Stop - Unplug - Escape - Enjoy Stop - Unplug - Escape - Enjoy

Fennel’s Journal A Meaningful Life

A Meaningful Life is the first and perhaps most important Journal. It documents the origins of Fennel's Priory and Fennel's definition of what makes a meaningful life. With themes ranging from escapism, adventure, work-life balance, identity and purpose, through to traditionalism and country living, it sets the scene for future editions, building messages that are central to Fennel's Priory. Ultimately it conveys the importance of a relaxed, balanced, and meaningful life.

Abridged eBook available. Extended edition in all formats is in progress. Book publication schedule can be seen here.

  • Contents

    Chapters

    1. Preface – An introduction to Fennel's Journal.
    2. The Promise – A sincere and honest start to our journey together. Watch the video.
    3. Where the World is Quiet – Fennel rises early and notices that the Priory is real. Read sample chapter.
    4. Alone at the Priory – Fennel decides to live by the ideals of the Priory. 
    5. Home for Breakfast – The Priory's core message is defined. Read sample chapter.
    6. A Better Life – Quality of life, on our terms.
    7. Tea Leaves – Fennel reflects upon the origins of the Priory.
    8. A Meaningful Life – We're here for a reason, which gives us purpose.
    9. Time, Out – Making time to appreciate the little things.
    10. The Unknown of the Familiar – How a different perspective can alter everything.
    11. A Spring Hedgerow – It's amazing what can be seen at this time of year.
    12. Believing – Faith in one's self and one's maker.
    13. The Sky, Reflected – Fennel contemplates the allure of water.
    14. Dusk – Fennel savours the twilight hour in his garden.
    15. Treasured Things – Fennel takes a look around his study.
    16. Time to be Traditional – Looking to the past, Fennel explains his view of time.
    17. Dressed for the Occasion – Fennel reaches for his favourite tweeds.
    18. Keeping it Real – If it's real, we'll never have to wake from the dream.
    19. Into the Light – The year ends on a high. Read sample chapter.
    20. The Right Side of Happiness – The way forward is marked by increased optimism.
    21. Remembrance – The advice of a learned friend.

    Publication details

    Published by Fennel’s Priory Limited. Global book distribution by Ingram.

    • First shared as handwritten letters in 2006
    • Limited edition collectors' magazine published in 2012
    • Abridged eBook published in 2013
    • Extended version in hardback and paperback published in 2018
    • Audiobook published in 2018

    Copyright © Fennel Hudson 2006, 2017

    • Hardback ISBN 978-1-909947-02-3
    • Paperback ISBN 978-1-909947-99-3
    • eBook ISBN 978-1-909947-01-6
    • Kindle ISBN 978-1-909947-00-9
    • Audiobook download ISBN 978-1-909947-03-0
    • Audiobook CD ISBN 978-1-909947-98-6

    A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.


     

  • Commentary

    Fennel's commentary

    Have you ever had one of those days when you stop and ask yourself whether the effort you're making, and the sacrifices you've made, are worth the pleasures (or pains) they bring? Perhaps its a day when your boss screams at you, unpayable bills come out of your ears and, most upsettingly, you realise that your home life isn't as perfect as the one you'd wished for.

    What if that day doesn't end? What if it becomes a week, or a month or a year? What if it leads you to an abyss of mere 'existence' or an event that wraps itself around you like a plastic bag being pulled over your face? You can't scream, or breathe, or see. Where do you turn to for an escape?

    The abyss is where I found myself in 2003 after an event that ended one life and began another. Or, rather, it rekindled a former life. It took me three years to return to a state where I was confident enough to write about the experience and how it had shaped my current and future life. A Meaningful Life was the result of this initial soul searching. It tracks my process of rediscovery, where I moved from living in an imaginary place (called The Priory) to making my imagined paradise a real world where I – and people like me – could live a more naturally-paced and rewarding life. 

    The Priory of my dreams became Fennel's Priory – a perceived view of the world based upon deep-rooted values and beliefs, where traditions and old-fashioned country living counteract the fast-paced and hostile modern world. The journal discusses the origins of these values and defines the personality of Fennel's Priory, setting the scene for future journals which cumulatively convey the importance of a relaxed, balanced, and good-humoured rural life.

    The message of A Meaningful Life is 'rural and traditional escapism' – drawing inspiration from natural and traditional things and, through adventures into this world, finding freedom, identity and purpose. While future journals address specific facets of life, this book gives the most rounded view. It's a proper introduction to life at the Priory.


     

  • Quotes

    Favourite Quote

    "Life is the most beautiful and rewarding gift. We just need to take time out to allow us to reflect, change our perspective, and see things in their best light. Sometimes we just have to stop and feel the pulse of the Earth, the rhythm of the seasons and the internal voice that was once our childhood friend. As the natural world grows smaller, so too does its intensity and the size of the window through which it may be viewed."

    • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

    Other Quotes:

    About quality of life:

    Life is the most beautiful and rewarding gift. Fennel Hudson author quote.

    "As travellers through time, we are burdened with the stone in our shoe that tells us to stop running, to pause and take stock before we stumble and fall. We should make time to savour the quality of our lives before it’s too late."

    "It is possible to escape the complexities, challenges and pace of modern life. All we have to do is close our eyes and picture a quiet world where time moves slowly."

    "Real life is to be found in natural things that have meaning. The real world, in my opinion, exists in the countryside, where Nature goes about her quiet business and brings us greatest pleasure."

    "One cannot help but identify with the life-giving quality of water, not just to quench our thirst, but for our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. As an angler and a gardener, I cherish each drop of rain that falls."

    "Stop – Unplug – Escape – Enjoy. This is the message of the Priory, and the key to enjoying a peaceful and rewarding life."

    • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

    About work-life balance:

    "It was a country life, a precious existence. I would tend to roses during the day; fish, shoot, or write each evening; I’d eat food grown just thirty feet from my back door and always have time to savour the changing seasons. I was completely happy. But I dropped my gardening tools, threw my bicycle over a hedge and went in search of fortunes laid beneath the hangman’s noose."

    "Status: the perpetual carrot that entices us from the front and prods us in the back. Disconnect from society’s pressure to conform. Do things your own way."

    "The bitter gale of business: a manager in meltdown, a customer complaining; colleagues shouting, lying and scrambling to beat each other to the top of empty careers; heads in hands, fingers scratching across table tops, wristwatches that ticked until they became deafening. All this to feel coins in our pockets."

    "Life can be impossibly tough. At times it seems like there is no escape from either the pressure or monotony of a world where you are corralled into being something or someone you are not. But there is an escape, to more peaceful and gentler places, and a happier state of mind."

    • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

    About individuality:

    "A crowd of people does not always know who or what is at its centre, especially when it’s moving outwards. I am moving inwards, firstly to know myself and secondly to share what I find."

    "To be different is to stand out, be labelled ‘weird’ and ostracised from the most popular groups. Yet these qualities of individuality, freethinking, identity and self-assurance are what we’re encouraged to have in later life when we seek employment and promotion. People might consider you eccentric for being different, but this is good. Leaders and visionaries are not conformists afraid of standing out."

    "Have courage to go your own way and fulfil the dreams that are unique and important to you."

    "Recent generations seem to consider ‘old-fashioned’ thinking as out-dated and without place in the modern world. I beg to differ. After all, who has greater faith? He who looks to and learns from the past, or the man who cares not for consequence?"

    "I admit to being prone to deep thinking, which – given that I’m emerging from dark times – can take me to some very sombre or profound places. But this is no bad thing. I always resurface wiser and with a way of viewing things that is different to before."

    • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

    About dreams:

    "We all need to believe in something, a dream that gives us optimism and faith. If we spend enough time dreaming, then the dream might eventually become real."

    "As a child I would play with such imagination that the ‘real’ world was never real at all. It was full of mystery, adventure and possibility."

    "Often I have found myself gazing up at clouds – yesterday’s seas and tomorrow’s streams – to think of them as floating on an ultraviolet sea, beyond which is the infinity of space that presents so much wonder and so many questions."

    "A perpetual world; a world within a world. Of my mind and outside my mind. The real world is the dream world."

    • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

    About creativity:

    "I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who intends to take the longest possible route to a destination that will always be over the next hill."

    "I like working among ‘creative clutter’. It gives me a sense of activity and achievement. File something away, out of sight where it no longer reminds me of its purpose, and I fear that it will become forgotten – like the half-eaten ploughman’s I found in the bottom drawer of my desk the other day."

    • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

    About nature:

    Stop and feel the pulse of the earth. Fennel Hudson author quote.

    "The world grows ever complex. More urban. Less peaceful. Sometimes we just have to stop and feel the pulse of the Earth, the rhythm of the seasons and the internal voice that was once our childhood friend."

    "Study the nature around you, but also within you."

    "The more we try to control nature, the more imbalanced our world becomes."

    "As the natural world grows smaller, so too does its intensity and the size of the window through which it may be viewed."

    • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

    About fine things:

    "A traditional Englishman drinks tea to the point where his blood has long-since been replaced with an infusion of Ceylon, Assam, and Darjeeling. I like tea so much that I’m considering changing my name to Bergamot so that I can exist in a perpetual state of Earl Grey contentment."

    "A man can never have too many books. Neither can he have too many fountain pens, hats, fishing rods, waistcoats, tea caddies, paintings or whatever helps him to feel at home in his surroundings and communicate his personality to the world."

    "The real reason I like natural fabrics is not just because they are traditional, but because of their provenance. I like the thought that, for example, a favourite tweed jacket was once a sheep, living upon a mountain in Scotland…Man-made fabrics? What provenance do they have? A squirt of gloop into a petri dish? Strands of plastic spun in sterile laboratories? They are but toxins made safe by men in white coats."

    "Pride of place in my wardrobe is an Edwardian-style Norfolk Jacket in Derby Tweed. It is silk-lined with leather-clad buttons and has a smell that reminds me of wet moss and fallen leaves."

    • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

     

  • Testimonials

    Reader Testimonials

    “It’s Jack Hargreaves. It’s Countryfile. It’s quality Sunday newspaper stuff. It’s 1948, all over again.”

    “I loved reading this Journal. It’s inspiring. Keep going young man – the Journal has the beginnings of something very special.”

    “Fennel has turned out a masterpiece about rural living and the life we all seek.”

    “Fennel’s chosen trajectory is firmly in the slow lane. He’s a countryman, with courage to stand behind his traditional values.”

    “It is so refreshing to read something a little different, something I can identify with rather than the usual modern-day nonsense. Like Fennel I appreciate a quiet rural life: gardening, the countryside, the finer things and traditional angling. To find an author who writes about all of these is a real revelation!”


     

Chapters

  1. Preface – An introduction to Fennel's Journal.
  2. The Promise – A sincere and honest start to our journey together. Watch the video.
  3. Where the World is Quiet – Fennel rises early and notices that the Priory is real. Read sample chapter.
  4. Alone at the Priory – Fennel decides to live by the ideals of the Priory. 
  5. Home for Breakfast – The Priory's core message is defined. Read sample chapter.
  6. A Better Life – Quality of life, on our terms.
  7. Tea Leaves – Fennel reflects upon the origins of the Priory.
  8. A Meaningful Life – We're here for a reason, which gives us purpose.
  9. Time, Out – Making time to appreciate the little things.
  10. The Unknown of the Familiar – How a different perspective can alter everything.
  11. A Spring Hedgerow – It's amazing what can be seen at this time of year.
  12. Believing – Faith in one's self and one's maker.
  13. The Sky, Reflected – Fennel contemplates the allure of water.
  14. Dusk – Fennel savours the twilight hour in his garden.
  15. Treasured Things – Fennel takes a look around his study.
  16. Time to be Traditional – Looking to the past, Fennel explains his view of time.
  17. Dressed for the Occasion – Fennel reaches for his favourite tweeds.
  18. Keeping it Real – If it's real, we'll never have to wake from the dream.
  19. Into the Light – The year ends on a high. Read sample chapter.
  20. The Right Side of Happiness – The way forward is marked by increased optimism.
  21. Remembrance – The advice of a learned friend.

Publication details

Published by Fennel’s Priory Limited. Global book distribution by Ingram.

  • First shared as handwritten letters in 2006
  • Limited edition collectors' magazine published in 2012
  • Abridged eBook published in 2013
  • Extended version in hardback and paperback published in 2018
  • Audiobook published in 2018

Copyright © Fennel Hudson 2006, 2017

  • Hardback ISBN 978-1-909947-02-3
  • Paperback ISBN 978-1-909947-99-3
  • eBook ISBN 978-1-909947-01-6
  • Kindle ISBN 978-1-909947-00-9
  • Audiobook download ISBN 978-1-909947-03-0
  • Audiobook CD ISBN 978-1-909947-98-6

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.


 

Fennel's commentary

Have you ever had one of those days when you stop and ask yourself whether the effort you're making, and the sacrifices you've made, are worth the pleasures (or pains) they bring? Perhaps its a day when your boss screams at you, unpayable bills come out of your ears and, most upsettingly, you realise that your home life isn't as perfect as the one you'd wished for.

What if that day doesn't end? What if it becomes a week, or a month or a year? What if it leads you to an abyss of mere 'existence' or an event that wraps itself around you like a plastic bag being pulled over your face? You can't scream, or breathe, or see. Where do you turn to for an escape?

The abyss is where I found myself in 2003 after an event that ended one life and began another. Or, rather, it rekindled a former life. It took me three years to return to a state where I was confident enough to write about the experience and how it had shaped my current and future life. A Meaningful Life was the result of this initial soul searching. It tracks my process of rediscovery, where I moved from living in an imaginary place (called The Priory) to making my imagined paradise a real world where I – and people like me – could live a more naturally-paced and rewarding life. 

The Priory of my dreams became Fennel's Priory – a perceived view of the world based upon deep-rooted values and beliefs, where traditions and old-fashioned country living counteract the fast-paced and hostile modern world. The journal discusses the origins of these values and defines the personality of Fennel's Priory, setting the scene for future journals which cumulatively convey the importance of a relaxed, balanced, and good-humoured rural life.

The message of A Meaningful Life is 'rural and traditional escapism' – drawing inspiration from natural and traditional things and, through adventures into this world, finding freedom, identity and purpose. While future journals address specific facets of life, this book gives the most rounded view. It's a proper introduction to life at the Priory.


 

Favourite Quote

"Life is the most beautiful and rewarding gift. We just need to take time out to allow us to reflect, change our perspective, and see things in their best light. Sometimes we just have to stop and feel the pulse of the Earth, the rhythm of the seasons and the internal voice that was once our childhood friend. As the natural world grows smaller, so too does its intensity and the size of the window through which it may be viewed."

  • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

Other Quotes:

About quality of life:

Life is the most beautiful and rewarding gift. Fennel Hudson author quote.

"As travellers through time, we are burdened with the stone in our shoe that tells us to stop running, to pause and take stock before we stumble and fall. We should make time to savour the quality of our lives before it’s too late."

"It is possible to escape the complexities, challenges and pace of modern life. All we have to do is close our eyes and picture a quiet world where time moves slowly."

"Real life is to be found in natural things that have meaning. The real world, in my opinion, exists in the countryside, where Nature goes about her quiet business and brings us greatest pleasure."

"One cannot help but identify with the life-giving quality of water, not just to quench our thirst, but for our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. As an angler and a gardener, I cherish each drop of rain that falls."

"Stop – Unplug – Escape – Enjoy. This is the message of the Priory, and the key to enjoying a peaceful and rewarding life."

  • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

About work-life balance:

"It was a country life, a precious existence. I would tend to roses during the day; fish, shoot, or write each evening; I’d eat food grown just thirty feet from my back door and always have time to savour the changing seasons. I was completely happy. But I dropped my gardening tools, threw my bicycle over a hedge and went in search of fortunes laid beneath the hangman’s noose."

"Status: the perpetual carrot that entices us from the front and prods us in the back. Disconnect from society’s pressure to conform. Do things your own way."

"The bitter gale of business: a manager in meltdown, a customer complaining; colleagues shouting, lying and scrambling to beat each other to the top of empty careers; heads in hands, fingers scratching across table tops, wristwatches that ticked until they became deafening. All this to feel coins in our pockets."

"Life can be impossibly tough. At times it seems like there is no escape from either the pressure or monotony of a world where you are corralled into being something or someone you are not. But there is an escape, to more peaceful and gentler places, and a happier state of mind."

  • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

About individuality:

"A crowd of people does not always know who or what is at its centre, especially when it’s moving outwards. I am moving inwards, firstly to know myself and secondly to share what I find."

"To be different is to stand out, be labelled ‘weird’ and ostracised from the most popular groups. Yet these qualities of individuality, freethinking, identity and self-assurance are what we’re encouraged to have in later life when we seek employment and promotion. People might consider you eccentric for being different, but this is good. Leaders and visionaries are not conformists afraid of standing out."

"Have courage to go your own way and fulfil the dreams that are unique and important to you."

"Recent generations seem to consider ‘old-fashioned’ thinking as out-dated and without place in the modern world. I beg to differ. After all, who has greater faith? He who looks to and learns from the past, or the man who cares not for consequence?"

"I admit to being prone to deep thinking, which – given that I’m emerging from dark times – can take me to some very sombre or profound places. But this is no bad thing. I always resurface wiser and with a way of viewing things that is different to before."

  • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

About dreams:

"We all need to believe in something, a dream that gives us optimism and faith. If we spend enough time dreaming, then the dream might eventually become real."

"As a child I would play with such imagination that the ‘real’ world was never real at all. It was full of mystery, adventure and possibility."

"Often I have found myself gazing up at clouds – yesterday’s seas and tomorrow’s streams – to think of them as floating on an ultraviolet sea, beyond which is the infinity of space that presents so much wonder and so many questions."

"A perpetual world; a world within a world. Of my mind and outside my mind. The real world is the dream world."

  • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

About creativity:

"I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who intends to take the longest possible route to a destination that will always be over the next hill."

"I like working among ‘creative clutter’. It gives me a sense of activity and achievement. File something away, out of sight where it no longer reminds me of its purpose, and I fear that it will become forgotten – like the half-eaten ploughman’s I found in the bottom drawer of my desk the other day."

  • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

About nature:

Stop and feel the pulse of the earth. Fennel Hudson author quote.

"The world grows ever complex. More urban. Less peaceful. Sometimes we just have to stop and feel the pulse of the Earth, the rhythm of the seasons and the internal voice that was once our childhood friend."

"Study the nature around you, but also within you."

"The more we try to control nature, the more imbalanced our world becomes."

"As the natural world grows smaller, so too does its intensity and the size of the window through which it may be viewed."

  • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

About fine things:

"A traditional Englishman drinks tea to the point where his blood has long-since been replaced with an infusion of Ceylon, Assam, and Darjeeling. I like tea so much that I’m considering changing my name to Bergamot so that I can exist in a perpetual state of Earl Grey contentment."

"A man can never have too many books. Neither can he have too many fountain pens, hats, fishing rods, waistcoats, tea caddies, paintings or whatever helps him to feel at home in his surroundings and communicate his personality to the world."

"The real reason I like natural fabrics is not just because they are traditional, but because of their provenance. I like the thought that, for example, a favourite tweed jacket was once a sheep, living upon a mountain in Scotland…Man-made fabrics? What provenance do they have? A squirt of gloop into a petri dish? Strands of plastic spun in sterile laboratories? They are but toxins made safe by men in white coats."

"Pride of place in my wardrobe is an Edwardian-style Norfolk Jacket in Derby Tweed. It is silk-lined with leather-clad buttons and has a smell that reminds me of wet moss and fallen leaves."

  • Fennel Hudson, A Meaningful Life, Fennel's Journal No. 1

 

Reader Testimonials

“It’s Jack Hargreaves. It’s Countryfile. It’s quality Sunday newspaper stuff. It’s 1948, all over again.”

“I loved reading this Journal. It’s inspiring. Keep going young man – the Journal has the beginnings of something very special.”

“Fennel has turned out a masterpiece about rural living and the life we all seek.”

“Fennel’s chosen trajectory is firmly in the slow lane. He’s a countryman, with courage to stand behind his traditional values.”

“It is so refreshing to read something a little different, something I can identify with rather than the usual modern-day nonsense. Like Fennel I appreciate a quiet rural life: gardening, the countryside, the finer things and traditional angling. To find an author who writes about all of these is a real revelation!”


 

Explore the Journals

Fennel’s Journal is the heartfelt and entertaining account of one man’s search for an old-fashioned and peaceful rural life. Written by lifestyle author Fennel Hudson, the Journal traces his attempts to balance the pressures of modern living by following the mantra of ‘Stop – Unplug – Escape – Enjoy’.

The Priory, what's in a name?

The Priory is a philosophy and a belief system that says it is possible to balance the ever-growing complexities and pace of modern life. It is also a celebration of wildlife and country living, those things that serve as an antidote to the concrete claustrophobia of towns and cities.

The Priory Philosophy

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