This time last week, I was just back from a magical four day retreat in Fforest camp with Sisterhood Camp Retreats.

In case you don’t know about Sisterhood, it was set up by Lou Archell of Little Green Shed. The retreats are designed to help people to embrace a slower and more gentle pace of life.

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I spotted the first Sisterhood retreat on Instagram two years ago and I thought it looked beautiful.

Slowing down from my frenetic pace of life really appealed, that and the fact the retreat was taking place on the Welsh Coast over summer solstice. With the opportunity to learn new skills, foraging in flower filled hedgerows and gathering around nightime fires – how could anyone resist?

It was a creative, friendly, and ever so beautiful four days. There was feasting, country walks, wild swimming and plenty of time outside.

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The beautiful and inspiring women I met

The opening ceremony of sisterhood set the tone, where we gathered around the fire to set out our intentions. Mine was to have some time for reflection but the weekend turned out to be more about the connections made. The group I found myself in for jam making was a particular highlight. These wise women made sure I was included, even though they knew so much more. Michelle, who had travelled to Sisterhood all the way from Tasmania, is a cookery writer and her books include one on making jam.

Sisterhoo women

@littlegreenshed

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I loved laughing and talking to everyone over all the communal meals, around the fire at night and between workshops.  It was fascinating hearing about the different ways people live their lives, such as Flora Jamieson who told stories about messing around on the river as child and how she now takes her children on wild swimming adventures. It was inspiring to learn about people’s businesses set up in all four corners of the UK, including Sam’s amazing fireside banquets and Laurie from A Woodland Gathering who makes  beautiful linen dresses in Scotland.

Wild Swimming

From waking to the bird song to gathering round the open fire. It was amazing breathing in the fresh Welsh air. A big contrast to the fumes of Brixton Hill.

On Saturday we gathered together to learn all about wild swimming and strolled down to the river Tefyn where we all jumped in, remembering to carry on breathing when the cold took your breath away.

Sisterhood Camp Retreat down to the river for swimming
@sisterhoodcamp

The feeling of the cold water and the pull of the current was unlike anything I had experienced before. It did take your breath away.

Sisterhood Camp Retreat Swimming

@littlegreenshed

The beautiful Fforest camp

The setting of Sisterhood was really lovely. When we arrived at Fforest camp you take in the wooden buildings, the beautiful flower arrangements and our dome with a wood burning stove. Sian @coldatnight has thought of all the little details, from the cosy pub with comfortable seats to the beautiful Welsh blankets on our beds. I could have sat outside on our dome’s terrace all day, reading the brilliant books in our goody bags (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Who is the real Joan Ashby?)

Here are some of the details from Fforest that I loved.

Siterhood Camp flowers

 

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One final thing that will stay with me is the delicious food and beautiful styling of all the feasts.

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Sisterhood Camp Retreat

Before the Sisterhood Camp Retreat final night feast.

Thank you for a magical experience, I can’t wait until my next Sisterhood Camp Retreat.

Laurabluebell Sisterhood Camp

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Sorry I have been very quiet on the blog front, I was travelling in April and visited Myanmar and Italy. Since I have been back in May and June, life has rather taken over. How do other people manage to fit in blogging, working and seeing your friends and family? Is it down to better discipline and watching a bit less Love Island?

My mother died at Christmas and we are finally sorting out her house. My brother and I have been sorting through all her possessions, which is heartbreaking on one hand, but bringing back lots of very happy memories of my Mum and Dad (who died when I was 25).

Sorting out crockery

Spending a lot of time sorting out crockery

We are hoping to sell it over the summer but in the meantime I have decided to sell my beloved Brixton Hill flat where I have lived for eight years.

It has many happy memories, parties, endless hours lying in the back garden. It also really reminds me of my Mum who used to come up and help with the garden, often bringing plants.

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The flat went on the market on Saturday and apparently 18 people came round to see it, I wait to see tomorrow whether I get any offers! I have loved living here and I am sure someone else will as well.

So on Saturday we got up very early to hide all our possessions away and leave the house spotless before leaving the estate agents to it.

I had bribed my boyfriend to help out with the promise of breakfast. So we strolled down the road to the very lovely Stir Coffee to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. It is on the corner of Arodene Road, with outside seating, and we had two beautiful coffees and bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese. One of the benefits of living off Brixton Hill is all the great coffee shops, Stir Coffee, F Mondays and a brilliant pizza place, Pizza Brixton. We are truly spoiled!

Stir Coffee

They sell delicious coffee and smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels.

So things I have learned so far in the process of selling my flat.

  • Estate agents are very charming and it is difficult to work out who to work with.
  • I went with a local recommendation and the person who seemed to have the best plan for marketing the flat.
  • You need to remove all your clutter to make the estate agent photos work, but the photographer used a bit of creative finesse to dress the space.
  • You need to be patient, I am desperate to know how the viewings went and whether there will be any offers ( I will let you know).
  • You spend a lot of money on flowers, but I love buying them so that is a good excuse.
House for sale

Buying flowers help you sell houses.

I will let you know how I get on tomorrow, next task is working out where we should move to. Anyone recommend their part of London? We are looking at South Tottenham at the moment, do you live there? Do you like it?

UPDATE: The flat is under offer and we are frantically searching for a new home. South Tottenham is still the front runner.

When I was small I spent a lot of time in the New Forest. The New Forest ponies would rest their faces on the gate and you could go down and pet them.

I still love the New Forest and a couple of weekends ago we headed out of London for a forest escape.

We headed out for a walk and made some friends along the way.

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Views across the New Forest

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Does anyone know what this beautiful lichen is called?

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We stumbled across this beautiful house, all very Hansel and Gretel. I would love to wake up and look across the beautiful New Forest.

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When we arrived back at the pub we found this beautiful blossom.

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So if you have a chance to go and explore the New Forest this Spring I would highly recommend it.

Last weekend I was up in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. We headed North from Kings Cross train station up to Leeds and then on to Ilkely, a pretty market town.

We were visiting a very good friend, but to give everyone some space we booked a very cosy and comfortable Ilkley Airbnb apartment, smack bang in the middle of town. Great for a couple or two friends planning a holiday in Ilkley.

We spent a lot of time catching up and on the Friday night we went out for a delicious curry at the Aagrah curry in Ilkley . Great service and delicious food, but we ordered far too much. It was very popular with families and groups of friends out for a night out.  I particularly liked the elephant out the front of the restaurant.

We woke up bright and early on Saturday and headed down to the park, followed by some cheeky bacon butties. Ilkley is a very pretty town. We took a stroll down the Grove, taking a look beautiful Bettys cafe window. A lovely place where you can stock up on baked goods, I liked the look of their famous Yorkshire Rascals.

I had a peak inside and saw the magnificent macaroon towers and beautiful loose chocolate counter. It is a beautiful shop and very hard to walk out without buying something.

Check out this spectacular Easter egg, not sure what I would do about that if someone gave that to me.

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We popped into the many charity shops, where I picked up some great paperbacks. I spotted that lots of the shops have some really beautiful tiling in the doorways. The below is a particularly beautiful example.

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We also popped into the Grove Bookshop with another beautiful window display. I wanted to buy most of the books. The ground floor of the shop is a general bookshop which caters for all tastes. We also carry a wide range of Yorkshire books, from life in Bradford’s textile mills to the stunning photographic landscapes of the Dales. Their travel section was pretty impressive as well.

Apparently Alan Bennett frequently pops in to sign copies of his popular books.

 

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On Sunday we climbed up the Cow and Calf Rocks on Ilkley Moor, they are a large rock formation consisting of an outcrop and boulder,  one is large, with the smaller one sitting close to it, like a cow and calf.The rocks are a great place to climb and the moor offers spectacular views of Ilkley and beyond.

It was a cold and windy day but look at that beautiful view.

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I did some shameless posing up on top of the Cow and Calf, with the Yorkshire Dales spread out behind me. It was very cold.dsc01183

There is a cafe up the top and we grabbed a coffee under the heaters and headed back into Ilkley. Where we went to Outside the Box cafe. A great community cafe with lots of toys for my friend’s children to play with. A nice spot and doing some great work.

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We had a quick wander before we had to make the long journey back down South.

 

 

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Valentines Day certainly divides opinion in my office, half my colleagues deliberately don’t observe it. The other half are far keener. I spotted some Valentines Day research today that showed over half of UK adults (52%) don’t plan to buy a gift for their loved one this Valentine’s Day. Almost half (48%) are not even planning to buy a card.

To me that seems a bit sad.

I am a romantic (I blame the books I read as a child). Looking back my most memorable Valentines Day when I was at school, I got four cards, one from my Mum, one from the old lady over the road and two from actual boys. I think my Mum and the old lady across the road were worried I wouldn’t get one! Plus my best friend’s little brother sent me a rose from the boy’s school. One of the boys who sent me a rose is still a good friend. I am having dinner with him and his lovely wife later on this week. The other ended up being my first serious boyfriend. That Valentines day has never been surpassed, although I have had some nice days.

Tomorrow I plan to bake some Valentines Day biscuits, which is on trend according to the research as people are most likely to select small personal gifts such as handmade items (21%). I gave my boyfriend some rather nice Paul Smith orange socks. I may get dinner out at the new pizza place down the road or dinner cooked for me at home. [He is currently in the kitchen making something complicated with aubergines.]

I have been reading a lot about Valentines day today and the wisest thing I read is that rather making a grand Valentine’s Day gesture if you must. But a real grown-up romance is built from 1,000 daily acts of kindness. So I am hoping for a card tomorrow and a cup of coffee in bed.