Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble.
If there is one thing that most of us aspire to, it is, simply, to be happy. And yet attaining happiness has become, it appears, anything but simple. Having stuff – The Latest, The Newest, The Best Yet – is all too often peddled as the sure fire route to happiness. So why then, in our consumer-driven society, is depression, stress and anxiety ever more common, affecting every strata of society and every age, even, worryingly, the very young? Why is it, when we have so much, that many of us still feel we are missing something and the rush of pleasure when we buy something new turns so quickly into a feeling of emptiness, or purposelessness, or guilt?
So what is the route to real, deep, long lasting happiness? Could it be that our lives have just become overly crowded, that we’ve lost sight of the things – the simple things – that give a sense of achievement, a feeling of joy or excitement? That make us happy. Do we need to take a step back, reprioritise? Do we need to make our lives more simple? Kate Humble’s fresh and frank exploration of a stripped-back approach to life is uplifting,
engaging and inspiring – and will help us all find balance and happiness every day.
Oh, but this book is a complete joy to read. Not only is it a thing of real beauty to look at and hold in your hands, it is filled with thought-provoking anecdotes and advice.
Earlier this year, ‘BL’ or ‘Before Lockdown’ to be precise, I was feeling burnt out and unwell. My energy was low, I felt sluggish, wasn’t sleeping well – the list goes on and on. I felt too thinly stretched, as though I could snap at any moment. A feeling I’d had for quite some time and a feeling that I know I am not alone with. Lockdown and the resulting period of furlough gave me pause for thought. Surely life is too short to be feeling like this. I think many of us were reminded what is actually important and the things we should be protecting, not just for our own wellbeing but for our planet’s too.
Of course many people have gone back to living exactly as they did before. Excess, waste and that desire to have more, more, more. Lockdown and the events of past months have had a profound effect on me though and Kate’s book couldn’t have come along at a better time. It reminds us what we lose when we become lost in the frantic pace of a life of constant gain, a life of constantly wanting what we haven’t got, a life where everything is instantly replaced. It’s exhausting. Truly, no matter whether you live a country life, in a large urban house or a tiny flat; it’s the constant desire to have the latest, the newest, the best, and of course to be seen to have it. How many of us took the time to have a purge whilst locked away in our homes. Sunddenly we couldn’t bear to be surrounded by so much unnecessary stuff.
A Year of Living Simply is so much more than just encouraging us to have a clear out. It looks at the simple things in life that we have lost. The things that make us feel good, happy and fulfilled; things that aren’t wrapped up in possessions or appearances. Kate writes beautifully, her words engaging, never patronising. She uses her own personal experiences, chatting like an old friend. I found myself relating to many parts: her struggles with breadmaking, the countless lightbulbs shoved in a cupboard, her relationship with shopping and many other issues.
This book has been a joy to pick up, it is a moment of calm for me at the end of the day. For me, reading a little of Kate before bed has proved the perfect antidote to a busy day. It is uplifting and inspiring and makes me want to continue on my path for a simpler, more satisfying life; a life that enjoys the little moments, the beautiful world we live in and the nature that inhabits it with us. She is a fascinating author and I now can’t wait to read Thinking on My Feet.
As William Morris once said ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ and this wonderful book covers both of those requirements most gloriously.
About the author
Kate Humble is a writer, smallholder, campaigner and one of the UK’s best-known TV presenters. She started her television career as a researcher, later presenting programmes such as ‘Animal park’, ‘Springwatch’ and ‘Autumnwatch’, ‘Lambing Live’, ‘Living with Nomads’, ‘Extreme Wives’, ‘Back to the Land’ and ‘A Country Life for Half the Price’. Her last book, Thinking on My Feet. was shortlisted for both the Wainwright Prize and the Edward Stanford Travel Memoir of the Year.