Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

Journal

A Seasonal Way - the why

a seasonal way - spring

Many of you will know that I live with an auto-immune condition and that over the past decade or so I have discovered that by altering the way I live my life I can diminish the severity of my symptoms and thrive.

One of the weird things about having an auto-immune disease is that there are no external symptoms and on bad days I often worry that I have made it all up - I mean the test results prove that there is something actively, measurably wrong, that should be reassuring, but all the fogginess, the moodiness, the crushing fatigue - what if that is somehow all in my mind. Speaking to others with similar diagnoses I find that this is incredibly common. That voice in the head that goes "But what if you are just being lazy?".

My solution to this has been to read. To read a lot.

I am a researcher at heart - that is pretty much what 2 decades of my life were about, gathering and processing information as a historian - so I suppose it isn't surprising that I have chosen to spend the last ten years reading about breakthroughs in positive psychology and neuroscience, in nature medicine, herbalism, the history and folklore of plants, the science around creativity, foraging, soil microbes.

For a non scientist (a horticulture qualification was the nearest I got to anything sciency, I dropped everything else as soon as I could) I have an awful lot of scientific papers saved on my laptop.

a seasonal way - spring

If you get my newsletter and even more if you are a Studio Member, you will have been in on the journey, so much of this research is mind blowing, life altering and I feel it should be being shouted about from the tree tops much more than it is.

Over the holidays I sent out a newsletter about gorse - it was a shortened version of the nature notes that I have been sending out to members of Snapdragon Studio over the past couple of years - a mix of drawings, history, recipes and folklore.

I have never had such a response to an email - perhaps it was that people had time to act on it over the holidays, perhaps it was that it came at the darkest point of the year in the Northern hemisphere - I don't know, but I had tales from people of taking grandchildren up to smell the gorse on a golf course, memories of washing drying on gorse bushes in the Western Isles, recipes for ice-cream.

Most of all I got requests for more of the same.

a seasonal way - spring

So I suppose that is what A Seasonal Way is - it is more of the same, a slightly eccentric mix of nature, creativity, recipes, science, poetry and illustration - the contents of my brain and my current obsessions packaged up as 5 PDFs sent out over 2 months.

What it isn't is a curriculum or a 'to do' list - there isn't any homework, I actually hope that it will wind its way ninja style into people's lives and that they will find themselves looking out for ash twigs and dandelions, making rather than buying balms, confident in growing things. I hope that it works by osmosis.

There is a closed facebook group which will be open to everyone who buys the course and I'm really excited about seeing what the world is like outside people's front doors.

Because so much of the material is the kind of thing that Snapdragon Studio Members get - and some of it is re-edited from the Members' magazine - all Studio members are getting the entire thing as part of their membership. That makes it a great time to become a member! registration closes on 4th February and the first part will go out later that week.

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When I was at University it was the time of the Poll Tax, an unpopular tax made even more unpopular by being implemented in Scotland a year before the rest of the UK - 'Thatcher's guinea pigs'.⁠⠀
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It was a time of demonstration and violence with 50,000 marching in Glasgow, 1 million Scots refusing to pay. ⁠⠀
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It was a time Sheriff's Officers and poind sales of possessions. ⁠⠀
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Coalition student groups were formed - Socialist and Feminist and Anarchist and so on - there were big meetings in the Union, debates about a name and a logo and a manifesto. I remember lots of young, middle class, white men talked at length.  I remember that very, very little got done - a bus was organised to take students to Glasgow for the protests. ⁠⠀
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In the meantime, up the hill from the campus, three women (I thought of them as old at the time but I'm sure they were the age I am now) simply stood outside the auctions and asked nobody to attend.  They stood by the front doors, they explained their reasons, they prevailed.  They possibly looked randomly menacing in that way middle aged women can.⁠⠀
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People calmly bought back their possessions for 50p and their debts were squared. Action, meaningful results, a recognition that the personal is political - all while the student groups still debated their slogans.⁠⠀
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I've been thinking about those women a lot recently. If they were the age I think they were, they will be queuing up for their vaccines this month.
In my happy place.⁠⠀
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In the winter months The Studio is the centre of my working life. ⁠⠀
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This was yesterday.  Trimming pieces of vintage velvet fabric for the Studio Club shop; alpaca socks drying in the dispatch room behind me (we now have size 8-10 in stock too); a roll @scottishlinen seconds to experiment with hogging the cutting table.⁠⠀
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Bright and light and inspiring.
Starting the week with a photo from last year (simply because I lost a lot of this weekend to fatigue, so didn't take a new photo.)⁠⠀
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Budgie, my beautiful and psychotic cat, with a windowsill of white amaryllis. ⁠⠀
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Worth a second outing.
The proposed airstream conversion is in for planning permission approval at the moment, so that we change change its use from (neglected) artist's workshop into beautiful holiday accommodation.⁠⠀
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In my vision for this we get to use the paid holidaymaking element to subsidise some artist's residencies - painters, writers, musicians, makers coming here to soak up the landscape and be inspired.⁠⠀
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At the moment though I'm still at the stage of answering environmental health questions about quite how loud I am in my Studio and how we will light the path to the compost loo.
Yesterday my elder daughter, who lives in London, messaged me to say that our local DPD driver Slav was being given an award by @official.dpd.uk for his outstanding service. 

It was because of the hundreds of messages that they had been sent commenting on his helpfulness, incredible good cheer, and parcel based problem solving.⁠⠀

Slav has been an important part of my lockdown life here. ⁠⠀
When roads look like this, good delivery drivers are a vital (and hopefully appreciated) part of life.⁠⠀
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As my younger daughter chimed in “Go Slav!
This photo is from last week - but I see through the gloom that it has snowed overnight .⁠⠀
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This part of the garden is outside our bedroom, the beech hedge borders the road, it used to be a drive when our bedroom was a garage.⁠⠀
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Now it has a birch tree (symbolic for me of my miscarried babies, as I had to leave their actual birch trees behind when we moved here) surrounded by lots of box grown from small plants and cuttings.⁠⠀
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We buried Jasmine, my scruffy miniature schnauzer, here in the summer, so in some ways it is becoming a garden for sitting on the bench and remembering and watching the birds.  I shall ask my ever generous  friend Nadja for some snowdrops to plant in the grass.⁠⠀
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In my mind, eventually, the box balls will become like the ones on the front of @arnemaynardgardendesign book Garden Design Details - but this year they remain unclipped. ⁠⠀
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I suspect box blight in the back garden and @jekkamcvicar points out that unclipped box does not get blight.⁠⠀
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I love old gates - particularly old gates that stand in the middle of old unused spaces, leading to nowhere, keeping nothing in.⁠⠀
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A memory of another time.
Last year - while I was dyeing socks out on my Studio deck, I was also dyeing wool yarn. ⁠⠀
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Wool dyed with docks and nettle, gorse and meadowsweet, onions and plum bark all from the garden and lane.⁠⠀
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Over the winter I gathered the wool skeins together - all the soft bright colours - and knitted myself an oversized stripy jumper. ⁠⠀
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@rhiannonconnelly described it as wearing 'a hug from my garden' and I think she was spot on. ⁠⠀
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The pattern is the 'After the Rain' sweater by @heidikdesigns but with random stripes as I wasn't sure how much of each colour I had. #aftertherainsweater
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About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

 

Learn more about why here

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