flora | Bergen, North holland

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My trip to the north of Holland was enveloped in a weekend heatwave, somewhere in the deepest summer, a tangle of clear skied days fading to warm nights that sheltered the symphonies of cicadas. Holland is by no means a big country which is perhaps why each area has seemed to cultivate its own identity. To Bergen. It surprised me as a place that revealed different parts of itself slowly, in the seasons, the shadow and the silence. My visits to the town in winter were punctuated with a sort of nostalgia for the Alps, with the timber-clad houses glowing amber from lamps and thin, frigid air soaked with the smell of wood fires. Cars clattered over the cobbles and silence swept through the wooden eaves. It was richly quiet, perhaps a faded white rose, lavender after spring rains. But in that deep summer it was different. More like trees dripping with lilac jacaranda; or vines of red roses draping a trellis. There was more life, perhaps too much at times. The town of Bergen itself is treated as a stop-off to the northern coast, and the Dutch seem to seek out water almost as much as it threatens to overwhelm them.

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The windows of the houses with their wooden facades were thrown open and swimsuits dried on balcony railings. There was that noticeably marine atmosphere of real beach towns; not where sand is washed by warm seas and tourist sprawl lines the seafront, but of those temperate beaches bordered by dunes under milky skies. Small children on bikes wore caps and brought along their buckets and spades; their mothers’ sundresses streamed behind them, colorful as their bicycles. There were the men on their Vespas in bermuda shorts and hawaiian shirts, little dogs rode in bike baskets. This was the surface, what you may expect of a Dutch seaside town.

But there were surprises too. A green woodland, almost overburdened with pine; mottled summer sunlight dancing over the ferns. Flowers, in a clearing. From the heat and sun their luxurious red was watered down; like the bottom of a drink at a beach resort, its color diluted by melting ice. The patches of wildflowers, a muddled harmony of poppies and their late summer counterparts. Wild marigolds, foxgloves, cornflowers, daisies, the green stems and leaves slowly fading. There were petals on the sidewalk, and flowers growing wild over walls, that nobody really seemed to notice. The call of the sea was too strong, the ocean of flora in the last throes of its summer glory was all but invisible.

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The sun set late, the aura of a latitude further north. The roads grew quieter. The sunburnt children had come home, bikes over cobbles. The air was still, chickens cooed in a garden nearby, hidden from view by a wall of vines weeping white flowers onto the lawn. The downpour would arrive soon, Bergen’s narrow roads would glisten with pooled rain and the nights would draw in more quickly, draping darkness over the pointed roofs and timber. There would be a reminder of the warm days, in the petals of those flowers, either dripping water, or fallen and dusting the street with summer.

“I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one” - Edna St. Vincent Millay

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*all photos were taken with my iPhone so they’re not perfect, but beauty of the flowers kind of speaks for itself.

dog songs | seeded mini muffins

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It's usually when I'm on holiday that I try to read more, not just novels, but also poems. They are somehow less self conscious than books; often more difficult to unravel, but more honest. On some previous blog posts I shared quotes by poet Mary Oliver. I think that I, like many people, loved the way she could make emotion and nature somehow intertwine. I saw quite a lot of her poems were inspired by her dogs, one called Percy, or walks she'd taken with her pups. She even wrote a whole compilation of poetry, Dog Songs, that reflects on the love of a dog and their human. I have often written about my own pups, but not dogs as dogs. What having a little furry thing with a leathery nose and big beating heart means. It was global dog day a while ago (August 26th) so I was thinking about pets as a whole. They can teach you so much. About the giving and receiving of love, about loss, about humor, about snuggles. They can teach you that it's not always about the bigger picture, but sometimes the minutiae are worth your time. I could write more about this, but I found a poem Mary Oliver had written about her relationship with Percy that kind of encapsulates loving a dog and learning from one.

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There is always a bittersweet edge that comes with owning a dog, like a low mist rolling off the sea, sinking into valleys in the countryside where it can linger for days. Dogs’ lives seem so short, beauty like a sunset, snowfall, city lights from airplane windows. But. They just bring so much. They make our lives so full. They transform the way you think and the way you act and any kindness of humans pales in comparison to the tireless kindness of dogs. All the worrying you do and the rushing to get home to them and the cleaning dog hair and muddy paws is really nothing, compared to what they give us.
Mary Oliver's poem is called, quite perfectly, The Sweetness of Dogs.

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“What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. Full tonight.
So we go, and the moon rises, 
so beautiful it makes me shudder, 
makes me think about time and space, 
makes me take measure of myself: 
one iota pondering heaven. 

Thus we sit, I thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s perfect beauty and also, oh!
How rich it is to love the world. 
Percy, meanwhile, leans against me and gazes up into my face. 
As though I were his perfect moon.”

Mary Oliver, Swan

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seeded mini muffins

makes around 24 mini muffs, 12 regular

1 1/4c (125g) oat flour
1c brown rice flour (120g)
1/4c (108g) flax meal
1/4c (35g) sunflower seeds
1/4c mixed small seeds (60ml by volume - chia, flax, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds etc)
1tsp baking soda
1tsp baking powder
1/2tsp nutmeg
1c (250ml) plain yogurt
2 free range eggs
1/4c (60ml) olive oil
1/2c (125ml) honey or maple syrup
1tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180’c, 350’f. Prepare a mini muffin pan, or a regular pan, whichever you have.
Stir together the dry ingredients, including the seeds.
In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, yogurt, vanilla and maple/honey. 
Stir the wet mix into the dry mix and spoon into muffin tins.
If making mini muffs, bake for 15-18 minutes. For regular muffins they will probably need 5-10 minutes more. 

The muffins will keep well in the fridge for around five days and you can also freeze them.

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💗some other sweet muffins 💗

free and wild | peach + honey muffins

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Prune girl,

What do you think about when you lie on your back, all four paws in the air and teeth showing, like your pretty face is caught in a grin? You can switch from deep slumber to paws-up in a second. In that deepest, most peaceful sleep, do you drift through pale pink clouds and run through long grass, wet with dew, chasing endless rabbits, barrelling through small streams and forests filled with butterflies? Is baby sister Suzi by your side as you run, always fast, but never fast enough to catch the rabbit, so your dream can go on and on? Do you dream that there’s a farmhouse in a green valley, with stone walls the color of honeycomb and roses climbing on trellises; with warm wood floors and soft beds for you to sink into after your chases? What are you thinking about when you’re dozing in the garden with the gulls screeching above you as they come in from the sea? Can you smell the ocean salt mingling with the inland breezes, bringing in visions of ships and barges and adventure, as you lie on the patio and sniff the air? Or are you thinking of the pheasants, roaming the countryside, running through wheat fields and pastures dotted with cows, where farm dogs roam, free and wild? Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be them?

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And what goes on in that head of yours when you’re napping quietly on a blanket and Suzi clumsily lies down, right next to you, maybe touching you? You have a really beautiful head, Prune girl, maybe more greyhound-like than the chunky, soulful faces of your Labrador cousins. But you’re not particularly impressed by all that closeness, are you? You know baby sister means well, so you wait, maybe a minute, then you heave a tortured sigh and go sleep elsewhere, a couple of meters away. You seem to have learned that people, and Suzi, mean well when they come to fawn over you, and they should be tolerated, at least for some amount of time. It is just so hard to tell what you’re thinking. Sometimes you seem to be embraced by a silent gray cloud of melancholy, your big amber eyes seem to drift so far away. From living with you we know it’s too simple to say dogs can’t ponder the past. Do you think of the friends you grew up with, your mother, those you lost? Your pups that are all grown up now, or the tiny pup that didn’t make it; who you kept returning to your bed to look for, long after he had faded away. We know you worry, often too much.

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But we also know you can feel uninhibitedly happy. Is that how you feel when you gallop out of the wire gate in the morning when I hold it open before a walk? Are you thinking about the rabbits you’ll see as you drag one of your preferred humans through the tangled summer grass? And those small jumps you do, on the spot, when one of the preferred humans come home. It’s like your whole body is consumed by a bouncy spring. Your uncanny ability to sniff out all kinds of human foods, and to ignore anything remotely healthy. You know we’ll always give in; that we’ll take the mundane dog food out of your silver bowl, we’ll find a snack, you’ll grab it and run over to the rug in the living room, as sunshine streams through the windows and a sleepy Suzi naps. Because despite the fact you’ve been with us for almost all of your ten years, you will always know us far better than we’ll know you. You will always be a mystery, with your unreadable eyes the color of leaves after an Indian summer; your tentative cuddliness, and warm charcoal fur.

“the secrets inside her mind are like flowers in a garden at night time, filling the darkness with perfume”
- Fumiko Enchi

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Happy birthday to Prune angel. One of my many nicknames for her is Pruney muffin, so here are some muffins, almost as sweet as our girl. This is a very simple muffin formula that I think would work well with any stone fruits, or any fruit/berry in other seasons. I hope you try them.
If you scroll down to the end of this post, there are some sweet photos of Pruney recently, doing aaalll the Labrador things.
Love you ❤️

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peach + honey muffins

1/2c (60g) brown rice flour
1/2c (50g) oat flour
1/2c (50g) almond meal
2T flax meal*
1tsp baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
1/3c (80ml) honey
2 free range eggs
1/4c (60ml) olive oil
2/3c (160ml) milk of choice
1/2T apple cider vinegar
1tsp pure vanilla extract
1 heaped cup chopped peaches


Preheat the oven to 180’c, 350’f and line/oil a muffin tin.
Measure your milk of choice into a mug or measuring cup. Add the 1/2T apple cider vinegar, stir and set aside as you continue with the rest of the recipe. You can also use 2/3c buttermilk instead.
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, flax meal, baking powder/soda and salt. In a smaller bowl, beat the eggs with the oil. Add honey, vanilla and the milk-vinegar mix.
Gently toss the sliced peaches in the dry ingredients, which should help stop the fruits from sinking. Then add the wet ingredients, gently stir together until the batter is smooth with only a few visible streaks of flour.
Spoon into the muffin tray. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a skewer inserted through the muff comes out clean. You can also make mini muffs, but they won’t need as long in the oven so keep an eye on them.
The muffins will keep well for around 4 days on the counter, but will freeze/defrost nicely.

*If you’re not looking to make these muffins gluten free, feel free to use 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (or spelt flour) instead, no need for the flax meal. These muffs aren’t super fussy, unlike Pruney princess in these photos below.


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electricity | rosemary chocolate chunk cookies

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Apparently it is called petrichor. The distinct smell of the earth after rain, particularly after an extended period of warm, dry weather. An evocative smell, reminiscent of flowing streams and spontaneously flowering valleys; long grass wet with dew; soil dark like freshly ground coffee. Petrichor seems to carry with it the kind of rain that is seen as relief, rather than the constant, hounding rain that chases through northern Europe in winter, driven by wind and, seemingly, despair. But the rain eventually gives way to the dry spells of summer. Circling dust and relentless blue skies, grass and wheat slowly fading.

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The rain started about 15 minutes after I began my run. It was early morning, a warm one, with the kind of clammy atmosphere that leaves skin sticky to the touch. Clouds were heavy, in angry sheets, heather gray and violet. There had been some low rumbles of thunder, when Prune and I took our humid walk by the water. The lake itself was perfectly still, a mirror, soft ripples a portrait of the moody skies suspended above us. Prune didn't notice the thunder; she watched the rabbits scattering between the hilly pastures one side the footpath to the brush lining the shore, where bushes were laden with fading blossom, so a spirited pink looked watercolor.
That first bout of rain only lasted a few minutes, soaking fields and darkening tarmac. The smell of petrichor filled the air, it hummed through all of us that were out in that shower; my running shirt was three shades darker than normal, the cows revelled in the respite, farm workers rushing to the fields on bikes pulled their hoods over their heads.

The rain stopped, which is when the lightning started. It had been a while, since I was outside in a real thunderstorm. I forgot the way that lightning plays with you. The first flash, you think it was something else; a camera; your imagination. Lightning without rain was somehow sinister, taunting, and I was suddenly covered in goosebumps. Not from coldness; it was still disconcertingly mild, but because, when you're out in a storm, there's a feeling that raw nature is so close. I felt a small pounding in my head, doubtlessly from electricity. Bursts of light illuminated the slumbering countryside, mature wheat too bright in the gloom.
It started to rain again.

I made it back to the lake, towards the end of my run. Lightning and thunder played out their duet sporadically, the sheep sheltered together on the hillside. There was no wind and the air was heavy with water and warmth. Electricity was everywhere, dripping from the leaves of the bushes and wire outlining the pasture. Thunder echoed along the coast; lightning punctured the sky and a small boat lolled on the glassy water. There was still a pounding in my head and goosebumps came in bouts, not from the tiredness of a run. I think it was the storm’s way of talking to me.

"I take what's mine, then take some more. It rains, it pours, it rains, it pours"
- A$AP Rocky ft. Skepta, Praise the Lord (Da Shine)

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Hi from deep within the realm of summer weather and chocolate chip cookie science, which is a thing. I have a few ccc recipes on the blog, but I (strangely?) like trying new variations and techniques. The rosemary in these cookies is a very loveable addition, kind of evocative of tangled gardens and countryside. The herbalness somehow cuts through the cookieness.
The method for these cookies is a little… different and possibly fussy, but I enjoy complicating my life by insisting I use higher maintenance ingredients (cough coconut oil) so it is one method I’ve found for super big, flat cookies, like the bakery kind, with all the pug-like wrinkles. It’s actually not complicated but I included a lot of troubleshooting in the instructions so the recipe looks long. I love the other two ccc recipes on the blog which are both great and a little less high maintenance, but if you want giiiant, chewy, bakery-style cookies, I’d try these babies.
Anyway. Love and cookies to you ❤️

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rosemary chocolate chunk cookies

1 1/2c (165g) spelt flour
3/4tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
1/2c (125ml) coconut oil, either melted/solid is fine
1/2c (75g) coconut sugar (or dark brown sugar)
1/2c (75g) turbinado/pure cane sugar
1 free range egg (best if it’s been at room temp for a bit)
1tsp pure vanilla extract
few sprigs rosemary
110g (4 ounces) dark chocolate, chopped chunky, from a bar (70%-85% cacao content)*


A note to start: the method seems a little odd and involved, but if you want cute looking very spread-y, wrinkled, flat cookies (like in the photos) it’s what I found to work best.

Preheat the oven to 180’c, 350’f. Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper and keep the trays somewhere a little warm, for example above the oven.
Combine both types of sugar in a small bowl with the sprigs of rosemary. Use your fingers to rub the rosemary into the sugar for around 30 seconds, it should become very herbal and fragrant. You can then take the rosemary out of the bowl - tiny pieces are ok, but I’d check for any leaves that are left behind and remove those.
In a small pan over low heat or in a microwave friendly bowl, gently melt the coconut oil. As it melts fully, stir through the rosemary sugar. The sugar should become ‘melty’ and there should be no visible clumps, it should become a smooth, light mixture kind of caramel in color. Set aside to cool slightly (you will be adding the egg and you don’t want to scramble it), but not too much - you want the coconut oil to be a little warm and definitely with no visible solids.
While letting the sugar-oil mix cool, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. If your sugar-oil mix is just warm and not hot, beat in the egg. If the egg has been at room temperature for a while, there shouldn’t be any visible effects on the sugar-oil mix. If the oil starts to harden (if the egg is cold), heat it veeeery gently, no scrambled eggs necessary. Once the egg is combined, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.
Add the wet mix to the dry and combine gently with a wooden spoon. As the dough comes together it will seem greasy, that’s ok. You can add the chocolate chunks at this time and bring the dough together.
Scoop out rounds of about 3 tablespoons onto a baking sheet, no need to flatten. They’re really going to spread, which makes them cute, but I underestimated how much space these babies would need and I had to cut a couple of them away from each other (as you may be able to tell in the photos). So, perhaps limit to 4/5 cookies per sheet, you’ll get 8-10 cookies, so you can do rotations in the oven if you need to.
Bake for 17-19 minutes, this will depend a little on the size of your scoops. The cookies will appear just set. They will firm up as they cool, so give them a few minutes on the baking tray to cool first.
The cookies will keep for a few days in an airtight container, they will become a little more crispy as they sit, but I kiind of doubt they’ll hang around for too long.

*chocolate science is another thing altogether but it’s important you use an actual bar rather than chocolate chips, which are often made so they don’t melt, and retain their shape. You want chocolate puddles, so standard melty chocolate is better. You can just cut chunky pieces with a knife. The higher the cacao content, the less sweet the cookies will be, so choose what you like 💕

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