to the lake

A full year after leaving the old cottage in the English countryside for the Pacific coast of Canada, we have found home. On the island, on a lake, in a cottage. A moment at the lake, and we all knew it. A month at the lake, and it has all fallen quite astonishingly into place.

paintbox lake

I first stayed in this cottage on Teanook Lake half my lifetime ago. It keeps reappearing in the family, this place. My grandparents built a house around the corner a good forty years ago; some of my cousins grew up here.

mirror lake

The old fishing village is now a handful of cottages. There are no motors on the water to disturb, and if there are ripples on the water it is the wind, the ducks, a swimmer. The water nurtures each cottage, and everyone cares for the water. Great, vivid connection.

raining lake

Despite its position just a few miles from the city, and the odd sounds that carry over now and then, the lake feels like a faraway place.

lake mist

Like the rolling hills of Sussex that we’d gaze across, like the mountains and ocean in my childhood home in the cove, this landscape is in constant, exquisitely beautiful change.


I find a new plant in the garden each day, we see another animal, another bird. The sheer variety in creatures and plantlife here is astonishing. Indigenous stories.

splashing lake

Yet if there’s one thing that I longed for in a home, it’s to be where we are living in the landscape, not just looking at it. Drinking it! Eating it! Diving into it.

childhood lake

There are great possibilities for us here, a million stories. Shall I tell you them? I look forward to it. We’re dreaming about so much. Keeping hens, keeping bees, growing and gathering food. Wild swimming, boating, fishing. Days and days of playing outside with friends. And setting up the old school studio to have workshops here!

storybook lake

It is so good to be home.

(Don’t miss a story from appleturnover on-the-lake. Sign up for the postcards.)

hammam towel

The hammam peştemal is the perfect towel, the traditional wrap of the Turkish bath.

hammam towel © elisa rathje 2012

Strong, light and beautiful, the hammam towel dries rapidly on a sunny beach after a swim, or flung over the tub after a bath.

hammam towel & basket © elisa rathje 2012


p>Three, four of them can slip unnoticeably into a basket bound for a swimming day out. We love them for wrapping like turbans round our wet hair, and the woven cloth is gorgeous to drape around our shoulders when the nights cool. They cost very little of the time and energy spent laundering heavier towels, so we’ve begun to use them year round. If you’re lucky you can find hand-loomed peştemals, even organic ones.


In an effort to summon summertime to the soggy north pacific coast, a few images from the archives. A reminder of beach days in days gone by, to invoke the season of sunshine and swimming.

vancouver archives, fun at english bay (swimming float scene), circa 1929

-vancouver archives, people swimming in kitsilano beach swimming pool, 1937

vancouver archives, men's swimming race in english bay, 1905

vancouver archives, sunbathers at kitsilano beach, 1937

We’ll be returning to England before the summer is out (but hopefully not before the summer is in!) to spend a few weeks in London with my sweetheart. We’ve all missed him dearly. Perhaps we’ll swim in a lido, or in the Victorian ponds on the Heath. The children would love that, they’re taking lessons, and they’re a pair of fish. Then to our little country cottage once more! I shall be tweeting some images of English beaches and lidos as wishes for a swimmingly beautiful late summer over there. Fingers crossed.