Tuesday, 31 August 2010

taking a view...


I've been thinking.  I'd like to think I've been finding perspective, rationalising my priorities, considering my options but what I've really been doing is sitting about, drinking tea (yes, I'm fully re-caffeinated), wittering about all sorts.  Would you like a list?  It looks something like this...

- my kids will both be in double figures by the end of November.  I can no longer pretend I have justifiable babyweight.

- one of them will be a teenager in a few weeks.  The air around him seems to fizzing with hormonal fluctuations and it's fascinating, if a little alarming, to observe.

- I am on the verge of going back to college, 25 whole years after my first attempt (please be prepared for incessant art student nonsense from September 15th)

- I ate some out-of-date taramasalata yesterday on the grounds that if my beloved ate it, I would too - this has not gone well and I wish I'd stuck to my guns - I blame that daft 'don't waste food because we're all going to die in an environmental desert if we throw out a few bananas' programme on BBC last week

- I like to grow things rather than eat them (except for tomatoes - I'm hooked on the bush variety, Totem).  Courgette boredom has reached its pinnacle, even the chickens have become disinterested

- I have reached my technological understanding of mobile phones - I upgraded to one that lets me go online and I've switched all the options off because it scares me that I can google from such a tiny device

- I need an eye test and a bra-fitting, there are issues in both areas which need to be addressed

Did you watch 'I am slave' on C4 last night?  Probably the best drama I've seen this year.  Amazing performances and an incredible, horrific story.  'Big Brother' followed and was at its most vacuous.  It struck me that the two programmes scheduled back to back highlighted what seems to be a new era of seriousness.  Perhaps this has been going on for some time and I've been oblivious but the demise of BB (although I loved it when I could squeeze into its demographic) might, if we're lucky, make for some interesting TV, programming that could make a difference beyond nail extensions and spray tan.

Perhaps the programmers have been having a bit of a think too.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

all change....

Like it?  It reminds me of Carnac, all turquoise and clear and summery.  I know I'm a little late and in a couple of weeks I'll be on my annual quest for the perfect leather coat and a pair of boots to swish about in but I needed to give dear old projectforty a bit of a clean sweep.

I've simply chosen the 'simple' template from Blogger - no frills, no changes, no tweaks - for now.  I'll also be looking at my links.  Projectforty will go back to being what it was in the first place, a random pick and mix blog about being forty (something).  I'm taking all my arty, crafty paraphernalia and links over to stitchingandknitting which, at some point, will get the new brush treatment too.

Hope you won't mind.  I've tried to be a bit more organised and have gone through a phase of trying to blog about specific topics on specific days but my mind doesn't work like that and it's time I accepted it because that's when I'm happiest, doing everything I want to do but piecing it all together rather than working my way through one step at a time.


Here's a rock, part of an island at the end of a spit near Carnac.  I do love a rock photo.  My little camera is somewhat caput - no view through the screen, no zoom.  I hadn't realised quite how caput it was until we went away.  I didn't take many pictures (surprise, surprise) but I was very pleased with the ones I took of the kids.  They look so happy and full of optimism.  I'm having a bit of a drama about them both having significant birthdays this year.  E will be 10 and J will be 13.  I no longer have babies.  I can't begin to write about how that makes me feel but if anyone else sighs and uses the words 'you wait', I think I'll scream.  Is it really true that all teenagers are hellish?  Who knows - it appears we're about to find out.

Here's the girl, staring out to sea.


Here's the boy, messing about on the beach...


Whilst they were staring and messing, I was reading.  I'd suggested Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall' to book club ages ago.  Reader, I've finished it.  I knew it wasn't going to be what I'd usually choose but I wanted to read a Booker winner and I wanted to read something historical, packed with research.  Have you ever seen that film about Martin Luther King - that was long.  'Wolf Hall' was its literary cousin - long.  Very interesting, very worthy, fascinating but - lordy - very long.  I quite fancied Thomas Cromwell by the end.  He just sounded so capable and organised and clever but emotional in a very masculine way.  I think the BBC needs to commission a series and ask dear old R. Armitage Esq to play the title role.  That would be a very pleasing autumnal Sunday night bit of programming.

Once I'd finished wolfing down WH, I moved on to 'The Help' - Mississippi maids and the dysfunctional families they look after in the 1960s.  Great book and I now know what grits are which has made a big difference to my culinary understanding.

Then I picked up 'eat pray love' by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I'd put a plea out to book club members for a copy.  I wanted to read it so I could pick holes in what I thought was going to be a trippy, self-indulgent memoir of a year spent pootling about the planet.  I have to say it was those things but it was also more.  Six million copies tells you that this lady has hit the spot. She, as far as I can tell, has written honestly about love and loss and finding the peace and balance she craved in her own life. 

I am, though, struggling with the idea that the only way to find peace and happiness is to have some kind of self-imposed exile and remove ourselves from day to day life, family and friends.  I like to think that all that peace and happiness is there already, it just takes practice to see that instead of the dishes, the piles, the paperwork and the laundry.  I have been reminded this week that if I didn't have all those things to do, I'd be on my own.  On my own without my friends and family?  That's an island I don't want to visit.

Monday, 9 August 2010

let the laundry begin...

You may not have noticed my absence as blogging has taken a backseat over the last couple of months.  We've been on holiday.  We went to Carnac, Brittany for a week.  We are taking a bigger trip to the States later in the year and although I was happy to mooch about the house en famille, the worker in the family quite rightly decided that he didn't want to mooch or, indeed, go to Wales.  He wanted a proper holiday.  Abroad.

He booked leave from work and set about scouring the interweb for a suitable (and inexpensive) holiday.  Now, our marital interpretationsn of inexpensive are somewhat different.  I had to leave the matter in his capable hands as I had no patience for online holiday bargain hunting.  My mind becomes discombobulated with dates and I tire very easily of the forms that every single enquiry seems to generate.  I went to Port Eliot instead.

Well, the worker came up trumps.  He found a caravan in Carnac, a short walk from the beach, a quick stroll from town and five minutes from the local ice cream stall that sold 200 flavours of sugary sweetness including whiskey and ketchup (thankfully the offspring gave those delights a swerve).  I've eaten more moules than I've eaten in my entire life and dear E who doesn't like green beans tucked into snails, squid, sea scallops and moules with a piscatarian gusto you'd expect from a girl who spent 4 hours a day running up and down the steps to the slides at the swimming pool.

Our caravan was small and we were cheek by jowl with other happy caravaners but it was like playing dolly house with our 4 mugs, 4 plates and 2 saucepans.  We filled the fridge from the nearby markets and shops and sat and read and played games and read and slept and read and ate. 

We'd never been to Britanny before and found it quite enchanting.  Lots of towns and ports to visits, brocantes a-go-go and standing stones for the more druid amongst us.  I think we'll go back.  I loved being by the sea.  I love the air and the effect walking on beaches has on my hooves.  I like sand in my bag and picking up shells.  I like promenades and boardwalks and stalls full of clothes that no-one ever wears unless they're by the sea. 

So...now we're back in Wiltshire and the laundry pile is as megalithic as some of those stones.  We have courgettes the size of small babies and plums ripening faster than I can type.  One of the chickens is moulting and I need to get the kids' passports renewed so that we can go on our next trip.  I'm looking online for fish delivery and I need to invest in a new cafetiere as I've rediscovered a love of proper coffee. I've got pickling plans and jars to fill.  I've got a start-date for college and a list of supplies.  I'm terrified.  I start four weeks on Wednesday.

Welcome home!