The Urban Beachcomber

Waking up at the crack of dawn, grabbing my bucket and spade and heading to the beach with my nan, for a beachcombing session, is one of my fondest childhood memories.

Beachcombing – for those of you who’ve never tried it – is the simple process of scouring the beach (preferably after high tide, in the early hours) for all the treasures both visitors and the ocean may’ve left behind. The promise of discovering something mystical and magical was a massive selling point for my younger self.

Just like an early morning run can make you feel at one with whatever path, road or track you choose to tread, beachcombing made me feel very much part of my surroundings; the distant ocean with all the promise of an afternoon paddle and endless sandy beaches, as untouched as freshly fallen snow. Irresistible!

My beachcombing adventures never produced any magnificent finds, but collecting, what at the time, felt like the most glorious pick ‘n’ mix of shells and pebbles you’d ever seen (baby pinks, peaches, mother-of-pearl and jet blacks) were all the treasures I needed. Pieces of worn-down glass always fascinated me; what were once sharp, shiny shards, now muted and in soft focus. I’d relish the post-beachcomb feeling of going back home to create something unique with my finds. Often a simple shell-encrusted frame or delicate handmade card. Again, nothing too adventurous, but my eight-year-old self was pretty satisfied.

Nicola White, creator of, Tideline Art (http://www.tidelineart.com), has taken the ‘art’ of foraging along the coastline, to a whole new level. Using objects found along the Thames or the stunning Cornish coastline, she creates some fantastic pieces that make use of the oceans forgotten treasures. Take a look at Nicola’s, beautiful ceramic vase, complete with ceramic flowers and her brilliant blue fish (one of a skool!), created from glass found along the Thames   – pretty impressive, huh?

Tideline Art

Tideline Art 3

It’s been year’s – dare I say decade’s – since I last took to the pebbled shores, and as I am not blessed with a seaside location, I’ve taken it upon myself to turn this childhood hobby, into a commuting past-time. Plus, no need for a bucket and spade (and quite frankly, you’d probably rather leave things were you find them, if you’re doing this in the inner city) but if you look beyond the obvious what…treasures lurk on your commuter trail?

Last week alone, I discovered the following:

  • A discarded umbrella: so lovingly shoved behind a phone box and of course, mandatory for this time of year
  • A set of nail polish toes dividers: once used to make someone’s digits decidedly pretty

Beachcomber 3

  • A giant paperclip: the picture does not do it justice – it was huge

Beachcomber 2

  • A half-smoked cigar: disgusting habit, but rather glamorously unfamiliar in a London suburb
  • An unused paper label: crying out for that perfect gift to adorn

Beachcomber label 2

  • A babies dummy: the bright blue caught my eye from quite some distance away, I was hoping for better things

Beachcomber 4

  • Finally, a hubcap, surely the urban beachcombers dream?

I can’t promise you’ll find objects of any worth, but it might just give your daily commute a slightly different perspective.

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How to Beat the Sunday Night Gloom

Sunday night approaches far quicker than I would like. For those of us lucky enough not to work weekends, it comes with mixed emotions; yes, I can look back on the weekend with a sense of achievement, relaxation or well-earned tiredness (depending on what I’ve been doing!), but it also means that Monday, bringing with it the first commute of the week, is yet again, one sleep away.

Here are some of the things I like to do to beat the Sunday night gloom, and prepare for the week ahead:

1. Flowers have an amazing ability to cheer up any space they so lovingly invade. Buy yourself a bunch of blooms (venture beyond the supermarkets and go to your local florist. They often have such a beautiful array of flowers – pick something new!) and enjoy them.

Tulips - the epitome of elegance

Tulips – the epitome of elegance

2. With breaking news at our fingertips, it’s hard to find the time or indeed, the need, to sit down and read a newspaper. Strangely, reading a newspaper now feels quite luxurious, so take a moment to pick up a Sunday tabloid or broadsheet, enjoy its feel, smell and of course, those sumptuous glossy supplements. If that doesn’t appeal, submerge yourself in a book (my current text, Fool’s Assasin by Robin Hobb).

Read and digest

Read and digest

3. Amid the sense of relaxation Sunday’s so often evoke,  it’s sometimes nice to do something productive; I’ve vowed to get a majority of my blogging prepped and ready to go…we’ll see how that pans out!

#amwriting

#amwriting

4. I used to cringe when I heard the words, “me time.” Who has time for that? Quite frankly, it always sounded so self-indulgent. However, during recent year’s, I’ve learnt that it’s not a bad thing to take some time out for yourself, and quite often, you feel better for it. So, a Sunday night D.I.Y mani is a little piece of self-indulgence I really look forward to.

A self-indulgent mani is my idea of Sunday night bliss

A self-indulgent mani is my idea of Sunday night bliss (L-R: Twilight by Champney’s & Antique Chic by Beauty UK)

5. When the day is almost done, I like to switch off all social media and communicative devices, turn on Classic FM and light my current favourite scented candle, True Grace, in Jasmine Tea.

Turn off, tune in and strike a match to your favourite scented candle

Turn off, tune in and strike a match to your favourite scented candle

I don’t know about you, but that leaves me feeling slightly more prepared for the week ahead. What are your weekend rituals? How do you like to unwind before Monday morning arrives? Let me know!

Winter Blues? Think Again

It’s winter. There’s no denying it. Waking up to dark, dingy mornings, steeped in drizzle and condensation is no fun. And what’s worse, is the simple fact that most of us arrive home from work, in exactly the same conditions as when we left – dismal.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it when the temperature drops enough for me to don my favourite bobble hat or navy knit, but it’s difficult not to think of sunnier climes when the big chill strikes. Much like preparing for a big family event or Christmas (too early?), I think planning and researching a summer holiday should be relished.

This winter, Anthropologie's, Homeward Pom Pom Beanie, will be one of my staples

This winter, Anthropologie’s, Homeward Pom Pom Beanie, will be one of my staples

On Friday’s commute, while the bus was stuck behind some temporary traffic lights, I found myself ideally positioned alongside a taxi bay. One of the driver’s sat utterly content in his seat, smiling from ear-to-woolly-hat-covered-ear. His face was a picture and I soon realised why. He was sitting with his iPad, flicking through the most luxurious looking beachside hotels. I rapidly wished I hadn’t been so nosey.

My thoughts naturally turned to sun, sea and all things factor 50. In this day and age, it’s so easy to reminisce about distant holiday memories; a simple click on my iPhoto icon and I’m transported to a virtual paradise, surrounded by breath-taking turquoise ocean, views too-good-to-be-true and thoughts of refreshingly addictive coconut water (and no matter how expensive the carton version is you get in supermarkets, it never tastes quite as good as that fresh from the nut!).

Coconut water - nothing tastes fresher

Coconut water – nothing tastes fresher

But let’s not forget those added extras that come with enjoying a sun-filled holiday of a lifetime:

  • Sunburn in places you’ve never considered putting sun cream
  • Sand (enough said)
  • Chasing geckos around your room at 2.00am
  • Dragging your suitcase across one mile of untouched sandy beach because you just had to stay at the hotel that gave you a real ‘island experience’
  • Lost in translation menus (when I ordered a ‘Three Tomato Salad’, I expected a little more than three slices of tomato garnished with a leaf of basil)
Never underestimate the speed of a gecko..never!

Never underestimate the speed of a gecko..never!

Come to think of it, winter has its plus points. So for now, I’ll settle for my fluffy new dressing gown, snuggling up in front of the latest reality TV show and lighting my favourite, True Grace, scented candle. Summer can wait.

Two Little Words

Each New Year brings with it those familiar feelings of hope, optimism and fresh starts. It’s a big cliché, I know, but hard to not get caught up in the newness and potential each New Year offers.

On the journey home from my parents’, earlier today, I decided to take some time to mull over what was 2014 and perhaps look towards what I hope to achieve in the coming 12 months’. But after only a few moments of self-deconstruction, (and let’s be honest, looking back is never done in a very positive vein) I became distracted by a young lady frantically searching through her belongings. My initial thoughts, the illusive train ticket, but after a few moments of searching, she retrieved a pen. I had failed to notice the fresh box of ‘thank you’ cards on her flip-down table (could those tables be any squeakier?!?!). The young lady proceeded to open the box with the same saliva-inducing delight as Charlie Bucket, on realising he’d found the last golden ticket (I understand her drooling; any piece of stationery, however small, sends me into a whirl of utmost childlike delight).

This simple observation, however, put my line of though in a slightly different direction. I’ve read numerous blog posts and articles recently, pertaining to the usual, “must lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, save money, work harder.” All well and good and each to their own, but perhaps we should take the focus away from ourselves and look at the simpler things we could so easily change that would have far greater impact on those around us?

The effortless gesture of saying, “thank you,” is all too often lost, forgotten or simply taken for granted, so let’s make 2015 the year of the heart-felt, “thank you.”

I guarantee those two little words, whether spoken, emailed or hand-written, will go a long way in making someone’s day. And with all the gorgeous cards and notelets to choose from, you’ll give yourself a little buzz of satisfaction with every single purchase!

Clockwise from top: Flamingo cards - Tesco, Art Deco cards - Paperchase, Teddy cards - M&S, Floral cards - Paperchase, Monochrome card - Caroline Gardiner, Thank you So So Much - Caroline Gardiner.

Clockwise from top: Flamingo cards – Tesco, Art Deco cards – Paperchase, Teddy cards – M&S, Floral cards – Paperchase, Monochrome card – Caroline Gardiner, Thank You So So Much – Caroline Gardiner

Make 2015 the year of the "Thank You!"

Make 2015 the year of the “Thank You!”