Monday, 21 June 2010

Midsummer's Day

A very domestic day today.

Got up early, to the disgruntlement of Lottie and the dog, and went out shopping for ingredients to make ice cream for the allotment-digging helpers. Did not, however, get up early enough to wash my face in the morning dew, or whatever it is that one is supposed to do today. Wait - that's May Day, isn't it. When dew would be even chillier.

Had breakfast, shared with one cat and the dog. Usually I have to share with 4 cats and the dog, but my going shopping first had messed up their routine, so I scored today.

Cleaned up after myself immediately. Keeping the house tidy is my default position these days; so dull!

No viewings scheduled today. One yesterday - a shy young couple who tiptoed round like little frightened rabbits and apologised for interrupting my Sunday afternoon. Not sure why they came, really, but they were sweet. Hamish practised his flight technique from every room; Lottie stalked them. Another viewing tomorrow afternoon, and perhaps when the house is in this week's Househunter paper, and the football is over, interest may pick up.

Looked at lovely Somerset properties online and asked pertinent questions of estate agents, one of whom has the bit between her teeth with regard to finding me a house with character even if it is a mile down a grassy track where not even the postman will venture, although perhaps a mad axeman might. Am becoming adept at navigating country roads with Google mapping and seeing what the perfect cottage really looks like, and how one could step out of the idyllic front porch and straight into thundering traffic.

Learned a little about restrictions imposed by the National Trust and the powers-that-be in charge of Exmoor National Park. Sighed a little. Crossed things off the 'Possible' list of properties; coming down one floor for the loo in the middle of the night is bad enough here, and I certainly don't want to go out through the kitchen and practically into the outhouse in my next home. And I want to be able to hang my washing outside to dry, thank you National Trust.

Made ice cream - extra chunks of chocolate in this batch: they may be 19 now, those boys, but they still dig around for the biggest chunks.

Cleaned up etc. Spilled cocoa on clean tea towel - never fails, doesn't wash well on cool setting.

Read a bit of Bill Bryson's new History of the Home. Began to feel a bit like my mother who complained that with age, it became difficult to read heavy or hard-backed books for long without having aching thumbs. Otherwise not a challenging read at all; no laughs so far, although the history of domestic lighting is fascinating. I will never complain about low-energy bulbs again, but give thanks that we don't have to burn rushes coated in animal fat.

Had large salad lunch - all that chewing uses more calories than the lunch provides - watched avidly by the dog, who adores a slice of cucumber, and can take ten minutes to eat it - the result of a mere 7 teeth meeting a slippery unmanageable substance. Always good for an unkind laugh at dog's expense.

Cleaned up etc. I am becoming Hyacinth-like.

Waited for my car to be transformed by the tattooed mobile-valet-at-your-door man; chose Bubblegum instead of Citrus as my air freshening odour, to avoid car smelling like toilet cleaner. Numerous scratches, chips and faded patches horribly evident after protective layer of ancient dirt removed; interior like new, all signs obliterated of huge lengths of timber and plasterboard ever having been transported. Still a boring maroon grandad car, despite being clean and sort of shiny. Felt envious of Roger and Tim and their lovely new(ish) Audi A3.

Watered the back yard and wondered if perhaps the lilac violas had got out of hand a little; very twee. Bees everywhere. And baby spiders in their webs. They don't seem to have grown at all lately. Should I be worrying about Failure To Thrive?

Had phone call from my sister, champagne glass in hand. After months of fighting Glasgow City Council, and four days before the end of term, she has received a letter telling her that she is being granted early retirement, as applied for a year ago. Four days is probably more than enough for her to spend weeping as she says goodbye after 35 years of teaching. One girl came to her, and stated indignantly that she'd just heard the news of her leaving, and was going to get up a petition to stop Them from making her go. She had to explain gently and unconvincingly that she had chosen to leave, and was faced with a stunned child asking uncomprehendingly "Why?"

I advised that she shouldn't worry about the champagne going flat, but to continue steadily working through it all evening. She can always blame me for her unfit state tomorrow at school. She says she will do that.

Fed the dog. Cleaned up etc.

Pondered, as I have been doing for some days, that being houseproud and keeping everything immaculate is just boring, repetitive drudgery - how can people live in such a way voluntarily? Wondered how long the average house seller takes to start leaving cups in the sink and tatty slippers in the hall after the first flush of enthusiasm wears off?

Also pondered that as of tomorrow we can start saying that the nights are drawing in..... c'mon, you know you thought of that too.

But today it's midsummer; rejoice!



Annie (Lady M) x said...

I love the picture of your cat yawning! You will get there.... your house is beautiful and I can't imagine that it will be on the market long before someone wants to buy it.

Are you really looking at cottages like the one in the picture? That is so picturesque... it looks like it would suit you down to the ground!

Fran said...

Bill Bryson's new book got slated on a review programme I watched on BBC. It'll be interesting to see what you think of it.

Lucille said...

I don't like the hunted expression on that woman's face. We've got the builders in. It's partly your doing. You set the bar very high. I may start to look like her.

mountainear said...

Re mid summer - am rejoicing. But, oh woe those nights do start drawing in. I feel up here at the end of the Long mountain we are still only just getting over winter.

There could be worse role models than Hyacinth Bucket surely?

Isabelle said...

Yes, I do think it's unfair that Midsummer lasts only that one day. A week, a month to enjoy it would be better.

Still, t'nights may be drawing in but it's about to be my holidays, hurray hurray. You retired people don't have that thrill, do you? Miss it, don't you?

No? Oh well.

Lynda (Granny K) said...

Tis Murphy's Law that when you are up to your ears in ironing or some such, and the house is looking far from immaculate, that is when the person who will buy your house will come. See if i'm not right!

Deborah said...

I got fed up with being tidy after my house had been listed for sale for months and left it in its normal state one Saturday, even though I knew there were prospective buyers coming. Just couldn't summon up the effort to make it all nice (3 small kids etc..) The people loved it, made an offer, and moved in.

You must be incredibly efficient, to be able to do all that AND write about it. Good luck with the house!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Years ago , I realised that , no matter how spiffing the house looked after a day of rushing round with zinc buckets full of Flash , chammy leathers and whitestone , the damn place looked like a tip a couple of minutes later .
I now tend to ignore the dust bunnies , as long as they ignore me .
Ice cream making sounds far more worthwhile !

the veg artist said...

At the risk of sounding very boring, I would move to a bungalow. 15 years ago I needed a small house just for myself and the cat. My bungalow was perfect - 1970's/large garden backing on to fields/large light rooms/traditionally built and structurally sound/mains gas/garage and driveway/small estate on edge of village that had shop, Post Office and Church. Such work that was needed was fairly minor. I loved it, and it doubled in value by the time I sold, as well.

I wouldn't touch thatch or picturesque, not through cowardice but through experience of doing up a large 1660 dwelling that had rising and falling damp, needed 21 new windows, new floors downstairs, new staircase, new ceilings, rewiring and replumbing, central heating and new bathroom (those were just the obvious things I can remember!).

In our National Park we have regulations about the size of windows in new houses - they all have to be small. You can have a large room with 6 windows, but you cannot have one large window. My little bungalow's living room had the entire west facing wall of patio glass, facing the garden. It was wonderful. And it sold within a week!

Whatever you buy will be charming by the time you've finished decorating, even something relatively boring to start with. I would be very wary of anything labelled "character".

Sorry, don't mean to nag.

rachel said...

Dear me, Veg A, there's a wealth of property (with or without 'character') in between 1600s major projects and bungalows, and I'm exploring anything that doesn't have most of its living space taken up with blackened beams and a vast inglenook fireplace. Character doesn't have to mean ancient! My preference is Victorian/Edwardian, but these are few and far between, or unaffordable, outside of Minehead; quiet road, decent garden, view and some 'character' are my requirements now. I'm keeping an open mind!

Rattling On said...

My Mother has extreme Hyacinth tendencies. It's very stifling. But at least yours isn't for long.
We live in a conservation area, and that's bad enough...

Sue said...

Cleaning and tidying is the pits,however when my lot were all at home it was the only way to survive otherwise we would have disappeared under a mountain of crud. Now I ignore as much as I can and only do the essentials, life is too short and getting shorter by the day.

Veronica said...

Myself and "New" husband are house shopping at the moment, its a tedious exercise to be buying, let alone selling and buying in another town. Ive been using google street view to check out the surrounding houses too, tells you a lot about the neighbourhood without having to waste your time going there. Very useful.

lovethosecupcakes said...

Reminds me of the time we sold our first house (we're currently in house number 3). We had a number of people interested in buying when an odd looking woman turned up claiming to be a cash buyer. I didn't take her seriously at all, didn't even bother to get off my backside and left the mister to show her round, very half heartedly as I recall. Turned out she was a cash buyer and we moved out very shortly afterwards. Don't actually know why I'm telling you this story.

Penny said...

Oh dear, really can't do tidy so I hope I don't have to move. I WANT to be tidy, but it sort of wells up behind me, like the wash on a boat. Add to that a small dog scattering toys, and chewed socks, and ripped up newspapers...well you get the picture. Hope you don't have to do it for too long. And follow your dream...Good Luck P x

judy in ky said...

I love that photo of the woman in the apron, facing the load of dirty dishes. That look on her face is one we all understand. The overwhelmed feeling of doing work that just keeps coming back to be done over again. I have never felt that more in my life than when we had our house for sale. Nothing could be left till another day; everything had to be kept up in "company" order. It's so difficult to have your private space ready for public consumption at any moment. You seem to be handling it all with flying colors and great humor.

Bee said...

What does your sister plan to do in retirement? Does she have country house plans, too? That Somerset one is SO chocolate box.

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