A weekend in the New Forest

Autumn in the New Forest 2

A few weeks ago we discovered a magical land.

A picture perfect cottage surrounded by fields, pastures, and woods. There were chickens in the garden, cats snoozing on armchairs, and a dog who demanded belly rubs every day. We woke up every morning to the rooster’s crow, and from the window I could see the horse in the stable across the garden impatiently waiting for his breakfast.

Walking in the New Forest
Autumn in the New Forest

We walked miles and miles in foggy woodland. The autumnal colours and the fog made the forest feel enchanted. A stag crossed our path. We stood still; there was something very regal about his posture as he inspected us from a distance. As if we could ever get close to him. He only stopped for a few seconds, a minute at most, and then just like that he leaped and disappeared through the ferns.

New Forest ponies
New Forest pony

Then we saw the ponies. I had heard that they were freely roaming the New Forest but I don’t think I really believed it. Truly, wild horses were wandering this beautiful countryside. They were so serene and completely disinterested in us; we just stared and marvelled at their grace and beauty. It felt like a very special privilege to see these creatures.

Meeting some New Forest donkeys.

The New Forest donkeys, with their long eyelashes and big ears, captured my heart. I made friends with one of them. She let me stroke her soft-like-velvet ears for a while.

Walking in the New Forest 2

We returned home dazed, completely charmed, and already dreaming of our return to this fairyland.

Have you been to the New Forest?
I also made a short little film of our time there, have a look here if you’d like to see.

What a summer!

What a summer it was! It had highs, it had lows, it had travel and adventure, and it was packed full of new experiences. This summer I’ve found myself in lavender fields, tents, and wildflower meadows, on mountain peaks, boats, climbing walls, and planes. As the weather turns cooler and the nights draw in I thought I’d look back at the last few months and make a note of this summer’s biggest moments.

What a summer - Meadow

Summer began cautiously, with a blast of lukewarm sunshine here and there. I was training for my first ever 10K race and I didn’t let weather stop me. I relished my very early morning runs in the countryside, just me and the ducks, the rabbits, and the cows. Since the race, my dedication to running has diminished slightly, and I miss that sense of achievement I got from every mile I logged. Now that I’m settling into my autumn routine I’m hoping to get back into running a few times a week.

What a summer - Field

At the end of June things took a very bad turn. I wrote down some thoughts on the sadness, uncertainty and xenophobia after the EU referendum a couple of months ago. I still end up yelling at the tv often when I watch the news as this awfulness unfolds but I trying to focus on the positive and the hopeful.

In what was possibly the best way to mend our broken hearts and cheer ourselves up, my boyfriend and I spent a fantastic week in northern Italy.  We split our time there between the Italian Alps, where we walked and walked and walked in countryside straight out of The Sound of Music, and the magnificent lake Garda, where we explored the prettiest and most colourful little towns and villages, and ate our weight in gelato. It was a truly wonderful holiday!

What a summer - Italy 3
What a summer - Italy 1
What a summer - Italy 2

After getting back from Italy, I gave myself a little project to help with the post-holiday blues. I would make this summer one for fearlessness, for adventure, for new things. This turned out to be a most excellent idea. Because of this new resolution I finally tried rock climbing which I loved and I am still obsessed with. Armed with this new mindset I dipped my toe in Youtube film making and I’ve really been enjoying it. Have you seen my Capsule Wardrobe videos?

I also tried being more spontaneous and said “Yes!” to a very last minute weekend getaway to “the other place”. Exploring Cambridge was great, and even though I was determined to find it lacking compared to Oxford, I came back completely charmed by it.

What a summer - Cambridge 1
What a summer - Cambridge 2

At the end of August, we went to The Big Feastival, a magical food and music festival on Alex James’ farm in the Cotswolds, for the third year in a row, except this time we camped there instead of coming home every night. Another first for me! I was a tad worried about this. After all, I’m relatively easy going but I do enjoy a spotless bathroom, hot showers, and fluffy pillows. In this case, I knew that the Feastival is always a super-fun weekend and suspected that camping in the beautiful Cotswolds countryside for three nights would make it even better. So I embraced my inner hippie – who knew I even had one? -and I loved it! That last weekend of August was definitely one of the highlights of my year.

What a summer - Feastival 1
What a summer - Feastival 1

Not ready to let go of sunshine and warmth, I planned a late-summer visit back home. It was perfect! My boyfriend and I visited with friends and family and enjoyed everything my tiny Mediterranean homeland has to offer. We walked in tiny medieval alleyways, explored quaint shops and found respite from the heat in traditional cafes with fresh lemonade and pastries. We hiked trails in the pine forest and took in magnificent views from the highest peaks. We swam in turquoise waters and found shells in white sand beaches. It was a very fitting end to an amazing summer.

What a summer - Mediterranean 3
What a summer - Mediterranean 4
What a summer - Mediterranean 2
What a summer - Mediterranean 1

Postcards from Paris

Postcard from Paris @ www.alittleadventure.net

I spent a few wonderful days in Paris over Christmas & I thought I’d share some of my favourite pictures I took there.* It was so great to revisit this great city, and this time I was playing tour guide for my mum who had never been to Paris before. I got to revisit plenty of my favourite Parisian locations like Île Saint-Louis, Place des Vosges, and Le Marais, but also discovered some wonderful new-to-me locations and experiences.

We were quite lucky with the weather: it was mostly sunny and mild and so we walked all over the city. We actually walked an average of 12 miles a day! All this walking was of course powered by lots of fresh bread and exquisite patisserie. Oh the patisserie!

Postcard from Paris @ www.alittleadventure.net
Postcard from Paris @ www.alittleadventure.net
Postcard from Paris @ www.alittleadventure.net
Postcard from Paris @ www.alittleadventure.net

Places/activities/sights from Paris that brought a smile to my face:

  • African hot chocolate at Angelina. Perhaps a cliche, but rightfully so, I think. This was the thickest, most luxurious and intense hot chocolate ever, perfect for chocolate fiends. The Angelina salon on rue de Rivoli is a beautiful and elegant Belle Epoque space, just the thing if you are also just a little stuck in eras past.
  • Claude Monet’s Les Nymphéas at Musée de l’Orangerie. Oh my goodness was this magical! To see these unbelievably beautiful and emotive paintings was just an incredible experience. I was in awe.
  • Walking along the streets of Île Saint-Louis. Pretty and quaint, this little island on the Siene has a village feel and lots of tiny little shops and bistros.
  • Seeing the Eiffel tower at sunset. Beautiful silhouette against a beautiful sky.
  • Strolls in the Montmarte. The winding streets climbing towards the Sacré-Cœur basilica are so charming and they feel unchanged since Toulouse-Lautrec lived in this bohemian neighbourhood.
  • A few peaceful moments in Sacré-Cœur. I am not a religious person but I can’t deny how serene and calm I felt inside this magnificent church.
  • Christmas window displays at Printemps & decorations at Galeries Lafayette. I had never seen window displays as imaginative, beautiful, or witty as the ones at Printemps. It was great to see them on Christmas eve, they filled me with such childlike glee. The Galeries Lafayette dome is stunning on its own, but it was simply enchanting decorated for the holidays.

Postcard from Paris @ www.alittleadventure.net
Postcard from Paris @ www.alittleadventure.net
Postcard from Paris @ www.alittleadventure.net
Postcard from Paris @ www.alittleadventure.net
Postcard from Paris @ www.alittleadventure.net
Postcard from Paris @ www.alittleadventure.net

*I thought I’d try to atone for being a bad blogger and not posting anything for approximately 100 years by dedicating my first post of the year to Paris. 😉

Autumn at the Harcourt arboretum

Autumn at the Harcourt arboretum @ www.alittleadventure.net

The Harcourt arboretum is just south of Oxford and it’s always a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year. Last month we spent a lovely sunny Saturday morning there; it was a great walk among the stunning autumn colours of the woods. It even made it onto the list of my favourite autumn moments.

Autumn at the Harcourt arboretum @ www.alittleadventure.net

The Autumn Walk in the arboretum takes you along a path that is lined with dozens of varieties of Acer trees, which are famous for their autumn colour displays. It’s truly magnificent! The countless shades of yellows, oranges, and reds, the constant play between shadow and light, the delicious crunching of leaves underfoot, it all was such a treat for the senses.

Autumn at the Harcourt arboretum @ www.alittleadventure.net

Autumn at the Harcourt arboretum @ www.alittleadventure.net

When the wind picked up, the leaves were falling all around us like confetti, it was magical! Eventually, we drifted away from the impressive Acer trees to the good old English woodland that surrounds them. There was golden light being filtered through the yellowing leaves and squirrels were very busy stockpiling acorns in preparation for winter. It’s a more modest part of the arboretum, perhaps not as striking as the Acer tree path, but really very lovely, peaceful and quiet.

A walk in the Harcourt arboretum is something I always recommend to Oxford visitors, but to be honest, I don’t visit nearly enough. I’m so glad that this year I got to see the woods in all their autumnal glory; spending a few hours there was such a blissful experience!

Have you ever been to the Harcourt arboretum? What are your favourite places to visit for a good dose of autumn colours?

A little bit of Mediterranean sunshine

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island

A little late summer sunshine on a Mediterranean island never hurt anyone, right? In September I spent a few sunny days back home. It was a really lovely holiday!

I was there mainly to attend a family wedding and spend time with my mum and grandma, but The Boy and I combined that with a short stay in a small fishing village. I think we managed to strike the perfect balance between family time and relaxation by the sea. For me, most of the family obligations are a bit of a drag, but it’s always fun to see things through The Boy’s eyes. Instead of thinking of it as “yet another extended family dinner”, I suspect he sees it as “a large gathering of loud people with impossible quantities of food” which is way more entertaining.

Our time by the sea was fantastic! We accidentally found ourselves staying in a “hippie” hotel that offered a full timetable of yoga, pilates, and meditation classes every day, which I definitely took advantage of. Other than that, we spent our days swimming and reading and soaking up the sunshine, alternating between the beach and the pool. Pure bliss! We had our dinner at a seafood place on the marina every night; I don’t think there’s anything better than fish and seafood straight from the boat, cooked in the simplest way and enjoyed right by the sea. I made friends with all of the marina cats as well, and I think they quite enjoyed dinnertime too!

I didn’t take that many pictures during our holiday, but I thought I’d post some of my favourite ones here. Just in case the weather where you are is grey & miserable like it is in Oxford today and you need a dose of Mediterranean sunshine!

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island

Sunshine on a Mediterranean island