Hygge has become a bit of a buzz word recently. There's no English word for it, but this Danish word is best translated as cosiness or living well, and pronounced hoogah. I was curious to find out more so I bought the Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking. Even this morning's Guardian is sporting an article in G2 that claims the concept of Hygge is being 'sold by the yard' this Christmas. I have to admit I didn't read much of the article as I couldn't stand the smug attitude of Jess Cartner Morley, who seemed to be mainly interested in the commercial  (particularly fashion) opportunities it presents. I was put off by her slightly facetious tone, and also because the piece seemed to say exactly the opposite of what I had understood from the book.

Hygge can't be sold or indeed bought. Apparently you can have all the candles, log fires, fluffy blankets, handknit socks, hot chocolate and marshmallows, mulled wine, home-made bread, and walks in the country that money can buy, but if you can't take pleasure in the simple things in life, make time for friends and family, or celebrate what you have instead of what you don't have, then true hyyge will elude you.

Several other European countries have their own words for Hygge -  gezelligheid in Holland, Koselig in Norway, Gemütlichkeit in Germany and hominess in Canada. But whatever you call it, really it's just a word to express happiness, finding a cosy intimate nest where you can feel safe. Hygge espouses togetherness, harmony, mindfulness and gratitude, as opposed to selfishness, competition and greed.
So... what I really want to say is that reading about all this was like coming home. Everything I love is in this word, so hence a blog on the things which are making me happy right now over the past few days.

First up is the garden, in all its autumn glory. It lifts my spirits even in the rain, which seems to intensify the dazzling colours and textures.
Jewel colours after the rain a couple of days ago
This one was taken in the same place about a week before the one above
Coffee in the garden yesterday - gotta get it while you can!
Fuchsias, geraniums, and verbena bonariensis still going strong and the
sculptural castor oil plant flowers are in big fat bud just beyond 
The acer on the right is a fabulous burgundy
Next are the cats, Django and Arlo, who are the catification of togetherness... well when they're not fighting that is  😉.
Kitties chilling in front of the wood stove  
Then there's all the beautiful fruits and vegetables. We're still harvesting tomatoes from the garden, as well as using nasturtium leaves, seed pods and flowers in salads. Also pansies are edible and good for a  splash of bold colour too. We're lucky to have several friends who bring us home-grown veggies, this week squash, spinach, beetroot, apples and pears, so the autumn larder is a wonderful feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.
Pumpkin and edible gourds
Conference pears from a friend's tree
I lovr pmomegranates for both their looks and their goodness
Cabbage and purple kale
I'm enjoying my new-to-me Guild F30 guitar that I bought on Ebay from a store in upstate New York. Despite my reservations about distanced transactions across the pond, it turned out to be a very good experience with great customer support.  I'm also listening to a lot of music at the moment. This week the new John Renbourn and Wizz Jones album, Joint Control arrived on the dorrmat so poignant as it was the last CD John Renbourn made before he died last year. Also we've got tickets for Loudon Wainwright 111 playing live with Chaim Tannenbaum at The Barbican next Tuesday - I know for some he's an acquired taste, but I've always loved his dark humour. Which reminds me I'm also revisiting my old knitting song More Yarn Will Do The Trick.  I'm working on a pared-down version  - just me and my guitar so that it's easier to focus on the amusing lyric. Hope to be able to post before Christmas...

...And talking of Christmas, which I don't usually like to do in October, I noticed the shops are full of Xmas crackers, cakes, puddings etc, when we haven't even had Halloween or Bonfire Night. When I asked why, I was told that they had to do it to keep up with other stores or they would lose ground in the battle to get the lion's share of customers' cash. Am I just growing into a grumpy old woman or are there others like me who object to receiving Xmas greetings in October? Ooops, sorry to digress into something that I'm not happy about. What I was going to say is that I've been making knitted gifts, small projects from my book, Great Little Gifts to Knit.
Over the past few weeks I've set myself a target to take a walk every day around the leafy backstreets of our neighbourhood. Sometimes P and I walk to the pop-up library café in the local park, where you can either sit in the book tent or at tables outside the caravan"s serving hatch with a large cup of coffee or steaming hot chocolate.
Beautiful old horse chestnut tree
Collecting conkers by the library café in Homestead Park
It's fun to be there, and difficult to stop P from joining the many little ones picking up conkers from a nearby chestnut tree - even if I wished to 😉. I've managed to walk into town too and on that occasion clocked up more than 5000 steps on my phone. So... super pleased, since I got ill, that's a record!
Vitis cogniettiae starting to turn on a walk at Harlow Carr about ten days ago
And finally, here's what really makes my cup runneth over - the grandkids! Izzi and Ava will be over today, filling my heart full of grandmotherly love. We've taught them how to play cards recently, which brings me back to hygge. Board games and cards are very hyggeligt, said to be much better for children than the ubiquitous Playstation or other computer games, as they're interacting with real people rather than virtual ones.
Lovely colour on the foreground maple in the parkland
Sunset in the park today
Would love to hear what brought hygge into your life this week. I've had a bout of the local sniffles over the past few days, but it's a good excuse to have lots of lemon tea with lashings of honey 😉. Enjoy the autumn and thanks for dropping by xo


  1. Hello Jean
    I am caught up on your blog now and must say thank you for all the lovely pictures. They are certainly a snapshot into your rich life. You do "live life well" and put your heart and soul into all that you do. Your grand-daughters are becoming "big girls" and have learned so much from you and Philip. I love the photo of them in the gardening fleeces.

    I have been enjoying making lots of soups and chili with all the fresh veggies that abound right now. I am also enjoying sewing up mittens and visiting the local thrift shops in search of wool sweaters to felt and cut up. The trees around me are brilliant with colour and I have enjoyed a few drives into the country. So that is what has brought hygge into my life this week.

    Take Jean and Philip, hugs from Eileen from Canada

    1. Great to hear from you Eileen. I love your gloves - they must be doing a roaring trade on Etsy, they certainly deserve to! Soups are a wonderful standby in the autumn, warming and flavoursome, just what you need at the end of a walk. Hugs back to you xo

  2. Good evening from New York to you, Jean, and so many thanks for this post. I'm sure to forget to comment on everything that the writing and pictures brought to mind, but let's see what I can manage.
    Hygge certainly does seem to be getting lots of media play, in preparation for all sorts of Christmas decorating and gifting campaigns, perhaps. I am so lucky to have been connecting with a variety of Scandinavian bloggers for years now (perhaps you have as well) and have discovered that we share many notions about home and a particular quality to be encouraged there.

    The colors that nature delivers during autumn are beginning to arrive here in the city. I recently bought my very first smartphone and am now playing around with Instagram and discovering even more international kindred spirits. If you visit my blog (no chance I will ever give that up) you'll find a link to my Instagrams.

    The colors in your photographs are scrumptious! I'm knitting some mitts for myself, but also plan to add others I've finished to my etsy shop. I've been making soup and curries, also celebrating the cooler air. For the past few days, I've been making sketches that will develop, I hope, into this year's Christmas tea cup cards...each one done individually in watercolor.

    Also have some developing plans to get over to the UK this autumn. I want to see friends, and also exhibits like the Colour show in Cambridge and the embroidery show at the V&A. All these thoughts and activities have kept me from getting too depressed by the overly-long political campaigns that will culminate on Nov. 8.

    Oh, before I forget, I am also a long time fan of Loudon Wainwright III. Still have some of his vinyl albums around here somewhere...even though I haven't had a turntable since the last century.

    Best wishes to you and yours. xo

    1. Always good to hear from you with news of life in New York. I'm enjoying the photos on your blog of pumpkins and chrysanthemums - so redolent of this time of year. Look forward to viewing this year's teacup cards. Big hugs from old York xox

  3. Jean, I really needed this post today as so much anger and unkindness looms in our country. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  4. Dear Jean,
    I'm writing you from Bergamo.
    Today, instead of studing english with my App Babbel, I tried to read your blog.
    For me was very difficult to understand it because my English is not very good and i could recognise just few wards. So, i looked at all your pictures with grat interest!
    I hope to see you soon and Happy Birthday!!
    Adri (Giulia's mum)

  5. Great to get your message Adri. Your written English is very good, I only wish my Italian was as good. Thanks so much for your birthday wishes and my warmest wishes to you all in Bergamo xo


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