The joy of being housebound

The joy of being housebound

The older I get, the more I’ve come to savour and enjoy being housebound for the day. In years gone by staying put and purposely choosing not to go out seemed anti-social and a bit of waste, but now the ability to hide away for 24 hours seems a luxury.

Looking out of a sash window in a Victorian era house onto a rainy day with clouds covering nearby hills.

In the last week or so, both Adam and I have succumbed to our second dose of of winter sickness (methinks perhaps neither of us actually fully recovered from our first bout of sniffles, coughs and chills in February). That combined with busy work and full on travel schedules has meant it’s been weeks since either of had the opportunity to just spend a day at home.

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The first signs of spring

The first signs of spring

The northern hemisphere has now officially entered spring.  I’m welcoming it with eager anticipation after virtually doing two winters back to back. While Malvern hasn’t had a terribly brutal winter, our one in Wagga Wagga was wet and grey, so it feels like there hasn’t been much variation in the weather in the last six months. Doing two cold seasons consecutively though does makes you appreciate the hints nature gives, which shows the chill is almost over.

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The dressing table

The dressing table

Oh what a difference a week can make.  Last week Adam and I were sipping sangria under sunny blue skies in Gibraltar.  Over the weekend we’ve watched flurries of snow showers from our kitchen window, whilst warming our hands on big mugs of coffee.

It still seems a bit magical to me that you can wake up one morning and have one type of weather, jump on a plane or train or in a car, and suddenly be in a place completely opposite to where you were.  It’s why I guess so many people get wanderlust.

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Finding your groove

Finding your groove

When you move to a new place it takes time to settle in.  You don’t instantly know where the best place is to do grocery shopping or buy a nice coffee, but after a little while you start to find your way around.  Things that previously seemed challenging or that made you second-glance or stare in awe, suddenly become normal.

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It’s all in the name

It’s all in the name

When I worked as a journalist in south-western New South Wales one of my favourite things to do while driving long, straight roads for hours at a time was to look out for the names of farms. The name seemed to the give the property a personality and I liked the concept of the land almost becoming a member of the family.

Santa Clause mannequin sitting beside a property name sign in western New South Wales, Australia
A festive property sign west of Hay, NSW, Australia.

What I’ve found in England and particularly Malvern, is that names aren’t just reserved for farms.  Many suburban houses have names, often dating back centuries.  Houses are sometimes named after the family that originally lived in the home or the surrounding landscape.  I also love that mail is addressed to the house name. It isn’t 16 Smith Street, rather ‘Valley View Cottage’, 16 Smith Street.  Perhaps it’s the daydreamer in me, but I just think that’s utterly delightful.

There are so many different types of name plaques too: painted ceramic slabs adorning house fronts, wrought iron signs on gates, wooden plaques, sandstone etchings or sometimes the name’s just simply painted on the side of the house.

I’ve always wanted to live in a house that has a name. The house Adam and I are living in does – so it’s a bit of a dream come true! Our downstairs neighbours even have a beautifully painted watercolour of the original house before it was split into three separate apartments.

I’ve been lucky enough to do a bit of travel, but I must admit I’ve never really noticed en masse houses with names anywhere except the U.K. Does your house have a name? What is it, and do you know the story behind it?!

How does your garden grow?

How does your garden grow?

I will always love fresh flowers in the house. There’s an element of simplicity and sophistication that blooms seem to capture.  Like when someone compliments your outfit and you reply ‘Oh, this old thing?!’.  Flowers are grown-up and pretty, without really trying.  They just are.

White chrysanthemum flowers and green dahlia flowers sitting in a vase on a the sill of a sash window.

House plants though, I’ve never really had an affinity for. To me, they remind me of Australian suburbia circa 1994.  Palms and Calla lilies in sturdy rectangular cane planter boxes, on beige linoleum floors quietly wilting in the summer heat. Meant to look all tropical and fresh, but instead looking droopy, brown and dry.  Or even better, the fabric, plastic variety of house plant that sort of look reals from afar but when you get close up is covered in dust and spiderwebs.  Yuck!

After a couple of mega Pinteresting sessions though, I’m slowly starting to reconsider the humble house plant.  I’ve been quietly lusting over images of kitchens and sitting rooms, neutrally decorated in whites, greys and navy with hints of greenery. Tendrils of leaves, tumbling oh-so-perfectly from cute pots sat on open shelving surrounded by pretty mugs and copper saucepans.

I bought by accident a house plant the other week.  Adam was making a lamb dish that needed mint leaves.  There were no small packets of fresh mint leaves available, so I picked up a mint plant instead. We’d had a relatively successful herb garden when we lived in Wagga Wagga and had talked about doing something similar in England but due to the season hadn’t bothered with it yet.  I found a little bowl and sat it in front of the window near our kitchen sink.

Extreme close up of a mint leaf attached to a mint plant.

Over the weekend while visiting Adam’s grandparents, I clumsily knocked over a house plant making a lovely mess of soil on the cream carpet. While cleaning it all up, I noticed the plant had a few ‘extra bits’ of greenery in its pot.  I learnt it was a spider plant and Granny told me every house should have one.  She sent me home with one of the ‘extra bits’, which I’ve since learnt are called spiderettes (!), and told me to put it in some water until its roots grow.

The spider plant is now living beside the mint. They look ever so nice, sitting in our yellow kitchen. Instead of being outdated and naff, they almost feel like company when you’re standing at the sink washing dishes. Also, on cold drizzly days when the fog doesn’t lift I like the little reminder of the outdoors, indoors.

Spider plant and mint plant sit side by side in front of sash window in Georgian style house in England.

I won’t say I’m a convert when it comes to house plants… but for now the two in our home are staying! Do you have house plants?  What can you recommend? – Suggestions on what does well in grey English weather would be appreciated!



Have you heard of hygge? It’s a Danish concept that’s focused on the home. It doesn’t have a direct English translation, but it’s essentially about making your house a cosy, comfortable place in the colder weather, where you can focus on the small things in life that make you feel happy and fulfilled. Think a delicious hot chocolate in a big mug, swathes of blankets, dim lights and a good book. Hygge (hew [like threw]-guh) has been huge in Britain over the last few months.  There were dozens of books on the subject released over Autumn and they flooded bookstores in the lead-up to Christmas.

I’d never heard of hygge until I started flipping through one of the aforementioned books while browsing a store in December.  As an Australian experiencing her first northern hemisphere winter, it was a concept I was immediately drawn to. For me it hasn’t really been the cold that’s bothered me, rather it’s the short days I’ve noticed the most. It’s dark a lot and I can understand why people develop Seasonal Affective Disorder now.  Hygee it’s all about encouraging you and your family’s wellbeing during the long cold winter months. Denmark has topped the United Nations World Happiness Report twice (it’s been a top five country in the five years the report’s been compiled), so they’re obviously onto something.

Since I discovered hygge, I’ve been trying to introduce it into my day-to-day living. Instead of getting disheartened at the current 4:18pm sunset (with a 8:15am sunrise!), I’ve turned drawing the curtains of an afternoon into a ritual. I switch on lamps and fairylights (which we’ve reappropriated now Christmas is over) around the house, which add a lovely glow and make myself a cup of tea, while trying to knock over a few pages in whatever book I’m reading.

Exploring the Danish concept of hygge: fairylights in fireplace, grey cushions and throw rugs, pot of tea.

Embracing the Danish concept of hygge: drinking tea, reading a book under soft grey throw rugs in front of a fireplace lit with fairy lights

Adam’s 2017 hobby (read obsession!) is baking bread.  Often he’ll make tomorrow’s loaf before we cook dinner, so our afternoon cuppa is increasingly being accompanied by a slice of fresh, warm bread spread with butter, honey and dusted with salt flakes. It’s a nice way to wind down after the day and an opportunity to sit quietly for a few minutes and chat about our days.

Freshly baked loaf of honey and seed bread spread with butter, honey and sprinkled with salt flakes

Of an evening Adam and I will listen to music and read (occasionally while enjoying a glass of Australian shiraz!)  It creates this wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and you go to bed with a clear mind.

Hygge is something I’d like to keep up even when the weather warms. I’m imagining fresh flowers, open windows, elderflower spritzers and bowls of jewel-like berries. It’s also increased my desire for a Scandinavian holiday over the next 12 months tenfold!

What I really like about hygge though, is that it’s something you can create in your own home too with either little or no expense.  It’s not about having designer throw blankets, or fancy scented candles, it’s more about creating that feeling of loveliness by changing your mindset. You can use what you’ve got around you to do that. Try it, you might be pleasantly surprised :). Happy hygee-ing! x


All the pretty houses

All the pretty houses
“Old houses, I thought, do not belong to people ever, not really, people belong to them.” – Gladys Taber 

One of my favourite things about living in England is the houses. Every village, town and city has its centuries of history preserved in the homes its residents live in. While Australia has a small amount of architectural history, it pales in comparison to places like the U.K.

I’m pretty sure I’ve pointed out a home I’ve liked to Adam almost ever day since our arrival. Being a sucker for a good story, I get so much delight out of thinking about all the people who’ve lived in these buildings over the years.  What were their names, what did they do, what food did they cook and what flowers did they plant in the garden?

Large cottage in English town of Malvern, Worcestershire

House on the eastern edge of the Malvern Hills overlooking the Severn Valley
Chimney pot envy.

Looking through the front gate of a property near the Malvern Common in Worcestershire.

Cottage with white fence nestled into the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire.

Ivy and ferns cover the front entrance of a house with a sage green arched door.
That door!

Georgian style house in Malvern, Worcestershire

Can’t you just imagine sitting in a slightly worn, super squishy armchair with a good book, roaring fire and mug of tea in front of some of those front windows?! #bliss



Is it just me, or do special occasions often make you think about life?  The past, the present and what’s happening right now. Today is my birthday, the first I’ve celebrated abroad (!), and this week I’ve been spending a lot of time just thinking about how much has changed since December last year.

Twelve months ago I was getting ready to host my family for Christmas in Wagga Wagga. This year I’ll be with Adam’s family in England. It still seems slightly surreal that I’m here, in the UK… and not on holiday! I’m still pinching myself, realising this is now my every day.

Sunrise over the Severn Valley.
Sunrise over the Severn Valley.

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It’s been just over a week since Adam and I moved into our Malvern house and I’m in full nesting mode, trying to turn our new space into a home.

Our apartment is virtually fully furnished, which is great if you’ve only got limited possessions like we do, but also a challenge when it comes to decorating.  There is no clean slate, or fresh start, it’s a matter of adapting the already established style and making it your own.

Adam has a small collection of chicken jugs – as soon as we walked into the kitchen I could see the large sill on the window that overlooks the Severn Valley would be the perfect spot for them.  We’ve added a string of fairy lights around the window for added festive cheer, and the chooks seem pretty happy in their new glowing home.

Chicken jugs on a window sill surrounded by glowing fairy lights

As we don’t own a lot of ‘stuff’ we’ve also had to be a little creative in how we fill up the space that now surrounds us.

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