You'll find me at the lake.

I wish I had enough photos to post about our time in Canada all year round. I'm a little sad that this is my last post about the cottage, and that we only managed to be there for one week when I don't think one month would have been enough.

For all of September I don't have one single flight to catch! I'm happy to have so much time at home as I have so many projects that have been waiting for my attention for far too long. I'm almost as excited for a month of life admin as I am for our next trip! Almost.

But considering the next time we catch a flight we will be making our way to Hawaii, I don't think I could be much more excited about anything else. 

This chilly London weather does make me wish for that wood burning stove up there though. It makes me miss my long swims in the lake and then warming up in a big jumper afterwards. I still refuse to believe that this strange weather means the end of summer, but the fact that I'm wearing my coat indoors doesn't give me a lot of hope.

Still though, the changing of the seasons is a beautiful thing and I'm always excited for the wonderful things that colder weather often brings with it.


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Cabin Life

Unless you break up routine, days can easily flow seamlessly up here without too much to distinguish one from the next. And that's the best part about it. It sounds monotonous, but it isn't, it's such a relief. For a short time, there's no friction, no surprises, no deadlines, and rain or shine you know that the only responsibility you have is to make the most of each day - and the only person you're responsible to for that is yourself. 

At Adam's family cottage there are two beaches on either side to choose from, and on this visit we spent most days planted firmly in the sand, reading books and playing with babies. We used the Lovin Summer shade from Bear&Bear to keep out of the sun, and as much use as it was for the kids, I think Friday the Dog was the biggest fan.

{she just bided her time until it was unoccupied and moved in like it was no big deal}

I spent some time with a different sort of baby when I found this little red squirrel - or rather, it found us. As cute as it was, it broke my heart a little. It clearly didn't know that people were to be avoided, he was desperate to climb up and sit on a person any way it could manage, and kept chasing me through the woods and along the beach just trying to get as close as possible.

I carried it in my t-shirt out into the forest and left it on a log, making sure it had some food and trying not to touch him too much, even though my heart was breaking to wrap it up and keep in warm and safe. Every time I put it back it would chase me along the path just trying to catch up, and Adam had to remind me that leaving it was the right thing to do, and that I wasn't doing it any favours by encouraging it's attachment to people. But I was kept awake at night worrying about it, and how it would survive acting more like a house pet than a wild animal. We never saw it after that, and sometimes I still worry about where it is and how it's doing. 

Apart from the odd lost baby animal, most days are about eating, swimming, and making the most of chatting in person instead of over Skype. Catching up on all things from the celebrations to the daily routines that you don't always get to know about when you live countries away from each other. 

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From sunset to sunrise, Canada.

I've been deliberating over how to share our time in Canada here for a few days, and I've decided to go chronologically - keep it simple. So let's start with the travel: one taxi, tube, train, flight, road-trip and boat ride later later, we arrived at the cottage on the lake feeling sleepy and content. Full of roadside poutine and the realisation that we're getting better and better at handling jetlag, we stayed up to watch the sunset and catch up with family, and woke up just in time for the perfect sunrise. 

This trip to Canada was the first time that Adam and I had met baby Charlie, the latest addition to the family. So the first thing we did when we woke up was have a cuddle with him while we drank our coffee and waited for the wood-burning fire to heat up the cottage.

Adam hilariously (and I say that with only a mild touch of sarcasm) bought his three year old nephew this book as a present - so I would love to say that it was the soft chirping of birds and rustling of woodland creatures that roused us from bed, but it was actually the loud squeaks of a little voice yelling "POO BUM!!". 

Most mornings at the cottage look like this. Lounging around in pyjamas, making endless cups of coffee until everyone has had their fill, porridge for breakfast or maybe pancakes, and then that moment when you realise that maybe it's time to go outside...


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Coming home to yourself.

There is no better spot to recharge your body and refresh your mind than floating in the middle of a lake on a cloudy day, a good ten minutes swim from shore, staring up at the sky and thinking of nothing at all in the world but kicking your legs to keep above water.

On our annual trip back to Toronto, Adam and I try to get to the cottage for as long as possible. These days the cottage is more of a priority than the city because it usually works out to be our only week of phones-off relaxation every year. And it always surprises me how quickly my worries fall away, and it makes me realise that this blog seems mostly to be about how to maintain that feeling of worry-free living even when you live and work in a busy city.

Another thing that occurred to me on this trip was that I have now been living in the UK for longer than I have lived anywhere else. Does that make me officially British? I mean, a UK passport is the only passport I have so maybe so? I don’t really feel like any nationality though, I just feel like Freya – making my home in people and places since my time began.

It used to bother me that I didn’t have a home town, and while I also thought it was kind of cool being nomadic, it was also lonely and a bit of an exhausting feeling of not having a physical place to belong to.

These days I feel at home in a lot of places, and I find my home town in the feelings that come back to me from being little in a variety of places. Feelings such as floating in a big Canadian lake, becoming wrapped up in those lingering Ontario sunsets, the smell of an old growth forest with a history longer than I can even comprehend. The feeling of being wrapped up in a brand new Roots jumper that smells like a combination of back-to-school and chilly summer evenings around the fire.

As I get older and too busy to take in the world around me as much as I did when I was young, I anchor that feeling of home mostly in people, and I am more selective about those people than I ever used to be. I also ground that feeling of identity in the things that I choose to pour my time into: my photography, the books I read, the places I spend my time, the trips I go on.

And most of all I believe that home is yourself, it's where you belong. It’s in you and it’s somewhere that will never leave you. It will always be there to take care of you and welcome you with open arms, wrapping you up in comforting memories and smells like a brand new jumper, or lifting you up and encouraging you with the promise of new adventures and the belief that you can do anything. 

Sweater and Leggings c/o Roots


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10 Ways to Let Someone Know You Love them

When it comes to relationships, it's easy to toss out a 'love you' every once in a while. But eventually, that starts to lose meaning unless you back up those words with actions that really show you are truly present, and care. Here are a few ideas for letting someone know you love them.

1. Go out and buy ingredients to make them their favourite breakfast.

2. Keep a list on your phone of things they mention that they really want, then make sure you pick up a few items from that list on a special occasion. Or just because.

3. Listen when they talk, don't try to solve all their problems unless you really have a solution, and don't try to turn the conversation back to you. 

4. Learn to care about the things that they care about.

5. Pick them up some flowers, or a beer, or their favourite pie - do this once a month.

6. Give them a good bite of your pizza when they ask, not just a bit that's mostly crust - just don't be tight with sharing.

7. Respect their desire to try new things, and if you think it's just a phase, keep that to yourself. Always be encouraging.

8. When it seems the most difficult, put yourself in their shoes.

9. Be bothered to fight with them, don't just say "I'm sorry" to put an end to it, only to keep making the same mistake. 

10. Don't tell them you care, show them.

Photo by Rory Wylie


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