Categories for Blog

May 22, 2024

Book Recommendations. Summer 2024 Edition.

Since being less present online, I have started reading more. I have collected a list of my favourite books over the last few months and here are my recommendations for summer 2024. You’re welcome to add them to your summer reading list 😉

It’s Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

It’s as funny as it is terrifying and sad. It’s written in the form of a diary by a doctor journaling his path as a junior up to the more senior positions. It has some interesting medical terms (for those loving words, me!), but overall the stories flow nicely and the language is approachable. It’s interesting to get to know some ins and outs and bests and worsts of being a medical doctor.

Lady’s Guide to Scandal by Sophie Irwin

The perfect summer read. Light, funny, gossipy and elegant. I couldn’t put the book down, was too curious to close it without turning a page to read just a bit more. I’ll need to read other books by Sophie Irwin.

The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady By Edith Holden

My copy (from the library) has drawings and hand-written journal entries. It’s a year-long journal with beautiful illustrations of trees, flowers, birds and insects. Each month has a short etymological explanation, days to note and month’s mottos, poems and the author’s nature diary. The richest months are in summer, so I recommend reading it now and getting some inspiration for long walks in nature.

What’s on your summer reading list this year? Please let me know in the comments below.

April 17, 2024

Travelling corner: Exploring South Pembrokeshire (Wales, UK)

I like returning to South Pembrokeshire in Wales. It has some therapeutic effect on my body and mind. Our favourite beaches and spots we enjoy visiting are all there. Last summer, we wanted to explore this region even more and I’d like to share some of our travel stories with you today. Perhaps you can use them as an inspiration for the coming warmer weather.

Bosherston Lily Ponds

I wanted to go for a walk around the Bosherston Lakes for a while, but somehow I thought it’s a long walk and might be too strenuous for my kids’ little feet to complete. I was surprised that the walk actually takes only about 30 minutes one way! It’s an easy path along the lily ponds with a beautiful destination point: Broad Haven South Beach. There is a NT car park in the village of Bosherston.

Carew Castle

We like visiting castles in summer and last year we chose Carew Castle. To be honest with you, I was positively surprised by this visit. The castle is nicely restored, with a café, small playground and toilets at the entrance. In the castle itself, there are many rooms to visit, towers to climb, and you can even try your archery skills. On top of that, the castle hosts events and last summer we attended a fairy event, which my girls enjoyed a lot. We also went for a walk to the tidal mill where we visited a well-equipped museum with a little play area for children with an authentic quern and seeds to make flour.

Caldey Island

What a paradise island to visit. We parked our car in Tenby, walked to the harbour and sailed in a little boat to Caldey Island. It is an island of monks, wild nature, interesting architecture and locally-made chocolate. Just walking around the island feels so surreal and magically beautiful, and these impressions come from both nature and the surrounding buildings. To end our island stay, we went to the beach to enjoy the shallow seashore and lagoon waters. Even though there were many people in the sea, we spotted a seal swimming nearby.

Do you have a favourite travel destination you enjoy returning to? Please let me know in the comments below.

March 20, 2024

Book review: Hunt, Gather, Parent by Michaeleen Doucleff

I saw this book recommended on one of the parenting channels and for some reason, I felt it was going to be an interesting read. I wasn’t disappointed. In a way, it presents a sad picture, because it shows that something as natural as being a parent has become a struggle. These days, I have a feeling that many parents could relate to the author’s parenting struggles and the overwhelming feeling of helplessness. When reading Doucleff’s publication, I went back to my favourite books which I read years ago, e.g. to Jean Liedloff and The Continuum Concept. In the first chapter of The Continuum Concept, we read about the author’s reaction and how she felt shame by the fact that in the US, women feel inadequate bringing up their children, unless they read a book written by a strange male. [p. 14] The second book I went back to was Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish​​. In this publication, we find so many examples where adult parents still feel so much pain because of their own childhood and how they were raised.

Now, let’s go back to Hunt, Gather, Parent. Why had this book been written? As you can guess, because of the mother’s struggles and her difficult life where her beloved little daughter became her enemy. The author was so desperate to find a solution to her own parenting struggles that she decided to embark upon a mission to find the answer. She visited some hunter-gatherer cultures where parents build a relationship with their children based on cooperation, trust and personalised needs. [p. 7] She visited a Maya village in Mexico, an Inuit village of Kugaaruk in Canada and a Hadzabe village in Tanzania. With each visit, she made some inspiring observations which changed the way she parented herself. In the Maya community, she found the most flexible and cooperative children; in the Inuit community, it was the emotional intelligence of the parents and grandparents and finally; in the Hadzabe community, it was the autonomy and courage of the children.

The book also contains some wise words from members of the community. We read that:

“In Maya culture, there’s a belief that everybody has a purpose (…)” [p. 76]

“When you yell at children, they stop listening.” [p. 145]

“With the !Kung hunter-gatherers in southern Africa, the word for ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’ is the same (n!garo), and parents will often use the phrase ‘She’s teaching/learning herself’ while a child is trying to figure out how to do something. Why interrupt their learning?” [p. 252]

For me, one of the most beautiful stories was the peaceful birth story of the Inuit mum. I also enjoyed learning about a special word for a kiss for the Inuit children called a kunik; this is when you put your nose against the child’s cheek and sniff their skin. [p. 145] However, the element that I didn’t like or understand much was about parenting through scary stories (I need to research this more!).

The book definitely made me think about my own parenting style and the parenting styles present in Western culture. Have you read this book or a similar one? Please let me know in the comments below.

February 21, 2024

Goodbye 2023 and hello 2024

Hello for 2024. It’s my first post of the New Year. I hope it’s been a good year for you so far.

Before writing this post, I went through my last year’s reflections and plans. It’s interesting to see what was important to me then.

So first let’s see what 2023 was like. It was a bit more of a challenging year for me. I think it required more of my energy to navigate our home, home-education, children-raising and my business. But, we did it. It was also a year of beautiful trips, theatre, family and friends’ visits, amazing nature walks, family bike trips and wild swims. I also started being less online on social media and noticed how liberating it was. Even though I wasn’t a frequent social media user, it still played a role in my daily life. Now, I try to visit once or twice a week and try to make the time I spend more focused and short. Why was this important for me? Because this gave me some mental freedom and instead my curiosity and appetite for other interests grew. I started cooking and reading more. I’m happy I chose this path, even though I still see a part of social media as being educational and inspirational, but with my limited presence there, it’s enough for me.

So what are my plans for 2024? I definitely want to continue being less on social media. I plan to write on my blog regularly: books, home-education, sustainable travels and bilingualism. I’d also like to have monthly dates with myself, my husband and all my children (individually!). It’s important to me to have this one-to-one time: to enjoy those special moments in each other’s company. I want to continue reading and listening to podcasts in three languages and during this year I’d like to add a 4th language. Finally, I want to find joy and comfort in my simple daily life.

These are my reflections on 2023 and visions for 2024. Have you made plans / visions / dreams for the New Year? Please let me know in the comments below.

December 13, 2023

Book review: Don’t Worry by Shunmyō Masuno

If not now, when? [p. 73]

If you remember my book review of Zen: The Art of Simple Living, I mentioned in it that this book was my bedtime story. The same actually happened with another publication by Masuno. Don’t Worry was also my bedtime read, as it made me calm and positive before falling asleep. 

The book is divided into 5 parts with 48 short chapters and is beautifully illustrated. Each chapter can be treated as a little prompter to meditate and reflect on some important life matters, e.g. about being gracious, cherishing the morning, going with the flow, making good connections and being a good listener, as well as more practical / fundamental topics like money, aging, illness and death.  

Here are some of my favourite words of wisdom:

“It’s okay to feel down, but get yourself up again soon” [p. 55]

 “Words possess awesome power” [p. 97]

“Your turn will surely come around” [p. 100]

 “You be you, and let others be themselves” [p. 114]

“The more you’re able to forgive, the happier you’ll be” [p. 180]

I’m taking this opportunity to wish you a wonderful and calm Christmas and a most prosperous New Year of 2024! Thank you for reading my blog and let’s meet back in January!

November 22, 2023

Book review: The most inspirational books on education and home-schooling

Five years ago, I completed a post-graduate diploma in education at Bristol University. I mostly focused my research on bilingualism and language education. Back then I discovered Ken Robinson and his most famous publication ‘Creative schools’. When we started home-schooling our children two years ago, I was greatly inspired by “Kreda”, a Polish magazine on education and home-schooling (sadly, the print version will be discontinued from September 2023). But recently, I felt this urge to read more on education and home-schooling to get even more inspired and broaden my horizons on these subjects. Here are the books that are a great inspiration to me:

Home Education. Vol. 1. by Charlotte Mason

“The resourcefulness which will enable a family of children to invent their own games and occupations through the length of a summer’s day is worth more in the afterlife than a good deal of knowledge about cubes and hexagons.” (p. 191)

Charlotte Mason’s publication can be treated as a framework for home education. It was written more than a century ago, at the turn of the 20thcentury, so you might think it would represent some old-fashioned values and ideas, but I think her vision is as relevant today. For example, she sees education as an atmosphere, where the child’s natural surroundings, people and things form the home-schooling life together. She also points out the importance of forming habits whether in regard to education, healthy diet, savoir-vivre or having a rest. She writes fondly about the outdoors, nature, foreign languages, music and art. Charlotte Mason references many books (would love to read some of them!) and even provides some detailed instructions on how to teach children to read or write.

Free to Learn by Peter Gray

“When language play is carried into adulthood, we call it poetry.” (p. 123)

This is a fascinating read on the role of play in children’s education. It’s so well-written that when I read it, it felt more like a detective story than a non-fiction publication. On many different levels it made me sad. When we look at a school’s compulsory system, the obligation to sit and learn, to follow the teacher’s guide, to spend hours indoors and only short breaks outdoors, to be quiet and follow the rules, etc. Why? Because we want our children to succeed, to go to a ‘good’ university, to have a ‘good’ job and a ‘good’ life. But we don’t need to take away this tremendously important learning tool of letting our children play. Our children can still be successful and happy in their adult life. Just some food for thought. I’d make this book compulsory (!) to any parent (before their child/ren starting any form of education). 

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

“Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.” Quote attributed to Albert Einstein

This book is as fascinating and eye-opening as it is sad. It tells some realistic truths about our disconnection from nature, how children no longer play and explore freely the outdoors. It says that the value of knowing and understanding nature is less and less important for schools and universities, even though “[a]ny natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.”. [p. 68] Through his extended research and interviews, Adam Louv not only tries to analyse children’s relationship with nature in the modern times, he also provides solutions on a micro and macroscale. Last Child in the Woods beautifully corresponds with the ideas presented in Free to learn, but obviously with an emphasis on nature. I couldn’t read more than a few short chapters in one go, as I needed time to digest its content. It’s written from an American perspective, but also includes some references to Europe.

What are your most inspirational books on education? Please let me know in the comments below.

October 18, 2023

My home-schooling journey with 3 children in Bristol, UK

When I speak with my friends, many of them (especially those who don’t home-school!) ask me about our home-schooling routine. It makes me think that perhaps more parents might be interested in reading about our home-schooling life, hence today’s post.

We started home-schooling 2.5 years ago. We’re a family of 5: one set of parents and three children aged 8, 4 and 1. The first year was quite difficult, as we didn’t know many other home-schooling families, and our home-schooling life felt a bit lonely. But, it all changed when we joined the first group.

Groups

The very first group we joined was a forest school and our daughter has loved going there from day one. We made some friends through it and it became a core social activity of the week. The second one was gymnastics: all my children are full of energy, so I was looking for some physical activity and gymnastics was a great choice. Then we started attending piano lessons, as music is an important part of our curriculum. Lastly, we joined (even though a bit irregularly), a drama club which is a wonderful way to awaken children’s imagination.  We attend it irregularly, because as I don’t drive, it takes us around 1.5-2 hours to get there, one way!

Nature, reading, music and art

If I needed to describe the key elements of our home-schooling life, it would be: nature, reading, music and art. Nature is present in my children’s lives via forest school, our garden, nature walks and weekend trips. On fine days, we can read a story sitting on our garden’s bench. We read books in two languages every day and go to the library at least once a week. On top of that, we enjoy playing and improvising on different instruments, listening to classical music, children’s tunes or singing songs. It sounds very simple, but I trust it gives them the foundations for an amazing memory, good music taste and awakening their creativity. Music is closely related to art. We all enjoy hands-on crafts, like painting, drawing or postcard making. We also read about painters, analyse their paintings in the albums, visit museums and galleries. My children like playing pretend games and occasionally I overhear them calling themselves van Gogh or Monet (!).

Free play

I feel from the bottom of my heart that free-play is important. I love to quietly observe my children, especially in their free play. I only wish they could have more free play in nature; that’s something I’d like to include more in this academic year.

Bilingualism

Yes, my children are home-schooled and raised bilingually: Polish and English. Even though we’re both Polish, my husband mostly reads in Polish and I mostly read in English. I also use English when our home-schooling context is mainly in English. I think our bilingual routine works well now, but when we started our home-schooling journey, it felt a bit chaotic and confusing, mainly because we all needed to adjust to some language changes.

Books on education

I like reading myself and I’ll be posting a series of short reviews on the books on education that inspired me most. That’s going to be next month!

I think these are my core ideas around home-schooling right now. Would you like to read more about home-schooling here? Please let me know in the comments below if you’d like more content like this, e.g. reading more about our daily routine or how we navigate two languages in our home-schooling life.

September 20, 2023

Travelling corner: My 3 campsite recommendations (summer 2023)

I think camping, like swimming and cycling, is in my DNA. But even though I really like them, I still need to put some boundaries on my enthusiasm (please read here what I dis/like about camping). Last summer, we experienced our first camping as a family of 5, but, we also travelled to a few other places and today I’d like to share my recommendations:

Lansallos, Cornwall

This was our first camping trip we went on as a family of 5! We went to a NT campsite in Cornwall and you can read about our first camping experience here.

Maker Heights, Cornwall

There are two little towns next to each other with a few beaches to share: Kingsand and Cawsand, Cornwall. The camp-site, Maker Heights is located on the hill, within a walking distance from the towns (20 minutes on foot). You can walk to the towns via a countryside path and a little wood. We went there for four days and it was the long weekend in May, so on Sunday the campsite was full and it felt a bit over-crowded, but it had a really nice vibe. The campsite was family-friendly, had one of the cleanest toilets (oh yes!), and very nice staff. On top of that, there was a canteen with some delicious food (we tried their savoury buns and they were good!). But the most exciting thing about this campsite were the campfires! You could join one of the communal ones or have your own. We loved our stay!

Brixham, Devon

This place was recommended to us by my dear friend. The campsite, Wall Park, is located in Brixham, Devon. You can reach the town centre in 15 minutes on foot. We went camping for a weekend, but outside season, so it wasn’t so busy and felt rather (positively) quiet. The staff are nice, there is a little café, a bar and a small playground. There are many toilets and showers and also a couple of washing machines and dryers. Within a 20-minute walk, there is a beautiful pebble beach, Breakwater Beach, with some crystal clear water, and a bit further away, a marine swimming pool, Shoalstone Pool. What a choice for sea swimmers!

What I most like about those three campsites is their diversity: you can adapt your stays according to your desires, make them more urban or more wild, slow or active, enjoy walking and/or swimming. How was your summer? Have you been camping, too? Please let me know in the comments below.

July 5, 2023

Travelling corner: Our first camping as a family of 5

Oh yes, this was exciting to plan and to actually experience it. We went camping when I was pregnant two years ago, but didn’t use our tent at all last year. So this year we got so excited by the idea of camping and sharing the tent space as a family of 5.

Where

We chose a similar location that we travelled to 5 years ago when I was pregnant with our middle daughter. It felt really emotional to be back there. We decided to go to a NT campsite in Lansallos in Cornwall. It’s beautifully located next to a sheep field, an old church, and many birds flying around (in May!). What’s truly amazing about this campsite is that there is no major road nearby. What a treat to wake up to the sounds of birds and sheep and nothing else!

How long

We decided to go for 4 days, just enough to explore the local area and still enjoy the campsite life. We still needed to take many things, e.g. nappies, many different-weather clothes, blankets, pillows, etc., but not so many toys and books (one book and a few small toys per child).

Food

We cook our meals while camping, so we pre-prepared our simple menu beforehand. We had porridge for breakfast, bread and beans for lunch and pasta for dinner (obviously all those meals with different extras). On top of that, snacks and fresh veggies and fruit. To be honest with you, I loved this simplicity and repetitiveness, so when we came back, we enjoyed cooking that was a bit more sophisticated (!).

Walking

From the campsite, there are many walking paths: towards Polperro (a small fishing village) or to Polruan (from there, you can take a boat to Fowey). What a choice!

Beach

The Lansallos beach is a 20-minute walk from the campsite. It’s a beautiful, wild beach with its very own waterfall. Having a splash under the waterfall felt so refreshing and invigorating. Worth a try!

Simple life

Camping always reminds me of the simple life that humans used to have or still have somewhere in the world. You need to walk to get some water, wash the dishes or visit a toilet. It’s a beautiful way to connect with nature and admire its beauty. This year, we barely had any plans for our weekend; we went with the flow of each day and that felt so liberating.

You can read more about my previous camping experiences here and here.

Have you been camping this year? Where to? Please let me know in the comments below.

May 17, 2023

Travelling corner: My recently discovered beaches in South Devon, UK

Some of my favourite beaches are in South Devon, but they have one drawback: their waters are super cold! Even last summer, when the weather was hot, the sea water could be very cold. So which beach have I recently discovered?

Sugary Cove

It’s a hidden treasure for those looking for some quieter time on the beach and more wild swimming. The beach is shingle and rocks. It’s located near Dartmouth Castle and can be reached from Little Dartmouth car park (on foot) or Dartmouth Castle (by boat / car and on foot).

Blackpool Sands

It’s a family-friendly shingle beach with crystal clear water. The only drawback is that the shore is quite steep and creates bigger waves / some difficulty when getting to the water. I recommend barefoot walking on the beach, it’s a bit achy, but so relaxing afterwards.

Thurlestone Beach

It’s definitely my favourite beach in South Devon. We keep returning to it since we discovered it two years ago. It has a nice shore: shallow to deep, has a beautiful lagoon / marine / deep blue colour of the sea, and is super clear. But, it has one of the coldest water (I know, a shame!). It’s mainly visited by the locals, so there is a nice friendly vibe on the beach. Back in 2020, when I wrote about it here, the golf card park was free, now you need to pay a (reasonable) parking fee (as in summer 2022). I like coming back here so much: it’s a feast for my body and mind.

You can read more about my travels to South Devon: here and here.

What’s your favourite beach in South Devon? Please let me know in the comments below.