Here at Joules, the very essence of who we are lies in the heart of the countryside. From the rolling hills to the way the sunrise hits the horizon on a frosty morning, we just can’t get enough of the beauty that lies all around our beautiful countryside, and we’re definitely not alone. We sat down (virtually) with the wonderful Naomi (@MamaSparrowBlog), to talk about her and her family’s love for all things rural, and how that love goes hand-in-hand with their love for Joules.
We are all happiest in the countryside and the plan was always to be as rural as possible; we’re still not quite at our goal of being surrounded by fields, but almost there. We wanted the children to grow up with green space all around, and the peace that you get from living like that. I spent my early childhood by the sea, and I loved the feeling of being small and insignificant next to the waves. You get that here too in a different way, when you’re surrounded by all the open space. There’s a fantastic feeling of freedom too which you just can’t beat.
I do love to bake! We have lots of bread, biscuits, pies and cakes in the house. We do like to try and eat as seasonally and locally as possible, so around this time of the year it’s all about pumpkins, squash and apples to name a very small selection. One of our favourite Autumn recipes was one passed on to me by a good friend by a good friend who’s moved away. Every time I bake it, I think of her. It’s an American recipe for an apple bundt cake (think ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding and have a giggle if you know the quote) and we love it! It’s perfect for elevenses and packs rather well in a picnic.
Some of our best times together have been pottering in the garden. There’s always something for one of us to do. We’re out there most days whether it’s for a 5 minute veg patch once over, a cup of tea or a game of football. Having not had space like this before, we’re feeling really blessed to have it now, and trying to make the most of it.
I’ve always been attracted by the quality and timelessness of Joules, not to mention the way you mix tradition with bold and colourful prints. Whilst fashion is wonderful, I love timeless style and Joules really encapsulates classic British country life. The pieces are beautifully cut and never go out of fashion. I’ve had a Joules gilet for years and my daughter (who is now 4) is still wearing the field coat we bought when she was 2, it’s made to last.
This year has been a jolt for a lot of us. Whilst it’s brought pain, it’s also helped our family to reevaluate and consider what the important things in life are. Sometimes you get to the end of the day and feel like it was a failure, but then when you look back, you see all those wonderful sunny moments. Joy has found itself at the bottom of muddy puddles, at the top of windy hills, on the frosty morning school run and seeing the children discover the world around them, a day at a time. As our world has slowed down, it’s given us the time, and the opportunity to notice things we may not have done before, and that’s been really precious.
I could list lots of wonderful crafts here, but we’ve found that our children are happiest outside. They love nothing better than jumping in the biggest puddle possible and then trying to carry very large sticks, and pockets full of acorns, stones and leaves home with them. The idea is always to do a craft after, but in the end, they just love the collecting.
For more structure, we all learnt to garden and I couldn’t recommend it enough for the little folk. Whilst our eldest marveled at the process of planting a seed and watching it grow, our youngest was perfectly content to dig a hole, fill it with stones or water, then start the process again, albeit slightly muddier than before. They take away different things from the experience, but both come away with dirt under their nails and grins on their faces. What’s better than that?!
Whilst I mainly live in jeans and jumpers (it’s a cliché I know), my real loves are coats and boots. I’m most definitely an Autumn/Winter person as I can wear coats and boots for every occasion. I love the fact that the simple act of adding a beautiful coat, or the right pair of boots, can elevate not only your outfit but also your confidence.
My biggest tip for getting out and exploring is to just do it. Sounds silly, but when we lived in our last house, we barely went anywhere. There was always an excuse (usually the pram) that stopped us. Here, we just decided we would and we did. We were a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of outdoors to explore here, but we’ve just been chipping away at it. One of my favourite things to do is to follow a public footpath and see where it goes. I do have an OS map downloaded onto my phone just in case, but most of the time, I just follow my nose. It’s amazing the places you can find.
My favourite place to be (apart from with the family of course) is on top of a hill or a cliff, being buffeted by the wind and taking in the views. It’s so exhilarating and refreshing. I could stand or sit there for hours just taking it all in.
My favourite way to wind down is with a book. I’m an avid reader and always have a book on the go in some form or another. Lately I’ve found that Audible is the most accessible mode for me, as I can listen to a book whilst cooking or cleaning. However, nothing beats sitting down in a cosy corner after a walk with a good book!
Absolutely! Being a photographer, I’m always noticing the colours around me, from the colours in the clouds, down to the colours in my home. I love the way that colour can lift or calm your mood, especially when you wear them. One of my favourite things is when others are cheered up by the yellow scarf your wearing or the children love the red hat you threw on at the last minute. In our interiors, I tried to embrace pastels but found that our room wasn’t complete without the bright side of the spectrum too. Now we have both together and the combination is so uplifting.
Whilst we do have a routine, we love a bit of spontaneity, and we’re often lead by the weather. If the suns out, then its out for a walk, a potter in the garden, or exploring new places. If it’s raining, the train track and puzzles come out, or we don the all-in-ones and explore anyway. We spent a lot of lockdown tackling jobs, and now that school has started and we’re not altogether all the time, it makes weekends extra special. If there are any lessons I’ve learnt, it’s to set aside jobs that can wait and make the most of the time instead.
I’d say that the countryside inspires every single part of our lives. It inspires our food choices, our routine and even our clothing. Living amongst farm land, you get a feel for the seasons by seeing the farmers at work. There’s a lovely sense of time passing as it should, with the ploughing, planting, tending and harvesting. In the fast paced and unsettling times in which we live, there’s something so comforting about living according to the land. It gives scale to your life, when you can go into a supermarket and buy produce that you could have watched grow in the field down the road. I love it!