Saturday, 14 January 2012
I struggle to find things to blog about these days. I'm fearful of having overdone the continuous home-improvement stuff, or the cat-and-dog stuff, the look-how-lovely-it-is-where-I-live-now stuff; surely everyone (not me!) is bored to tears with it all by now?
Because people around me don't know about my blog, I feel uncomfortable about writing about them, interesting though they are. Back in Newcastle, my friends and neighbours took it well if they were mentioned in, or indeed the laughed-about subject of, a blog post, and some offered rich material, as well as encouragement and feedback. Here, it feels unauthorised, illicit, disrespectful, somehow.
I feel dull and discouraged, and the draft posts are piling up, dull and discouraging too. But I love blogging, so what to do?
For now, here's a little round up of what else is happening, and it's not all about house, cats and dogs, scenery and builders.
Except, unavoidably, some of it is.
I love my new made-to-measure bedroom curtains; the first really, deliberately, 'cottagey' items I've brought to this house; most of my furnishings have just been plonked down here from my last house, and some really don't fit. I love this faded chintzy-rose cotton ("It's not chintz!" said the snooty shop lady, sharply, mistaking my adjective for a noun - silly me).
I love my new hall lights, bought from an antique lighting centre. The galleries (the bit between the flex and the glass, and that holds it all together) were not antique, but a brightly incongruous shiny brass.
I needed to reduce the modern shine to this, slightly more aged, look.
The Lovely Son gave me a useful tip: suspend them (or any bright shiny new brass that you dislike intensely) for a couple of hours over a little dish of household ammonia, covered loosely by a plastic bag or a box, and the fumes will dull the shininess to a very acceptable aged bronze hue. And your house will smell of home perms for ages.
It seems to be winter at last. Last night, as I walked the dogs before bed, I noticed that for the first time it was cold enough to see our breath. This morning, there was the first frost.
I love the way inanimate objects are assigned a gender here, e.g. "He's going to fit nicely" (a cupboard slotting into place under a worktop.) I have asked as tactfully as I could how the speaker (usually, but not always, one of the builders) decided whether a window frame, a household appliance, a tool, a plank, or a block of stone, was a he or a she. Abashed, they said they didn't know, and I began to suspect that they weren't really aware that they did this, but K thought that the tumble dryer was certainly a he, and the washing machine definitely a she. But he couldn't say why.
But he and she fitted in nicely nevertheless.
The builders are quiet men. They speak softly among themselves, with never a raised voice, and if they want something to be passed to them, they say please and thank you to each other. They talk about fishing, mostly, but they like to gossip too. I never remark or join in when they share something with me ("M still lives with his mum and dad and he's over 40!" "K is absolutely terrified of spiders", both said with a chuckle) because everyone is related to/married into the family of/went to school with/was an apprentice to/goes fishing with each other.
And that's rather how it is in the locality too. Everyone knows everyone else, and everything about them, and I suspect a sizeable dossier is being built up on me and mine too.
And everyone knows Millie. She makes sure they do.
I'm getting to know quite a few folk round here. An old man, a colourful local character with a Somerset accent you could cut with a knife, walks a barely-manageable but vigorously healthy-looking Staffie cross. The first time I met him, he admired my dogs lavishly, and went on to tell me about his dog, rescued from the most unspeakable cruelty. Harrowing to hear, and stayed with me for some time.
The next time, and on every subsequent occasion we meet, he tells me almost the same story, but the details of the unspeakable cruelty have altered beyond recognition, and I have begun to suspect that they may indeed be a figment of the old chap's lively imagination - and his sturdy dog certainly bears no evidence of the various injuries or burns said to have been inflicted on it.
I have been encouraged by B up the road to try the Women's Institute; she says that once I've taken advantage of all the groups and activities on offer in this town, I will no longer be able to say (as I so annoyingly do) that I'm time-rich. Sadly, I wrote the wrong week on my calendar for my experimental visit, and was called on later that day to find out what had gone wrong: "You didn't come!" said B disappointedly. I had to confess to sheer stupidity and never being quite sure what day of the week it is, or in this case, what week it is, but I think she suspects me of losing my nerve.
I shall go along in February, and can then answer amused friends' questions about the average age range, and whether or not you have to sing 'Jerusalem' at every meeting. I do so hope not.....
But perhaps I need to brush up on my domestic skills. Today I did some baking. Yes, those are the mince pies that didn't get made at Christmas....
Very nice too, though I says it as shouldn't.
And some maple syrup and pecan scones; not so nice. I would love to find a recipe that doesn't produce an over-crumbly scone that tastes too much of baking powder, and that is in UK ounce/gram measurements, not US/Australian cups for those of us who hate all that converting.
And that's it for now. Sorry about all the builders/house/cats/dogs/loveliness of where I live stuff. I think it's all I know now. I'm off to read the paper and catch up on the catastrophic state of the world beyond my tiny life. And maybe have a mince pie.
Posted by rachel at 20:03