Sometimes holidays just seem like the hardest task we set ourselves. Prepping for going away, washing, packing, listmaking, arranging for pet care, parent care, tidying ready to go away, travelling (worse yet if it’s abroad and all the extra worries of foreign travel are piled on top). Sometimes it’s just so much easier to stay home.
When the children were small, we used to visit the same three houses every year. We must have done this for about 8 or 9 years, to the point that we only needed to say we were going to the Upside Down House or the House With No Stairs for them to know where we were going, what we would see while we were there and what the houses were like inside. They had the same beds to sleep in, the same plates to eat off and same views out of the window every year. Holidays were very comfortable, because the houses we stayed in became homes from home through familiarity and use.
But the most homelike of the lot is/was always the house we borrowed off Peter’s Cousin. Seriously, it is beautiful, in a lovely location and not at all fancily decorated (by which I mean totally coordinated) or spectacularly equipped (for the first 10 times we borrowed it, it didn’t even have wifi!) but it has the most spectacular views out over Nefyn bay and across to the Yr Eifel mountains. This view is so gorgeous it’s almost possible to stay there for a week or two, never venture further afield and yet never see the same view twice. In the morning, the sun shines from behind the mountains and the mist gathers at their feet, while by sunset the light hits the gorse and turns the sky golden pink and grey. In bad weather the clouds are grim and grey, while in wind the trees dance and the ravens circle round to find shelter. It’s a haven of peace for me, made even more homely by the fact that we need to clean it properly at the end of the holiday and it is impossible to really hate a house that you have to clean because you have used it well and it has sheltered you.
It’s a place we move into for however long we’ve borrowed it. It’s that cosy, and that homelike.
Last year, due to Covid, it was unused and this year, now the restrictions are lifted, the owner and her family are making full use of it. We probably won’t get there because it’s ideal for children and there are so many people ahead of us in the queue. Using it is a privilege, not a right, so I will sit and dream, rather than despair. There’s always next year, hopefully.
And in the meantime, I have my memories. I can sit and imagine the house, or imagine the walks along the clifftop, imagine the drive through crocosmia lined country lanes to Criccieth, imagine the beach walks, imagine the Wednesday fighter jets that fly past on low-level training exercises. Imagine the seaglass, the shells, the gulls wheeling overhead. Imagine the crazy golf, the secondhand book shops, the train whistles of Port Madoc and everywhere the sound of the Welsh language.
I will imagine the day trips to slate mines surrounded by the blue-black hills of slate waste, or to castles where the echo of iron swords clashing have been replaced by the echo of children’s laughter and wooden swords hitting each other. The day spent on the beach watching a pod of lazy porpoises rise and fall, or the hill drive down to Nant Gwrtheyrn, the repurposed slate quarries where visitors stay to learn welsh as the sea batters the rocks and the horizon promises long journeys by boat to transport the slate to London, to far away lands, while the landscape tells its own story of hillforts and a celtic people buried in the landscape and living through legend. It’s a special place.
And I shall crochet as I do so: a coastal ripple blanket inspired by my time there. Gold, buttermilk and camel for the beach, silver and grey for the sea strand, petrol blue, cornish blue and teal for the sea colour and sky blue with parchment clouds for the heavens that stand above Yr Eifel themselves. And an occasional flash of tomato red, more orange than red, but more red than orange, that flashes occasionally on the blanket as a very real reminder of the Devil’s own flowers, crocosmia, that grow and overflow at roadsides, in gardens and yes, oh yes, on the coastal path to the beach. Crochet is something I always take with me on holidays, including memorably an Autumn rainbow ripple that I started in Wales and took on tour with me. Sitting and finishing off a few rows as the sea flickered or as we waited for the chippy to open or, one day, as we watched the Menai Strait surge and fall.
The ripple pattern by Attic 24 is repetitive, meditative, absorbing yet not demanding. It’s perfect holiday crochet. I shall create this memory board for myself at home, away from Nefyn and the sea, yet every stitch will be a calling back to the Land of Slate and my own memories. One day, Caraid, one day we will be back. Until then, the fire of the Land of Dragons will warm me during the winter.
The wool comes from Black Sheep Wools, in Warrington, which I am luckily close enough to visit, although choosing and buying these shades was done over the internet. I will visit them again soon, for tea and a cake in the cafe, but not this week. I chose way more colours than I thought I’d need, and spent a quiet Saturday morning whittling them down to the favoured few. The others won’t go to waste: I’m never without a blanket on the go, and these are usefully adaptable colours.
And I grabbed my opportunity on Sunday to sit counting quietly. Fifteen sets of fourteen, plus three stitches. Chain the foundation row, set up the pattern and you’re off. This is my progress so far…. I can get about four colours done a night if I do nothing else, but the point isn’t to get it done quickly, it’s to enjoy the doing.
The header today is my Saturday in pictorial form: wool, Nefyn beach printed out to help me choose the colours and The Simple Things. I didn’t get to finish it: I got dragged along by all things woolly. Never mind, a cup of tea and a magazine are always useful things to have to hand. If I get a few minutes midweek, I’ll enjoy them. The trouble is, the ripple pattern is so darned addictive….. and crochet grows so quickly…. and football is ideal crochet watching….
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.
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