Wednesday, 30 December 2009

new year's peeve.....

I like New Year's Eve. I like it because it is the end of something and the beginning of something, all at once. It's a marker, a signpost, a line. I like to celebrate New Year's Eve although that doesn't always mean a boozy party.

This NYE marks the end of a decade. We spent NYE 1999 with friends, each of us had chosen our favourite ten songs, EVER, because it was 1999. We ruined our friends' new rug shuffling and hopping about to Blur, Pulp and Nirvana with a little bit of Aretha Franklin and Polish covers of bad, sad rock songs. It was fun.

This year, G is 'on call'. Having never been in such a position before, he doesn't know what that actually means. I doubt it will mean putting a flashing light on top of the car and rushing off to a cellar flood in Evesham but, you never know. What it does mean, however, is that he won't be concentrating on having a good time on NYE.

G & I do not have the same approach to NYE. I like to spend NYE with friends and loved ones with something sparkly. No other elements are required. G is of the NYE element that has to have a good time, right from the start of the celebrations, otherwise NYE is NO FUN. The 'on call' element involved in this year's celebrations is likely to put a dampner on his enjoyment of anything other than a DVD and a pleasant family meal.

My instinct is to accept this arrangement and stay at home but I can't help myself wanting to pass around the dips and nibbles and hop around my living room at 12.05am.

Perhaps a night in with Graham Norton and Jools Holland is the way to go.

Monday, 28 December 2009

time space continuum displaced

...in the words of Dr Tennant, this week has really become 'The End of Time'. I spend all year longing for 'down' time, 'quiet' time, time at home, time to think. I've now had over a week of such luxury and it's time to get going again.

I'm having a great time but I've lost complete track of what day it is, what time it is, where I'm supposed to be. I'm horizontal. I am not sure I will be able to last a morning at work, never mind a whole day.

I don't want to drink any more wine, port, sherry, ginger wine. I certainly don't want to hear any Christmas music although that seems to have waned, thank goodness. I have an entire home-made Christmas cake in the cupboard under several biscuit selection boxes. I fear for my waistline (yes, more than usual).

We went to a party last night. I think I was over-dressed. My inertia has extended to a neglect of my ironing pile. I had to wear a frock because I had nothing else clean/ironed/wearable. I did feel a little uncomfortable though as everyone else was in jeans. It was a lovely party though. The kids managed to keep themselves occupied and the adults caught up on who had been where during the festivities. I did need a sit down though when we got home. I wore high heels, too - another sartorial error.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

betwixt and between


Yes, thank you, we had a lovely Christmas. We spent the morning opening far too many parcels to and from ourselves and from others. We were treated to a splendid and scrumptious meal by C&P. We played some fab games. We drank some very lovely wine. We indulged in some Christmas port and we watched a bit of comedy TV magic.

Our Boxing Day has been a quieter affair. Two of us went to see West Ham beat Portsmouth. The other two, thought about being dropped off in Knightsbridge to experience THE SALES but thought better of it and stayed in our new Christmas pyjamas. We then thought about going to the pictures (sorry, cinema) but decided that we could watch 'The Spiderwick Chronicles' instead. One of us then fell asleep and had a decidedly disquieting dream about Rob Brydon and an owl.

We went for a walk - to clear my mind and to pick up our cheese board from yesterday's feast. I so needed that walk, despite the rain. We saw a rainbow and wondered whether it's foot was at the bottom or the top of Hollow Street. It disappeared before we got there.

So...Christmas is officially over for another year. I am managing to reign in my Boxing Day compulsion to gather the Christmas cards into a pile and clear the decks. It will need to be done before New Year's Eve as we all get back to normal on 4th January and I really don't want to be picking up pine needles on 3rd.

I enjoy this week between Christmas and New Year. There's not a lot to do but an awful lot to think about. I look back on the year before and make my usual list for the following year. My main priority for the next couple of days is to prune my list into a manageable, achievable one. There are so many interests I want to pursue at the moment and I know I am setting myself up for disappointment if I try to do everything (again).

2009 has been a year of change and movement - some lovely, some not so lovely and I want 2010 to a year of consideration and consistency. As I type I'm not sure I'm going to get that. Consistency and consideration have never been two of my strong points - I'm a more adaptable, flexible kind of gal, taking what comes at me and trying to make the best of it. Perhaps as I get older I'd quite like to direct some of the proceedings instead of hanging on and trying to make everything come good.

So...lots of lists over the next couple of days. I had a beautiful red leather notebook for Christmas. Just ready for the start of 2010.

Enjoy your Quality Street. I love the barrels.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

'twas the night before Christmas....



Well, it's actually 9.30am but I'm sure you don't mind me getting ahead of myself.

My pretty bejewelled tree and a rather ostentatious peacock for your fuzzy, sherry-hazed (?) viewing sometime today. (Note to self: learn how to use camera properly in 2010).

The parcels are wrapped - this is the first time EVER G has wrapped any significant quantity of gifts before Christmas Eve. I feel quite victorious.

The fridge is full - I have a nice looking ham to cook. Which reminds me, I need to start cooking it sooner rather than later as we are going for festive mince pies to the B's early evening. J insists on ham, egg and chips on Christmas Eve. I'm not keen on the chips but I quite like having the ham to pick at until New Year's Day. I grant his wish graciously.

The laundry is up to date - although there are piles of redundant clothes hanging about. I had to clear out J's drawers. It was like looking through the cupboards for sell-by dates. I noticed, with shame, that some of his clothes are aged 8 - 9. He's 12. He doesn't wear them. He just buries them under his sports stuff. I hate to think what Forest Gump moments would have arisen if I'd left those 8-9 trousers in there....fashion hell.

So....there is nothing left to do other than wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2010.

I hope FC brings you all you wish for (and then some). Enjoy!

I imagine I will need projectforty bootcamp come 1st Jan...

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

getting carried away


This time last week I was looking forward to the kids finishing school, me finishing school and a week of gentle preparation before Christmas day. This week, I am wondering if I was slightly misguided.

I have one child who simply cannot wait for FC to arrive and is on serious countdown duty. I have another, who, is flipping between being ill and somewhat random. It's taking sometime for us to settle into our usual family pattern of jogging along quite nicely with the occasional spat. We seem to be spatting more and jogging less. Perhaps it's me.

I do get the sense that Christmas is changing for us as J & E get older. I find it harder to find presents that don't involve some kind of wireless application. I want them to have pencils and colouring books still but I think they'd prefer a dvd. There are some traditions that do not change. I always buy them pyjamas even though I don't really think of them as an actual present. I just like the idea of new pyjamas on Christmas day. I'm sure they'll be delighted!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

ski tuesday




We have a sub-section of decs devoted to skiing - a small grouping, so far, of two. Skiing snowman and skiing santa. They both look so cheerful. Perhaps their boots fit properly. Mine never do.

We are going skiing in February. The brochures usually arrive at the end of August. G spends early autumn scouring pages, attaching post-it notes and creating skiing spreadsheets. I do not jest. He loves to ski. He loves to ski with us. Two of the three of us love to ski. One of us likes it but doesn't like to ski for more than a couple of hours a day. Guess who that might be. I do, however, like ski holidays. I like the fact that the landscape is so different and that the whole holiday is spent together. I also like the fact that, over the years, I have wheedled and whined so that, recently, distance and accessibility to swimming pools and spas have been included in the spreadsheet calculations.

That's progress for you.

Monday, 21 December 2009

synchronicity city


Here I am typing away, wondering what little gem I can show you today, I am looking out of my window onto a couple of inches of icing snow on the top of next door's wheelie bin AND 'White Christmas' is playing on Radio 2. Sometimes things just come together, don't they?!

I now have the conundrum that I DO NOT DRIVE when it snows. Yes, a little pathetic, I know but once, a long time ago, I drove in the snow to go the sales in Bromley and I did a gentle slide along a suburban street, into a parked car. It wasn't a high speed incident but I didn't like it and I don't want to be involved in something like that again. It's best I just admire the snow, go for a walk in the snow and then wait for the snow on the road to melt.

I find myself in a conundrum as I have last minute things to source for the festivities. The fridge is full, the wine and beer and sherry supplies are buoyant but, as happens every year, we have run out of wrapping paper and I've got a pair of ill-advised boots to return to M&S before the post-Christmas queues grow. I'm also quite keen to buy a turkey to cook to have cold. I don't have to cook Christmas lunch which is a wonderful treat but has the downside of no leftovers.

Having said that, I am no leftover queen. I make stock. I freeze stock. I defrost stock when I need space in the freezer for ice cream. This does not make me feel frugal or green or pious. It makes me feel a little ridiculous.

We watched 'Cranford' last night. Is it me or have the bonnets got bigger?

Sunday, 20 December 2009

as promised


Is there anyone else out there who has never made papier mache? I mentioned the fact that I'd never made it either as a child or with my own children at a gathering of school-associated mothers and I felt as if I'd dropped down the league table of mothering.

I associate papier mache with lumpen bits of school-craft no matter how many beautifully crafted examples of the technique I see. I look at this bauble and cannot see how it is papier mache. I concentrate on the painting and the jolliness of it instead.

We had our venison pie last night. I would have liked a bit more gravy and I had had an incident with the puff pastry but everyone seemed to enjoy it. J & G had brought delicious either sides of the main meal and a dastardly game of Pictionary rounded off the evening.

My only disappointment was that the Whittle did not win Strictly. Having not seen the programme, perhaps he had some kind of dance-trauma but I doubt it. I bet he danced the best just as he's done on every Saturday night since the show began. I bet Craig R-H's a bit cross this morning.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

global festivities


We bought a set of 12 animal decorations in India on our travels years ago. Each year we count out the menagerie and each year we carefully count them back into their battered box with it's tiny squares of wadding which protect them for the other 11 months of the year. This year E arranged them around the bottom of the tree, giving it something of a Noah's Ark quality. I would hate to lose any of them.

We also swapped the Swatch watch we'd worn between us for the whole 16 month trip for some papier mache baubles which also take pride of place. They'll be along sometime this week.

I had a lovely web-wandering last night...

** a bun can dance has a great post about gift giving at Christmas **

** hen house has a magical tour around her festiva abode **

** 1/4 of an inch has posted a beautiful collection of makes and creations **

Enjoy your pre-Christmas weekend. I'm sure there will be some festivities occuring.

Friday, 18 December 2009

is it a horse, is it a goat?


I have no idea, it's blue and it's sparkly. This one is Cath Kidston 2009. I try to limit myself to one or two new decs each year but I've been a bit greedy this year.

I went to a workshop a while ago and some of the attendees were a little sniffy about Ms Kidston and her work - too samey, too everywhere, too easy etc. I love a bit of CK and I am grateful for her because she made pretty-retro OK again and I like that fact that even if you don't want to pay CK prices, it's possible to root about and get that look from all sorts of other places high-street or vintage. CK can be a bit pink for my liking but I love the spots and the florals and the sewing boxes.

As I type I think I can see a few tiny snowflakes. We are way out west and far awyay from the whiteout in Kent but, could there possibly be a chance of a white Christmas? How great would that be?

It's the last day of term for the kids and I am going to have the house to myself in an hour or so. I've got lots to do as we're having our first Christmas celebration tomorrow. Venison pie.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

little house on the pine tree


My sister bought this for me at Westonbirt Arboretum, a few years ago now. It's ceramic so is quite heavy. It needs a sturdy branch, otherwise it threatens to drop and I know that if it drops it will no longer be with us.

When I unwrap it each year, I think how nice it would be to have a little place like this by the sea or in the mountains, with a log-burner, a pile of cosy blankets, a basket of crafts and psychic Ocado delivery.

I hope you're enjoying this tour around our tree. I haven't had a look around yet to see if anyone else is doing such a thing. I suspect there is a huge Christmas tree blogring of which I am woefully unaware.

I think my interest in Christmas trees is possibly genetic. I have an aunt who used to participate in a charity Christmas tree decorating competition each year and who would send me photographs of her themed creations. Our tree is a culmination of years of collecting and not much editing. There are very few ornaments that do not find their way on to our six-footer each year.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

he's on his way....


I like this one because it's got that traditional Christmas dec look but was £1.99 from Homebase last week. I spied him as I replaced every single string of Christmas lights we own. Homebase does lights in very useful sealable tubs instead of wobbly cardboard boxes.

I am attracted to sparklier decorations this year, still no tinsel, but definitely shinier.

Monday, 14 December 2009

friend of the cup


My other favourite Christmas decoration 2009.

Am now a member of the official Christmas lurg club. Head - woolly. Ears - blocked. Stomach - churning. Ho ho ho.

Back soon with some deeper, more healthy thoughts.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

cup of festive cheer


Posting deco #2. I add to my collection each year, randomly, of course and I found this with its natural partner at Lexi Loves in Cirencester yesterday. It's by Gisela Graham.

I would make links on your behalf to both of these people but the links I found by googling aren't very useful. Please do not miss the 's' from Lexi Loves as I cannot responsible for the more risque websites you'll come across.

Gisela Graham is stocked far and wide - I'll leave you to do the google-work.

Mince pie making is calling but I've got a weird sensation in my neck and ears. I may be about to be struck with the festive flu....timing is, as always, everything.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

little boots


Just because they are here for a short while and where else could you display a pair of gold lame (read larmay) boots other than on your very own Christmas tree.

I've been watching Kirstie Allsop handmaking her Christmas. Well, you knew I would. I like KA. I think she's jolly and sensible and a bit of champion of the handmade. I wish, however the producers of the show had decided to shoot some more footage or do something instead of repeating the same sections of VT ad nauseum until I was forced to switch off after the 7th time I'd seen the blown blue bauble and the 8th time I'd learned that this was the first Christmas celebrated at Meadowgate for 37 years.

I'm all for Kirstie celebrating local craftsman and having a go at making a polar bear from icing but there really needed to be a bit less wadding.

E & I went Christmas shopping this morning and we had a lovely time. It was great to see her taking such care over her present buying and making such considered choices. We stopped for coffee at the Brewery Arts cafe and saw the most magnificent experience of paper cuts and sculptures. When I remember to look up the relevant artists. I'll post something useful about it. I've already taken my scalpel to an ordnance survey map after being inspired.

Am off to Malmesbury Abbey for a rousing carol and brass band concert this evening. I have just finished my Christmas cards and am planning a little mince pie making for the morrow.

I do love the countdown to Christmas...

Saturday, 5 December 2009

be prepared....




We have been invited out for Christmas lunch by friends who we invited for last year's Christmas lunch. We will eat late so that we can all indulge our respective Christmas traditions.

Ours are very predictable - up to see what FC has brought, a slice of two of Terry's Choc Orange before breakfast, buck's fizz at breakfast, some of the party might get dressed at this point, a little more present opening (if we're lucky) and then absent friends at 11am.

This is usually followed by a collective appreciation of the goodies amassed and general festive indulgence.

I enjoy cooking Christmas dinner. I enjoy gathering the mountains of food, even if it's just for the four of us, naming my turkey (no, I don't know why, but I do), preparing red cabbage, telling G how much the turkey cost and watching his eyebrows shoot up, it's the little things that make Christmas, you know.

In any case, I do not need to source a turkey this year, so will not be able to name it. I might name the tree instead.

I have not been able to resist making cranberry sauce (for jars) and braised red cabbage (for freezer).


I love the insides of red cabbage. That combination of red-purple and cream is very pleasing.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

the proper care and husbandry of lists



Almost every blog I've seen contains at least one list, and most of them contain more than one - lists of links, books, interests, followers (hopefully), tweets, feeds, online collections of information, favourite knits, favourite foods....I'll stop there because now I'm making a list without even thinking about it.

ANYWAY. I'm reading a book by a lady called Barbara Sher called 'What do I do if I want to do everything'. It's one of the most interesting self-help books I've ever read, mainly because it tells me that my interest in a wide range of (often unfinished) projects means that I am rather special and a 'scanner' rather than a flaky diletante (?!) with the attention span of a 6 year-old nativity Joseph.

I do like a self-help book that tells me I'm marvellous, not mad.

Anyway....one of the exercise she suggests (amongst others, such as placing your 'Scanner Day Book on a pedestal if one was to possess such a thing) is to make a list of things you don't have an interest in, thereby ruling out some of the pressure us flibbertigibbets feel when we overcrowd our waking minds with 'ooohhhs and aaaaahhhhs' over every potential hobby to take up, interest to explore, exhibition to visit, book to read.

Here's my top ten list of things I do not, no never, ever want to explore further:

- sport beyond the level of how it infiltrates my life at the moment being married to a man and mother to a son (both fairly obsessed)
- deep see diving
- pottery (making of)
- orienteering
- pot-holing
- huntin', shootin', fishin'
- archaeology (unless it involves fabric/yarn/sewing boxes)
- DIY
- science
- crime/reading about crime/reading about criminals/forensic scientists/CSI/waking the dead

I feel free already!

The book above is another suggestion of a self-help/enabling book. Apologies if you've seen it already. I have a sneaky feeling I might have posted the pic when I bought the book during the summer.

Julia Cameron of 'The Artist's Way' is the messenger on this one....morning pages. Not 'Morning, Pages' but 3 pages of long-hand writing every morning. I manage this for a week at a time, probably about once a month before I give up because it invariably becomes a solitary, early morning moan-fest but, weirdly, it's starting to work. I've started to write things that don't start with 'I don't know why, but....' and 'the problem with x is........'

Day 3 of advent and the Celebrations that were left from the re-usable chocolate advent calendar have been decimated, leaving only the Snickers and the Bounties. It's OK though - the huge, enormous, re-usable tubs were 'Buy one Get one Free'. There's another one in the cupboard - we can keep going!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

and the countdown begins....

Parcels are starting to arrive, the first Christmas card is here, the advent calendars have been started and J is cooking mince pies at school next Monday. There are just over two full weeks left of school and then it's Christmas cocoon time. Can't wait.

I wonder whether it would be good to pick a day of each month and create a kind of advent for all sorts of events - birthdays, deadlines etc. Something like that might work for me as I find each year dripping through my fingers.

Hope you enjoyed your first day of advent.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

ever-decreasing circles....


First of all, thank you to those of you who have boosted my confidence regarding an imminent party and what to wear. I think I have found the solution and may post a photo if I have time during next week.

My astrological experiment is wearing thin. With so little time to post, I find posting about one thing too restrictive. I've come to accept that random-ness in these things is no bad trait. Within three weeks of recording my predictions, all I can say about them is either 'yes, they came true' or 'no, it didn't happen'. I've realised that the act of reading those little predictions, for me, are an excuse for me to have a little personal contemplation on what's around me and either feed my worries or congratulate myself on the small triumphs. I'll carry on posting them until Christmas, just to check I'm not being too hasty but, in the longer term, this little piece of research is definitely on the way out.

Last week has been one of repetition and circularity. At work I have been going to the meetings where I've heard the same thing before (several times). At home I have been tidying the same three rooms and repeating my housework chores.

My approach to housework has shifted slightly. I've never been completely idle around the house but neither have I ever been able to adopt a routine. This means that I've always felt slightly overwhelmed by the things that haven't been done, the loose ends, the pile of ironing, the over-due bathroom cleaning.

There have, however, been some changes and a shift has occured:
- I'm hardly at home during the week by myself. This means that I am never here, alone, feeling resentful that somehow it's up to me to do everything. Result? Less thinking about housework and a willingness to do stuff when it's needed and ask for help instead of sulking.
- G now does his own ironing, regularly and, sometimes, the kids' too. I know some people don't iron at all but I've never mastered the art of folding so ironing has to happen here.
- I'm actually starting to enjoy the process of housework, I think, because the reduction at time at home means that tidying up and cleaning is becoming a bit of a change from sitting in front of a laptop (how weird is that)
- I'm doing my 'appreciate 3 things' every day and it's starting to make me think that there are far worse things in life than being able to hoover my own carpet in my own house once or twice a week

Now, it's only taken nearly 15 years of marriage and 12 years of motherhood to work this out. How long it will last, who knows? Perhaps I am on the road to becoming an out and out domestic goddess?

I must confess, however, that 'my' room is smelling a little like a charity shop - all that vintage fabric and yarn from various sources. I can't help collecting bits and bobs from here and there. I even store it all in a vintage dresser and a g-plan cupboard that I got from a local antique warehouse. Fragrant suggestions would be most welcome.

I have also got the most delightful 24 hours lined up. This evening I am being treated to a showing of 'Coco before Chanel' and dinner at Whatley Manor by mum and tomorrow I am being treated to a day spa at Calcot Manor by G. Visits to luxury spa hotels are obviously like buses in my world. I'm enjoying the anticipation as much as I'm sure I'm going to enjoy my visits.

Monday, 23 November 2009

more mis-communication

"Watch out for a communication snarl-up tomorrow. Venus, your normally well-meaning ruler, squares up to Jupiter. The result - mercifully brief - is ruffled feathers and misunderstandings all round."
No - sorry Caroline, passed me by.

For G: "A partnership gets a much-needed boost of energy. It's all thanks to Mercury, your ruler, receiving positive strokes from dynamic Mars. Suddenly you remember what attracted you to each other in the first place"
Well - that's more like it!

I think I may give up on the astrology business. Perhaps I've just hit a fallow patch. Two weeks of predicted cross-words and wires and nothing. I've had a lovely day in Bath thank you, buying lots of presents for the man who says he doesn't need anything but who managed to produce a rather comprehensive and detailed list by 11pm last night. I did have a lovely time choosing things for him though. He doesn't shop so it's quite nice to have free rein (in theory). I got gift receipts although I imagine I'll lose them by Christmas Day. He'll just have to give in to my professional shopper tendencies.

Bath was windy. And rainy. And full. The bus was full. There were (manageable queues). Everything for Christmas 2009 will now be achieved on the interweb. There will be no more specific Christmas-related journeys.

We have a party to go to on 5th. I have nothing to wear. Well, I have nothing to wear that I haven't worn to other parties in the vicinity. There are lots of things I would like to wear but I need to lose a stone and get Madonna-like arms in 2 weeks time. I really don't want to go down the jeans and sparkly top route. Perhaps I shall go down my usual retro-route with ridiculous shoes route (again).

Sunday, 22 November 2009

barney-free week


There were no fireworks. The week passed without astrological confrontation. This astrological thread isn't going too well. I'm not living through the predictions in the way I had imagined. I was hoping for marvellous happenings and convincing connections. Perhaps I just missed the row. I had a busy time at work but having swapped my working days. I am slap bang in the middle of non-working time which, I have to admit, is just lovely.

E became 9 on Thursday. We celebrated with cupcakes, fish pie and sticky toffee pudding on Thursday evening with Granny and S. The adults didn't eat again until Friday evening.

We threw her a party on Friday night. Last year she had six friends for a sleepover. This year she had ten friends for a three hour bash. If my mathematics was better I could work out which was the most chronologically challenging.

No-one cried. No-one sulked. Everyone put blue eyeshadow on, some more accurately than others.

We dined on chinese and indian snacks which were viewed suspiciously but eaten in the absence of anything else. I'd made myself a selection of cheese and pineapple on sticks, thinking such a concoction would be beyond our charge's culinary experience - oh no - they disappeared in a thrice. Party rings and chocolate fingers completed the meal but, do not despair, there were some carrots to dip in houmous and grapes to help us feel we'd eaten something remotely healthy.



E became 9 with great happiness - all her birthdays came at once with a voucher for Claire's Accessories (I know, and with a mother who loves handmade), a dance mat and a High School Musical singing thingy for the wii. Everyone had a go until the sugar rush wore off.

A spirited game of 'who am I' - post-it notes on the head and lots of guessing followed by a slightly lacklustre game of 'charades', all but one of the girls were whisked away at 8pm.

As I loathe party bags and haven't filled one for a very long time, the partygoers took home a sparkly notebook and some sparkly pencils, all tied together with a piece of a giant fondant fancy (thank you Mr Kipling).


As soon as the weekend passes after E has her birthday, I finally realise it is Christmas. I am going to Bath tomorrow to do my Christmas shopping. I have asked for lists but none have been forthcoming.

What I don't do tomorrow will have to be done online or I'll make something. They have been warned.

I do like Christmas but as I get older, I like it more for the enforced break it make everyone have rather than the parties and the celebrations I used to look forward to. I love going to parties and being sociable in the run up to the day but I really love sitting about for four days after eating too much turkey. This, I know, does not make me a good or sensible person but I like to use it as a time to think and to plan. To look back at the previous year and look forward to the next. A decade ago we were all panicking about the millenium virus - I can't even think what it was called now. Ten years on there seems to be a huge long list of anxieties and worries to focus the mind and the sleepless nights.

Anyway....what are you doing for Xmas? Turkey and chipolatas or goose and bread sauce?

Ho ho ho!

Monday, 16 November 2009

I do hope not...

"Looks as if there's going to be a bit of a barney this week with a lover/partner/spouse. Venus facing up to Mars on Thursday means lots of shouting, but lots of pleasurable making-up, too."

Thanks Caroline. Really appreciate that. We actually had a 'barney' the week before last, if you must know. I won't go into details. That wouldn't be kind but it was the usual thing, I open big mouth, say something not very nice at exactly the wrong time, fireworks ensue, developing into stalemate and ultimately a return to normal service. All a bit pointless really and exhausting alongside everything else that happens in our weekly routine.

Thursday is not a good day for a barney. It's E's birthday. Her 9th. There will be fish pie followed by sticky toffee pudding (her 2nd portion of the week as Granny provided the first portion on Saturday just gone. This feast is just for family. Friday is the party day. Lots of 9 and 10 year old girls making a lot of noise...for three hours. It will be fun as long as I remember to ship in some earplugs and the temperament of a buddhist monk. I'm thinking a few cups of valerian tea or perhaps a couple of nytol beforehand should do the trick.

Enjoy your week.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

is making the new buying?

I've just read my last post. I am having an epiphany (no, that's not a character in Eastenders - silly). It's a moment of revelation.

I have tipped my personal balance from the thrill of finding the perfect outfit/handbag/haircut/cushion/duvet/ginger-chocolate biscuit to the love of making and knitting and stitching and faffing about with tiny scraps of fabric and paper.

It's been obvious for a while, of course, but Monday's trip to Bath (tragic) to today's stitchy workshop in Stroud (magic) has made it crystal clear. I'd much rather be making things than buying things.

That's not to say I can't be tempted by a bit of art/craft retail therapy. Take me to any market town and I'll sniff out the stationery/art/craft/fabric related establishments within 30 seconds of leaving the (usually very expensive) car park.

However, rails of identikit accessories and generic garments just leave me cold. There is, however, a problem. I am neither young enough, slim enough or stylish enough to carry off outfits made from a pair of curtains and some ironmongery - I am not a Von Trapp. What am I to do? When I wear vintage, it looks like charity shop. I stick to boring jeans, the occasional interesting piece of knitwear and my rapidly thinning boots. I am, frankly bored with my clothes but don't know where to turn.

I want, somehow to transfer my love of making objects and things, to making clothes but although I love(d) the handmade quality of the clothes made for me as a child. Something tells me I will have neither the patience nor the skill to turn out something that looks OK. I don't want to make shirts or trousers, just something simple in amazing fabric. Something that looks interesting and well-made.

I can knit and hand-stitch till the cows come home. Clothes are a different matter.

PS: Just cried at 'Strictly' when Laila's leg gave way. How emotional is that?!

Friday, 13 November 2009

stargazing update

No sudden influx of cash to report. In fact, rather the opposite. I wish I knew when 'just in time' was so that I could make plans to spend my unexpected bounty. There wasn't even a minor discovery of change down the back of the sofa. I am not astrologically blessed this week, or so it would seem.

Apart from my astrological charting, all has been well. Lots of work, lots of kids stuff, panic about Christmas and not having even thought beyond 'it's *(&%ing/?> Christmas in 6 weeks and I've done *&^%$ all about it'.

I love Christmas. Or rather, I love Christmas day. I like getting the food together, the house decorated, the general sherry-ness of it all. What I don't love is the shopping. In fact, I think I have lost my shopping mojo.

I took a trip to Bath on Monday and found nothing to tempt me. I found presents for others but nothing for me. This is most unusual. In the run up to Christmas I make great attempts to sabotage all present buying by picking up a few extras 'pour moi'. I know it's not right but it's just inevitable. Not this year.

Even wildly expensive items that I occasionally long for did not inspire any sense of longing or desire. Maybe I need to get out more.

Monday, 9 November 2009

start the week stargazing....


Here is the prediction from this week's horoscope from the Daily Telegraph's Stella magazine and written by Caroline Pryce:

"Venus moving into the wealth corner of your chart bodes well for the bank balance. Librans are not known for being big savers, so this extra cash comes just in time. Don't run it so close in the future."

Do you see what she's done there? Given me some hope and told me what I already know, all in three sentences. I would make a rough guess that 2 out of every 3 horoscopes for Librans warns about spendthriftery and general financial ineptitude. Why is that?

I will review my week in the light of these three sentences and analyse whether they have reflected the activities and events of the next seven days. Just to see.

***

On a more terrestrial level, I am reading 'The Great Gatsby' at the moment. For book club. I am sure I did it for 'O' level, possibly even 'A' level. It's kind of brittle. I love the way the characters talk to each other with their eyebrows and their head tilts. I'd forgotten that it moves between the country and the city, too. I have to make myself finish it tonight. We're looking at Sebastian Faulks 'Engleby' tomorrow, too. I am not sure we will be able to compare and contrast very easily. I'm not too anxious about it as we are not requred to discuss the book(s) for very long. Sometimes I wish we were.

I read about a book club recently that themes their discussions. So, for example, they might do 'power' and everyone can choose a book they think reflects that theme and then talk about it at the next meeting. We have a list, everyone gets to choose a title and we read through them over a period of months. It's been a really enjoyable exercise. Most recently we've been alternating classics and more modern fiction. I'm a bit of a modern girl myself. I dragged my way through 'Wuthering Heights' and didn't get further than the first paragraph of 'Frenchman's Creek'.

There are a rolling number of about 12 members. Some always finish the book, no matter whether they enjoy it or not. I am of the other persuasion. If I don't like the first chapter, I don't persevere. I am far too old and impatient to waste my time reading something if I can't find something enjoyable within its pages.

***

I am very excited to be spending the weekend at a workshop with Julie Arkell and am looking at the materials list I need to collect together. I am a little concerned that I won't be visually compatible with my fellow students. I have done a couple of Embroiderers' Guild workshops recently and my pieces never quite look like anyone else's. This workshop will involve vintage buttons and carefully sourced antique textiles. I am not sure my motley collection of items will pass muster. I suppose all I can do is take and see. The experience of working with a real-life textile artist will outweigh any potential anxiety about showing and telling of my bits and bobs.

***

Friday, 6 November 2009

transformations

According to my stars in last week's Sunday Somethingorother, I am to turn into a pumpkin this weekend. I've never been on time. I believe this is something to do with Saturn.

I read every astrological prediction that passes before me, sometimes taking it all quite seriously. I have no understanding of the logistics that result in the predictions, nor do I understand what most of the terminology. Indeed, I can't participate in what I would call proper astrology as I can't remember what time I've been told I was born. I'm sure I used to know but that little part of information has been put to the bottom of my mental filing cabinet.

However, I read every inch-long prediction that appears in relation to Libra and the 12th of the population (including myself) that must be Libran.

Starting this weekend I am going to keep these predictions and see what happens, just in case they are actually accurate. I am sure that the more scientific readers of this little blog will make me aware of the pointlessness of this exercise. I'm sure it won't last long. I think it might amuse me until Christmas and we shall see how we go.

To give you a sense of that I think will happen, most of my predictions involve being bad with money, procrastinating and seeing things from all points of view until it is too late to actually do anything about them. Now Saturn is on the horizon, perhaps this will change.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

ghostly appearances

'Spooks' starts in about four minutes time. It has been one of my favourite TV series for a long-time but, as usual, at the beginning of a series I can't remember who is alive, who is dead, who is on our side, who isn't, who has been cavorting with Russian lovelies and which of the leads has been the most lovely

I am hoping to be made a nice cup of tea as I watch our fictional heroes run about combatting anti-establishment-global-terrorist network with their surveillance wotnots and their speedy running arms.

Monday, 2 November 2009

fun (guys) in the woods

The short red wellies are mine - a birthday attempt to become a proper country girl - they're Hunters you know!

A skyscraper of welly-proof mushrooms.


A chipped mushroom, love the edging on this one - is it magic?


The only puffball I've seen that isn't a skirt.

I've discovered photo-cropping. I know, it's taken me a while to catch up with the rest of the blogosphere. I do like a mushroom, more to look at than to eat. I like the undersides better and recently treated myself to a mushroom guide. Of course, I haven't looked inside it yet but it sits on my desk, waiting patiently for attention.

The sun is shining today. I am not, in theory, working today but as my car is being serviced and MOT'd (total so far £249 + VAT) I am gathering and collating my week's working necessities so that I can increase the possibility of a good night's sleep before I go back into school.

My early wakening continues - this morning at 4am - a record! I did notice, however, that a milkvan drives past our house at 5.30am which may have been the culprit in my pre-hour-going-back early awakening. That's one mystery solved then.

Why 4am? I do not know. I have made a conscious decision today that I will embrace the extra hours in my day for as long as it takes for my biorhythms or whatever is going on rights itself. It seems to me that if I am going to be awake at ridiculous hours in the morning, I might as well do something enjoyable, like knitting or writing or sewing. Perhaps I have just tripped into older-person's sleep patterns where I just don't need as much sleep anymore. Perhaps my well-known capacity for sleep has topped my sleepbank up so much, my hypothalmus or whatever is self-regulating.

Another tactic I am going to employ is 'mood mapping' which I read about yesterday. Written by a Dr. Liz Miller 'Mood Mapping' looks like a very sensible approach to thinking about and recording daily moods, activities, energy etc. I need to buy the book really but, as I said, am housebound and I don't want to go on Amazon as my MOT/service is going to wipe out any ad-hoc purchasing power I have for the month.

To go back to Sussex....I loved this water carrier that was hanging in the scullery of one of the tudor houses. I love the elongated shape and the neck would make a great clasp mechanism. Oh to be a handbag designer.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

a grand day out

I never manage, quite, to take the most relevant photographs, the following should be of historical buildings and abodes....I returned from the trip with a selection of random snaps. I hope you enjoy them....


The blacksmith's collection of rusting rings....


Definitely textile inspiration - can't remember what they're called....


A barrel of laughs (sorry leaves)....


Unidentified, decaying, Tudor fruit...


Back to the blacksmiths for some interesting window arrangements....

We took a trip to West Sussex to see family last week. They live in a beautiful house in a beautiful part of the country and being invited to stay with them has been a privilege for me ever since they moved there which was about the same time as I got together with G. As well as regular visits over the years, we were lucky enough to be able to live there while we were between houses a few years ago.

This time we went to see the newest addition to our extended family, O. He is a charming baby and the older members of the party (myself included) were struck by the fact that our daughter is now official playmate to O as O's aunt (now 22) was official playmate for our two babies when she was younger.

We had a family outing on the Thursday to the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum which is an amazing outdoor display and museum of old, reconstructed houses, a kind of architecurally educational walk. Sussex looked its best as we drove to and from the museum past Petworth, Goodwood and another great country estate whose name escapes me. We passed lots of chocolate box cottages and amazing gardens, all looking beautiful in the autumn sunshine.

I have many more photos - I do love a ravaged, textured wall, door or floor and there were some amazing leather water carriers and jugs that will appear here if I have time next week.

In the meantime, with a view to making a monthly list hereafter....here's November's....
- go to see Pharma's Market at Cirencester Brewery Arts
- go to MISI in Bristol next Saturday
- enjoy fireworks next door to Granny's on Saturday night (no mud-quagmire required - see last year's post if you can find it)
- enjoy my workshop with Julia Arkell in a couple of weekend's time
- prepare for and enjoy E's birthday
- panic about festive arrangements as I won't have time to do anything before E's birthday and then it will be 5 weeks until the festivities begin (did this last year but for different reasons - Christmas happened anyway)
-do a bit of wintery projectforty on the food/exercise front...there is maintenance work to be done....I'm thinking soup and hearty walks with the occasional body balance session.
- fit in a little bit of spa-ing as my previous voucher was topped up on my birthday, facials are half price at the salon in town though so will be going for body maintenance methinks

Monday, 26 October 2009

tree-mendously busy.....





Who knew trees could be such a tourist attraction? It was trunk to trunk pushchairs and wellies at Westonbirt yesterday afternoon. The acers were divine, the colours magnificent.

Granny's first trip there and we are now all fully-fledged members so we can observe the seasons on what is one of the greatest collections of trees in the world.

A small collection of photos (taken by E, mostly). I love the colour wheel made from leaves.

I am already planning a return visit, after half-term and during the week to soak up the autumnal mistiness and impending winter.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

watching the clock


This week has been a little tricky. I celebrated my birthday on Monday and I mourned my Dad on Friday. I'm not very good at all this emotional stuff. I'm a bottler, covering my true feelings with a thick layer of dark humour and grudging acceptance. This results in a general glass-half-full view of life and others and random explosive episodes of trauma and tears which only one other person ever gets to see.
*
As I have turned 42 this year (the meaning of life, you know), I have decided that I am going to stop this unhealthy behaviour and find ways to deal with these emotions in a calmer and more positive way.
*
It's been a year since Dad died and I have spent much of the year waiting for various anniversaries and timely reminders of him to come and go. We ate fish and chips and played cards last night. Tonight I am going to have a very large vodka and tonic in his honour whilst watching 'Strictly'. Tomorrow, Granny is going to rustle up a Sunday dinner in her new house up the road whilst we help build cupboards, do a bit of upholstery and take a stroll in the fields.
*
It's time to look forward.

Monday, 19 October 2009

reasons to be cheerful....

I have a critic. This critic (he? she? I don't know) is concerned about all aspects of my blogging life:

- my writing (I need lessons, apparently)
- the time I spend blogging (too much)
- the time I could spend doing something else (much more)
- a tendency to knit means I am a lazy housewife (is there such thing as a lazy housewife?)
- other peoples' support of my blogging (seemingly misguided)

I can say several positive things in return:
- he/she has taken the time to read my posts
- I am fascinating enough to incite thought processes and comments in whoever he/she is
- helpful advice has been shared
- there is someone out there on the interweb who cares enough to express their opinion so directly and forthrightly

Food for thought - other peoples' opinions about critics
- "Those who can - do. Those who can't - criticise" Anon
- "You know who critics are? The men who have failed in literature and art." Benjamin Disraeli
- "The great critic...must be a philosopher, for from philosphy he will learn serenity, impartiality and the transitoriness of human things." Somerset Maugham

My overwhelming reaction over the last couple of days has been appreciation of people who have rallied to my defence and expressed their enjoyment of this small space. Thank you. Please don't get too offended on my behalf. I don't mind constructive criticism. I'm sure there will be some more coming my way.

Onwards to some reasons to be cheerful:
- half term starts on Thursday
- I've been given Jenny Hart's new embroidery book for my birthday
- I have apples and pumpkins to pick from the allotment/garden
- my mum has moved back to England and is feathering her nest in a village nearby
- I went with her to a beautiful concert on Saturday night featuring Christ Church Cathedral Choir, a first-time experience for me, amazing and uplifting
- my recent bouts of insomnia are receding (two 8 hour nights in a row and I feel like a new woman/wife/mother)

Saturday, 17 October 2009

a different perspective

I have been thinking about how in my small blogging world, everyone is so nice and kind and encouraging. I then received a comment from the 'crap blog detective' informing me that my blog was, indeed, crap. I clicked through to a very non-exciting blog with just one post, informing me again that my blog is, indeed crap. Is this some kind of spam thing? Or is it real?

I have no problem with someone thinking my blog is useless, neither that they share that opinion. I do though have a slight problem with someone who doesn't even blog/post expressing that opinion.

It has made me think, though why I bother and if I'm really honest I would say that I blog because it pleases me and I enjoy it. Perhaps that's not reason enough to write these posts. Perhaps I should really get on and make some of the changes I've been thinking of for a while.

PS: mr detective, I am not a lazy housewife....

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

ministry of knitting

Jamie O has got his sights on knitting.....look here for two special edition knitting kits. Vogue, now Jamie - more evidence of knitting's increasing hold on the nation.....

Monday, 12 October 2009

Happy Mondays

After several weeks of frantic to-ing and fro-ing, semi-sleepless nights and general overload, I have made a conscious decision to take each moment as it comes instead of constantly playing out layers of future possible events in my waking (and sometime non-waking) hours.

I have let worktime encroach upon my freetime to an unacceptable extent. It is my own doing. I am caught in the part-time workers' dilemma - overcompensating for a shorter working week by fitting in calls and emails in to my spare time but feeling resentful when my extra work efforts spill into time that is my own.

I have lots of eggs in my baskets and plates in the air. Now is not the time to start making changes. There have been enough of those in the last year.

Now is the time to take things a step at a time, work through some of those lists and make sure I'm doing enough to keep ahead of the demands made by my colleagues and employers. I just need to get on with it and stop worrying.

Now is also the time to enjoy other parts of my life, so here is my list for my first Happy Monday:
- E & I had a great autumnal river walk, played pooh sticks and discussed the education system
- J has been asked to join our county football team
- G has put the heating on
- Granny is finally moving nearer to us and arrives the day after tomorrow
- I have a cup of tea by my side and a pile of retrospective knitting magazines to read through
- I finally have a new ironing board cover
- Tesco's are delivering tonight (I know, supermarkets are evil but at the moment, I'm quite fond of evil when it delivers)

Saturday, 10 October 2009

meet Fred

Fred's best friends.


Fred's other friends...

Fred, having a lie down.


Fred and his pet peacock.

It took six hours at Little Somerford village hall, in the company of our tutor, Corinne Rennow-Clarke, to create our collection of neolithic dolls.

The workshop was inspired by Corinne's HNC studies a few years ago where she'd decided to explore figures and faces as her theme and became intrigued by neolithic carvings, shapes and markings.

I am pleased with Fred, although his eyes are a little too irregular for my liking. He seems quite dapper and I like to think of him as a dandier neolithic man than most with his sparkling stripes and his lime green french knots. On the french knot note, I am grateful to Corinne for curing my inability to make them. I enjoyed the process of making him and would like another six hours to come along so that I can make him a partner, a companion, a neolithic friend.

knitting is cool.....


I've known that for years!

Have a look here for the newest evidence of knitting's stealthy creep back into the nation's consciousness.

This month's Vogue rates knitting as a pinnacle of make do and mend chic. I knew I was on to something!

Am off to make Neolithic Dolls today with the Embroiderers' Guild. No, I don't know what I'm going to be doing either apart from taking photos of my efforts. I also need to remember to take my own mug and something to share at lunch.

Have a good Saturday.

Monday, 5 October 2009

seasons greetings...

I'm having an autumnal shift. Can you see what I'm doing here? I've embraced the conker, the rusting leaf, the waning of the herbaceous border with my browns and oranges. I've taken my header off until I do some proper blog-learning and work out how to make this thing look like more my thing than dear blogger's idea of what a blog should look like.

However....

The birthday party went swimmingly, or rather, kickingly. 11 ten-thirteen year old boys pitched up at a massive footie venue in Swindon and gave the impression that they had a great time. Some even said thank you. I was impressed. There was a horrible moment when I thought one of them might have an allergic reaction to the helium balloons they were trying to repurpose but all was well. The birthday boy enjoyed it, having played football twice already that day. He went to bed happy, that's the main thing on your birthday I think.

I spent Sunday collecting walnuts. We have a walnut tree in our back garden. It's very old. We've had walnuts twice since we moved in. This year and the year before last. Our neighbours have also had walnuts twice since we moved in. Their sheds run parallel to the bottom of the garden and underneath one half of the tree. I have noticed a stepladder, moving it's way from right to left, accompanied by a brush and a plastic bag. I wish I had a roof from which to harvest our side of the tree. Scooping handfuls of walnuts into a plastic bag looks a lot easier and less back-breaking than scrubbing around in the nettles for them.

I've got a busy week at real-work this week - 3 days of meetings and interviews. I think I'm organised but, from experience, I know this can change. For example, the postal strike is causing me strife. How difficult can it be to deliver letters? What is there to argue about?

I won't rant now, as I'm hoping to have an early night, all tucked up alone. I love G dearly but there is something quite lovely about having our bed to myself just once in a while. I think this must be quite common amongst we married ladies. G & I have been married for 14 years on 19th. That's a long time to share a duvet.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

correspondence....

Sometimes my life develops a wee theme....

I mentioned a week or so ago that I've joined a letter-writing challenge over at A bun can dance and I can't wait to send and receive some intriguing correspondence. My partner in correspondence and I have opted for a theme of 'getting to know you'. It sounded easy when I agreed to it - not so easy when I'm trying to think what to say.

I've been on a web-wander and come across Today I Saw where Jill Wignall sends a drawing of well, something she saw to someone who could be anyone. I love blogs that have a singular purpose and theme. I fear projectforty has become something of a rambling rose and one that is never pruned as it flits about from subject to subject, never really 'sticking'. At least I know I'm writing as I am.

I also came across Letters of Note, photographs and transcripts of letters written to all sorts of people. I've been reading a biography of Frida Kahlo this week (one of my latest obsessions) and there is a letter she sent to her husband from her hospital bed, telling how much she loves him. The letter brings that moment to life.

Like everyone else, I spend hours of my day hunched over a laptop, tip-tapping away, and the results of my efforts sit inside shiny boxes or etched into shiny disks and memory sticks. I don't know if it's the knitting or the stitching but I long for something physical in my writing, something permanent, something with a surface and some marks.

On the knitting front, I ran my usual group yesterday and marvelled how much its members have progressed since we started about a year ago. H is now producing cardigans and lace boottees for her soon-to-be born baby and M has a talent for producing well-made, stitch perfect items for her daughter. I love Friday mornings and the focus it provides, just knitting and showing others. Simple but effective.

Anyway...on a slightly different matter, it's J's 12th birthday today so I have 2 recycled shopping bags stuffed with e-numbers and sugar. He will have played football in four different locations by tomorrow lunchtime. He's having a footie 'do' as well. There was a bit of sibling kerfuffle last night resulting in early bed and much wailing from both parties. I dreaded a silent, sulky breakfast but it all seems to have been forgetten. Phew.

And...on another...very depressing matter - we now only have three chickens. Mrs Broody went peculiar on Thursday, looking quite poorly but out in the run. By Friday morning she had ceased to be. Very peculiar and most distressing. She's gone to the chicken run in the sky, poor thing. Am on cluck-watch now with the others. I hope whatever it was wasn't catching.

So as not to end on a morbid note....any suggestions for what to do with some pretty but insignifcant vintage children's books? They look very lovely on the shelf but they're not very useful. I would quite loke to make some kind of collage or something but haven't got enough brain power to consider it for long. Have a think. I know you'll have ideas.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

unidentified sponge-like objects




My Nana Westwell would be proud. If she didn't have a potato peeler in her hand, she would be up to her elbows in self-raising. These circular babies belong to J who happens to be 12 on Saturday. He has a talent for making eggs, flour and butter spring into fluffy action. He is blessed with the Westwell talent for whisking.

I hope you can forgive this maternal bragging. Sometimes I just can't help myself. I do realise it's quite unseemly but as I'm not prone to doing this every day, I feel I can get away with the odd swell of the bosom.

I am listening to the Archers whilst typing this. I have finally managed to download Realplayer. It does sound a bit tinny though. Better than nothing I suppose.

It's dark already. I have a poorly looking broody chicken. She has been sitting on eggs for weeks with the occasional foray into the fresh air. She's aged about 10 years and looks sad. I'm going to give her the weekend but if she doesn't perk up (and I don't believe I'm saying this), I'm going to have to take her to the vet! I have never been to a vets having avoided pet ownership (unless you count elderly guinea pigs). In any case, it's time to lock them up for the evening, otherwise they tend to go to the pub and go binge-drinking.

Monday, 28 September 2009

friends and family

We went to see our dear friends R&R&I&A&K at the weekend. We had less than 24 hours together and we hadn't seen each other for over a year. It felt as if we'd seen them last week.

Why is that? Why is it that old friends can just pick up where they left off? We have five small to medium-sized children between us and they managed quite nicely, playing and getting along as if they spent every afternoon in non-OFSTED-inspected childcare together.

Almost a day in the company of good friends was just what I needed. I found some very nice Saint-Emillion wine at half price in Tesco on the way there and we took some of our not quite so nice but, shall we say, unusual garden cider too. Tesco have also introduced flower racquets - Gerberas threaded through what looks like a cardboard plate to stop them a-flapping and a-snapping. What a good idea.

We sat in the garden, watched R barbecue and drank too much while the kids played some rockband game and watched a DVD. Lots of chat and food and popcorn at 1.45am. Always a good choice.

It was too short a visit but we had a great time enjoying the musical variety of spotify. I thought I'd joined ages ago but it appears I haven't. I logged my email to wait for an official invitation. I think it may take longer than joining ravelry.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

high dudgeon....

is a phrase I most recently heard whilst watching a long-ago episode of 'The Good Life', the one where Margo has a windbreak incident and tortures a workman with her wonderfully acerbic phrases. It's an episode of carefully executed misunderstandings and over-reactions. One of my favourite.

I have been in 'high dudgeon' for a while about all sorts of things. I was beginning to wonder whether I had some kind of random anxiety disorder. It has become a bit of a habit. Even when there isn't a problem or an issue or a niggle, given the right conditions, I have been able to create a mountain where not even a molehill has been and I have tested the patience and understanding of some of the people closest to me. Yes, you know who you are and thank you!

I have my theories why this is happening. I think, most probably, that a difficult anniversary is approaching and instead of grieving and acknowledging actual facts and reality, I'm doing a very good job of creating all sorts of semi-traumatic worries and anxieties thereby distracting myself from what I really need to do which is grieve and move on somehow. I hope over the next few weeks to be able to do this. I don't think it's going to be particularly easy but it's going to have to happen.

Today, unexpectedly, has been a day of resolution. Someone astrological could probably explain this and, in fact, my stars on Sunday said that I'm going to have a fantastic month but to be wary of 'odd dreams'. Perhaps my random anxieties can be called 'odd dreams'. If I could sleep through the night I am sure I would have some.

To end on a more positive note....I am just off to play 'mastermind' with E who has now recovered from her sickliness and waiting patiently for me to come up with some suitable questions about fish.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

making connections....


One of my favourite bloggers, Jane Brocket at yarnstorm is writing about allotments, particularly a 385-plot site in West London. She has made a beautiful photo essay of a visit she paid to them recently.

One of my other favourite bloggers, Little Brown Dog at The World According to LBD has written a book about our village allotments, possibly the oldest allotments in England. There has been much celebration this year, as they turned 200 years old. Gardener's Question Time came to visit for two whole programmes, there was a picnic party in September and, most recently, a talk at the Swindon and Wiltshire History Centre about, well, their history. It has been fantastic to come together and celebrate the history of digging and growing and harvesting that has gone on for two centuries right on our doorstep.

Looking to the future, I hear that there are plans to include the site in the National Garden Scheme's Yellow Book next year. I share a plot with a neighbour and we are, shall I say, slightly haphazard although improving in our attempts to provide our nearest and dearest with fresh produce. We've finally got the hang of weeds but are still not great with the feast and famine aspect of growing too many courgettes and not enough carrots. Our plot is by one of the gates and likely to be one of the first any visitors see. That thought, quite frankly, gives me the horticultural hebegebees.

When I say the plot is on our doorstep, it's actually outside our kitchen window. I can see a pop-up tea shop, an awning with earl grey and carrot cake, Sunday afternoons.

Before we moved here I dreamt of an allotment, now I realise what I dreamt of was an allotment that was cultivated by someone who knew what they were doing and with the determination and energy to carry it through to make it look like my grandad's plot and produce some prize winning beans....maybe next year.

I've been writing about learning an instrument and crafting. I think growing produce, particularly allotmenting is part of the same thing....doing something yourself, enjoying the process as much as the product, feeling creative whilst engaging something practical and useful.

All good stuff.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

must label posts

I am inclined to be a little slapdash, un petit laissez-faire, a tad chaotic.

There are several things that I never remember to do:
- label my blogposts (I'm not sure whether this constitutes a blogging sin?)
- shut cupboards once I have been rummaging in them
- iron sheets
- sign and return forms from school by the date they are requested (despite working in schools and knowing that this can cause all sorts of kerfufflication)
- clean out my car
- leave my keys in the same place when I return home
- name my photographs
- other peoples' birthdays, I used to be good at this
- count my rows when I'm knitting
- wash out the milk carton for recycling
- load the dishwasher properly

Thank you for listening....are there any things that you know you should do but you don't?

Monday, 21 September 2009

if music be the food of love....


We have a new addition to the family - E's alphasax....this contraption is an adapted saxaphone which, in theory, should last until she does Grade 3? I don't know what that means because although I love listening to music, my only experience of playing the music is practising 'mull of kintyre' over and over again in primary school.

As you can see it's very sparkly and gold and, I have to admit, rather lovely. E is proud of her new enterprise as she has committed her own funds to the project and likes her teacher very much.

I always think music is a lot like crafting:
- it's something that a person chooses to do, no-one makes you play the saxaphone, or crochet for that matter.
- it takes a bit of practice to get the basics right but once you do, you can choose what you do with them
- we all know that there are virtuosos/fine craftspeople out there but it's still OK to give it a go, to learn and to make that instrument or practice your own

I love the idea of children taking up activity because they want to rather than it being part of some great educational plan. I have to admit, also, that I don't really mind if they try and then decide that it's not really for them. I'm a great believer in trying everything once, just to see. Perhaps I'm being indulgent. I'm a great dabbler myself. I have lost count of the subjects and ideas that have grabbed me for a while and then have either become part of what I do or just gradually faded away.

I spent quite a long time in my twenties learning massage and reflexology, having the idea that I would practice. What I learnt was that I wanted to be on the receiving end of the massage and reflexology and that, in truth, I'm not quite as selfless as I thought I was. See...an unexpected outcome altogether!