On Friday afternoon Jay finished work early. We collected Joe from school, quickly got him changed out of his uniform, and set off for the Lincolnshire Wolds. We've never been to that part of the world before but we knew it was a few hours' drive away so an early start was the way to go.
We'd been invited to a seasonal supper and the launch of Creative Countryside. Eleanor, the editor of the online journal and magazine, had kindly asked if we'd like to stay the night in their bell tent and of course we were all keen to have a little adventure.
The light was just starting to fade as we arrived and the house looked magical - candles and fairy lights, a fire in the hearth and beautiful decorative touches everywhere. Sadly, my night photography skills are non-existent so you'll just have to take my word for it that it was a very cosy and autumnal affair. Spiced cider, soup made from home grown produce, freshly-baked bread and apple cake...
It was a real celebration. I was excited to see the magazine in print, and it really is a lovely thing and a testament to all the hard work Eleanor and her family have put into it. Apparently a gallery in Hebden Bridge, not too far from home, are going to be stocking Creative Countryside so that'll be another thrill: to see it on the shelves.
We had an early(ish) night as Joe was with us - of course, the novelty of sleeping in a tent kept him awake much longer than usual. But we had comfy beds and we all eventually nodded off.
The following morning we had a family breakfast around the kitchen table before going for a little tour of the four-and-a-half acre farm where Eleanor and her family live. For us, with our aim of moving to Scotland and buying a plot, it was really inspiring.
Joe loved it: the chickens, the bees, even trying out the pedal on the pole lathe. We walked around the perimeter of the land and admired the trees, the turning leaves and the landscape - so different to that here in the Pennines. Huge skies and fields given over to arable farming.
It's such a diverse and busy plot, too. It isn't regimented or pruned to within an inch of its life; things grow organically alongside one another. Nasturtiums and pumpkins, beans and courgettes, herbs and flowers.
The buildings, too, have been crafted using traditional techniques and materials. They look as though they've been there for hundreds of years when in fact they're relatively new. The whole place feels very relaxed, a little escape from modernity and it offered us a glimpse of how living simply and slowly can make you feel so much more fulfilled.
Of course, the farm and garden proved irresistible to me with a camera. So I wandered around whilst Joe explored and played and asked Eleanor endless questions...
The journey home took a while, but it gave us time to reflect on everything: the magazine, the prospect of moving somewhere new (with a new way of life), the evening before where we'd met so many lovely people.
Writing for Creative Countryside is something I love to do, and I'm passionate about growing the readership and promoting the message about seasonal, simple living. If you'd like to help with funding so we can continue beyond Issue 2, if you'd like to subscribe or perhaps stock the magazine in your shop, please visit www.creativecountryside.com
If you're interested in finding out more about Chalk House, the philosophy behind it and how you can get involved, please take a look at http://www.chalkhouse.org