Wondrous Literary Quotes For Any Mood

Alongside music, literature plays a profoundly important role in my life. There is nothing more sublime than allowing myself to be pulled through stitches of anothers’ imagination, unravelling them as I go, losing myself among them. I adore the notion of physically sitting in a dank grey train station waiting room while my mind is whisked away to a golden Cornish beach, a buzzing East End pub, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

I read when I’m most happy, among tall grass on warm hazy days. I read crime thrillers, books about bleak dystopian futures or the odd gothic horror at these times. When I feel a bit meh I’ll pick up an old favourite – The Hobbit, Sense and Sensibility or A Room with a View – and curl up on my bed, as comforting as reaching the driveway at home after a long journey.

Reading, to me, is like breathing. Absorbing language like oxygen, rhythmic and vital. Yet sometimes, the steady wash of words and images and dialogue and action will halt, very suddenly. Occasionally there will lie a sentence or phrase that moves me so intensely that I stop reading. I take a moment to try and digest it and understand why it’s got me in the feels. I read it again. And again. I put the book down. I might cry. I pick the book up and carry on. I don’t forget it.

I think about these quotes often and refer to them when the appropriate occasion arises. When my best friend’s mum was diagnosed with cancer two years ago I sent one to her. When I feel anxious I reach out for the one that puts things into perspective for me. On the day I got married I thought about a particular phrase over and over.

Although I have many, many favourites, the following are the phrases I seem to refer to most, for varied reasons. From books I’ve studied and loved and those that I’ve picked up for pleasure. They’re the quotes that shake my core and take me to a place of wonder.

John Green – The Fault In Our Stars

“My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.”


J.R.R. Tolkien – The Lord Of The Rings

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”

Kazuo Ishiguro – Never Let Me Go

“I keep thinking about this river somewhere, with the water moving really fast. And these two people in the water, trying to hold onto each other, holding on as hard as they can, but in the end it’s just too much. The current’s too strong. They’ve got to let go, drift apart.”


Emily Brontë – Wuthering Heights

“He’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

Matt Haig – How To Stop Time

“That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days – some years – some decades – are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.”


E.M. Forster – A Room With A View

“This desire to govern a woman – it lies very deep, and men and women must fight it together…. But I do love you surely in a better way than he does.” He thought. “Yes – really in a better way. I want you to have your own thoughts even when I hold you in my arms.”

Sarah Winman – When God Was A Rabbit

“Nothing stays forgotten for long, Elly. Sometimes we simply have to remind the world that we’re special and that we’re still here.”


Chinua Achebe – Things Fall Apart

“A man who calls his kinsmen to a feast does not do so to save them from starving. They all have food in their own homes. When we gather together in the moonlit village ground it is not because of the moon. Every man can see it in his own compound. We come together because it is good for kinsmen to do so.”

Neil Gaiman – American Gods

“He wondered whether home was a thing that happened to a place after a while, or if it was something that you found in the end, if you simply walked and waited and willed it long enough.”


J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”



Exploring Copenhagen : A Lone Travellers’ Guide

As January drew to a close I made a promise that I would do something in February to scare myself. Something that would drag me from the comfort and warmth of my parents’ home where I’d felt lovingly cocooned for six weeks and finally open my eyes to the opportunities this new year can bring. I decided to take a lone trip to Copenhagen, a city I had admired from afar, that I had lusted after through various Nordic noir dramas for years.

Despite what the grey scenery and sinister undertones of The Killing and Borgen tell us, Scandinavian countries are consistently ranked the happiest and friendliest on the planet, so Denmark seemed a natural choice for a girl looking for somewhere safe to explore, where the locals would be warm and welcoming, where she would have the time and space and quiet and fun and excitement to allow her to start to determine what’s next for her.

After finding some bargain Ryanair flights from London Luton to Copenhagen (£60 each way including 20kg hold luggage) via Skyscanner, I set about researching the best accommodation for solo travellers. I was advised by almost every friend I spoke to that a hostel was the way to go if I was looking for an opportunity to socialise and be among like-minded people. Hostel World is an exceptional resource for anyone looking for such an experience, suggesting the best hostels for you based on location, your interests and the landmarks you’re most keen on visiting.

Florist Copenhagen

A florist, just around the corner from Copenhagen Downtown Hostel

I chose the Copenhagen Downtown Hostel and it was everything I hoped for. A huge open plan bar area with long benches for shared dinners where we were encouraged to introduce ourselves to fellow travellers, cosy heated “snugs” outside with blankets and fairy lights where we chatted, read and made plans, clean rooms, kind staff and the best Long Island Iced Tea I’ve ever tasted. The perfect place to rejuvenate after a day in the city.

Whenever I travel, I like to do a mixture of touristy things and wandering off the beaten path in the hope of stumbling across something that I can make one of “my” places. I’ve put together a list of the key highlights of my trip, the things I did that immersed me in the local culture, educated me and made me feel adventurous.


Founded by the brewer, Carl Jacobsen of Carlsberg, Glyptoteket stands regally in central Copenhagen. It houses a quirky combination of romantic marble statues, bronze sculpture of which much has a focus on Norse mythology (I’m obsessed) and ancient mummies. I was fortunate enough to visit during a special exhibition entitled “Pharaoh – The Face of Power” which focussed on ancient god-worship and mythology and provided a fascinating commentary on religion and other social constructs across the ages. Sat toward the back of the museum is an atrium, filled with Mediterranean trees and plants with a gift shop selling books and a café serving traditional Danish pastries and tea. I sat in that space for about an hour reading my book and speaking to a local elderly woman who visited regularly. It was lovely.

Glyptoteket Copenhagen

The atrium within Glyptoteket

The Meat Packing District

A Danish colleague tipped me off about the Meat Packing District before I embarked on my trip and I am so thankful she did. I will admit, when I first wandered into this comparatively starkly industrial area that smelled vaguely of a butchers I wondered what on Earth she had been raving about, but this place is the shit. On my second morning in the city I was nursing a hangover after a particularly competitive and energetic beer pong tournament the night before and as I stepped into the Meat Packing District I saw a sign saying “See You Inside Me”. It was all the encouragement I needed. The restaurant was called Noho and a freshly made peach iced tea, crispy bacon with tarragon, eggs with pickled onions and chives and a sourdough bun and homemade Nutella later, it shot right up there among the top five on my list of favourite eateries. I returned to the area that evening with a couple of new acquaintances from the hostel, this time to Warpigs, a brewpub with 22 beers on tap, 6 house beers and 14 others that they keep on rotation. The atmosphere was dynamic, exciting, driven by a host of obvious regulars. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Mojo Blues Bar

Mojo lies just a few doors down from Copenhagen Downtown Hostel and I was fortunate that there was an open mic night scheduled during my visit. A happy coincidence. It had that reassuringly familiar close, musty atmosphere that all gig venues seems to have, no matter how far from home you are. Copenhagen can be an expensive city to gallivant around but the drinks in Mojo were reasonable, the atmosphere was chilled and friendly. I sat at a table with a couple of locals a few feet from the stage and with a glass of wine in hand, surrounded by smoke (you’re still allowed to smoke inside at Mojo) and a sultry blues singer caressing the microphone as she sang before us it felt like a scene from a movie, at least I like to think it looked that way.


This little port is steeped in history, a place where sailors, market stallholders and ladies of the night would interact. Many of the old colourful higgledy-piggledy houses have now been transformed into upmarket waterside restaurants. I was there during a snow blizzard so it was relatively quiet, but I can imagine in the summer the place is teeming with tourists lapping up the sun, supping cold beers in the warmth. It is postcard perfect, and actually does feature on almost every postcard in every gift shop in Copenhagen. I was discouraged from eating in Nyhavn by my Danish colleague as (she explained) the establishments tend to capitalise on their picturesque location, and I agree that they do. A smashed avocado on rye bread was worth almost double what it was in any other part of the city, but as long as you bear that in mind you won’t be disappointed.

Nyhavn Copenhagen

The port of Nyhavn


The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, set on the Danish coastline, was the only place I visited during my trip that I didn’t walk to. Instead I took a train from Copenhagen Central Station to Humlebaek st which took half an hour and cost 75DKK (around £9). The museum is a particularly special place, as much a celebration of the surrounding landscape as the art, with a stunning view of Sweden across the Sound. The sculpture gardens offer a calm environment for quiet thought, meditative contemplation, while the galleries harness the unique natural light reflected from the ocean, creating drama. The Giacometti Gallery was my favourite; his artwork, inspired by philosophical questions on the human condition and existentialism, vaguely haunting in sparse rooms with vaulted ceilings.

Copenhagen is an ideal place for a young, lone traveller to explore and, having previously visited Iceland and adored it, I am looking forward to discovering more of Scandinavia in time. I treasured being able to leisurely work through the itinerary I had prepared before I arrived and equally enjoyed the things that were unplanned; playing darts with fellow travellers in a local pub, meandering from one beautifully minimal interior design shop to another, visiting a stunningly ornate church a night. My best piece of advice for anyone visiting Copenhagen solo is just to walk, as much as you can. Walk through the cobbled streets, return every smile you receive (you will receive many), keep your eyes up and wide.

My Cruelty-Free Winter Skin Savers

Back in October last year I wrote about why it is so important to me to have a cruelty-free make-up bag (you can have a gander here). It’s my most read post to date and the largely positive and inquisitive response I’ve had from friends, family members and strangers, as well as discussions about their own efforts to shop more ethically, suggest that this is a subject many people feel passionately about.

With the demand for cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics, skin and hair care brands on the increase, we are beginning to see a reaction in the market and it’s becoming easier to find them on the high street. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less of a minefield when trying to rifle through, frankly, an overabundance of stuff in an attempt to find an animal-friendly beauty treat.

At this time of year my skin needs particular care and attention. I have combination skin that can be prone to break outs, oily across my t-zone and dry in other areas, so it’s important for me to use gentle, nourishing and generally oil-free products, unless I really need a moisture boost. When the weather is at best cold and at worst entirely unpredictable it can feel as though I’m often having to rescue my skin from the brink of a full meltdown.

I have found, however, that when I consistently use just four excellent skincare products together for a few days I’m able to resurrect the dewy glow that only naturally occurs in the summer months, when I’m sporting a hint of a tan and the sun does an excellent job of cleansing impurities that occur as a result of daytime drinking and failing to remove my make-up before bed.

They may not work for everyone but when combined they act as a kind of tonic for me, a remedy to the winter bitterness that helps me to look presentable, even when I don’t feel I am.

Super Facialist Salicylic Acid Purifying Cleansing Wash

Sure, seeing the word “acid” on the packaging of a product that’s intended for a face doesn’t seem quite right. But this stuff is extraordinary. It’s designed to deeply cleanse pores without irritating the skin, break down spots, and is gentle enough for everyday use, although I use it every other morning. What’s remarkable is that it manages to balance the oil in the skin, making my face look and feel far more even – less dry in places, less oily in others. I went a couple of weeks without using it recently and really felt it. Never again! Buy it here.


Super Facialist Salicylic Acid Purifying Cleansing Wash

Simple Micellar Cleansing Water

For a while I let the Micellar Water craze wash over me (pun absolutely intended). It seemed a bit faddy and I often run in the opposite direction when suddenly everybody I know is talking about a thing. No mystical liquid was going to alter my nightly ritual of a half arsed attempt at removing my make-up with a Supersavers face wipe. Yet here we are. The Simple version is the best one I’ve tried, super gentle and fragrance free but with enough clout to remove even my most stubborn liquid eyeliner. I recently heard it can even be used to clean suede, although I can’t vouch for that. Buy it at Boots here.


Simple Micellar Cleansing Water

Astral Face and Body Moisturiser

Astral are old-timers as beauty brands go, but have had a high profile revival over the past few months, largely due to a couple of big celebrity endorsements. But a company like theirs doesn’t survive for over sixty years on shout outs alone, their face and body moisturiser is a pretty special product. Tripling up as a make-up remover, treatment for burns and other skin complaints and even rumoured to lessen stretch marks, it’s a wonder cream. It is rich and highly fragrant so I tend to only use a blob of it on my face at night, and I’m always elated to find my skin feeling ever so soft and supple in the morning. Buy it at Superdrug here.


Astral Face and Body Moisturiser

Jason Vitamin E Oil

This handy little bottle of oil is the most recent addition to my skincare collection after I read a recommendation from a make-up artist on Instagram. She was using it to help fade acne scars on a client, but it seems to be another infinitely flexible product and I use it on areas where my skin is exceptionally dry and where I have the odd scar here and there but most regularly as a replacement for lip gloss. It’s non-sticky so doesn’t get glued to my hair on windy days and is thick and luxurious, a little goes a long way. It has a pleasant marzipan smell to it too. Buy it here.


Jason Vitamin E Oil

Where I haven’t been able to verify cruelty-free credentials via company websites, excellent sites such as Cruelty Free Kitty or PETA, I have been in contact with companies directly with a request for them to verify their commitment to producing cruelty-free products, all of which complied happily. I hope my recommendations help you to find inspiration for own winter skincare routine.

My Uplifting Winter Playlist

Since I separated from my husband at the beginning of December I’ve not felt much like writing or thinking or anything other than sleeping, really. I’ve been fortunate never to have suffered as far as my mental health is concerned. Other than the odd bout of health anxiety my general mood has rarely tended to dip below “largely contented”. But I’m not ashamed to admit that the past couple of months have been different. I know that ending our marriage was absolutely the right thing to do for both of us, so rather than grieving its loss perhaps it’s the slow unshackling from an unhappy situation or the realisation that for the first time in many years I am standing on the edge of a precipice answerable to and reliant on myself alone, that has brought on this change.

I have noticed how vital listening to certain artists has become in helping me go about everyday tasks without slipping into an unknown, mildly scary place that sits in the back of my mind – a dark corner that I haven’t explored before. They’ve sort of become my lifeblood. I turn my favourite album on as soon as I wake up and listen to it in the shower, right up until the moment I step out of the door for work. My excellent friend and colleague, who nobly picks me up every morning, ensures that my preferred radio station is playing when I get into the car. Provided I don’t have any meetings and nobody needs to chat, I slip my earphones in and drown out all thoughts other than work and lyrics and riffs and hooks. I get back into my friends’ car at the end of the working day, my preferred radio station is still playing, I get home and restart my favourite album, and so the cycle continues. Rinse and repeat.

Although before now it never has been for me, I’m acutely aware that the very nature of winter can be difficult for some. Bitterly cold, lacking sunlight, bare trees. Hibernation is arguably an attractive option. But then a long walk in the snow, a mug of mulled wine with a friend or a warm cuddle with a family member reminds you that it’s worth being present. So I’ve put together a playlist of uplifting songs that get me in the mood to do those life-affirming things, the things that prevent me from stepping into the black. I hope you enjoy.

A Separation : Starting Out

A little while ago I wrote a post about my thoughts on turning thirty this month. In doing so, I was encouraged to re-examine some of my most painful memories. It was a difficult but ultimately cathartic experience. As I wrote the final words I acknowledged that I was OK. More than OK. Life was good.

My thirtieth birthday came and went. As I had suspected, there was no light bulb moment. No searing sense that life is running away with me. No depressive thoughts or anxiety.  I danced and laughed and drank to excess with my closest friends. Then, a freakish and unexpected blizzard hit the UK and we were snowed in at our house for two days. The first day was an altogether utterly perfect, joyous occasion. Six of our friends were snowed in with us so we luxuriated in snow ball fights, watching Christmas films, playing board games and making an almighty roast dinner.

The second day, in stark contrast, was quiet. Deathly still. After our friends dug their way out my husband and I were alone and I realise now that I barely spoke at all. I knew exactly what my friends were doing because I was texting them. I knew what Donald Trump was up to because I was frequently checking Twitter. I remember asking my husband to pop out and grab some Kettle Chips and he did so, dutifully. I do not remember a single other utterance to each other.

On the third day, as the ice thawed and normal life resumed, we separated.

It started as a tentative conversation.

“Are you alright?”

“This isn’t alright is it?”

We’ve been together for twelve years, since we were eighteen years old, and married for three. After so much time, largely littered with happiness and fulfilment, we were both keenly aware that something had changed irrevocably for us. I noticed something had altered around six months ago, a niggling feeling that we didn’t quite fit together anymore. I tentatively mentioned it at the time, then threw myself into other things – writing, reading, partying – and we both pretended it wasn’t happening. Even so, that didn’t mean it was any less excruciating, half a year later, to hear some relatively new and somewhat negative thoughts manifest themselves as highly-charged sentences, thrown at one another.

We tried to rationalise what was happening – remain composed where we could, try to familiarise each other with the opposite side of the coin. But I will admit that those first twenty four hours, trying to live under the same roof and struggling to verbalise anything, what we wanted for dinner let alone how we felt about each other, were some of the most challenging hours of my life. I swung back and forth between feeling content in our decision, to panicking about what we were throwing away and how our friends and family would feel about it.

Nearly two weeks’ worth of cordial conversations have since taken place between us, he spent Christmas Day at my parents’ yesterday and gave me a beautiful leather-bound book on Greek mythology, a subject a love. Although we’re both wounded, it feels as though we can eventually mend and recover from this. Like a papercut that’s started to close – no longer bleeding but has a tendency to catch you by surprise when you’re not paying attention.

The outcome I long for most is that we get back to a place where we can positively contribute to one another’s lives. As I stepped into my parents’ home just over a week ago, preparing to spend my first night alone, I noticed a sign that hangs in their kitchen that says “Love is kind. Anything less isn’t love at all”. It shook me to realise how, over time, we had been unkind to each other without knowing it. It’s the hardest thing of all to bear.

This post is a first for me, it’s not a carefully considered thought piece or review, it’s probably slightly muddled, and there isn’t really an end. I suppose there never will be in some ways. Our love affair has shaped who I am and I know that the close of it will too, in ways I can’t predict. Life will now start down a path I never believed I would explore and I intend on documenting the journey as a way of making sense of it and finding some solace during the inevitably uncomfortable times ahead. I’m sharing this with my husband’s express permission, it felt necessary to ask him, and his relaxed and understanding response only strengthened my belief that we can return to a place of kind, compassionate and equal friendship. Here’s hoping.

My Picks For An Alternative Christmas In Oxfordshire

Three years ago, a couple of days before Christmas, I ventured to London’s Hyde Park with my family to sample its famous Winter Wonderland. In just a few short hours we had all spent an inordinate amount of cash and had very little show for it. Queues for the food stands were unfathomably long, children kicked and screamed as they were dragged through throngs of inebriated adults and it all just felt a bit…predictable. We drank much Bavarian beer in an attempt to get into the “spirit”, but ultimately decided it wasn’t for us.

We agreed to hunt for our festive frivolity closer to home in future, events that don’t break the bank and feel a bit different to the usual Christmas fare. Fortunately Oxfordshire is teeming with many merry happenings on the lead up to the big day, from fairs and markets to theatre and gigs. I’ve put together a short list of my “must-do” events that occur over the next few wintry weeks in our home county. If you’re a local (or don’t mind making a trip), and on the lookout for something less conventional to warm your cockles this year then make an effort to schedule in some of my handpicked alternative treats.

Indie Oxford Christmas Market : Saturday 2nd December (Oxford City Centre)

Run by the lovely ladies of Independent Oxford, Anna Munday and Rosie Jacobs, and hosted at Turl Street Kitchen, the Indie Oxford Christmas Market showcases some of Oxford’s brightest independent talent, and also provides an excellent opportunity to shop local for your Christmas presents. This year includes stalls from A Rosie Life (Rosie’s own shop through which she sells the cutest decorative pom-poms and gifts), Oxford Aromatics (purveyors of locally made luxury candles, scent diffusers and soaps) and Custom Made (creators of modern, colourful and minimalist jewellery), among other local creatives.


The Communi-tea Great Christmas Get Together : Saturday 9th December (Abingdon-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire)

This summer, over 9 million people around the UK were involved with the The Great Get Together in memory of Jo Cox (organised by the Jo Cox Foundation), to show that we still believe we have “more in common”. This Christmas, the spirit of The Great Get Together continues with their #MincePieMoments initiative, where locals are invited to share mince pies, hot drinks and chat, encouraging the growth of closer, more bonded communities. Abingdon’s Communi-tea Great Christmas Get Together will be contributing to the national effort to brighten Christmas and ensure fewer people feel lonely during the festive period this year.

Frau (All Girl DJ Collective) : Thursday 14th December (Oxford City Centre)

What’s Christmas without some out-and-out revelry? Hot off the back of a packed summer festival season that included Glastonbury, Bestival and Secret Garden Party, the Frau DJ’s are bringing their brand of sparkly girl-party pop to Oxford’s beloved Cellar for a Christmas hoe-down as part of their Festive Fun Tour. If you’re a little sick of turkey parcels, mince pies and carols and fancy cutting loose and getting sweaty with your pals then this might just be up your street. Sequins and glittery dress encouraged.


Scandi-Sesh : Monday 18th December (Cowley, East Oxford)

The Scandi-Sesh at James Street Tavern happens monthly so isn’t strictly a Christmas event, but I can’t think of anything more Christmassy than sitting in a lovely pub with friends, drinking rum and listening to folk music born of the North. Plus, if you give it a go and love it (which you will) then you can go back every third Monday to enjoy it again and again. The unpretentious and underrated James Street Tavern serves local real ales (including the Shotover Prospect) and homemade snacks. Get down early to secure the best vantage points.

Christmas At Blenheim : until 1st January (Woodstock, West Oxfordshire)

By far the most conventional Christmas event on my list, but I would be remiss not to tell you about it. Each year, for just a few short weeks, Blenheim Palace opens its gates after dark to take patrons on a spectacular festive sensory tour of the grounds. An exploration of light and sound, utilising natural and man-made features in the land – hills, waterfalls, trellis – it’s easy to believe you’ve fallen into a fairy-tale as you make your way around the trail. Last year there were roasted chestnuts, hot chocolate and mulled wine on offer in the Great Court and, given their popularity, I’m sure there will be more of the same this time round. Be sure to get a selfie at “Mistletoe Moment”, if you’re that way inclined.

These are just a few of the inspired seasonal events that are taking place across Oxfordshire over the next few weeks, Daily Info is an excellent source of information if you’d like to explore the festive offering further.

Oxfordshire Makers Market

Last Saturday I visited the delightful Relics of Witney as they hosted the annual Oxfordshire Makers Market. If you haven’t had the pleasure of exploring Relics, there are few things I would recommend more highly on a rainy afternoon than rifling through their unique collection of homeware, paints and curios. Stockists of Farrow & Ball, Little Greene and their own range of blacksmith made furnishings, they are a “must visit” in West Oxfordshire for interior designers, DIY dabblers and the house proud.

It was a dreary day outside; cold and drizzly, but Relics was warm and lively with the bustle of friendly stallholders and excitable patrons. The air was filled with the comforting combined scent of fresh bread, buttery fudge and wood shavings (that sounds weird, it wasn’t). I can never help but feel in awe but exceptionally envious of talented craftspeople, those types that can pluck an idea from somewhere in the back of their minds and then knit it or bake it or screen print it.

Makers Market 1

Customers and craftspeople at the Oxfordshire Makers Market.

I could list every artist I spoke with here, and talk about their abundance of handsome wares for hours, but I have a feeling I may lose your interest. So instead I’ve nailed it down to five of the charming brands I stumbled across, that I think you might just fall in love with:

Florence and Moose

Purveyors of concrete goods, Florence and Moose immediately caught my eye as a lover of anything even slightly industrial looking – unfinished, exposed. The designer, Charlotte, has produced a range of decorated concrete homeware, including plant pots, coasters and candle holders. Each item complementing the next, but striking when used alone. She uses metallic paints to add a stylish and luxurious feel, and geometry seems to be a key theme. I bought my sister-in-law two plant pots for her birthday, finished with painted copper bands at the base. I know she’ll love them.

Nong Smitinand Flowers

Nong’s beautifully autumnal floral stall was the first thing I saw as I entered Relics. A mass of Chrysanthemums, Succulents, Brassica Black Harry (seriously, look it up) and marvellously unruly and rustic winter wreaths, Nong has an inimitable approach to flower arranging, demonstrating how pristine perfection is nothing compared to thought-provoking wildness. My mum purchased a bunch on the day and has proudly displayed its rich golds, reds and oranges in front of her fireplace since.

Makers Market 2

Some of Nong Smitinand’s stems.

Minor Objects

It would have been easy to overlook the Minor Objects stall as a lone craftsman quietly whittled away at locally foraged wood. But there he was, and there I stood for ten minutes watching him (yes, probably a bit weird), as he shaved and shaped and sculpted the earthy material in the way that felt right to him. His collection boasts butter knives, spoons, cheeseboards and much more that wouldn’t look out of place at Bilbo Baggins’ dining table. I haven’t purchased anything from him yet, but I will.

Emily Marston Studio

Emily showcased a range of her small batch hand-built ceramics – pots, mugs and Christmas tree decorations, all striking in their smooth line simplicity. She has a penchant for creating a rippling marbled effect in the paint she uses to decorate them; her pieces are each distinctly from the same “family”, yet wholly unique. I feel that the collection has a Scandi vibe – minimalist and exuding “hygge”. Another favourite stall of Mum’s, she picked up one of the biggest pots on offer and is currently rearranging her entire dining room around it.

Larder & Tuck Box

I’d previously had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of the lovely Gemma of Larder & Tuck Box at the Oxfordshire Makers Market in 2016. She specialises in homemade, refined sugar-free treats, including granolas, chutneys and honeycomb. I felt a little guilty at the indulgence of visiting her stall with the explicit intention of buying a slice of chocolate orange fudge for my husband and I to enjoy later, but at least safe in the knowledge that there are no hidden nasties! We’d tried the fudge before but I also picked up some rose honeycomb this time, made with local honey. It felt so decadent, a real treat. Our friends loved it too.

Makers Market 3

Dark chocolate and macadamia toffee from Larder & Tuck Box.

I try to shop small and local wherever possible and feel incredibly lucky to live in an area so rich in talent for making stuff. As Christmas approaches, Oxfordshire becomes awash with fairs and markets celebrating local heritage, skill and diversity. I hope to visit some of them in the coming weeks, mulled wine in hand, and I encourage you to do the same.