stories!

Mindful Summer Living

"Tell her your troubles, she's a good listener"

by the sea

These words, whispered in my daughter's ear one evening sealed her love for our beautiful coastline. My tiny 3 year old, who has become positively wild from her new life of catching bugs in meadows, stills each time she sees the sea. It was during a recent beach visit recently that she turned to me in complete awe and asked why I love the sea so much. After giving her the simplest answer I could, that I pour all my feelings into the sea, I noticed her staring at the waves in a way that I recognised well. Turning our thoughts over to the sea has become a habit we're growing together and just like Mama, she's letting the sea figure it all out for her. I sit quietly, watching her stare at the waves and before long her words and questions start to come. When she's done, we leave all those words there on the beach, for the tide to take away for us. 

We find ourselves running regularly to the coast, eager for its vastness, its simplicity and its constantly changing shape. In Winter we greet it with flasks of warm milk and blankets but Summer is where the exploration starts in earnest. No longer weighed down by woollens, waterproofs and bracing against the ferocious wind that cuts through even the thickest layer, we scramble, dig, paddle and forage. A beach is my favourite playground and I'm so grateful that it has become my daughter's too. 

So, when Hannah of Seeds and Stitches dropped me an email, asking me what my simple summer pleasure was, my mind turned instantly to our beach days. I grinned and thought of the longer stretches of light that's meant after school beach foraging extends to evening picnics at last. Sand in the bed is now a near constant and I'm entirely ok with that. Knowing how I love to soak in the best of days at the beach, Hannah invited me to share that joy as part of a new ecourse launching this week. 

Hannah understands that Summer takes a little run up sometimes. Before long, gardens will be abundant, summer holidays just round the corner and travel companies will be vying for your last minute attention. It can start to feel as if Summer is getting way from you so Hannah's latest collaboration to help address that feeling seemed perfect. The project is called Stitch + Forage and is a new seasonal living project created by Hannah with Herbalist Natasha Richardson. Born out of a mutual love of wildlife, nature and a desire for a more mindful, joyful life, Stitch and Forage is designed for people with a touch of wild in their hearts. A self-paced E-guide that aims to inspire you to find easy affordable ways to incorporate slower, gentler, wilder living into your daily rhythms  without compromising on style. The course is split into 4 modules: Forage, Make, Gather and Tend, and features contributors such as myself,  Melanie of Geoffrey and Grace, Laura from Circle of Pine Trees, Sara from Me & Orla, and Rachel from The Foraged Life.

Stitch+Forage, for mindful Summer living

Stitch+Forage, for mindful Summer living

Stitch+Forage is now available for preorder and includes free resources with the sign up at the following link:

I am part of the Stitch + Forage project and would love you to be too. Simply click the image for more information

I am part of the Stitch + Forage project and would love you to be too. Simply click the image for more information

Taking Chances

I've always been a person who needs a lot of variety in my week to keep my attention. I like new challenges to help me appreciate the more familiar spaces in my life. I prefer to be juggling slightly too many things so that when a day of very little stretches in front of me, I know just how to let it wash over me and see it for what it really is. I've spent a lot of time over the past year making new things happen: learning new skills, changing the way that I work, seeking new friendships, new places to call home....

The thing is with constantly seeking out new stimuli is that you can start to feel like you don't have a centre any more. If, like me, you need a constant supply of new and exciting experiences in order to feel truly alive, you can sometimes feel a bit untethered. It's the feeling that I crave, a sensation that I am capable of truly anything because things are fluid and loose. Of course, once you shake off that feeling of claustrophobia and feel unleashed? Things can feel a little uneasy in your day to day as you flounder for something to pin it all on. 

I find sticking to routines hard. I establish one and pretty soon it's gone and I'm moving on to try the new thing that's "going to make my life better". Lately I've not even tried routines but instead bounced from project to project or simply reacted to the next demand that crops up. It's left me pretty low with Imposter Syndrome. Without a sense of goal or purpose, I've questioned what I'm really doing in life. 

However, today I interviewed a guest for Season 2 of the podcast. This guest talked lovingly and knowledgeably about the ebb and flow of life. She spun the tale of a woman who also craved constant change and challenge and that this was ok as long as you had a thread that ran through it all. It was there, in that moment that I came to realise that A Playful Day has become the thread that holds my day to day together. When I chase stories and offer them on the podcast, blog or various other online spaces, I do so in a way that reflects my present mood. This season is dedicated to a sense of adventure and I'm swirling around ideas of being untethered and grounded all at once. I don't think that's an accident, 5 weeks from the Big Move. 

It was well timed, perhaps, that this morning the podcast reached it's first Patreon goal. I'd dared to share a little dream that the podcast would be entirely supported by its' listeners and that dream seems to be pleasing to more people than just me. With this new phrase 'ebb and flow' sounding in my head, I started to plan. I've started to ask "What if?"

Writing postcards for Season 1 Patreon subscribers

Writing postcards for Season 1 Patreon subscribers

A Playful Day has many voices and spaces and I love adventuring in all of them. Sometimes my interest in writing will wane when I'm photographing or recording more and then suddenly all I want are words on a page and the familiar tap of my keys. 

So it was easy to switch on a camera today, despite my deep sense of Imposter Syndrome and make a video explaining that I'm daring to dream we can make the podcast even better. There's a new goal for monthly pledges and I would love it if you popped over to Patreon and considered joining the community we're growing there. You can even tell your friends. 

Patreon rewards, Spring

Patreon rewards, Spring

Sometimes we just need a thread. Inspiration seems like a pretty good place to start.