Seasonal

The Month in Focus: April

April 4, 2014
april2

Photography credit: William Warby

I hear you, I hear you. It’s only been two weeks since the last Month in Focus! But hear me out! Somehow this feature got pushed to the end of the month, and I couldn’t help thinking it was pointless telling you what to look out for and enjoy when it was almost over!

So yes, you are getting your list of April things to do quite a bit earlier, but wouldn’t you rather it that way? There’s so much to enjoy during the fourth month of the year that it was hard for me to choose, but what I have here should fit your plans for the next four weeks, whatever it is you like doing. Have fun, and as usual, let me know what you get up to!

badger

Photography credit: Tim Brookes

Did you know that the badger is Britain’s largest predator? It’s true! These beautiful black and white creatures live in underground houses called setts and usually only come out during the night to hunt for their favourite food: earthworms! Now listen, I never promised they were a particularly ferocious predator, did I?

Mrs Badger gives birth to a litter of up to five cubs during the early months of the year, and by April they are ready to pop their heads out of the sett and have a look around. The bravest will even venture outside, so if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, who knows? Just remember to keep your distance – they’ve got a heck of a bite if they take a dislike to you!

boat

Photography credit: Lucile Desligneres

Does anyone in Britain really understand where this strange sporting tradition comes from? I’m not convinced, but for 159 years it’s been happening regardless and this Sunday marks the 160th annual university boat race between Oxford and Cambridge.

To my disappointment, the race route does not pass by my boat in Richmond, which is a shame because I’m sure I could have hawked a couple of waterside spots by my window for a few quid. Never mind though, I’m planning to take a walk to Putney and cheer both teams on. Who will you be supporting?

easter

Photography credit: Praktyczny Przewodnik

Whatever or whoever you believe in, April is a fairly important time of year. Easter is the celebration of the death and rebirth of Christ, and in most Western countries this time of remembrance is widely adopted by non-believers just as much as devout Christians.

Even if you struggle with the idea of Jesus, I’d bet you’d be surprised at how much meaning you attach to Easter. For me, it always feels like a time for rebirth in nature. We’re seeing baby animals and birds again, as well as trees starting to grow new leaves. Just this morning I’ve spent hours marvelling at a trio of ducklings fighting upstream on their tiny little legs.

When my maternal grandmother passed away several years ago, we chose to scatter her ashes at the lake near our house. Every spring when the swans have their babies and the flowers grow on the grass nearby, it feels like she has been reborn again too.

cuckoo2

Photography credit: Ron Knight

St. Tiburtius’ Day is celebrated on April 14th, as that is when the cuckoo is believed to return from Africa and begin his famous song. Sadly, the cuckoo is not nearly as widespread as he once was, due to environmental changes that make his short breeding season a struggle.

Cuckoos are well-known for being parasitic: they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and then abadon them. This might seem like an excellent and easy parenting strategy, but it’s not that simple. As temperatures change and our native birds begin raising their offspring earlier, cuckoos are struggling to find appropriate surrogate families for their own chicks.

bluebells

Photography credit: Henry Lawford

Did you know that the UK has over half of the world’s population of bluebell woods? These beautiful and delicate flowers are at their best during April, but if you’re planning to walk through an enchanted carpet of mysterious purple, you must be on your best behaviour. Bluebells are a protected species and it’s actually illegal to pick them. So as your mother used to say, look with your eyes and not your fingers…

Why not use the visitwoods.org site to help find your nearest bluebell wood?

st george

Photography credit: Tim Green

And finally, let’s round up with St. George’s Day – a lesser-celebrated holiday here in the UK, and often overshadowed by that party animal St. Patrick back in March. George is the patron saint of England, but the real chap wasn’t actually English at all! Born in Turkey during the 3rd century, he was a Christian who joined the Roman army as a soldier.

George was unhappy about the persecution of Christians by his fellow Romans, and protested against their poor treatment. He was told to change his religion and attitude, but with great courage he refused and was put to death for his crimes on April 23rd, 303.

Over the years numerous legends have sprung up about this brave fellow, and Project Britain (a big inspiration and excellent resource for this monthly feature) has chronicled perhaps the most famous, the Legend of St, George and the Dragon.

Monthly Round-Up

The March Round-Up

April 1, 2014
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Photography credit: Zaimoku Woodpile

The monthly round-up is a collection of internet goodies that have caught my eye over the past four weeks. Videos, blog posts, beautiful photography, tutorials, excellent websites and geeky goodness: you can find them all here on 1st of the month. Perfect for long commutes and lazy Sunday mornings.

Shall we start with one of my favourite blogger posts of the month? I always feel like Elizabeth from Delightfully Tacky is never that far away from nature and adventure, and this story about her grandmother’s parka is full of Alaskan spirit and history. Such beautiful photos too! This girl is blessed with perfect “wild girl hair”.

And whilst we’re on the topic of wild, aren’t these photos of the Dinka tribe just breathtaking? I’m transported to another place altogether when I look at them.

I remember reading this post at the beginning of March and it bringing tears to my eyes. Hummingbird is a heart-wrenching post about the conflicting emotions of parenthood.

From the age of about eight, I had a high bed. You know, a bed on stilts. I absolutely loved it, and used to dream of the day I’d be able to have a double high bed that I could climb into at the end of the day, or even better an attic loft bedroom. I’m still dreaming, but at least I can pin every single one of these images as inspiration.

If you’re bored of watching out-of-date, boring and cheesy in-flight safety videos when you go on holiday, then be grateful for Virgin. As well as being one of the best airlines to fly with anyway (in my opinion) they’ve also revolutionised their safety video and made it an experience you’ll look forward to, rather than dread.

Are you stuck in adolescent love? Perhaps it’s time for your relationship to grow up.

I stumbled across the Scout Project quite by accident, and now I’m desperate to earn my badges! Hello birdwatching patch!

Katie made this gorgeous little garden planter for her girls, and it’s one of the few DIYs that I’m itching to have a go at. I don’t even have any children, I just really love the idea of a plushie garden!

I like to think that tiny boat life has perfectly prepared me to move into my own house on wheels in the forest.

Have you ever heard about the practice of selling “lucky birds”? By the sounds of it, it’s anything but. I would empty my pockets to free as many as I could.

It’s okay though, if you need cheering up after that slightly depressing story then look now further than this: ten pictures of animals leaping in the air.

Or this wonderful story about the artist who paints groovy designs on the non-descript protective helmets worn by babies with flat head syndrome. I love the one that says “masterpiece in progress”!

Last week I watched this BBC documentary about Twitchers. A twitcher is a next level bird nerd, not just like me (diving to the window of my boat every time something splashes by in the water), but jumping in their car at the first opportunity and driving miles and miles to catch sight of a rare migrant bird. It’s a brilliant insight into what makes people tick.

Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits is back on form, asking us “what if you didn’t have to worry about yourself?”

And here’s another one from Elizabeth over at Delightfully Tacky. Not only am I obsessed with her hippie-esque fashion and tales of travelling across America in an old RV, I’m also in love with her adorable little corgi, Dusty.

As an anxiety suffer, knowing that these images are out there, doing the internet rounds and making more people aware is kind of comforting in a way.

I should imagine this will be a real polariser… would you want to read a book like this? Personally, I think I’d quite like to give it a go. Once you relax and stop trying to physically read, it actually becomes like second nature.

We’ve all had a sneaky go at one of those “jumping photos” (and failed…) but how about these wonderful iPhone pictures of being floating effortlessly through the air?

Twenty-two photos that prove why children need pets. I dare you not to go “awwww”.

I know a few people that would definitely go in for this crazy gadget, even with the hefty price tag! Video chat with your dog or cat from the office, and even dispense treats!

These detailed bird illustrations are incredible enough, without even considering that artist Rebecca Jewell has painted them on feathers! Absolutely stunning.

And finally, let’s call it a day by giggling at thirty of the naughtiest dogs. I think it’s their puppy dog eyes that make these “dog shaming” photos even more hopelessly adorable.

Seasonal

The Month in Focus: March

March 21, 2014
march

Photography credit: Andy Doyle

It seems only fitting that my haul of images for March’s month in focus post are full of yellows, greens and warm oranges. In the last couple of weeks we have opened our front doors to spring, and what a welcome guest she is! After what feels like an endless winter, most of us are more than happy to invite her in for a cup of tea.

Let’s spend this wonderfully sunny Friday enjoying the best of what the third month of the year has to offer, before putting down our phones, tablets, laptops and computers and going for a walk outside in the sunshine. I know that’s on my list of things to do today!

bunny

Photography credit: David Fulmer

Have you ever heard the saying “he’s as mad as a March hare?”. There’s a reason behind why that old-fashioned phrase exists, and it’s all to do with spring fever. As things start to get a bit warmer, the animals who’ve been snuggled away out of the cold during the winter pop their heads up out of their burrows and start thinking about finding a mate.

The hares seem to go completely bonkers at this time of the year, and will chase each other tirelessly, standing up on their hind legs and “boxing” in order to prove their strength. Even the ladies take part in this frenzy, testing all the chaps to see who is the strongest, and only then considering taking him for a mate. If you’d like to catch this amazing wildlife spectacle, Countryfile magazine has the inside scoop.

marzanna

Photography credit: Madzia Bryll

Marzanna is the Baltic goddess of death and rebirth of nature. In countries like Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic, when spring arrives it is customary to build an effigy and either burn or drown it. As barbaric as the ritual sounds, it is believed that this act puts an end to the dark days of winter, proves victory over death, and in turn makes way for the spring rebirth.

I’m not suggesting you have to start drowning dolls, but if there are any dark demons from winter still clawing at your conscience, perhaps it’s time to send them for a swim?

sleep

Photography credit: Phil and Pam Gradwell

Did you know that March is National Bed Month? How brilliant is that? The Sleep Council have been running their campaign since 1990, and aim to teach us just how valuable a decent night’s sleep is. Their site is packed full of advice, from how to choose the perfect mattress, understanding your body’s sleep cycle better and even how to design your bedroom to enable the perfect nap.

Reading through their hints and tips has really given me food for thought, as I’m definitely guilty of thinking that I’m superwoman and can exist on only five or six hours of sleep a night. I’m sure I’m not alone either, so if you’ve been neglecting one of your body’s most basic needs, make the rest of March count and get to bed that little bit earlier.

vitaminc

Photography credit: Keith Williamson

Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clements!

In London on the last day of March, children from local primary schools gather in the churchyard of St. Clements Dane to attend a special service. Back in the days when the Thames was much wider than it is now, barges carrying oranges and lemons would pass by the church, possibly giving rise to the famous nursery rhyme we’ve all grown up with.

If you haven’t heard this little ditty before, you can listen to it right here. Despite its quite sweet-sounding opening line, Oranges and Lemons is actually quite a dark song. As each of the London church bells in the song chime their tunes, we get ever closer to an impending execution, harping back to the 1600s and the popularity of such grisly public events.

daffodils

Photography credit: Charlie Marshall

Is it me, or did thousands of daffodils just pop up out of nowhere in the last week or so? I swear I remember walking through Richmond Park and there wasn’t a yellow flower to be seen, now everywhere I look they are proudly announcing the arrival of spring.

I always think of daffodils as such friendly, positive flowers, which is odd when you consider their origins. Their correct name is narcissus, and legend says that they sprung up in abundance around the pool that an ancient Greek chap threw himself into upon falling in love with his reflection. I’m sure the daffodils would have raised their eyebrows, if they’d had any.

three

Photography credit: Phil Roeder

Did you know that March actually used to be the first month of the year? It only became number three in 1752, when we switched to the Gregorian calendar. Prior to this, the Roman New Year was celebrated on March 1st, and the month itself was named after Mars, the god of war. The reason behind this choice isn’t too tricky to understand, seeing as the Romans built their culture on hierarchy, heroism, and battle. Mars ensured a good start to the year.

Interestingly, before he became popular spinning that old “God of War” moniker, Mars was a bit of a hippie back in the day: a fertility and agricultural deity. Along with his long-haired pals Ceres and Cybele, he oversaw the new growth of spring and encouraged the continuation of life. He just doesn’t like to talk about it all that much.

So whatever you’re up to in March, remember to get outside and say hello to spring!

Monthly Round-Up

The February Round-Up

March 4, 2014
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Photography credit: Hedvigs

The monthly round-up is a collection of internet goodies that have caught my eye over the past four weeks. Videos, blog posts, beautiful photography, tutorials, excellent websites and geeky goodness: you can find them all here on 1st of the month. Perfect for long commutes and lazy Sunday mornings.

So I’m a little late with the round-up this month, but do you know what? The wait was totally worth it because despite its short lifespan, February was stuffed full to bursting with articles, videos, photography, reviews and amazing bloggy goodness! Just think of today’s post like a scrumptious stack of pancakes, waiting to be devoured.

Let’s begin with this, which I’ll admit to first seeing on Gala Darling’s monthly round-up, but it was so funny that I couldn’t resist sharing it again. The Nightmares Fear Factory in Canada uploads images of terrified patrons to its Flickr account, and some of the results are hilarious.

This is amazing! Visual effects, special effects, trick or the eye? Who cares, I love it.

Just under a year ago I was in Japan. I shared a few of my own pictures of the beautiful cherry blossoms I saw out there, but they don’t even come close to these stunning long exposure photographs by Arixxx.

Featured by The Dainty Squid on a giveaway earlier this month (which unfortunately I didn’t win), I’m saving my pennies for  Shade Of A Bonsai’s koi dreams necklace. It reminds me of my little goldfish mate King, who travelled from university to London with me back in 2010. I know it sounds silly but he was a very special little guy.

Isn’t this amazing? Austrian artist Klemens Torggler has completely reinvented the door!

I always looks out for Xandra’s posts in my blog feed, and even though I’m not usually a fan of vlogs, I loved “Why I Cut My Hair Short”. Xandra has the loveliest voice, I could just listen to it for hours! So very well spoken, and an inspiration too: I’ve been growing my hair for years now but I keep getting twitchy and feeling like I want to cut it short again. Watch this space!

Waaay back at the start of my Wild Place Wednesdays feature (and subsequently in the Little Outdoor Kylie vault at the moment, undergoing maintenance) I wrote about one of my favourite places to visit in Northumbria: Lindisfarne. If you missed this post, never fear! The beautifully named Ten Penny Dreams has written an informative post stuffed with plenty of jaw-dropping pictures.

Oooh, aren’t these magical? I’d love to live in a zero-impact solar-powered house in the forest.

Would you wear a watch that doesn’t tell the time?

So you follow @SoVeryBritish on Twitter? If not, here is a collection of their funniest reasons why it’s so hard to be British. Number 9 is my life, for sure. Why is it so hard to be vegetarian and British sometimes?!

Did you know that it’s National Astronomy Week this week? If you can’t make it out late at night to watch the stars, why not enjoy them from the comfort of your own bed…?

I’m sure by now you must have seen THAT rabbit video shared on Facebook, but here’s a bit of backstory: Okunoshima Island in Japan is home to hundreds of rabbits that escaped captivity during WWII. Since then their population has boomed, and now you can walk amongst hundreds of them if you take a trip to the island.

Fresh Guacamole by PES: the shortest film ever nominated for an Oscar!

If you don’t have a garden or anywhere to plant pots, why not try this indoor tabletop water garden instead?

Something a little more insightful now: Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy. Whichever way you slice it, there is a lot of truth in this article, and I think it explains a lot of the reasons why twenty-somethings struggle where our parents and grandparents didn’t.

Let’s continue the fish homage I started with the koi necklace and gawp at these beautiful Siamese fighting fish.

Need a bit of cheer for your Tuesday morning? I guarantee these will do the trick: 35 pictures that prove the world isn’t such a bad place. It’s nice to think people are inherently good, with just a few bad eggs spoiling the mix, rather than the other way round.

This month’s round-up is video crazy, but I think that’s a good thing. Let’s continue with this Thai mobile phone advert that will leave you with tears in your eyes.

Shauna wrote an excellent post on how to organise all the media you collect and produce whilst running a blog. I’ve actually been using a system similar to this for a while, so I was quite chuffed to see it was approved by the super-organised Nubby Twiglet herself.

Ah, Midlands Musings. One of my absolute favourite blogs to read, and this post sums up exactly why. A hidden gem amongst a tirade of ramble rubbish, Keri always cuts straight to the heart of the issue and overwhelms me with her honesty. Here she is talking about why marriage isn’t always a field of roses, yet can still be the stuff dreams are made of.

Now this is too groovy for words. Those clever Finns have painted the horns of local reindeer with fluorescent dye in order to protect them against motoring accidents. That is a stylish makeover, Rudolph!

Something important to remember about blogging from Delightfully Tacky.

Honestly, no words could do this justice. Just enjoy this beautiful, beautiful video.

Don’t look down! Russian photographers and adrenaline junkies Vitaly Raskalov and Vadim Makhorov climb skyscrapers and show us the views from the top. Not for the faint-hearted but kudos to these guys for being so fearless for our entertainment!

Sometimes when I scroll back through all the links I’ve bookmarked for these round-ups, I do a double take. And this is definitely one of those. Initially I wasn’t really sure why I liked this squid engagement ring, but upon second glance, I’m still loving it. Weird and wonderful.

Oh, I love these. More faith in humanity restored.

Kinetic typography celebrating the late and great Mr Steve Jobs. We miss you, Steve.

Annie Leibovitz, please never stop dressing up celebrities as Disney princesses and taking pictures of them.

Artist Andy Scott designed and created these two breathtaking sculptures to commemorate his father’s hometown, Falkirk. Named The Kelpies, these horses are over 100ft tall and took eight years to build.

And finally, if you’re dating a designer, these are the things you need to remember. Also quite funny if you happen to be a designer and you’re reading this thinking “oh yeah, that’s me”.

Seasonal

Why Do We Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

February 14, 2014
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Photography credit: Nancy Adair

With an oversized bouquet of roses and a pink lick of glittery promise, Valentine’s Day always seems to shock me with the haste at which it arrives upon our doorsteps every year.

There’s no escaping the bright red bulldozer of love that comes roaring around the corner of February at breakneck speed, but have you ever wondered why this holiday has become such a poignant part of our seasonal celebrations?

What is Valentine’s Day?

Celebrated on 14th February, Valentine’s Day is a festival that is observed right across the globe. Also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, this celebration is focused around the theme of love (particularly romantic) and traditions include the giving of roses, chocolates and cards with messages of affection inside.

As with many festivals that find themselves a firm part of modern culture, Valentine’s Day is actually an amalgamation of historical traditions that have been concentrated into one big celebration. Let’s start with the man of the moment: Saint Valentine.

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Photography credit: Leyram Odacrem

Who was Saint Valentine?

The funny thing about Saint Valentine is that he wasn’t actually just one guy. There were numerous “Valentines”, and no one is completely sure who is being referenced when he’s talked about – it could be a combination of several different chaps. Additionally, over the years the tale of this loved-up saint has been embellished so heavily that we can’t know for certain what’s true and what’s not anymore!

According to one legend, Roman Emperor Claudius II had prohibited marriage for young men, claiming that bachelors made better soldiers. Valentine continued to secretly perform marriage ceremonies and was eventually caught redhanded by the Romans and imprisoned. In a tragic set of circumstances, Valentine fell in love with the daughter of his jailer and the night before his execution he allegedly sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine.”

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Photography credit: Butterfly Sha

What else inspired Valentine’s Day?

Besides this fairly grim story, the holiday also traces its roots back to the Roman celebration of Lupercalia: a fertility festival that lasted from 13th to 15th February. During this celebration, male youths clad in animal skin ran around the city slapping passersby with strips of goat skin. Male goats are apparently the embodiment of sexuality, and this strange skin slapping shindig supposedly secured fertility and helped to keep evil at bay.

Just be glad that Lupercalia isn’t a festival that’s survived the centuries.

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Photography credit: Douceurs D’Etre

In 1381 Chaucer wrote a poem to commemorate the engagement of England’s Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. This little ditty was perhaps the first time that Valentine’s Day was mentioned as a specific date, and linked the day of February 14th with the mating of the birds, and therefore choosing one’s soulmate.

The first handmade Valentine’s cards appeared in the 16th century, and companies began mass-producing them in around the 1800s. To begin with, these designs were hand-colored by factory workers, but by the early 20th century technology had advanced to such a level that even fancy lace and ribbon-strewn cards were created en masse by machines.

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Photography credit: Dennis Wong

Valentine’s traditions from around the world

In Finland Valentine’s Day is called Ystävänpäivä which translates into “Friend’s Day”. Those smart Finnish folk put the emphasis on remembering friends rather than loved ones, which is something we should all consider before getting carried away with roses and chocolates.

In Wales, many people celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day on January 25 instead of Valentine’s Day. St Dwynwen was the patron saint of Welsh lovers.

In Japan, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in two halves – the traditional holiday on 14th February and White Day on 14th March. In February it is only the women to send gifts to their loved ones, and they will not know until the March date if their love is reciprocal. White Day is the opportunity for men to return the favour, and luckily for the ladies, these gifts are supposed to be about three times more valuable than their Valentine’s presents!

In Israel, the Jewish tradition of Tu B’Av is celebrated in late August. In ancient times girls would wear white dresses and dance in the vineyards, where the boys would be waiting.

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Photography credit: Eva Blue

Seasonal

The Month in Focus: February

February 11, 2014
february

Photography credit: Andrea Boldizsar

Well, what do you know? All that waiting for January to be over and then February is here and almost at the halfway mark before we’ve realised what’s going on! Is it because we’re willing the year by so fast that it speeds up by ridiculous amounts, or just because February is such a short month? Who knows.

But whichever way you slice it, the second month of the year is upon us and today I’m sharing six of the best ways to celebrate it in all its frosty splendour.

purify

Photography credit: Paxson Woelber

If there’s one thing you should be doing in February, it’s scrubbing yourself squeaky clean.

The name “February” actually comes from the Roman word Februalia or Februatio, which was the Roman festival of ritual purification. Famous for being pretty well-groomed guys and gals, the Romans would jump in the bath at any opportunity, but this festival was one of the most important, focusing on the idea of getting super clean and ready for the arrival of spring.

I’ve recently tried to stop buying any bathing products that aren’t animal friendly, and next week I’ll be sharing my favourite finds, so make sure you tune in for that! In the meantime, as if you needed my permission to pamper yourself in a blissfully bubbly tub?

rhubarb

Photography credit: Whitney

Famous for once being the provider of 90% of the world’s supply, the Rhubarb Triangle is an area of Yorkshire where rhubarb is revered, and especially throughout February. In honour of this marvellous veggie, the council hosts an annual festival in its honour, showcasing cooking demonstrations, a farmers market and even a guided tour of the forcing sheds!

And if you can’t make it to Wakefield to get involved with the action, can I suggest you at least give thanks for this groovy looking chap by baking him into a delicious crumble and topping it off with the really expensive Madagascan vanilla custard you can buy in Marks and Spencer…?

sheep

Photography credit: Lima Pix

I love sheep. They have to be up there on the list of most underrated and misunderstood animals on the planet, and if you don’t believe me you need only have a look at this link to see why. They’re also quite firmly linked with a plethora of ancient festivals that happen during this time of the year, including St Blaise’s Day and the Celtic celebration of Imbolc, which actually translates as “in the belly”, referring to the pregnancy of the ewe.

February is often when lambs are born, and looking back to medieval times, sheep were perhaps the most important resource farmed at that time: providing wool and meat in abundance. So when you’re next out on a frosty morning walk and you pass a field of these woolly lovelies, stop and pay them a compliment or two. Sheep have beautiful faces and kind eyes, so you should remind them of that.

candle

Photography credit: Markus Grossalber

The traditional Christian celebration of Candlemas is observed on 2nd February, so I’m a little late in writing this, but I don’t see why we shouldn’t enjoy it throughout the rest of the month too. This ancient festival of light marks the midpoint of winter, halfway between the shortest day and the spring equinox. Originally Candlemas was also the day of the year when all the candles that were to be used in the church for the next 365 days were blessed by the priest.

I don’t think it’s necessary that you have to buy into anything religious that doesn’t sit well with you, but who doesn’t enjoy lighting a really gorgeous candle and relaxing under its soft, gentle glow? Do a spot of meditation accompanied only by your thoughts and the uniquely warm and special light of a candle.

love

Photography credit: Learning Lark

For most of us, the month of February means the celebration of one particularly polarising holiday. Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day forms a big part of most people’s thoughts in the weeks running up to the fourteenth and as far as retail goes, you won’t escape it. Cards, chocolates, flowers and trinkets, it would be difficult to argue that this holiday hasn’t been snapped up as a big excuse to sell us a lot of things we don’t need.

My suggestion for honouring Valentine’s Day without getting sucked into an otherwise over-the-top and sickly experience is to try and spread your feelings of love and adoration throughout the month of February. It doesn’t matter whether it’s love for your partner, your friends, your family, pet, work colleagues or even the folks that sit opposite you on the tube every morning, have a go at practising a little outwardly appreciation on a daily basis.

storms

Photography credit: Atomic Jeep

For anyone living in the UK, this could be a bit of a sore point right now, and especially for anyone affected by serious flooding. My thoughts are with you all, and I can only imagine what hell it just be to watch the contents of your house wash away down the street before your eyes. Perhaps I can offer a tiny glimmer of hope, though.

The days between 12th and 14th February were traditionally said to be ‘borrowed’ from January, and it was believed that if these days were stormy, the rest of the year would be favoured with good weather. On the other hand, if these borrowed days were sunny and bright, it was thought that the year’s weather would be particularly bad.

It looks as if we’re heading straight back into a few days of wind, rain and general unpleasantness (here in the UK at least) towards the end of the week, so who knows? Perhaps all this dreary winter weather will see us good for the remaining ten months of the year.