In 1994 a country girl who’d been living in London had an epiphany one Saturday morning in a bookshop in Muswell Hill. City living was not for her. Later that year she moved with her East End husband to a Wiltshire village. What followed could grace the pages of a column in Country Living or an episode of The Vicar of Dibley.
Village life was everything I’d hoped for and more. Three children followed in quick succession. And yet this is no fairytale of bucolic life, renovating a ramshackle cottage, upcycling furniture, keeping chickens, living off-grid and negotiating the internal politics of the Parish Council, although some of these have happened.
In 2004 we were desperately short of money and with a spiralling home maintenance bill we were forced to move from our beloved village cottage into a modest semi on the edge of a nearby town. I felt seriously out of kilter. At home in a new environment with three young children I started this blog as a way of documenting our family’s adventures and my own struggles to feel more centred and contented. Low cost, feel good activities were vital to my own well-being. I was free to enjoy the great outdoors, the garden and the kitchen in a leisurely way.Unbeknown to me I had cultivated what the Danish call the art of hygge.
But a teacher has a passion to educate and it wasn’t long before I was writing and delivering family learning programmes for Health Authorities, developing hands-on activity days for primary schools and designing innovative resources for a number of agencies including the National Trust’s ’50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4′ . I wrote education packs for Outdoor Classroom projects and devised Our Flower Patch, a flexible outdoor educational programme, which was developed in partnership with flower farmer and former primary school teacher Sara Willman. The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a common theme. All of my work centred around the benefits of getting outside, reconnecting with nature and each other and slowing down.
Our children are now teenagers; I am back in a traditional classroom teaching English part-time and a daily observer of the growing mental health crisis in our schools among students and teachers. Young people today have to navigate a complex and ever-changing world, facing challenges and pressures in numerous aspects of their life. 90% of school leaders have reported an increase in the number of students experiencing anxiety or stress over the last five years. My own cottage garden and kitchen and the Wiltshire community in which we live remain an escape for me and my own family.
I write about well-being in schools and deliver training and tuition for parents, teachers and young people. Although informed by extensive research and my own professional qualifications, above all my ideas are tried and tested on myself and my family. We, like any other family are not immune from the negative effects of modern day stress. Subscribe here for feel-good, wellbeing hygge hints and tips you can use and/or connect with me via Twitter,Instagram, or Pinterest