There’s Just No Getting Away From It This Year…. so I might as well read a book.

Four more weeks. Four more weeks. Four more weeks.

And international travel seems a distant dream on the horizon (why oh why does Microsoft tempt me with screensavers of Crete and Corfu, Capri coast and California when the closest I am going to get to any of them is a Capri Orange or a quick rewatch of Mamma Mia?

And the people who would usually set off and crowd the beaches of Europe are crowding the beaches of the UK. I’m not a beach babe anyway, more beached whale, but I do like a break and a walk by the sea and the chance to enjoy a good sunset. I’ve written all this before… I think…. or similar…. and I do heartily wish I could get to Wales for a break this year, but that’s looking increasingly unlikely. Liverpool it is, then. We (Mr Hygge Jem and I) have a weekend booked for the end of July, but it’s to Leamington Spa which is nearly as far away as one can get from the sea so I will not be dipping my toes then. I think a few weekend trips to Crosby Beach (dirty, sometimes, but the statues are brilliant) Formby (squirrels and a long walk to see the sea) or to Thurstastone on The Wirral which, despite being less than 20 miles away I have never visited. Just enough water to whet my appetite for the seaside.

Apart from that, it looks like I’m holidaying at home this year again. I’m planning to staycation properly, though, with a week free from housework, eating easy meals and enjoying evening strolls in the neighbourhood. And reading, crocheting and crafting. Probably a week/half week in August, dragging a reluctant Husband away from the firm and visiting as many local tourist traps as possible. We may even do the Full Beatles Experience!!

Crochet-wise, I’ve fallen in love with the idea of a coastal ripple blanket. I know Attic 24 made one based on her childhood in Dorset, which is lovely, but I figure I want to make one that suits me.

I’ve used this photograph as my inspiration, and chosen colours from it. I can’t quite decide whether to keep the pattern random stripes of colours, or to do a sort of picture in crochet, with a band of greens and red for the grass, a band of sand and camel for the beach, a band of blues and greens for the sea etc. A bit like this crochet turtle beach blanket, but for grown ups. What do you think?

Crafting is painting rocks again. I did this for fun a few years ago, and they were so easy to do with good gel pens and craft varnish. I could do with a few more positive words around the house, so a good blend of patterns and affirmations might work.

And my Kindle is filled with books ready to read. There’s a definite theme to my relaxed reading at the moment. I’m devouring Chick lit (or, as I prefer to say ‘choc-lit’, as it’s food that definitely tastes better with a small bar of something on one hand and a glass of wine in the other) that is set by or near the sea. There should be a separate shelf each for different settings, since common themes come up again and again: castles, tea shops, book shops, seaside, small village based and city based choc-lit books are all groupings I’ve noticed and *cough* may have read a lot of. This season, my Kindle seems to have two obsessions going on: the seaside and the bookshop. My subconscious telling me I need a good dose of both, perhaps?

First off: Jenny Colgan’s Little Beach Street Bakery. Set in Cornwall, ths tells the story of Polly Waterford escaping from bankruptcy and heartbreak by running to Cornwall, where baking becomes her cathartic escape. I’m expecting to have a mad baking fit after reading this: ironic, since I’m trying to be carb free as much as possible. I think the olive and chorizo bread may make me break that though….

Next, Sunny Days and Sea Breezes by Carole Matthews. Carole is one of my favourite writers, since she usually writes an excellent Christmas book almost every year. This time the heroine, Jodie, is heading to the Isle of Wight and a houseboat called Sunny Days. The reviews are good, and the Isle of Wight is not an area I know much about, so it should almost be like finding a new town to explore.

Jenny Colgan, as anyone who has ever listened to her talk would know, is Scottish, so it’s no surprise she also sets books based in Scotland, which is where The Bookshop On The Corner is based. If I could live a book for real, this one would probably be it. When the library shuts, Nina the Librarian invests her redundancy money in a battered van that she does up and takes around the countryside delivering books to people. It’s a lovely read, and one I can heartily recommend.

I wonder how many of us dream of running a bookshop but real life gets in the way? I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t promise how good it is yet, but the concept of The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday by Kiley Dunbar was irresistible: set in Devon, the unique selling point is that you spend your holidays running the local bookshop. Jude Crawley books it for two weeks to escape her hopeless lovelife, only to find she has to share with Elliot who is also escaping from something. I’m hoping for lots of book talk as well as romance.

Sometimes if you find a book you like, the best present after that is to find it’s actually a series and you get to spend time with the characters you like again. I’ve done this with Alison Sherlock’s Willow Tree Hall series and her Riverside Lane series, both of which I heartily recommend, and this year I’m spending a happy few hours in Devon reading the Mill Grange series by Jenny Kane. Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange is the first one, and although the sea never makes an appearance, the books are set on the Exmoor/Dartmoor borders, so it’s a part of the world I know and love from holidays in my childhood. Thea escapes from a possessive not-really-a boyfriend to be in charge of restoring Mill Grange, while the follow up books, Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange and Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange have different heroines, but the same supporting cast. I’ve only read the first one, so I’m in for a treat one weekend. I really must find a low-carb scone recipe to enjoy a Devon Cream Tea as I read… although I may well leave these until the middle of August, when I have had enough of summer and am longing for the cool breezes of Autumn once more.

Finally, and following on from the cream teas of my last books, The Tea Room on the Bay by Rachel Burton is an impulse purchase, never having read anything by the author before. The benefit of KIndle is that a 99p impulse purchase can be put aside if it’s no good without feeling guilty at the waste (although with real paperbacks, I just used to pass them on to other people to read). This time Ellie leaves her academic life in York to run away to her Aunt and Uncle at Sanderson Bay and run her own tea room on the Yorkshire coast. Tea rooms, cafes, bookshops, craft shops…. they’re all common features of many people’s escapist dreams, I think. As is writing a book and making enough money from it to stop work.

That’s my reading list for Summer 2021 planned out. I did have a Reading Challenge on Goodreads this year, to read 52 books, but I completed that last week. I’m not sure that I’ve ever consciously read so many books in a year before. I can’t decide whether to reset a bigger goal, or retire graciously and just read for fun (which was what I was doing anyway). Weekends in the park, summer evenings in the garden, lunchtimes at work. I read all the time.

Today’s header is a photo by Dan Dumitriu on Unsplash. I chose it because the colours were so brilliantly evocative of the beach, that yellow sand and blue sky, it called to me. Also, because that’s totally what I do on the beach, after a short paddle and a collecting of shells, is sit and read. What else are books and beaches for?

How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.

I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:

Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.

Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better.

How to Hygge Your Summer: Hygge isn’t just about candles, throws and fireside cuppas (if indeed it is ever actually about them) and this book gives you ideas for creating hygge ready spaces and paces of life throughout the summer.

If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading and thinking about hygge as well.

3 thoughts on “There’s Just No Getting Away From It This Year…. so I might as well read a book.

  1. Staycations where I travel via books are my favourite, so I’m quite happy to opt for that, and extended lockdown dates don’t change my travel plans. I do like your idea of making it a proper staycation and not doing anything but the kinds of things you might do if you were on vacation for real though, and might borrow that idea. It would help me make the time to catch up with my Goodreads reading goal, and maybe some of the craft projects I’ve been trying to get to as well.

    Books set around the beach, bookshops, etc, are popular with me too, and a couple of these sound interesting.


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