Blog posts with the tag: "summer"



Wow, a lot has happened since I last posted here. The big change is that I moved house. Our new place is a beautiful house in the countryside and there’s a summer house in the garden which can only mean one thing…writer’s den! I really dislike moving house, though, on a serious note. I’m a real homebody, and I like everything to have a place, so uprooting everything and getting new furniture has been a slow process and a stressful one at that.


In the past few months, I’ve been lucky enough to attend two retreats and get to hang out with some of my favourite magical ladies. One on the beautiful island of Malta, and one in bewitching Woodstock in Upstate New York. This was my third visit to Woodstock and that place is seriously starting to feel like a home away from home for me. There is something really special about spending time with like-minded women. It’s not something I do on a regular basis, as I live in the middle of nowhere and I don’t know any woo-inclined people locally. But when it happens it feels so right. It’s what I had always dreamed about as a teenager who loved The Craft, Buffy and Charmed. A whole coven! Meeting new people can be daunting, but I’ve never felt uncomfortable nor made to feel unwelcome at these gatherings. Quite the opposite!


I went to Malta for the full moon in May. The retreat was run by the fabulous Lisa Lister. If you haven’t read her book Code Red, then do it now! All women should read this book and learn that their period doesn’t need to be that ‘dreaded time of the month’. You can read more about Lisa’s work here. Lisa also has a brand new book out called Love Your Lady Landscape. I’ve just started reading it and I’ll be posting my thoughts on it soon. In Malta, we did SHE Flow yoga in front of an incredible coastline, stayed in a dreamy villa where we had a full moon circle, a cacao ceremony and had a secret ceremony in a 5,000-year-old temple.












At the end of June, I flew over to New York and caught the bus to Woodstock to catch-up with my witchy sisters at Veronica Varlow’s Magic House. I always have the best time there chatting, making beautiful things, hiking in the mystical woods and eating delicious healthy food. I danced in the river, made a flower crown, amazing smelling incense and a mojo bag (I actually know how to sew now!) and just missed seeing two baby bears (we had to skedaddle sharpish to avoid meeting mama bear!). To read more about the magical Miss Veronica Varlow and her retreats, classes and courses, head over to her website Danger Dame here. Another of my favourite witches, Gala Darling, did a blog post about the retreat and posted a gorgeous highlight reel here.





In between travels, I featured on my friend Wolf Sister’s blog series Wandering Kin where I spoke about the places I love to visit when I stay in Paris. You can read it here. I also attended her beautiful animal spirit and sound gong ceremony in London. Wolf Sister aka Tamara is gifted at doing such wonderful meditations! Check out her websites here for future events.


In Santorini, I sailed around a volcanic island, swam in hot springs, met the cats at the Gaia Winery and watched the famous sunset at Oia. I also fell in love with open-air cinemas, visiting both the one in Kamari (I absolutely adored the old Hollywood feel to the place and the jolly 40s/50s playlist) and getting all dressed up to go to the immersive Secret Cinema Presents: Dirty Dancing in East London. A park stood in for the Kellerman’s resort in the Catskills, but the rain stayed at bay and we were able to play mini golf, cook marshmallows and sneak into the forbidden Staff Quarters for some of our own dirty dancing.









I’ve also been using the long summer days to plan, organise and brainstorm how I want the next part of the year to blossom. I get a strange restlessness in the summer as if those long warm days are just a dream, and I must wake up from them. Summer is dream time, a time to fill up notebooks with inspiration, stolen lines of poetry that make your heart beat that little bit faster, and doodles of saucy mermaids. I seriously miss studying and academia, so I would love to get back into that and specialise in some area of Gothic. I’m also still working on my second novel, although I’ve had a few setbacks, namely conflicting ideas vying for my time! Still, I’m determined to get back on track.


Then there’s this very blog you are reading. I really want to fall back in love with blogging and make this place truly my own special haven online, filling it with all of my interests and ideas. I hope you join me for the ride!





Don’t get me wrong, English summertime is beautiful; meadows, beaches, picnics, beer gardens, music festivals, but oh the weather can be a little unpredictable. The past few weeks have been glorious here in the deeply pleasant countryside, but just when you have plans for the weekend, the weather forecast of high temperatures and cloudless skies turns into a big fat lie when you find yourself running from a downpour in highly inappropriate clothes. This happened last weekend when a plan to visit some cute animals at a farm were scuppered by lousy weather, and we were instead forced to go and see Jurassic World at possibly the tiniest cinema I have ever visited.


So, if your plans are ruined by unfavourable weather, fear not. Have an indoor picnic, select some summer films and let the silver screen sunshine provide some much-needed escapism. And because I’m helpful, here are my suggestions for 21 great summer movies!


1. Jaws



This is probably an obvious one and  crops up in most ‘best summer film’ lists, but with good reason. Released in June 1975, Jaws was one of the first ‘summer blockbusters’ and also the reason why I can’t have a relaxing swim in the sea. Watch as the beachgoers on Amity Island are hunted by a very hungry Great White. And if you want more, watch Jaws 2 and Jaws 3-D as well. But not Jaws 4 AKA Jaws: The Revenge, because it’s just terrible.


2. Grease




Another classic, Grease was one of my favourites as a child. Danny and Sandy meet over the summer, and then because this was in the days before social media and texting, he gets quite the surprise when Sandy starts at his high school. Funny, catchy songs and a flying car, what more could you want? Oh and I’m aiming to recreate Frenchy’s amazing bubblegum pink hair this weekend. Grease 2 is also still my guilty pleasure. Is that wrong?


3. Stealing Beauty



Where do I start with this film? It takes me back to being a teenager, when I first fell in love hard with this movie, and I completely related to Lucy’s poetic, innocent and romantic way of seeing the world (and her rocking out to Hole in her bedroom). The Tuscan scenery is sublime, Liv Tyler is gorgeous and the soundtrack is eclectic and wonderful. I probably watch this every summer, while drinking a glass of Montepulciano and dreaming of firefly sparkling Tuscan nights.


4. Vicky Cristina Barcelona




This is the second, and by no means the last of sumptuous, erotic European summer films. Javier Bardem might not be an obvious choice for the romantic lead, given some of his later villainous roles, but here he smoulders, as the object of affection for Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall and Penelope Cruz. This is all sultry heat and Spanish guitars.


5. I Know What You Did Last Summer




Another one from my teenage years, when I was obsessing over Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Party of Five. This came out after Scream, and alongside that, is one of the better of the slew of teenage slasher films that were released in the late nineties/early noughties. It also led me to read Jan Harold Brunvard’s book Too Good to be True: The Colossal Book of Urban Legends, which, if you like scary stories, is great for reading with a torch held under your chin.


6. My Summer of Love



Intense and beautiful, this film is set in Yorkshire and follows tomboy Mona as she befriends privileged Tamsin and sparks fly between them. But love never runs smoothly, and everything stands in their way.


7. Roman Holiday



Charming and bittersweet, this film was Audrey Hepburn’s first leading role and it won her an Oscar. I find her a delight to watch as the escaped princess, and Gregory Peck is quite a dish as the journalist who finds her, and falls for her.


8. Swimming Pool



Now a visit to France, where Crime author Sarah (Charlotte Rampling) is staying in her publisher’s villa. Her cold, frigid personality clashes with Julie’s, the carefree daughter of said publisher, who arrives unannounced. Things get stranger and stranger and you’ll be left wondering what really happened.


9. Dirty Dancing



Yep, another one from my childhood, although I had to sneakily watch this at a friend’s house when I was seven as my mum wouldn’t let me watch 15 certificate films (sorry mum!). At that age, I really had no idea what had happened to Penny, or why Robbie was such a dick, but I did and still do love the dancing and the music in this film.


10. Before Sunrise



A very 90s film, but that’s probably why I love it so much. American tourist Ethan Hawke persuades Julie Delpy to leave the train and explore Vienna together. Their chemistry is wonderful, but the best thing about this film is the witty intelligent conversations and frankness they share. My favourite of the trilogy.


11. Y tu mamá también



Sexy Mexican ménage à trois road movie not to watch with your parents!


12…. And God Created Woman



Oh I don’t see the point of dubbed films. You can’t hear the original language so I apologise that this trailer dubs Brigitte Bardot’s wonderful French voice. This was the film that made her a star, and as Juliete, she is at her pouting best as the sensual bad girl caught between two brothers.


13. The Virgin Suicides



Maybe not a typical summer movie, but this film has that dreamy, seductive quality which I associate with summer. Based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, this was Sofia Coppola’s directorial debut about the five Lisbon sisters, their overbearing parents and the neighbourhood boys fascinated with them.


14. Point Break



“One hundred percent pure adrenalin”. Keanu Reeves. Patrick Swayze. Surfing. Stick to the original – the remake is coming out soon.


15. Adventureland



When I was a teen, I spent a lot of time hanging out at my local theme park, riding the coasters, drinking slushies and checking out the guys. I thought it would be pretty sweet to work there, but after seeing this film, maybe not (unless Ryan Reynolds worked there too, but that’s highly unlikely).


16. (500) Days of Summer




Funny, quirky, clever and anti-romance? Love Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Love the soundtrack. Love, love, love.


17. Stand By Me



I had to include a film based on a Stephen King story. There is just something about the summer which makes me think of reading Stephen King.


18. Priceless



A French romantic comedy basically about high-class escorts. C’est bon!


19. Now and Then



This seriously brings back memories. Four women reminisce about the summer of 1970 when they were all twelve years old and on the cusp of womanhood. I haven’t seen this film in years and seriously need to see it again. I remember I had this book of interviews with young actresses and Christina Ricci saying she was mad that she had to grow up. I can relate; being a kid was awesome.


20. How to Make an American Quilt



Ok, I admit it, after watching the trailer for Now and Then, I was reminded of How to Make an American Quilt. Apart from the fact that I practically worshipped Winona Ryder in my younger years, I also really loved those sweeping 90s films with complicated love plots and awkward protagonists. I’d like to sneak Inventing the Abbotts and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape into that category too. So good. Plus this film makes me glad that I’m writing my thesis on a computer which I can back up, unlike poor Winona, whose months of work gets ruined by a gust of wind.


21. The Lost Boys



I think I could find a way of getting this film in every one of my favourites film lists. It is just 80s perfection. Mulleted vampire biker dudes, Jason Patric looking all Jim Morrison, all of Star’s awesome boho outfits and that soundtrack (excluding the creepy fairground song, which conjures up disturbing images of clowns in my mind). Even the gyrating, greasy saxophone dude is a legend.


What’s your favourite summer movie?







I’m very happy that I live in a part of the world that has seasons, and anticipate each one greatly. I get bored of having the same weather after a while, so although I love the long hot days of summer, around this time every year I start yearning for colder, darker days; days when I can wrap up in jumpers and scarves, sip hot chocolate and enjoy cosy Sundays reading while it rains outside. I feel guilty if I’m not out in the sun, but truth be told, I’m only occasionally an outdoorsy person. Most of the time I’m a complete homebody.



After a stormy weekend, the air here has cooled a little, and today I fished out a lightweight jumper and made a jar of homemade, vegan hot chocolate powder for the colder weather. I used cacao powder, Natvia and salt. I added a spoonful of this to almond milk and heated it. Here is a link to the recipe, although I did tinker with it a little as I find myself incapable of following recipes properly.



I write much better when I’m wrapped up inside. The heat or air-conditioning really puts me off for some reason. Also, I always associate this time of year with preparing to go back to school. I want to plan and schedule, clean, organise and buy a new pencil case and pretty new pens and notepads. I also take a serious look at my goals and what I need to do to reinforce them. It feels like a new beginning; a chance to start over. I love feeling motivated like this.



I’m intending on spending the coming Autumn working hard to sell my debut novel, writing another, studying again academically and working on my French and Spanish. I also want to start some kind of fitness routine to whip my sloth-like body into shape, as well as making lots of super healthy warming soups and casseroles.



What will you be doing?

Heather Blanchard

Welcome. Are you a writer, a bookworm, a daydreamer? Are you still clinging on to that magic that pervaded childhood? Pull up an armchair and get cosy. This blog is my dreamscape through an enchanted forest to a world of stories and the little things that make me happy; a chance to add a dash of sparkle to the daily grind. Here you will find the whimsical, the coveted, the Gothic and the romantic. Happy exploring!

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