Saturday, 24 August 2013

Rainy Saturday

I feel like Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole this week....almost like I tripped over on Monday, did a forward-roll, and somehow ended up in Saturday! I have been working long hours and coming home tired, but wanting to continue with my decluttering. I haven't made as much progress as I would like this week, but I have recognised that it is better to do a little than burn myself out.

I have been falling into bed with The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (actually J.K. Rowling) and reading until my eyes are gritty and heavy. It is a curious book - I enjoyed it - and didn't guess who the killer was - but it took a long time to read. Perhaps it was because I was falling asleep sooner than I would have liked, and haven't had lunch hours to read in, but it did feel slightly slow-moving. I hope that she writes another though!

And so to today, Saturday, at last, Saturday. It almost felt like an autumn morning when I walked into town earlier. It was damp and almost raining, the sky all hazy and smudged and blurring into the moisture in the air. While I was in the bank, the rain drops which had started to fall tentatively, almost as though tapping you on the shoulder to catch your attention, suddenly came down in a torrent.

I took myself into town to change my library books, buy some toiletries, get my eyebrows tidied up, and have a bit of a wander. I returned The Cuckoo's Calling to the library and collected the first novel in the Phryne Fisher lady detective series. It is set in the 20's, and I have watched and enjoyed the tv series (Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries).

I treated myself to a soy milk hot chocolate with hazelnut syrup and a giant bourbon from the Costa at the train station, which is close enough to home for the drink to still be hot when I got there.

Now I am settled down with a pot of tea (the hot chocolate is long gone, alas!) and the window open. The rain is falling so finely now you can hardly see it, but it's perfume is filling the air, and when the cars drive by, you can hear the rain on their tyres. I think there are few things more lovely than a rainy Saturday afternoon and nowhere to have to be, or to go.

I am watching Kirstie Allsopp's Home Style that I recorded the other evening. I have said it before, but I do love Kirstie. IT seems this series is basically things that have not made the final cut in her previous series, but I am still enjoying it. This one is about hosting gatherings - and definitely has an understated Christmas feel to it. Out of curiosity, I searched for 'Kirstie Christmas' on amazon - and she has a Christmas book out in September, hurrah!

Talking of Christmas - I am designing my cards at the moment, and starting to think about gifts. I want to make the majority of them again this year, so it makes sense to start early, so I can have the enjoyment of making them, rather than it being a rush. I brought home a magazine which has given me some ideas, but what was a bit frustrating was that a craft punch they have used, and has given me lots of ideas does not appear to be available to buy any more, oh dear!

I am babysitting my godchildren this evening, so will be taking my new library book with me, as well the crochet blanket I am working on. Bur first, I have a few more hours of Saturday afternoon pottering to enjoy.

Wherever you are, I hope you are having a scrumptious Saturday.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Once In A Blue Moon

Ps Don't forget to peek out of the window tonight - not only is it a full moon, it is a blue moon!

Brilliant Baking

Life is very busy at work at the moment, and I think it would be entirely fair to say challenging also. I was rushing between meetings this afternoon with more of a smile than usual - because I was looking forward to sitting down with a pot of tea and the new series of The Great British Bake Off this evening.

And here I am, and how blissful it is. I feel like I have earned my relaxation time, as I have tidied out a drawer, and washed up after dinner. Now I have the light on very low, and a candle burning. The Great British Bake Off is just starting, and my pot of Whittard's Afternoon Tea is really fragrant and delicious.

Peaceful, gentle evenings...blissful. The thing I love about the bake-off, apart from it's being about baking, is how encouraging Mary Berry is to the contestants. She nearly always finds something to complement them on, and offers constructive advice for how to do it better next time. There doesn't seem to be that ghastly build-up at the end to see who is going to go home, either.

Normally I would be sitting here clicking away with knitting needles or crochet hook - and while there are some things that I need to work on (Christmas gifts!) tonight I am content to just be...

I hope that the Bake Off will inspire me to do some baking of my own. Although most of my time not at work is being divided between decluttering and reorganizing and reading The Cuckoo's Calling, I rather think I would like to spend some time with my pinny on baking up a storm. I haven't made any of Sophie Dahl's pear and ginger muffins for a while, and I love those..they remind me of autumn. And although we are basking in the summer sun right now, I am already starting to feel excited for the first unfirlings of autumn. I am starting to get the stirrings of back-to-school and new notebooks and leaves and acorns...

Sunday, 18 August 2013

More and Less

It came to me yesterday afternoon, while I was on my hands and knees, reorganizing the saucepan cupboard. When you have too much, you can't actually appreciate what you have. When you have just enough, somehow you appreciate it more. I know that I am very lucky to be in the position to experience 'just enough', let alone 'too much'. And I have to say, that although it is hard work, I am systematically working through our entire flat, and every one of our possessions, decluttering, downsizing and reorganizing what is left, it is so rewarding.

I started following the Brocante Home Trash It or Treasure It programme, but as it went on an hiatus, I didn't. For the first time, I was really bitten by the bug, and so I have continued. I still have a way to go, and because I have been focussing on drawers and cupboards a lot so far, to the untrained eye it might not look like lots has changed, to me, everything has changed, and I couldn't be happier.

When I was first dating Carl, he was a 'social smoker' and said he would give up. But he found it harder to do than say, and however much I wanted him to give up, he had to be ready, in himself. And so I think it is with this kind of editing and stripping back. I have wanted to do it in the past, and have started Trash It or Treasure It or Flylady only to fall by the wayside...but this time I am ready.

I think I am probably about half way there, but already my sense of peace is increasing so much. The local charity shop is getting bags and bags of donations, which makes me feel good. I realised, while sipping a cup of tea this morning, that there isn't a single thing I have got rid of that I regret. There are things that I have loved, but outgrown. Spares of things I haven't used. Things I have bought to 'make do' that never brought me joy. So I am setting them free to find new homes.

It feels so good to be doing this, and to be doing it because I really want to. I finished the kitchen yesterday, and just making a pot of tea this morning felt easier. It isn't just about the decluttering, although that is vital - it is about the reorganizing of what is left, and thinking about little things that will make life easier or better, or more comfortable. I have started a list of projects to look forward to, once I have finished:

Covering the kitchen table in oilcloth (inspired by tea at the Cragg Sisters) and paining the chairs
Designing my own book plates to go in my books
Replacing our chest of drawers in the bedroom with a second hand dressing table
Buying some of those removable hooks which stick onto the wall, to hang up some of our framed photographs
Making a pompom rug for the living room floor

I also found this blog post very inspirational -

Although I have a full time job, I do love the work I do in our home, and it was really interesting to read about someone else seeing it as a privilege too.

Right, time to roll up my sleeves and tackle another cupboard....

Postcard from Aldeburgh

Coming back from Aldeburgh is a slightly strange experience. It is only 1.5 hours away by car, but it feels almost like stepping from one life into another. So close, yet so far. A different way of life entirely. It struck me, on our last full day, as I wandered along the seafront to the baker to buy croissants, that this tiny coastal town has so many more amenities than the city in which I live. There is the aforementioned bakers, who do the most wonderful croissants, which sell out so quickly you are wise to order them the day before if you want to be certain of getting any. Lawson's is a delicatessen where I fell in love with a delicious 'happy carrot salad'. We bought home some bacon from Salter's, the butchers, as it is such good quality. There is such an array of hotels offering morning coffee or afternoon tea, just ready and waiting to welcome you in.

There are certain charms that Aldeburgh holds, that I would never expect home to be able to compete with. Our little city can't possibly also be the seaside, and there can only be one iconic shorline scallop sculpture. I wouldn't expect to walk down our city streets to be lined with delightfully named quaint little cottages.

But....although it isn't all about shopping, wouldn't you expect that in a city, we would have a proper butcher, a baker, a deli? I don't want to sound snobbish - we do after all have a Gregg's and there is a butcher in the market - and we boast two Marks and Spencers - but it isn't the same.

Apart from the beautiful, beautiful pebbley beach and crashing waves, I will miss the simple shopping pleasures for daily provisions. But I always find, that whatever I might find lacking when I return home to the city in which we live, the peace of Aldeburgh always comes back with me. And our own little home isn't lacking in pleasure or charm for me at all. As much as I enjoy our stay in the little blue cottage, there is something blissful about home.

And so I am sitting, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, slightly perturbed by the influx of teenagers in very short shorts and wellies (it is V weekend), but looking back and smiling on a week of adventures by the sea.

Spotting none other than Ben Wishaw in the queue in the fish and chip shop on our first night. Walking along the shore to the next village, Thorpeness. Rowing on the lake there in a little yellow boat. Climbing to the very top of Orford Castle, the wind whipping my hair about my head and my skirt about my legs. Afternoon tea at the Cragg Sisters, with chocolate cake too big and chocolatey to finish, even with a second pot of tea. Sitting on the beach, the pebbles warmed by the sun and the waves splashing at our feet. Walking on the pier at Southwold. A happy hour spent browsing in the independent book shop at Aldeburgh. And then another spent in the second hand bookshop, just further down the street.

But best of all, just slipping into a different world for a bit. Having time to wander and ponder, and soak up the scenery. Smiling at the names of the cottages - my favourite was 'Half Past Six Cottage' - and all the efforts that have been put in to making them look beautiful. Window boxes of lavender, hanging baskets swinging in the breeze, a door knocker in the shape of a crab.

Suffice to say, we had a lovely time. I think in busy moments it will help to remember that all that is just 1.5 hours away.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Off On My Holibobs!

I am blinking like a sleepy owl, and my eyes feel slightly gritty. Yes, it is twenty to one in the morning, I haven't packed a thing, and I am off on my hols tomorrow morning!

The good news is that it is just a little drive up the coast, so there will be time to pack tomorrow morning (although I wish I had had chance to do it tonight!).

I can't wait to get to Aldeburgh, to swim in the sea, feel the pebbles beneath my feet, and just let the peace and calm wash over me.

I wish I could send you a postcard, but alas, will not have internet access while I am there - so I will catch up with you when I come back. Let's share a pot of tea then....