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


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'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