April 18, 2014

Planning A Garden

My best birthday present ever (so far) was a plain, shapeless key. Obviously it wasn’t the key that made that present so good, but the door it unlocked: the door to my very own 300m² big, first allotment. I have dreamed of my own garden since my childhood summers, when I cooked up my mum’s chives into a mud soup. There is so much independence and knowledge in gardening. I always admired people who grew their own.
The first few month of being new allotment holders my favourite Englishman and I spent most of our time weeding and clearing. We disposed a half-build greenhouse, weeded a summer worth of unwanted growing’s, discovered and threw out tons of cans (?), broken windows, gas canisters and much more. Then we dug over what we had cleared, found more, threw more out and dug over again. At the end of it all we had half of our allotment clear and ready to be used for proper gardening.

Now we needed a plan. I flicked through what felt like 100 gardening books and found many more tips and advice on the good ol’ interweb. What I mainly learned is that gardening doesn’t have to be an exact science to get great results, so in the end I decided to go with the obvious (to me) steps. It’s our first attempt of gardening anyway and a bit of try and error is expected, so I’d rather keep it manageable then try to do everything right.

Firstly: We created a list of all the vegetables and fruit we would like to grow in our garden. This list went from peas and beans to tomatoes, herbs, potatoes and even our very own sweet corn to apples and pears. With over 50 different plants in our dream garden, we figured it is probably best to start a bit smaller. On the final list we ended up with 15 vegetables and a bunch of different herbs. We decided to stay with vegetable for this first year, before we go into fruits.

Secondly: I looked up the growing conditions of our chosen plants.
  1. I figured out what kind of plant they are: Do they grow as roots, do they grow upwards and need support, do they spread on the ground. For some, like carrots, that was obvious to me, for others not so much.
  2. Then I looked up how much light they need and what soil conditions: Carrots I learned need more lose soil with no stones in it.
  3. I also made notes on whether the seeds go straight into the ground or need to be started inside and when.

Thirdly: I went ahead and measured our plot. I also borrowed a pH metre to see whether our soil is more acid or alkaline.

Finally: Instead of just drawing a sketch, I used an online garden planner to create an outline of our future garden 2014. I used the garden planner from Mr. Fothergills as they offer a 30 days trial. I simply put in the measurements of our garden and then filled the space per drag and drop with vegetable and herbs we plan to grow. One of the major advantages I found with the garden planner is that it gave me an indication of how much space each plant will need something I hadn’t really considered to be honest. Of course I also couldn’t help but make the Rookie mistake of not taking any paths into account at first. Luckily I spotted that soon enough.

Now that the plan is finished we are back to digging and then planting. Hopefully by mid April I can show you some first results. Can’t wait to get this growing!

Have you ever planned a garden? Do you have any tips or recommendations?


April 16, 2014

A DAY IN // London

While most people I know have their families close, my favourite Englishman and I have our loved ones scattered all over the world. Some live in big cities, some in small towns. With some we only have to hop on the train, with others we have to cross oceans to meet again. The perks of being a settled down traveller and an expat, I guess.

Many of our weekends are therefore spent visiting friends and family far and near. Although 48 hours never really seem enough to catch up with our dearest, these are my favourite weekends. Fridays are for drinks and late night talks, Sundays are for slow mornings and breakfast in best company and Saturdays – the best part - are for sneak peeks into their homes and cities. These short, refreshing one day explorations are the foundation to this new feature on the blog. A DAY IN is not about the tourist tour, but about the moments and sights we feel and see while exploring our friends’ home towns.
A few weekends ago we hopped on a train to meet my favourites Englishman best mate in London. This is the story of our day offside the tourists’ tracks, where we discovered London’s’ independent book shops and tasted our way through a whole market.

10.00 Farmers’ breakfast at Jackson + Rye...
...because the queue in front of the Breakfast Club in Soho was just ridiculous (and I am not known for my patience when hungry). Instead we enjoyed fried potato cubes with spinach, egg and delicious, freshly baked rye bread with tea and orange juice, while watching people in the streets of Soho and talking about our day plans.

11.30 Visiting the oldest bookshop in town...
... Hatchards at Picadilly. The shop was founded by John Hatchard in 1797 at the same address where it is still trading today. We saluted his portrait on the first flight, before we headed up the staircase that led us five stories high, each filled with rows and rows of books. We almost got lost among the many recommendations and buried ourselves for an hour in gardening reads, I say we, but clearly it was all me. My favourite Englishman just chilled on a big, red, comfy Chesterfield sofa by the window.

13.30 Browsing the unique shop windows at Cecil Court...
...where a fortune teller laid the cards for a young woman at Watkins books and we spotted a signed first edition of J.K. Rowlings latest book Casual Vacancy.

14.30 Travelling the world at Daunt Books...
... on Marylbone High Street. The shop specialises in travel related literature and organises it by country and region. Walking along the light fluted, old oak gallery my favourite Englishman and I travelled in only a few steps from Germany to France to Russia, before we headed down into the basement to visit Australia, Thailand and the USA.

15.30 Late Lunch at Borough Market...
... which was packed with good food, good drinks and lots of people. After tasting a handful different cheese and drooling over the fresh juices and breads, we headed outside to enjoy some Afternoon drinks. The thirst gone, we strolled back in, to grab duck sandwiches brimful with meat and delicious, fresh lamb + mint burgers. For dessert we decided to go with fresh bread and a cone full of salami bits. That’ll do pig.

17.00 A pub evening at The Tiger. The corner pub on our way home overlooks bustling Camberwell Green and is as worn out as it is lovely. Dark walls lined with pictures and big vintage lights filled the room with warmth and comfort. The big, heavy wooden tables and chairs were the perfect place to rest after a long day of walking, while our taste buds enjoyed a variety of Lagers, Ales and Bitters on tap. Well mainly Lagers.

April 14, 2014

Stretch An You Will Reach

Laotse once said „A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” 
My journey out of this Radio silence started with the twitch of my right big toe...

Getting out of bed had become increasingly more difficult last autumn. I didn’t want to get up, because I didn’t want to do what I had committed myself to. However, I couldn’t give up my commitments, because it was me after all who had chosen to do them. I simply had, in an attempt to move forward, settled one too many times for a Job I can do and ignored the Jobs I want to do. I was furious at myself for wasting my own time. Unable to see beyond the things I had to do now my impatient heart clenched itself into a stiff lump, increasing my resistance to do anything at all.

Yet, it had all started so good. The sun was tickling my nose on the first day of the past year. Though weak from a long winter it filled the air with an uplifting glow. Freshly immigrated to England to live with my love, I was beaming as bright as these early days. With the move I had left a career behind and 365 days ahead to build a new one. I felt empowered to finally make it the one I really wanted.

The choice was clearly mine: I could become a Teacher, Learning Mentor or Blogger, I could study Psychology, Law or even start a degree in Graphic Design. I could do anything!

Only, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. One day I was sure I would like to be a Teacher, the next day I thought Psychologist would also be interesting and really I would love to be a writer. Soon enough I found myself in the middle of the worst jam dilemma, like I was a customer in Sheena Iyengar famous jam study. In which the psychologist and author of the “Art of Choosing” proved: Too much choice overburdens people. Let them pick out of 7 jam flavours and they will be happy with what they get, but let them pick out of 70 and it will never be good enough. Only I wasn’t choosing jam!

After a few month the money was urging me to come up with a solution. So I picked a job. I loved it, but the hours were few and the money not enough. I had to pick again and soon after again. I struggled to commit myself to one direction. A career change, no matter in which direction, comes with a lot of work, failures and time commitment and for some reason I failed to trust my judgement. I simply worried I would end up with a wrong choice. So I kept choosing easy, risk-free part-time jobs. Before I knew it, I was tied up in a string of commitments, which were all pulling me in different directions. After a few months I became exhausted and scared - scared that I had wasted my opportunity to build this new, happier career. Not only had I made some poor choices, I also had cramped my diary with work, leaving me hardly any time to breathe and reconsider. That’s when I started to drag my mornings and not only them. Every task was dragged and mulled over, half-heartily done and the result then regretted for its poor appearance - over and over again, until some things I just stopped doing completely for I thought I would never get somewhere with them anyway. Unfortunately this happened mainly to the things I actually really hoped to achieve.

Then one dreading morning my big toe twitched. Feeling the cramp coming, I turned over in bed and stretched my toe – and then my foot and my leg and my back. Ease was sweeping through my body. With every muscle that loosened up so did my resistance to waking up. A subtle reminder whispering: If you stretch, you will reach. Soon enough I found myself sitting upright in bed reaching high into the air with my hands, feeling ready for the day.

I was almost stunned at how easy it suddenly was to get out of bed. Then an old quote from my very first Yoga teacher popped into my head “If you reduce the tension in your muscle, your mind will reduce its resistance to go into the pose.” In my case an upright position in bed to get going.

As it felt so good to get out of bed without any hesitance I decided to give stretching a go as my new morning routine. No fancy Yoga, just a good stretch and maybe the sun greeting routine for a few minutes. Only a few days in I realized, starting the day with a good stretch didn’t make the job situation better, but it changed how I tackled my daily to do lists. Firstly, I felt more energetic and ready to do what I had to do, after the stretching. Secondly, while stretching I suddenly had a few moments spare in which my mind could wander and reflect on my feelings and worries. Thirdly, the physical action triggered my mind to do exactly the same: to stretch and let go of worries. 

The word “Stretch” became my constant reminder...
... to reduce my inner resistance and to not let it weigh me down.
... to eliminate negative self talk, which keeps me from trying.
... to be flexible and adapt in order to move on.
... to commit myself to what I do, while I am doing it.
... to be grateful for where I am and appreciate the small things.
... that if I actually stretch my body and mind, I will increase my reach.

It was a slow process, but changing my attitude towards the commitments I had put myself into, eventually allowed me to stretch myself out of them and to reach even further – to make room for something that I really wanted. Once I was there it was only the length of my toe that I had to reach out of this radio silence. And I am so glad, I did! It feels so good to put myself out here again.

And if you just stretched yourself all the way down to reach the end of this epic post,
thank you for reading and thank you for letting me share my story with you!

April 12, 2014

It's a Kingdom Is Back

Long time no see Internet friends. 169 days have passed since I last posted in this tiny web corner of mine. It was meant to be a short break, but somehow turned into an epic hibernation. I missed writing here every single day and yet don’t regret a moment I spent away from it. Sometimes breaks are needed and steps back are actually the way to go forward.

I spent this winter reconsidering, re-charging and redirecting myself. I changed jobs, tried a few new things, let go of some unhealthy habits and mainly freed myself from a lot of stress and unachievable expectations.
With spring around the corner I am now ready to get busy again. There is a garden I want to attend to, a new job that I want to grow with and of course this blog, which I would like to bring to blossom this year.

As you probably noticed the look of “It’s a Kingdom” got a bit of a make over and there are some other changes too. One main thing is that I decided to no longer post in two languages (too time consuming). Although it is not my mother tongue I always felt English to be more suitable for this place, so English it is from now on (if you can excuse my grammar).

Also, I will be around here now every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and I would love to have you hanging out with me. There has already been a lot of exploring, discovering, growing and making going on behind the scenes and I can’t wait to share all of this with you.

Have a lovely weekend and I’ll see you on Monday!

PS: Before I go, I just wanted to say thank you! It is just such a privilege to get this opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences with you and I am grateful for every single one of you.

October 22, 2013

Radio silence

Dear friends,

So the English autumn had yet another surprise in store. While the days filled with golden sunlight lifted my motivations for this season, the sudden winds and rains washed away all my energy.

This autumn depression hit me so unexpectedly, I couldn’t help but stop and stare – I stared at the days rushing by with more and more tasks piling up undone. Admittedly I was trying to juggle more than usual and had to realise now: It doesn’t work.
So what do you do, when something doesn’t work? You fix it. As a good portion of super glue doesn’t seem to apply in this situation, I start fixing things by stepping back first. To get back my energy and get some time to examine my tasks ahead, this beautiful internet corner of mine will go into a short radio silence.

Soon though, I hope me and this little kingdom will be back and even better than before.
Thank you all for stopping by, for reading and all your lovely comments.
xx, Nadine