"The window of my office looks directly over the yard of a cow farm. It's not the most beautiful of sights - a few corrugated iron buildings, a scruffy landrover and various farm dogs running around - but as I sit typing away and concerning myself with the day to day running of a fashion business, I find it strangely inspiring. The work ethic of the farmers (who start milking at 4.30am and don't appear to stop until well after it gets dark) is undoubtedly impressive, but it is the way that nature and the natural cycle of the seasons determines the entire running of that little yard, that I think truly appeals to me. No surprise really, as the daughter of a farmer, that the countryside is my happy place and I remind myself everyday how lucky I am to live bang slap in the middle of it.
"I remind myself every day how lucky I am to live bang slap in the middle of it..."
Don't get me wrong - there are downsides. The cow farm smells of, well, cow. I miss the buzz of London life, the cultural scene and diversity of people, the grandness of historic architecture and the vast choice of amazing eateries, boutiques, cafes around every corner. Of course I miss my friends. I have to arrange my trips to London far in advance to avoid crazily expensive rail tickets so spontanaety is a thing of the past. The nearest decent pub is a 10 minute drive. Phone signal is spotty at best. But after all that when it comes to coming home I still feel a sense of a relief as the London suburbs give way to rolling fields and expanses of darkness only dotted with the odd village lights. I breathe that bit easier, that bit deeper know, finding comfort in that space.
Day to day life in the sticks can, at times, be harsh. The wind whistles through the house and we genuinely struggle to make it warm. But that means that we get to enjoy the ritual of making a fire - from gathering kindling on a walk to taking multiple attempts at getting it to light, everytime we get it going I am reminded of meditative effect of watching burning flames. My wardrobe is entirely dictated by the cold and I live in layers of chunky knits and huge thick socks. No fashion show up here - but the perfect excuse to make the most of Gather&See's beautiful knitwear offering.
"Seeing nature do its thing, day by day, helps keep me in check.."
These January days are cold and dark and pretty bleak. I moan about togging up to walk the dog in the freezing cold and down mud bath lanes, only to have to wash him after to avoid our kitchen turning into a mudbath of its own. But once we are out there and the fresh air hits my face I am always amazed at the restorative effect of a a walk in the country - no matter how grey and miserable the day might be. Seeing nature do its thing, day by day, helps keep me in check and somehow makes me appreciate the passage of time more. The snow drops have started popping up and new buds are appearing on the trees and that fills me with an inherent sense of hope and positivity inspite of myself.
Soon it will be spring and I'll be filling the house with colourful blooms and basking in the amazing sight of the bluebell carpet in the wood down the road. It's there every year and yet the mix of vivid blue colour and that heddy scent never fails to astound me. New season collections will be coming in at Gather&See and things will get busy but my 10 minutes in the garden or walking the dog in the morning help to keep me focused and to inspire me. And I guess that is the crux of it for me. The countryside balances me, heals me, inspires me. And I couldn't be with out it, cow whiffs and all."
Alicia's country essentials: