Habits for a Simple Life

simple life

During our four years in Ireland we learnt some important lessons on happiness.    I am reposting one of the first posts I ever wrote on this blog because it sums up what I wish our lives to return to.  It is called My Kettle:

When I moved to Ireland (albeit kicking and screaming),  I found, to my surprise, a gem of a country  with inhabitants to match!  Truly, the Irish are a special breed of people.  I use the word breed intentionally, for they are so very different to the English.  We live in a village not so very far from London, where many work up ‘in town’.  Life is lived at breakneck speed, with an almost tangible sense of perfection filtering through everyone’s world.  There is an expectation of having it all.  In Northern Ireland people tend to achieve the ‘having it all’ but at a much s-l-o-w-e-r pace!  Having it all in Ireland is more about family, friends and above all the famous Irish sense of humour!  It is less about money, possessions and job titles.  Time is stretched in a very laid back, leisurely manner.  It almost stands still, whilst everyone jokes, teases and laughs their way through life.  That life suited this typical English girl.

When God called us back to England we knew we had to hold on tightly to the lessons we had learnt in Ireland, to reject the pressures of London life and to choose Irish living in the midst of frenetic England.  So I brought my kettle.  It is a whistling, sit on the top of the hob, take at least half an hour to boil, type kettle.  Gary, when making me my morning cup of tea, puts on the kettle, takes the dog for a walk and hopes that it is boiled by the time he returns!  Yes, it is that slow!

But it reminds me of Ireland; it is reminiscent of times spent with friends without clock watching and most of all it teaches me to slow down, to make time and take time to cherish life.  I always thought my kettle was a bit of an irritant to friends that dropped by.  No one had said anything – the English are much too polite – however, anytime I offered a cup of tea there would be a kind of furtive glance at the plug, hoping that it may be attached to a, y’know, normal kettle that takes a minute or so to boil!  Last week, someone dropped in and just before she left she said how chilled she felt just being at our home.  I’m not sure she could have said anything to surprise me more given the inevitable noise and mess levels inside chez moi!   She went on to say that she tells all her friends about me and my kettle and how I always have time for a cup of tea.  And this, I think, sums up the Irish.  They always have time for a cup of tea!


Our general health has taken a battering over the past couple of years and one of the reasons for this, I believe, is that we have been sucked into the vortex that is London life.  The children are out and about doing many activities, we are heavily involved in our local church and life seems once more to be moving far too quickly.  Both Gary and I promised each other that we would stay close to the life we lived in Ireland, one with many family hours spent playing, walking and joking.  Together.  Hours spent with friends, building relaxed, nourishing friendships.  Quiet moments spent at home, simply being.  Not often in those four years were we found in front of a computer or television.  I read about a thousand times more than I do currently.  Both Gary and I had hobbies.  Gentle, soothing hobbies.  I look back on our times in Ireland as some of the most satisfying and contented times of our lives.

Loving our second home.

Over the past couple of years our good intentions have slipped and we have fallen into unhealthy habits.  Life seems to be rushed as we move from one activity to the next.  Home schooling has taken over somewhat and healthy habits have gone by the wayside.  It is a constant battle because the life, activities and past times on offer here in the South East of England are not necessarily bad ones, they are just not the best, as we have experienced, for our family.

The treasure at the end of the rainbow?  Northern Ireland, of course!

So this year we intend to change and move back to a more simple and healthful way of life.  This year I will be sharing some of those lessons we learnt in Ireland and our attempts at reintroducing them into our lives.


  1. Yes, I understand what you are talking about. We rush around to much too. I hope you are able to make the changes you wish for.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. once again a huge thank you for your honesty and willingness to share even your true self… we too have fallen back to some unhealthy way of life since the kids stopped homeschooling and started professionnal trainings. I talked with my husband yesteray evening about having again a proper week end and espescially on sundays to really slow down and have time for hospitalty and friendships…so a huge thanks again dear Claire and we will pray for you and your family as well ….merci merci merci much love from Switzerland Myriam

    1. Yes, Sundays have been changing here too over the past few months. It’s nice to be returning to the comfortable routines of the past. One wonders why we ever let them pass us by. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, I always enjoy hearing how you are doing.

  3. I second Lucinda’s comments, and wish you success too. It is extremely difficult to not get sucked into the busyness of London, especially when you live within commuting distance. The further you get away from London, the slower and more peaceful life is, as it once was in the rural English countryside.

    I look forward to reading about your lessons in future posts. I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two from them! 🙂

  4. I think I would be very happy in Ireland. It sounds perfect!
    It is among the places I fully intend to visit at some point.

    I think we could all benefit from slowing down and making family, friends, and time to just enjoy being alive a priority.

    I wish you the best in your living simple! We too are trying to makes few changes to live more simply. Hope 2014 woks out best for us all!

  5. I completely understand and agree about slowing down and making time for the important things in life. I am so looking forward to hearing of your Ireland lessons.
    As you know, we love British television. One of the delights is hearing the different words you use. Example: chilled. I thought your friend was cold until I reread it because it didn’t seem to make sense.
    Speaking of an easier life, Michael received The Darling Buds of May for Christmas. We have watched one episode so far and love it. One day, I may get to see England’s countryside.
    Your pictures of Ireland are stunning. I am looking forward to more.
    Blessings to you, Claire.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed Darling Buds. I’m always a bit wary about recommending anyone things I enjoy because we are all so different. Have you got the whole box set or just the first series? I’m not sure what series it comes with, but the Darling Buds Christmas is not to be missed!

  6. What method do you you use to homeschool? We are looking into using an online program, but that really doesn’t seem nearly as beneficial and “homeschooly” as we would like.
    P.S. WE live in the states, in California.

  7. We struggle with the same issues here across the Atlantic. My goal for this year is “Less is More”! Less stuff, less buying, less busyness, less activities….. We all long for the simple life, but we have to be intentional to make it happen! Blessings to your family in the new year!

    1. Yes, intentional is an oft repeated word in our house at the moment. You are right, it doesn’t just happen, you have to make it happen.
      Lets hope we’re both successful this year in making our hopes and wishes come true!

  8. The lesson that I feel God has placed in my heart over the last couple of weeks… which I will share more of once I get the time to write you that nice long e-mail I promised… 😉 IS that we should hold very, very loosely to the things of this world… we are not meant to be too comfortable here. By comfortable I mean surrounded by the trappings of what the world deems ‘success’.. we are spiritual beings on a journey to ‘home’. I am so grateful to have found your blog Claire. Thank you for being such a lovely part of my journey. I sit at my kitchen table catching up on posts before the day starts in full… having a cup of coffee and feeling so much a part of your lovely life. Thank you!

    1. I love the idea of you all cosy in your kitchen, drinking my favourite beverage in the whole world and sharing my life right along side me!
      Thank YOU for being so encouraging.
      Looking forward to that lovely long email…… (insert smiley face – I have GOT to learn how to do that!)

  9. Oh! I wish you the greatest success as well! After all the planning, and to do list-ing, it really is the easygoing times with family and friends that fill us.

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