Saturday, 2 September 2017

Simple Steps for Calming Back-to-School Stress

September Stresses

Whether you are a student, a teacher or a parent, this coming week has potential to be quite stressful. Back-to-school can definitely come with a shock: whether you are perhaps going off to university, or preparing to meet your new class of students, or maybe wondering how on earth you will get the kids out of the door in the right clothes and with all the right kit, let alone support them through school, then you might be in need of help to de-stress.

Here are three simple tips to help you through this and any other bumpy period in your life. You can also teach them to your kids- nobody else need know they are even doing them, but giving them useful tools to manage stress at a young age might well help them to become emotionally empowered adults. 

1. Slow Exhales

This simple breath technique is one I use all the time. It is so simple to do, but if you are feeling stressed, if your heart is beating fast or you are anxious, by slowing down your exhales you will kick-start your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the one that tells the body everything is ok and it can function normally (in other words the fight-or-fight response shuts down). It can also, really simply, give you back a sense of control. 

breathing techniques for anxiety
connect with the breath

2. Simple Visualisation

Imagine that you can see yourself from above, looking down on whatever you're doing right now. Why? Because it can give you a sense of distance, of separation & perspective. When I am teaching yoga I say 'notice this' or 'notice that' all the time, to help make my students aware of their body or their breath. It's useful in everyday life because if you can start to notice how you feel about things, how you are reacting, and thought patterns that you have then you can begin to see the narrative that you tell yourself, and whether it's really useful. 

If you try imagining that you can see yourself from above you can begin to notice what is really you, and what you might be doing- they are different. You are not defined by anything that happens in a single moment, or a day, or a week. If you make an embarrassing mistake, or you have a terrible day or even an angry week these things do not constitute you, and if you can take that long look at a situation that may well seem stressful in the moment, you can maybe get a better sense of how you actually want to handle it- there is always a choice. 

help with back to school anxiety
finding some peace in the everyday

3. Mudra

Simple Mudras are fantastic calming things to do with your hands. In times of stress many of us have nervous things we do with our hands, touching our face or hair, or scratching, or tugging at clothes. This can sometimes make us more stressed. Instead, try pressing your thumbs against the tips of your ring finger and little fingers of both hands. This is Pran Mudra, and helps reduce nervousness and facilitates clear thinking. It is great to have a breath exercise and a mental exercise, but sometimes taking a physical, proactive step- however tiny- is what we need to feel like we are in control. 

Good luck in your back to school transitions. I'd love to know if you find these tips helpful, and in the mean time here is love and light to you all! 

dealing with stress
love and light

Thursday, 24 August 2017

On Change

Change. It's always difficult. 

A few people I know seem to be having unexpected things happening in their lives right now, forcing change upon them whether they like it or not. 

Storm Clouds

Let me tell you a little story about change as I see it:

We had a car, which we loved- quite irrationally as it was an inanimate object, but it was reliable, comfortable, it drove smoothly, it was classy. We thought it was very 'us'. We felt loyal to it. It served us really well, especially when we stuffed it as full as we could and ratcheted a chair to the roof to drive across the whole country to get to Cornwall. 

Then, one pleasant afternoon a couple of months ago, this happened: 

Unforeseen Change

The first thing to say is that fortunately nobody was hurt. It was just a silly thing, which I saw happening but was powerless to prevent. I was shocked and shaky.

The second fortunate thing for me was that the other driver immediately admitted responsibility and phoned his insurance company. 

There were many other positive things which happened in those early moments- offspring could be contacted in round-about way (thanks Tilda!). Other parents rallied round. It was a sunny afternoon so I wasn't waiting in the rain. There was a warm coat in the boot of the car, which I needed in my state of shock. Phone calls were fielded on my behalf at home. The recovery guys (Tonkins- if you live in Cornwall you will know them) were absolutely brilliant... there were so many things that I could have considered lucky, or in fact good at that point in time, but I didn't feel particularly grateful.

The Storm Lifts

I will spare you the whole saga, but just skip ahead to the fact that our lovely car, being 10 years old, was considered a write-off. We were aghast- how could our faithful friend with minor damage be good for nothing? We only have one car, so we were left with what we considered to be an extremely freaky hire car on a countdown to when we had to return it, and then potentially no transport at all. The situation was problematic. We spent a lot of time chasing all possible solutions, but we were getting nowhere, except closer to meltdown in a wasteland of used cars.

Cactus in the Wasteland

It was then that a strange thing happened. We developed a crush on our hire car. Freaky became beautiful. Space age gadgets began to seem like they were right for 2017. And in short, dear reader, we bought one. 

So, this is not a car advert but I will quickly tell you a few things I love about our Citroen Cactus: it is fun to drive, it is extremely economical, the tax is currently free, it is roomy, it has all sorts of modern gadgets... and it just has that je ne sais quoi. We certainly did not know how inefficient our old car was until we saw how little we now spend at the petrol station.

New Wheels

Now, not every change is as simple as finding a new car. But my point is that this situation seemed so bad, such a puzzle in the moment, and kind of desperate. And once it was resolved all of that worry seemed so trivial. The best outcome happened for us.

Blue Skies Eventually

We resist change- it is stressful and unsettling, sometimes even shocking. But, if you're going through something unforeseen, please remember that change is in fact the natural order of things- it's more natural than any kind of status quo. 

You Can't Always Get What You Want

We did not realise we needed a new car until one was thrust upon us, for which I am now, with hindsight, grateful. Changes come in all magnitudes. Whether it is cars, jobs, houses, relationships, lifestyles or whatever, sometimes we don't know what we need until we are confronted with it, which invariably means we have to let go of the old. If you're enduring a traumatic development in your life I can't promise that you will be fine, that things will be great, but sometimes things might just turn out for the best. And, human nature being what it is, I am sure we all need reminders to look for the positives hidden in our difficulties. 

You might just end up finding the cactus in your wasteland.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Winter in Cornwall & Polperro Off Season

Winter in Cornwall

Some time ago, upon meeting somebody for the first time, I was asked, "yes, but have you spent a winter in Cornwall yet...?" 

We had- and had loved it too- but I suppose I can understand a little bit her implication that winter here is an ordeal. It can be very wet and stormy, and can seem entirely different from endless summer days. 

Spring Flowers in Polperro
Spring Flowers in Polperro

Quick Guide to A Cornish Winter:

It is well worth visiting Cornwall out of season- it is still just as beautiful but has the advantage of being a lot quieter. Here are some quick tips:

Dress well:

The weather here is extremely changeable so I always opt for light layers which I can adjust as necessary. Good footwear is essential on slippy surfaces, as is a waterproof top layer as you can almost bank on getting wet at some point.

Take provisions:

In the summer there is an abundance of cafés, and in some places this is the case in winter too, but not always. A hot flask and some sandwiches is never a bad idea. 

Travel with care: 

In my experience the Cornish can be a little gung-ho when it comes to driving (if also quite courteous too). Factor in narrow lanes with Cornish hedges (aka jagged walls, eager to burst any passing tyre), cyclists, tractors, roadworks, oncoming headlights and potentially horizontal rain... it can be challenging even when you are accustomed to it. So, my advice here is to just take your time and don't be intimidated, and consider using public transport for more-major destinations. The trains here are good, and the fact that they run at a leisurely pace gives you a great chance to soak up the scenery.

Take bad weather seriously:

Storms do batter the South West of England. The ensuing rough seas and blustery weather can be exhilarating. However, they are also dangerous, and it is essential to take care. One thing to love about Cornwall is that there are rarely any railings, and no busy-bodies telling you what you can and can't do. However, just because you can stroll onto an exposed quay in a storm it really doesn't mean that you should. And yet... people still do! Is that shot for Instagram really worth it...?

Be Flexible:

If I was renting a cottage here in the winter, I would definitely plan some indoor things to do, but seize every opportunity to soak up the wonderful light when it does show itself. Spring does appear to come early here too, despite the stormy weather, so don't forget to look for the signs.

Spring Flowers in Polperro
Spring Flowers in Polperro

Things to do on a cold day in Polperro:

The village of Polperro is situated along a deep shady valley, and as such it can feel pretty chilly there, even on a summer's day, let alone in the winter when seemingly everything is shut anyway. So, if you're planning a winter day-trip I've put together some highlights: 

Polperro shuts for the winter
The Prettiest 'Closed' Sign

The Shell House:

A must-see at any time of year. This stunning property just appears as you walk around Polperro harbour. Entirely free to marvel at, but you can leave your donation in the box. 

The Shell House Polperro
The Shell House Polperro

The Shell House Polperro
The Shell House Polperro

Watch the water

The river flows right through the centre of Polperro- right up against the buildings. It is also a working harbour, so there's plenty of boats to watch, as well as swans, ducks, and all sorts of other birds.  The tide rises and falls rapidly in the harbour, so this is the perfect place to just be present and watch life unfold in front of you. There's such a meditative quality in doing this. 

House on the Props, Polperro
House on the Props, Polperro

Polperro Harbour
Polperro Harbour


Follow the coast path in either direction to get a fuller view of the stunning coastline. To the west you can walk up past the historic Net Loft and onto a rocky outcrop, from which the views both back into town and out to sea are just beautiful. As well as being scientifically proven to make you feel good, walking will help you stave off the cold. 

The Coast Path Cornwall
The Coast Path

But if you don't fancy this, you can explore the beach below with its caves, rock pools and steps carved into the stone. 

Cornish Light
Cornish Light

The sea pool:

Ok, so in this picture the tide is in, but you can just make out the outline of the naturally formed sea pool. I admit that I did not swim in it on my recent visit, but with a warm wetsuit there is no reason why you shouldn't take advantage of its emptiness in colder months. 

The Sea Pool Polperro
The Sea Pool

And if all else fails, there is always 

Roly's Fudge

There is nothing like a sweet treat to warm yourself up on a winter day, and who can resist that wonderful smell...? The best fudge comes from Roly's, and the branch in Polperro has the friendliest service too. If you are spoilt for choice then do try the sea salt flavour.

Roy's Fudge Polperro
Roy's Fudge Polperro

Enjoy your visit, and please let me know if you find my tips useful 

Cornish Cottage
Cornish Cottage

Monday, 14 November 2016

Small Talk (plus discount code)

Sustainable Smalls:

Underwear can pose a bit of a problem when it comes to dressing more sustainably. We are quite demanding of our smalls (we want them smooth but supportive, invisible but opaque, cool but warm...). And, a cursory glance about any lingerie department in a large shop will show you a huge range of styles, because our tastes are so individual.

Bras pose a bit more of a problem, as the fit is so personal, and us women vary so widely in terms of our shape. However, I've taken a peek at some sustainable pants and put together a small selection to get you started, hope you like them! 

N.B. there are no pictures of my actual tried and tested pants! 

Merino Wool:

Yes really. If you haven't caught up with my craze for everything merino then see here- I'm a convert!  

And, I do now own merino pants. Merino is light and temperature regulating, moisture wicking, anti-smell, sustainable, completely biodegradable, and contrary to what you might expect it is also smooth, comfortable, and easy to care for. 

Cornish brand Finisterre make nice-looking woolly pants, or you could try Icebreaker, although reviews are mixed for their pants. Mons Royale make pretty longer-leg pants too. 

sustainable merino underwear
Merino Wool Tank Top from Finisterre, which matches their undies.


Silk is also entirely natural, breathable, and biodegradable. Traditionally a luxury fabric, it is strong and light, and temperature regulating. 

Greenfibres sell a range of undies made from organic silk jersey, which looks supremely comfortable, (unlike some silk undies made from woven fabrics which can feel a bit papery).You can use code PIXIE10 for a discount at Greenfibres.  


I have some of these undies from No Balls. They are the most comfortable pants ever! Completely seamless, they are soft and stretchy, and they fit really well. They are £11 a pair, or cheaper if you can find what you need in the clearance section. They also make a boy short

Other suppliers of bamboo undies include BAM.

organic cotton underwear
Organic Cotton Stripes from Seasalt. Their pants are designed in the same vein. 

Organic Cotton:

Seasalt Cornwall make pretty organic cotton pants, including their signature sailor stripe. Watch out for Mighty Good Undies too who have a good range of styles available soon, and again Greenfibres who also stock a pretty range of pants (again don't forget to use code PIXIE10). 

Enjoy shopping for sustainable underwear, and if you have any favourites that I haven't mentioned then do let me know :-)

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

On Garment Waste

Organic Cotton Stripes

If you are a regular reader, you will probably know that I do love a stripey sailor top, especially if it is made from organic cotton and is in a fabulous colour, like orange perhaps. 

I was interested, then, when I noticed that my local Seasalt branch was having a sale recently. I popped in, with no particular intention of making a purchase and discovered this beauty on the sale rack: 

organic cotton sailor top

Brilliant Mistake

It turns out that this, and a bunch of other items were all reduced because they have flaws: tiny rips, buttons missing, small marks, that sort of thing. Well, naturally I headed straight for the checkout with my prize. I bet you didn't even notice the tiny mark either- it's barely even visible in the picture, despite the huge incriminating arrow!

seasalt cornwall organic top

Marks for Thought

This got me to thinking: why don't we see more slight second in shops like this? In short, I suspect it is because they are sent to be mulched before they even reach the shop floor, or worse- to landfill. There's nothing wrong with recycling of course when something has reached the end of its life, but how much better to offer people the choice? Surely it's up to the individual consumer whether a 'flaw' is acceptable to them or not? 

ethical stripe top

Thank you, Seasalt

So, thanks Seasalt for putting these less-than-perfect garments out there for us to make up our own minds, and giving items which have taken resources and energy all along the production line a chance to be used before they go to be recycled. 

responsible fashion

Could Try Harder?

I was pleased to be handed my top in a small paper bag. The paper comes from 'sustainably managed forests' which is great, but wouldn't it be better if it was recycled paper? The receipt was also handed to me in a quite a large piece of folded card, and on reflection I wonder whether this is at all necessary- especially as due to the nature of my purchase it was going to be un-returnable anyway... food for thought.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

New Pattern Announcement: Cornish Sunset Crochet Throw

I devised this pattern some months ago, but having taught it to a group of lovely ladies at Roseland Mews last weekend, I finally had the impetus to dot the slip stitches and cross the trebles, and get the finished result listed up on ravelry

crochet workshop cornwall
Cornish Sunset Crochet Throw 

The colour scheme was mainly dictated by what I had in my stash at the time, but I feel it works well for the sunset theme, with a little pop of colour in the centre of each motif. 

crochet lessons cornwall

The pattern is both written and charted, allowing my workshop participants to familiarise themselves with both, as well as looking at some more-advanced techniques like bobbles. 

learn to crochet cornwall
Pattern on Ravelry

Following the pattern is a great exercise in counting stitches and reading what you have done- skills which are always useful! 

crochet teacher cornwall
Crochet Throw

I can deliver this workshop on request, so if you have a crochet group or just a few friends who you want to get together for me to visit then please contact me so we can discuss it!

easy crochet blanket pattern
Hexagon Blanket

The blanket is worked in Aran-weight yarn, so it builds up quite quickly. My sample is about 3' square, but of course you can keep adding hexagons until you reach the size you want. 

learn to crochet cornwall
Lap-sized Throw

It occurred to me after the workshop that I have lots of odds and ends in Aran weight yarn, which I could collage together to make more of a random result. Because there is a lot going on in this version, I have kept the coloured centres to a single colour, and I've also left out the bobbles. 

I can make these motifs pretty much without even looking now, so this is great TV crochet for me. I'd like the result to be big enough to thrower the bed, where we have duck-egg-coloured walls... but, there's no urgency so I'll just see where this project goes. 

craft teacher cornwall
The Next Crochet Blanket

The Cornish Sky

Friday, 16 September 2016

Neal's Yard Review: 3 Favourite Cosmetics (Organic Beauty Week)

Au Naturel

I'm not the sort of woman who uses lots of cosmetics. I don't ever wear make-up (in fact I don't even own any). I don't have a problem with it, by which I mean for me it's not a polemical feminist choice not to wear it: it's not a statement as far as I'm concerned, I just can't muster any enthusiasm for it. And besides, I was alway useless when I tried to put it on to go out in my younger days. 

Neal's Yard Organic Skincare

However, I do like good skincare, and I am trying to take better care of my skin as I get older. I've dipped in and out of Neal's Yard products over the years (when I dipped out it was because I could't afford it), but I do have a few favourites amongst their delightful range, so I thought I'd share them with you here, in time for Organic Beauty Week next week- which I am delighted to discover exists: 

What's so great about Organic?

There is a great explanation on the Neal's Yard website, which you can see here- I can't put it any better!

My Three Favourites: 

Rose & Almond Night Cream: this is an intense, nourishing cream which smells heavenly and comes in a delightfully old-fashioned tin tube. It's probably best for drier skin, but I find it absorbs easily enough and makes me feel like I'm really ready for some restorative sleep. 75% organic ingredients, and packed with anti-oxidants and vitamins. 

Wild Rose Hand Cream: 92% organic, this cream again smells divine. It is easy to apply, and is well absorbed whilst leaving your hands delicately scented. Plus, it has really pretty packaging. Perfect to counteract anything strenuous you might do with your hands.

Starflower Cleansing Milk: I'm pretty sure that one of the things I used to love about this cleanser was that it was a splash-off sort of thing. This seems to have disappeared from the instructions for use, however it is still a lovely light cleanser which doesn't leave a residue or let your skin feel overly dry. At 95% organic it is reassuring to know that you don't need man-made synthetic chemicals to leave your skin feeling bright and awake. 

Something for all skin types

Do click the banners to go straight to the Neal'sYard site. With a comprehensive range of products there is bound to be something which smells delicious and suites your skin type. On my list to try is the Palmarosa Purifying Face Mask to tackle congested skin. 

Organic Make-Up

If you are more interested in make-up, you might be interested to know that you can organic too! Click below!

The Down Side

My only comment about ordering from Neal's Yard online would be the over-the-top packaging that everything seems to come in- think huge boxes full of padding, and thermal envelopes. Seriously, is that the most economic and eco-friendly way of sending things...? I wonder.

Incidentally, in case you are wondering, also pictured is the delightful ikat clutch bag that I won from Teixits Vicens, in the instagram competition they ran to showcase items made from their stunning fabrics. Thank you Martina!