Back once again with the ill behaviour… just kidding, but I am back and sticking to my promise of continuing these monthly updates. I know January often feels like the longest month of the year for most people (and it used to for me a few years back too) but since I decided my January’s would be slow going and a way to ease myself back into things after New Year, they seem to whizz by! Like holidays do I guess.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve been on holiday all month, far from it, but a lot has happened and I guess when you have a month packed full of everything from boring life admin and accounts to seeing fave faces and mini weekends away, time does go faster. Anywho, I’m almost breaking my ‘keep ‘em short and sweet’ goal with this waffle so let’s crack on and see what January looked like.
keeping up tradition
For the past 5 years, The Beard and I have been on camping trips over NY and this year was no exception, we still ran away but instead of taking our tent we took Buddy - I mean, why wouldn’t we? We had a lovely few days in Dartmoor, which was far from our first ever trip there when Will’s tent broke in the middle of a stormy night and we had to hike out in sideways ran at 5am!
After a busy December we decided to make the most of slow-living in the van and pootled around without any real agenda. We knew roughly where we wanted to go, we had a good ol’ fashioned road map and our National Trust membership cards with us - how old are we?! - and we enjoyed plotting a route on the go and calling into any NT places we saw along the way. I think it’s safe to say the membership paid for itself in that one weekend with what we saved in entrance fees… let’s not talk about how many cheese scones or teas were involved though!
We popped by Stonehenge before our first stopover in Widecombe on the Moor. Haytor provided atmospheric views for breakfast and we enjoyed exploring Castle Drogo and walking through the Teign Gorge. From one castle to another, we then stayed overnight near Lydford Castle and walked around Lydford Gorge the next day before heading off again to explore Knightshayes en route to The Cotswolds.
Those first couple of days in Dartmoor were so nice and it felt like luxury being in Buddy this time. Rather than face a huge drive on New Years Day we decided to head part way home and spend NYE in The Cotswolds. We found a lovely campsite (that was actually open!) in a small village called Whichford. From there we popped into the picturesque Stow-on-the-Wold for breakfast and food supplies before heading back to enjoy woodland walks and views around the campsite and village area.
That evening, seeing in the New Year with The Beard, Buddy and a campfire burning all evening was bliss. We drank wine, cooked a tasty supper, read books, snacked and drank gin. When we ran out of fire wood we cosied up in Buddy and watched True Romance, which kept us up past midnight for the first time on a NYE we’ve spent together!
As always, I was sad to come away from such a nice (somewhat lazy) weekend enjoying the outdoors and as much as I missed our tent, it was pure luxury being in Buddy and being able to take everything that bit slower than usual.
work in progress
We came back from a lovely NY break to some hardcore adulting. On New Years Day we came home, unpacked and had to get the house ready for a new boiler to be fitted. I don’t recall mentioning it here before but in late November our million year old boiler packed in so we had been without central heating throughout December. We were lucky as we had a gas fire to keep us warm in the front room and the immersion heater meant we had hot water but my goodness was I excited to get some heat back into the house (studio!) again. I think the cats were ready too!
With having a little two-up-two-down house, the first week of January was spent cooped up in the front room keeping the cats happy (and safe) while the rest of the house was turned upside down with old tanks and pipework being ripped out and the new boiler being installed. As much as I hated being confined to one room, it was warm, I caught up on some paperwork and we watched films, napped with the cats and enjoyed a kind of extended holiday in our tiny living room!
Other boring adulting jobs we tackled over the two weeks of the new year included painting Buddy’s shed (I had forgotten how awful creosote is!), making sure my taxes were up to date, arranging to see people (why is diary planning so hard?), cleaning the house, making appointments with doctors/physios/opticians, holiday washing and a couple of trips to the local tip. FUN! We really should stop putting off all those odd boring jobs because doing them all in one go, over a couple of weeks, especially after a holiday is a tad soul destroying. Haha!
It might not be at all interesting for you to read but I have been trying out contact lenses for the first time ever this month and after posting about my appointment over on Instagram and seeing how many people commented on the pros and cons of contacts vs glasses I thought I’d write a bit of an update here.
I knew needed new glasses anyway as my eyes have been getting slowly worse but as I only needed them in the past for driving, going out at night or cinema trips, I put it off. It wasn’t until back in October or November that I started to notice my fuzzy eyes in the day time - when I was out cycling, walking or running. So I made an appointment with the opticians for a check up and to chat about contacts - because I hate running in glasses and going anywhere in the rain with them on is a pain too.
So this month, with new glasses and some daily contact lenses, I have been experimenting with both to see what works best for me day to day. I LOVE having my contacts in for being outdoors (being able to see clearly into the distance and having everything back in HD again is GREAT!) but for when I’m working in the studio or pottering about the house I just have my glasses to hand. It’s working pretty well so far and I think I’ll keep flirting with both. As gross as it sounds I also LOVE putting my contacts in and taking them out again, they’re so thin and squishy and it kind of blows my mind!
up and running
I touched on running in my New Year’s blog post as this month I started physiotherapy sessions to try and ease the pain I’d developed (and ignored for two months) in my foot. It’s going well so far and although I’m mortified at how weak a lot of my muscles are overall, my hips especially, the stretches and daily routine have been just the kick up the bum I needed.
I have only been out for a ‘run’ (read ‘slow jog’) a handful of times and as much as I love being out again, I’m finding it so hard not to be disheartened about how hard I’m finding it all. It seems my fitness levels have fallen off a cliff so it’s taking a lot of determination to keep at it and be patient right now.
A few days of being ill didn’t help either but the cats cheered me on while I kept up with the stretches and this week the running sessions have felt a little easier. The winter sunshine and snowy views have also helped keep me smiling!
Seeing as we knew we’d be taking Buddy with us for our NYE adventure this this year, we decided we would make time in January to take the tent out and head somewhere for a weekend under the stars. We get a lot of stick for camping in the Winter but with quiet campsite, frosty mornings and cosy evenings to enjoy, I don’t think you can beat it. We’re both quite anti-social campers really and both dislike the heat (sweaty tents are not fun!) so it suits us both fine and as I learnt a fair few years back, when you have the right gear, you’re never too cold for long - midnight wee’s are the worst part.
Last weekend we packed the tent and headed off in the car to The Peak District. Originally we had planned to take the tandem and do the Monsal Trail but with iffy weather reports we made a last minute decision to pack lighter and just stick to hiking. The Beard found a campsite that was open and happened to be one of our regular spots near Hathersage so we packed our maps and decided to make new plans in the tent when we arrived on Friday evening.
We still wanted to walk a bit of the Monsal Trail and even though Will was adamant he’d taken me to The Roaches before I knew we hadn’t been (I was right) so this was on our hit list for the weekend too. With us staying on the other side of the Peak though, we decided to do both those things on the Sunday before driving home so we spent Saturday exploring spots nearby to Hathersage that we hadn’t done together before.
After picking up some lunch from Coleman’s Deli and popping into Outside (which seems to be a regular habit when we’re in the area!) Will suggested taking a walk around some of his favourite crags so we headed up to do a hike around Burbage, Higger Tor, Millstone and Lawrencefield Quarry.
We were so lucky with the weather too! Although it was mizzly (misty and drizzling) we had clear views over the hills for miles and it was a great opportunity to try out my new camera!
Despite taking our time, Will giving me little climbing and history lessons along the way and stopping to play with the camera, we finished our hike a lot earlier than planned so decided to take a drive out to Castleton and see if we could visit Peveril Castle before it got dark.
Unfortunately Peveril Castle is an English Heritage site so we couldn’t get in for free with our NT membership this time (dammit!) and with only 30mins before it closed we decided to be cheapskates and took a wander up Cavedale instead. It started to rain while we were up there so we pootled around quickly and sheltered in a tea room before driving back to the campsite. That night we popped to The Scotsman’s Pack in Hathersage for dinner and enjoyed some tasty pub grub (their meat pie is AMAZING!) before heading back to the tent for a well needed sleep.
The next morning we woke up to clear blue skies and a cheeky robin trying to get in our tent. I think he was just eyeing up our porridge but he was so brave and not phased by us at all.
We packed up our tent and headed off to start our little walk along the Monsal Trail. We had used a lot of Will’s favourite climbing spots to lead our walks so far and the trail goes right past another big climbing spot, Ravenstor so I dubbed the weekend as our ‘Craghoppers’ tour, (queue Will’s eyes rolling!) We parked in a lay-by and trundled down into the Wye Valley where the trail starts and hiked for an hour or so until we reached the view over the crag.
The tunnels and lime kilns along the trail are great fun and I enjoyed the easy ramble down the track. I was a bit sad we didn’t have the bikes as we could have done the whole thing there and back again but being able to stop and wander off the path into the woodland or up to explore the old works was a bonus. We had lunch at Millers Dale, walked a bit further to see Ravenstor and then headed back.
That afternoon we drove on to The Roaches, which I’ve heard Will talk about a lot and now I’ve been, I can see why! It’s a play ground of boulders and towering rock faces with the most incredible views for miles around. The Don Whillans Memorial Hut nestles in amongst the impressive landscape and feels very atmospheric - especially on another mizzly day when it was trying it’s best to snow.
We hopped about the rocks and wandered around for a while before it started to get incredibly windy - bloody freezing wind too. I took in all the views one last time before we headed back to the car to start our journey home again.
On the way home we called in to see my folks and mixed up a bit of business and pleasure. It’s always a pleasure to call in to Nottingham when we’re passing and it was a bonus to get to see my sister and two beautiful nieces as well as my parents this time too. The business side of the visit was to pick up a rather exciting piece of craftsmanship Team Workbench had built for Hello Sunshine’s wedding fair prep (eek!) Which leads me nicely on to the next section of this little round up…
BACK TO WORK
opening up shop
Whenever we go away, I usually just put up shipping updates and let people continue shopping with the understanding that they won’t get their goodies until I’m home again but after closing my shops for the first time ever this Christmas and NY, I had to reopen everything again this month too.
It was so nice to have a complete break away from it all and although it was a little scary opening everything again (will anyone still want to buy my stuff?) I was chuffed to bits to start getting orders and booking in portraits again.
Opening up my online shops also gave me chance to sort out Christmas stock, make up some more lucky dip Sunshine boxes and tidy up my wholesale catalogue ready for the new year.
I’m usually so far behind with this sort of organising after Christmas but this year I had a de-Christmassed catalogue and order form ready to send and have had a busy couple of weeks packing some wholesale orders. YAY!
wedding fair prep
As I mentioned in my goals for this year, I have my first wedding fair coming up in March and cannot wait for all the fun times that lie ahead in prepping for it. On the way back from the Peak District last weekend, I picked up the first BIG part of my plans from Team Workbench Shop, which is a portable pop up stand for me to draw and paint portraits from! I won’t be sharing any snaps of it just yet as I still need to figure out painting and decorating it but if you think about old-school lemonade stands then you might be half way there…
As part of the plans for all things weddinging, I have also been having some exciting email conversations and brainstorms with the one and only Cat of Twin Pines Creative, who is helping tweak my branding and create some promotional bits and pieces for me to have at the fair. I have also been chatting with Kayti who is an excellent photographer and the powerhouse behind Caboodle Magazine. We have been cooking up some very exciting plans involving wedding set ups and a certain Sunshine van…
Before Christmas I had the absolute pleasure (and may have wet my pants with fan girl excitement) of working with Steak & Honour to create some fun and tasty looking colouring pages for their Wheeler Street burger joint. Now, you guys probably already know how much I love a burger, and S&H are up their as my faves so this was a pretty big deal for me!
A couple of weekends ago The Beard and I had a cheeky little date night that involved some colouring in, burgers, beers and mac’n’cheese before a cinema trip and I’m not gonna lie… I was in my element! #foreveryoung
business as… usual
With jewellery samples and new pin designs on the go right now, I think it’s safe to say that after a slowish start to the month, things are back on track and my Hello Sunshine hat is back on. It’s been so nice getting back into drawing and painting again for commissions and I’m genuinely excited about some of the new jewellery bits and pieces I want to release over the coming months.
Phew! Now I have taken the time to think about what I’ve been up to this month and written it down, it’s no wonder the month has flown by for me. So much for taking January slow, eh? All bants aside, yes it has been a month full of ‘stuff’ but the most important thing is that my mindset has been slower, calmer and I’ve been trying harder not to get overwhelmed, which I think has helped make January feel a little less blue overall too.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my moments, done some ugly cries and had melt-downs too but I’ve given myself more of a break when these things happen (instead of beating myself up) and as a result I have picked myself up a bit quicker each time. Which means I’ve been able to crack on more effectively the rest of the time - let’s hope I can keep it up for February…
I’ll keep you posted!