Sunny views of the Cotswolds

Sunny views of the Cotswolds @

Sunny views of the Cotswolds @

Sunny views of the Cotswolds @

Sunny views of the Cotswolds @

Sunny views of the Cotswolds @

Sunny views of the Cotswolds @

On nice, sunny days, I think there are very few things that can compare to walking in the Cotswolds. The countryside is so idyllic, I really believe a day spent frolicking around meadows and woods, and along gentle streams is good for the soul.

My most recent excursion was to the Wychwood area, near Kingham, Bledington and Foscot. There were still a few blossoms around and new spring green leaves were just coming out and at times the trees and the fields seemed impossibly green. The hedgerows were so alive; bees, robins, blue tits, rabbits, and hedgehogs were going about their business. It was also lambing time, so many baby lambs were cooed over (and photographed).

It didn’t occur to me at the time, but when I was uploading these pictures from my camera I kept thinking that it looked as if I’d visited the Shire. Don’t you think? Tiny little stone-built villages nestled among the gentle, rolling hills, fields divided by hedgerows, ancient woodland that feels enchanted… While the Cotswolds countryside isn’t dramatic and imposing like the Scottish highlands or the Cornish coast, it is just so pretty it belongs in myths and fairy tales. I love it so!

Sartorial musings – The Blair Waldorf shirt

We’ve been talking recently about clothes we love and it seems to be the general consensus that days when we are wearing our favourite clothes are a little bit happier. Last week, I confessed that I found myself in a bit of a rut and decided to try to have more fun with my wardrobe.

Well, something wonderful happened that further motivated me to make a little effort and mix it up. On one of my late night Ebay trawls – what, am I the only one who does that? – I was looking for sparkly vintage necklaces but got a bit sidetracked and found a real gem. To the untrained eye, it was just a stripy shirt from an old Zara collection. But not to me! I immediately recognised it as the shirt Blair Waldorf wears in the very first episode of Gossip Girl. I don’t know about you, but watching Gossip Girl episodes is one of my guilty pleasures, and by now I’ve watched it so many times that I have a mental catalogue of Blair’s outfits.

The Blair Waldorf shirt @

As good fate had it, I managed to pick the shirt up for a song, in perfect condition and in my size. Don’t you just love it when things just work out perfectly? I was so impatient waiting for it to be delivered and I believe I did a little dance when the parcel arrived. It instantly earned a place among “my favourites”! I really like the little ruffle detail, I think it makes it look rather fancy. I’ve been wearing it a lot; it’s as easy and comfortable as wearing a t-shirt, but it looks so much more special and makes me feel more dressed up and put together. A very good start for my 2nd Wardrobe Resolution!

Tell me, have you been trying to add a bit more fun to your outfits? Any recent additions to your favourite clothes?

Conscious thoughts & being happier

Do you remember when Lorelai Gilmore had to learn how to fish to go on a date with some outdoorsy guy, and Rory, quite naturally, got some fishing books from the library to help her? Some, like Luke Danes, might think it’s ridiculous to expect to learn to fish from reading a book. While I too think that it’s slightly silly, I have pretty much the same attitude as Rory.* When I want to learn something, my first thought is to read a book about it. So a few months ago, when I was really struggling with my happiness levels and needed some help with organising my life, home, and time, I went straight to the library.

I started browsing the psychology and self-help aisle. Am I the only one who feels irrationally self-concious when looking at the self-help shelves? As if everyone else is judging me? Anyway, I ignored this feeling, because what’s embarrassing about needing help with some things? Nothing. I ended up finding a few very useful books that day, and overall I am pleasantly surprised at how a few little tidbits and words of wisdom have stuck with me and have actually helped me be happier.

The ambitiously titled How to Do Everything and be Happy by Peter Jones, offered some very practical ways to get organised and set goals. But most importantly, it made me more aware of the power of our thoughts. I began to notice that most of my thoughts had a negative tone. The book suggests thinking about your goals as if they are already done, which felt extremely odd to me as I’m more used to thinking about my goals as if I’ll never reach them. Which is bad, very bad.

I then read Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home which was inspiring on many levels. (It actually offered extra motivation for my Capsule Wardrobe Project.) This book really challenged my assumption that we act the way we feel. I think that’s a sensible assumption, isn’t it? As it turns out, Rubin found that quite often it’s the opposite: how we act, and how we think, affects how we feel! Isn’t that mind-blowing? So if we think kind thoughts, and engage in nurturing, positive activities, we can actually raise our happiness levels.

I began to think about the following statement, a bit like a daily mantra:

“Think happy, feel happy.”

 It was with this new awareness that I received the perfectly-timed newsletter from my favourite yogi, Adriene, last week. The topic was conscious thoughts and how powerful they can be. Adriene talked about the teachings of yogi Yogananda who really believed in the power of thought.

These lines really resonated with me:

“What if every thought you had were to be realised as truth?

Would you be more careful with your thoughts?

Would your thoughts demean you or support you?”

Conscious thoughts & being happier @ A little adventureOh my, did this resonate with me! I realised that most of my thoughts weren’t supporting me, in fact, quite the opposite was true and often they were actually torturous. I had to admit that my negative and pessimistic thoughts helped create situations that are affecting my happiness. Not good.

I am now determined to be more aware of my thoughts, to notice when they veer towards the unhelpful and the negative. To consciously check my thoughts. To focus more on positive thoughts and setting intentions. I really think more mindful thinking can have a significant impact on our happiness levels. Do you notice your thoughts? Are you careful to avoid negative and self-demeaning thoughts? I urge you to try to be more conscious of your thoughts and to use their power to support you instead of hinder you.

*Apologies if you are not a Gilmore Girls fan. But maybe you should be? :)

The bluebell woods

One of my favourite springtime traditions is to visit the woods when the bluebells are out. Around mid-April, I start to closely monitor the bluebells in our own garden. Once they reach their peak, I know that the bluebells in the woods are starting to come out and it’s time to plan a visit with The Boy. We usually take the train to Kingham and walk around Foxholes Woods which always has a stunning display of bluebells, but this year we just cycled a few miles from home to Wytham Wood.

I’d visited this beautiful place many times before and shared pictures from some of these visits here: when autumn was just arriving, and in the height of summer. But I had never seen it when the forest floor is literally covered in bluebells.

It was amazing! Groups of bluebells were everywhere and in some cases there were so many of them that it looked as if they formed a densely woven carpet.  We discovered a little clearing in the woods that worked as a suntrap; the bluebells there were bathed in the warm afternoon light. I was actually speechless, which according to my boyfriend is something that never happens. The only word I can think to describe it is heavenly!

Bluebells in Wytham Wood, Oxfordshire from

Bluebells in Wytham Wood, Oxfordshire from

Bluebells in Wytham Wood, Oxfordshire from

Bluebells in Wytham Wood, Oxfordshire from

Bluebells in Wytham Wood, Oxfordshire from

Sartorial musings – Wardrobe fun

These days, I mostly work from home, with the occasional visit to the library or a coffee shop for a change of scene. I could basically write my entire thesis in pyjamas. I do make the effort to change into proper clothes every morning as it makes me more productive (and it also makes me feel I’m like the normal people, you know, who have jobs and stuff), but most days I’m quite lazy with my outfit choices. It’s usually some variation of the ‘jeans and a t-shirt’ theme. While that’s fine, it’s also boring.

I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I have a lot of clothes that I think are cute and yet most days I go for the same old boring combinations. Do you do the same? I know that many people enjoy wearing basically the same thing every day, it actually gives them comfort and confidence and one less thing to worry about. For me, I think it’s because I feel there’s no need to ‘dress up’ so I don’t bother to make the extra effort, and at the back of my mind there’s also that silly idea of saving things for best or not wanting to waste a cute outfit on a boring day. Are you guilty of thinking like this? Tell me I’m not alone!

It’s a surprisingly stubborn mentality to change, this impulse to not enjoy things in the present and save them for some hypothetical day in the future. But I don’t want to wait for that special occasion; after all, I’m trying to see every day as a special occasion, as a little adventure! And why not dress up for it? Wearing basically the same outfit every day doesn’t make me happy. I’d like to take the clothes that I love, the ones that are “my favourite”, and try out different combinations. I want to try combining different patterns, wear colourful outfits, add whimsical accessories to my plain jeans and t-shirts outfits, get more wear out of my beloved Breton and polka-dot tops, and add more sparkle to my every day. I want my clothes to look fun, not be yawn-inducing.


So I decided to make this simple statement my second Wardrobe Resolution:

“I will have fun with my wardrobe.”

I mentioned last week that the days when I’m wearing my favourite clothes are just that little bit happier. I’m hoping that following through with this resolution will make them even happier. Or at the very least more colourful and bright.

I don’t expect to look like the girls on Pinterest any time soon but I am looking forward to getting out of my style rut. I’m hoping getting dressed in the morning will be a little bit more fun and it will mean starting the day on a positive, happy note. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you try new things with your clothes or end up wearing the same things over and over again? Are your clothes a source of fun or frustration? How do you go about choosing what you wear every day.

P.S. I made the collage using images taken from my Style Inspiration board on Pinterest.