I have a weekend away booked for next week, to Leamington Spa. It’s a beautiful town in the Midlands that made it as a spa town in the early 19th Century when spa towns were *the* place to be. It’s a romantic little break, just Mr Hygge Jem and me, and we will spend our time wandering through the streets of Leamington, Stratford and Warwick, seeking out small teashops and quirky attractions to visit before browsing bookshops, secondhand and new, and sitting by rivers, park paths and town squares to nibble at ice creams and sip cool lemonade. We will not be available for work, or anything else requiring serious thought. It’s seriously a weekend of relaxing.
And when we return it will be August, and the inevitable slide into Autumn will have started. I have written before about August as the gateway to Autumn… I know many hygge lovers prefer it when the year turns and the leaves change and cosiness in its traditional guise of blankets and big mugs of coffee become respectable or even just holdable. There are so many members of the Hygge Nook fighting desperately to hold off full Autumn mode, because we need the rest of the world to catch up, but I’m sure we’re not the only ones looking at August as a pause in life before the final, fantastic swansong of the year begins…
But 31 days of late summer is 31 days of late summer and I mean to make the most of them. To that end, I am giving myself five key words to hold in my mind. Five Words of the Month, guiding lights to make my life fuller and smoother and warmer. Helping me build memories to last through the cold months.
Working full time, and with no long vacation planned, the temptation is to keep working and forget taking any time off. I’m not an absolute workaholic, but I find sometimes the pile of work makes me push on into my free time instead of drawing a line and declaring myself done. For August, at least, I am going to get into the habit of stopping early on a late summer evening, getting in some healthy treats and enjoying life as it should be enjoyed, with my husband and family. And weekend coffee slowly sipped in our local cafe watching the world slide by. Oh, and early nights reading, rather than a late night watching the news. The real world is on hold for the month. If the Apocalypse happens, it better be ready to wait until I’m back.
Red wine, fresh olives, a sliced melon, the scent of a lemon or the whisper of leaves in the woods as we walk. The touch of cool cotton sheets, the salt on a sea breeze coming in off the Mersey, finding a patch of shadow on the hottest day and standing briefly in it to appreciate the relief. The very many sensory experiences of summer and especially August are there to savour. And I aim to cook Italian for a month: pasta, bread, chicken cacciatore, plates of salami and parma ham with cheese and crusty bread, pizzas, pork saltimbocca…. food full of summer sunshine and years of love in every bite. I’ve got several recipes to try in Giada’s Italy, Apples For Jam by Tessa Kiros or Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook. A good new cookbook is always a summer pleasure.
August this year seems like a good opportunity to tie off some loose ends, to accept some life issues and to move on. I’m going to accept what life has to offer, good or bad. Accept and move on, without guilt, with regard to the sad moments of life and accept with pleasure for the good. Acceptance also includes thankfulness for a life well lived, doesn’t it? Gratitude for my family, my husband and my friends will play a big part. I’m back in my Leuchtturm bullet journal, so my gratitude page will get some use.
Of course, I like living in the moment whatever season it is… but be reasonable: you can’t expect me not to look forward to the peak hygge season now and then? Who wouldn’t anticipate the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, the new season apples, the cooling air in the morning. Enjoy the present, anticipate the future. And, besides, when you rename August as an autumnal month, it’s not really cheating on summer, is it?
I am going to anticipate adding some social events back into my life, resuming book club and craft group that have lain dormant during the pandemic. I’ve several books on pre-order, so I can anticipate the evenings of candles and reading ahead, and I have several events booked, either solo or group events, so I can enjoy them as well. My calendar is nowhere near stuffed, and I won’t let it be, but it isn’t empty and somewhere between full and bare is a good place to be.
Who was it said “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be?” Memories play a crucial part in our happiness, and collecting them whether in words or objects acts as an aide memoire. This month I will, as always, collect small items from nature: a conker, a leaf posy, a stone from the beach or shell from the sea. Not everytime I go out the door, but when something special is happening. A perfect late summer walk, an ice cream by the sea, an afternoon reading on a blanket.
And I will take the many photographs that I store on my computer and then scroll through when I need a hug and nobody else is around. The woods as the leaves turn khaki, the garden as the flowers droop and fall, the summer meal we ate as a family before returning Daughter to University, the coffee with my parents, the life lived well and carried with me forever. 2021 will never come again. August will never happen in this year again. This moment will never be mine again, except in memory. It’s my job to remember it.
Taylor Swift is such a good songwriter, isn’t she? I remember singing along to Folklore with Sarah last year when it was first released. It was (is/will be again) our summer living soundtrack. And this one… August… had the same sweet, transitory flash of perfect summer sun that is August. And the loss of passing time. Memories slip away.
Today’s header is a photo of barley after rain by Elisa on Unsplash. I chose it because the fields are heavy with crops, and the farmers are working to bring the harvest in. August, which for so many is a month of rest and a change of routine, is a busy time from dawn to dusk on an arable farm. If you haven’t already seen it, Clarkson’s Farm on Amazon Prime has been an absolute eye opener regarding what a farmer has to do during the year and how hard they work. It’s renewed my respect for them, and made me determined to shop and cook more carefully because of it.
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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