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Beagle For Beauty - November 2020


Woods by Wendell Berry I part the out thrusting branches

and come in beneath

the blessed and the blessing trees.

Though I am silent

there is singing around me.

Though I am dark

there is vision around me.

Though I am heavy

there is flight around me.

1. Still Life - Wonder Filled Wood: The fern canopy overshadows the forest floor, casting shade, providing shelter. Deep in the shadows, blanketed by moss and bark the little umbrellas are up. Soft, almost a dream, warm and snug in the damp air, they reach for the light. A flutter or wings, a cry from the disturbed magpie, she flees our intrusion.

I discovered this area of woodland a couple of years ago, the kids and I were out for a ramble and I was drawn to the blanket of amber ferns that stretched as far as the eye could see. We meandered and explored, going off the beaten track and marvelling at the rich, egg yolk sunshine dappling through the golden birch leaves above. The ground was soft and spongey under foot with its many layers of fallen leaves, bark strips bent like paper and log limbs crumbled like soft cheese. We found a secret world that day and of course I was excited to capture it with my camera. Pictured right is the first image I took back then of the many and varied fungi growing there. So for my November project I really wanted to go back and gather some little subjects and recreate the magical autumnal scene for you. I cannot tell you how many spiders escaped into my room or bugs who very rightly, put out by my creative endeavours, had to find a new home, in mine! I was twitching and jumping at every small black spec for days! Check out the cheeky pink fellow at the back, what a shade. If I could add one more thing to the still life it would either be a squirrel, hedgehog or bird or... a fairy!

2. Slow Living: I am most excited to share Morten Hilmer with you this month. In my own pursuit of slower living I came across Morten earlier in the year, he is a very special wildlife and landscape photographer living in Greenland. Morten was once part of a special forces sled team but now spends his time photographing nature and creating videos. Sometimes his videos are lovely to have on in the background, they really slow you down and bring a peaceful atmosphere. Never over narrated and his final images set to beautiful classical music, his work will help you reconnect with nature as he takes you on his nature adventures. You are in for a treat!

3. Podcasts: It's been a good month for podcasts, something I love to listen to as I walk the dog, do my make-up, fold laundry or cook dinner. Sally Clarkson is my No.1 go-to and this month not only did I have the privilege and fun of being on with her twice but this conversation between Sally and author Shelly Miller was most beautiful and powerful, and probably moreso as I write today as Shelly has gone to be with the Lord since. You will need a tissue but it will also stoke your faith. This insightful and important conversation from the The Holy Post by Phil Vischer between Skye Jethani and Daniel Darling I feel is not to be missed when it comes to the importance of social media and how it's influencing us.

4. Art: I love this art tour in the New York Times, Seeing our Own Reflection In The Birth Of Self-Portrait. Keep scrolling and enjoy this unfolding journey. If you enjoy ice skating you'll appreciate this stunning routine by Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. I have been following The Kitcheners for a while on Instagram and am addicted! Their cinematic story telling style for weddings just blows me away such as this video story. Oh my, have a tissue handy and check out the images after the short film too!

5. Reading: 10 Arguments To Delete Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier. I've wrestled and struggled with social media use for years and have written about it in relation to our children. I feel like I've come a long way, going in a healthier direction and hope to put my own devotional course together this month to make available to you all. I discovered Christopher Denise this month, a beautiful, whimsical children's book illustrator. He has added his wonderful work to many books, the Redwall series being a well known one. A Redwall Winter's tale might be just the Christmas treat for reading aloud this December. I can't go past this section without a plug for The Green Ember series by S.D Smith. "Vintage adventure. Moral imagination. Classic virtue. Finally, stories we all love. Just one more chapter, please!"

6. Artists: I came across the art of Clara Peeters this month, a 17th Century Flemish woman know for her stunning still life compositions. I drink in the way she blends food and floral arrangements. She also had a fun 'signature' in her paintings, see if you can discover what she did. This clip has English subtitles at the bottom, look for the detail also on the silver knife, incredible!

7. Organisation: Winding down 2020 and looking ahead, Lara Casey's Power Sheets are so helpful in indentifying what matters and cultivating heart values through small practical steps. Did you know you're 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down? These planners are on the more pricey side especially with shipping to the UK but if you have a USA friend who can send one over or, find them on sale, they are well worth it!

8. Watching: My hubby and I have been enjoying a series called The Long Way Up. It follows actor Ewan McGregor and his friend Charlie as they ride prototype electric Harley Davidsons 15,000 miles from southern Argentina to LA. Great for cabin fever and feeding some wanderlust, funny, beautiful, heart warming, a modern day quest you get to vicariously join in and 99% family friendly.

9. Advent: I'm so excited to share with you Sarah Clarkson's Advent Retreat! In Sarah's words, "Join me for a space of poetry, reflection, quiet prayer and deep wonder as we enter the Advent season in this wild and wondrous pandemic year. I'll be reflecting on four Advent themes; yearning, annunciation, preparation, and joy. Through poetry, story, and originally-composed Advent blessings, I'll consider how we can enter the hush and holiness of this season, allowing it to transform and renew even our most ordinary of moments.In addition to the actual event, all participants will receive a booklet with Scripture, prayers, quotes, and guided questions for further reflection. It's been a dark year, friends, but join me in setting aside time to welcome the light that is always breaking into our darkness!" I have already signed up, won't you join me? Starts Tues Dec 1st and everything will be available afterwards for replay etc. You can also read a fab, helpful and practical Advent blog here by my Canadian friend Emily, and here is a fave Advent Book. I'd love to tell you the others I have but since moving here over a year ago some of my books are stuck in storage under the eaves! Next year maybe :)

10. Music: And finally the stunning track Morten used in his 50 Days Photo Exhibition clip for the images of the Musk Ox, Volunteer by David Celeste. I am simply loving the Deep Focus playlist this month, especially as I work on my new social media reset course due out end of December (here's hoping!). If you need to work, read, rest or create a peaceful space you can't go wrong with this. I'm also appreciating the peace and restful atmosphere this downtempo and chill Christian Christmas playlist provides, this track in particular is stunning by Salt Of The Sound called Waiting For The Dawn.

Aren't we all waiting for the dawn? Keep going friends, there is light at the end of this lockdown tunnel.

All that's left to say is a very wonderful and blessed Advent and Christmas time to you all, whatever shape that takes this year let's imagine together new possibilities as we hold onto hope and look for the light.

With love -

Jacqui X

A few snaps from our London life this month:

1. We finished our puzzle, quite proud as you can see! 2. Snack dinner. 3. Zoe made us NY deli style bagels.

4. A stow away. 5. DIY crazy golf. 6. Purple fungi, soo cool!

7. The tube going by at golden hour. 8. Autumn walks for hubby's birthday. 9. Moo :)

One more treat because I can't help myself - a landscape I took November 2019 while I was first experimenting with getting that painterly look in my post production. I look back at my technique and cringe a little while also being able to see how far I've come. I think it's fitting for now.

Still Life: Lone