Saturday, 31 December 2011

Out with the old....

...thank goodness.

As many of you have done, and very entertainingly too, I was going to review my past year for this post, but the very thought of trawling through the various events, photographs, memories and emotions was so onerous and off-putting that I thought I would sum it up with one cliched image:

As someone who really isn't fond of thrills, spills and sky-high blood pressure through being catapulted violently from one emotional state to another, and run off my feet with so much to do whilst trying to keep a grip - for months! - saying goodbye to 2011 is very welcome. I am very happy to step off this hideous hurtling contraption that  symbolises so aptly the changeover process of house and location, and all that went before and since, and to walk calmly into 2012.

It's been quite a year, eventful, decisive, disappointing, upsetting, exhilarating, scary and thrilling, all overlaid with a clinging blanket of exhaustion, but it's over, just about, and I intend never to repeat it with such intensity. Never, ever again will I step willingly onto a rollercoaster, if I can help it.

I'm home; I will settle peacefully into my new environment, care for my little family of dogs and cats, tend my garden, and just 'be' in my cottage, creating as tranquil and simple a life as I can, and be content.

Thank you for coming along with me on this year-long (two-year-long, really) voyage-cum-rollercoaster ride, and for supporting, encouraging, empathising and sharing it with me.

I wish you a very Happy New Year, and exactly the kind of 2012 you want for yourselves.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Ungloomy Christmas

I hope your Christmas Day was tranquil, relaxed and extremely pleasant? Ours was. We go in for very low-key, un-timetabled activity, the Lovely Son and I; nothing has to be done other than opening our presents in turn, having a walk when we feel like it, having dinner when we feel like it.

It dawned grey and damp. We went for our customary walk anyway, choosing to drive to the end of the road on Bossington Hill.

Millie tried her best to come with us, but was forcibly ejected from the car, squawking in protest.

High above Porlock Vale, there was some lively galloping about, ball in mouth, until the Lovely Son accidentally threw the ball deep into the gorse. Such accidents are always a ten-minute tragedy for Flossie.

Despite the mist, there were views.

And bare winter trees.

We walked to Bury Castle, an Iron Age hill fort. There was some hilltop posing.

And Flossie demonstrated the windsock capabilities of labrador ears.



Then a slow walk back to the car.

And home amid  glimmers of sunlight.

Then Christmas Dinner 1* and an evening in front of the fire, with calls to and from friends left behind in the North East.

Our first Christmas in Somerset; just lovely.

*Christmas Dinner 2 took place two days later after the arrival of the LS's girlfriend. Yes, two puddings!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Waiting 2

Everything comes to the one who can wait.

And that includes those of us who wait for the Lovely Son.

Happy Christmas to all!

Friday, 23 December 2011


I wait for the Lovely Son.

Millie waits for....  Father Christmas?

We have time. We have patience.

.....we have SO MUCH TO DO!

(but you know, the Lovely Son won't notice if the hoover, duster and tidying-up fairy haven't been usefully employed before he arrives. The house can wait too.)

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

When the builders aren't around

What goes on here?

Well, life without the builders is just as busy as life with them, but with less kettle-boiling involved.

Lists get written, and mostly ticked off.

Dogs get taken to the sea and swim energetically, coming home to sleep like the dead. (Flossie does, at any rate; Tosca watches.)

Beautiful babies come to visit.

It's tormenting for babies like 9-week-old Merlot because they can't be set down on a floor other than their own until their vaccination course has been completed. So Merlot wriggles and squeaks, and gazes longingly at the cats and dogs who troop in to inspect, and in the cats' case, pronounce him wholly beneath contempt.

Merlot doesn't care. A few days later, he comes for another visit, and it's evident that his ears have grown rapidly.

So what else?

Well, two days ago I had my blood pressure checked. Not as good as I'd hoped: I blame the hectic-ness of the past few months, but also noted that the electronic monitor - the one that strangles your arm rather painfully - was playing up again. Three times that arm had to be strangled before the nurse gave up, and accepted one of the readings.

Despite the erratic behaviour of the machine, I have been summonsed to talk to the practice nurse and to have my low-level medication reviewed, but also must monitor myself, taking triple readings twice daily, for two whole weeks! And then I must present my home readings to the GP. Perhaps they hope that my home monitor will be better behaved than the overworked machine in the practice.

Today I had my regular deep tissue back and neck massage; I feel like I have someone else's back now, someone much younger and fitter than I. Maybe I should have a massage before a blood pressure check - I'll try that one next time.

And this afternoon I travelled a good distance in mild sunny weather, and picked up an espaliered apple tree (Cox's Pippin, my favourite) for the Lovely Son to give me for Christmas (and - oh joy - to plant for me, after putting up the requisite training wires against the garden wall). This was a pleasant excursion along little country lanes to a specialist fruit nursery, made all the happier by ending about a mile and a half from a town that boasts a Waitrose.

So of course I had to go, buying things I may never use, like rose harissa paste (suggestions welcome!) and lovely cordials for the non-drinkers (well, me) and can also tell you that the Lovely Son will do well for mad stylish cheesecake and other delights this Christmas.

Christmas pudding cheesecake

Tomorrow I have my hair cut and coloured. Three hours of torment for me, but I should emerge fit for polite company at the end of them, and fully acquainted with the details of my hairdresser's recent stag night in Prague, as well as all his socialising plans for the holidays. I won't need to speak at all.

And then on Friday the Lovely Son arrives, bringing tools and timber for the long-promised wood store and bookshelves. We plan to have our usual low-key (aka idle and slow) Christmas Day doing very little other than reading our new books, eating Anton Berg plums in madeira chocolates, and walking the dogs.

His girlfriend joins us some time on Boxing Day, so our 'proper' Christmas dinner won't take place till the day after. This gives us time to pause, review the cheesecake and chocolate situation, and make salads and life style resolutions.

Meantime, there is still present-wrapping to be done and the eternal tidying. And maybe a cup of tea - I've been a bit tea-deprived since the builders went away. They'll be back in the New year; phew, that's a relief!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Pursuing a life of glamour

Added later: Same as exactly one year ago today!! If you want to be spooked, click HERE

I am tired today. I am tired because I got up at 4.30 a.m.

This dog is empty.

Flossie is empty because she applied herself conscientiously to the task - at both ends - between 4.30 a.m. and 5.15, despite an intervening walk in the dark. Evidently she preferred to finish her emptying indoors.

And now she is carrying her bowl everywhere. It seems that I should be giving her some breakfast, because, well, she is EMPTY.....

Not bloomin' likely.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Miscellany for Sunday

When I first moved into this house, I declared it to be completely liveable-with for now. And then I proceeded to not live with it, but to start chipping away at the edges, making little changes here and there, and suddenly finding that they had grown into major undertakings.

It felt strange, and sometimes wasteful, to be undoing the work that the previous owners had put so much time in doing. But I was helped by being so much shorter and smaller than they had been, and needing rooms to be scaled down, made less cavernous, softer, homelier.

Remember the work that was being done on the bathroom? All the mess and disruption, caused initially by the replacement of an ancient and deeply undesirable concrete-and-asbestos soil pipe? Then the bright idea of moving the toilet along to the right by a few inches? Then the addition of a walk-in shower?

This is where we're at today:

And remember the utility room? The soil pipe again - and connecting drain - that had to be replaced? The floor that had to be levelled by several inches?

 Followed by the notion of a run of worktop with appliances beneath? Oh, and a sink for buckets and bathing of small dog? And a new roof? And the removal of all those spidery beams?

And the boxing-in of pipes and vents?

The utility room is still unfinished but with not much left to do, waiting for the woodwork to be painted, the floor scrubbed, and the planned dresser to be found to replace the old bookshelves that have taken much of the clutter out of the dining room - looks like this:

And now it's starting to feel almost there, almost my home, rather than someone else's, or a holiday cottage that I was allowed to 'do things to'. It's very different from my old home, yet very different from the cottage that I moved into almost five months ago. I feel ready for my first Christmas in my new home.

Speaking of which.... it's not Christmas yet, but my birthday today.

The un-Christmas packages, some of which have sat for weeks, tantalisingly full of secrets, were opened this morning, and revealed this:

And scented narcissi are filling the sitting room with the perfume of Spring. Lovely gifts.

I am now 63 years old. Not young, not old; just 63.

I might give myself a day off.
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