Saturday, 14 January 2012

Blocked


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.

43 comments:

Susan said...

It doesn't matter what you're writing about - we (les Gang) are interested in it all ! but I do very much relate to your "writer's block" thinking/feelings.

I think ... don't think so much

says she who "always" thinks too much.

much love xoxo les Gang

love ALL the photos

mountainear said...

Blocked? Blocked? Woman are you mad? You've just written the most interesting of blogs - interesting, informative and intelligent. The kind of stuff that oils the neighbourly wheels - and you are my blog neighbour. We lean over the cyber garden wall and chat. This is good. Keep it up.

Know where you are coming from though, having had a year of blogging thinly - and for all the reasons you mention. Still plodding on though. Hope you will too.

Sue said...

I often feel like I'm being repetitive - does anyone want to see what I had for dinner again? Somehow an idea for a post always seems to turn up. You say you feel you are repeating yourself and yet I never feel that when I read your posts, or at least I don't find it a bad thing. I like hearing about your house and your animals.

mountainear said...

...and the 'him' and 'her' utility is fantastic.

John said...

Nope, not bored at all, keep it coming. "A tiny life," where have I heard that before?

dinahmow said...

I think this is familiar to most bloggers who actually compose their posts, as opposed to those who simply (and often very badly!)cut-and-paste ideas they have picked up along the way.

The times when you (or the cats-hint!) have not posted for a while make me wonder if you are ill. Then I think "no, Rachel is just very busy...she'll post something hilarious/horrifying/meaningful soon."
And so you do.
If any readers were becoming tired of things they would simply fade away, I think.
The rest of us hang about, like kids on a rainy day, knowing that sooner or later there will be a break in the clouds and we'll be off on a new adventure.
And anyway, at 10,000 miles remove, it's lovely to see Somerset again!

littlemancat said...

Your blog is always,and I do mean always,interesting and beautifully written. Funny and kind as well. Keep it rolling, that block that you and only you see.
And just for fun, will Catkin's photo soon join the portrait gallery?
Mary,East Coventry USA

Lesley said...

No need to worry about boring us. I alwas find something fun in your posts. And that's the beauty of blogging: you know that everyone CHOSE to pop in and read. You're not forcing this on us...we come here cos we likes it!!

Keep up the good work.

Lesley xx

Noelle said...

Oh Rachel! No worries! WE LOVE TO HEAR ANYTHING YOU SAY...AS LONG AS...Flossie, Tosca, Millie, all the kitties, the lovely house and the surrounding neighbourhood photos are featured in it!
Since I am still laughing at Lovely Son's ideas (it really smells like perm in the house?)we will add him in the list too!
Now for the serious stuff...About those mincemeat pies? Do you deliver?? Ex-RAF flyboy is drooling over my shoulder!
And for the scones I use an Irish recipe (Best of Irish Breads & Baking - Shamrock)-(yes in British measures) which is lovely. Let me know if you do not find it!

Anonymous said...

I cannot remember one instance of being bored by one of your posts, and this last is no exception; in fact, I have often burst out laughing as your words bring images to life in my mind, the most vivid this time being the drapery sales assistant, we have all met one like that! Yes, keep it coming. OllieV

Anne said...

You keep on blogging about nothing in particular and we'll all be here reading it!! That's what this blogging lark is all about!

Val + the Girls- BK +CK said...

re the cup thing Rachel ...you could do what I do and grab an ordinary teacup and go for it...? (Not a big Breakfast tea cup mind)

Love your porch btw :0)

Lynda (Granny K) said...

'Keep calm and carry on blogging'! You have the gift, pass us a pie!

elizabethm said...

Ah now I do understand. A few years of blogging have revealed a relentless pattern in my life and sometimes I can feel myself saying the same thing. But I love reading yours and would miss it very much if you stopped so maybe it is the pleasure of looking in on someone else's life that is the draw. Do carry on carrying on

judy in ky said...

I thoroughly enjoy your blog and your photos. Never boring at all. Your life is so different from mine in many ways that it might seem boring to you, but never to me. I never, ever tire of the animals... I love them all.

alice c said...

Think about who you write for: Yourself? Your posts are a record of the gentle pace of your new Somerset life. Your family and friends? They will love to hear about your home, the gradual changes that you are making. Your blog-friends? They turn up every day hoping to hear more about those lovely dogs. Me? Well, obviously you mainly write for me because I hang about with my arms crossed and my foot tapping waiting for the next message from Somerset. I want dogs, curtains, WI, Somerset beaches. I am insatiable so get a busy-on, no excuses.

Anonymous said...

that's why i read your blog. i like all the cottagey, cat, building and where you live stuff. nice curtains and light fittings. Fran

Julienne said...

You did make me giggle with the home perm smell! What a wonderful hint though for aging that dreadful new brassy look. My house is going to smell now for months!!!!!!! Keep blogging.

BumbleVee said...

Peek-a-boo Lottie! I see you!

I was wondering the same as littlemancat....is Catkin still around?

Hahahha...and...as I kept scrolling and scrolling .... what is she talking about? Blocked ? ... hahah.... wish I was blocked like this...

oh...and ... believe it or not...I am making Maple Syrup scones tomorrow...to take to a little neighbourhood meeting regarding a dinner we hope to have next week with 10 of us...so if I have time...I'll measure things out for you.

Failing that... send me your mailing address...and I will send you a little something....

Marianne said...

but we love to see your cats and dogs who are never dull. and I, for one, love doing up houses myself and am interested to see how yours is becoming yours. so glad you plastered that wall! and as I know the area you're living in the pictures and anecdotes are always a joy. keep it coming!

Desiree said...

No, no, no, I'm never bored of your funny stories, I am like a child who can be told the same again and again. I love what you did to your house ( beautiful curtains), love the environment and love all the furry stories.
You make my day, when you have blogged!!!!

Lucille said...

Don't stop. I was waiting with baited (bated?) breath for the utility room reveal. Love the curtains. May well need to dull down some brass and never tire of local news briefing.

Arthur Ransome said...

What an exciting gallimaufry of things. It's wonderful to see the utility room. I hope you're very pleased with it. All posts, however dull they may seem to you, are interesting to your loyal readers!

Arthur Ransome said...

PS When did that wonderful photo of Catkin appear in the siding? She looks how I feel - another meal forced into submission.

Val said...

Please, please don't stop writing about the things you write about! It's perfect just as it is, my only request is for more frequent posts. My new country life is similar to yours in some ways, but so different in others, and I love reading about it.

Frances said...

I am in total agreement with all the above comments. I love hearing about the animals, the house move, seeing the countryside around you, etc. etc...so please don't stop writing. Looking forward to hearing how you get on at the WI !

June said...

I am horribly envious of your old beautiful home and what you're doing to it. I love your animals and your town (or village, as the case may be). And I adore those drapes, whatever material they are (what DID the snooty shop lady say they were?)
But my very most favorite part of this entire post is the photograph of actual ENGLISH ivy!!!!

SAS said...

I have never been bored by your writing or wonderful photos. I have the best time visiting you and yours. You are a natural at blogging.

Thank you and keep the posts coming.

zephyr said...

What an absolutely scRUMPtious post!!
Please:
MORE builders/cats/dogs/scenery
i am the boring one!!

Toffeeapple said...

So there you have it - no-one is bored, at all. So carry on, as you do since we love it. Your curtains and lamps are very pretty and suit the cottage perfectly. Is that Lottie in the basket at the end and Catkin in the dinner bowl? I like your frosty pictures too.

Marcheline said...

First of all, your life is completely unique from all your readers' lives, so OF COURSE we find it interesting! Stop censoring yourself.

As for gossiping about your new neighbors? Go ahead! Just make up nicknames for them so they're not searchable on the internet! (I'm such a bad influence.)

Your new hallway looks divine, and I find that I am overly interested in your builders (especially that cute younger one) - ha!

I can only dream of having the money to refurbish my old house, so seeing someone actually doing it is very inspirational. Please don't stop telling us about it and posting pictures!

Speaking of pictures, you take great shots and it's always one of my favorite parts of each post. Those flowers in the frost are heartbreakingly beautiful.

Cara said...

I live in the American South, and I'm fascinated by your surroundings, the old cottage, the quaint village. I've been reading your blog for a couple years, not sure I've commented before.

Please don't stop posting -- love to learn about your area, your pets, your renovation, and just your average daily life.

gilliecoco said...

Don't stop writing your 'everday' posts - I love them as do all your other commenters!!!! That is what makes it so lovely in this hurly burly world we live in that people do just lead normal lives doing ordinary things! Well done - lovely post and keep up the lovely posts !!

chinecats said...

I love your blog! You're living my dream,(and many others no doubt) to buy a cottage in the country and make it your own, and your blogs about the pets are hilarious! Don't stop!

Barbee' said...

But! But! But...! That's what I come here for! I would dearly love to have cats and dogs again, but can't. I deeply yearn to redo our house, but can't. I love seeing yours - the more the better! Years ago our cat would get up on the roof and she learned (finally!) to jump into the laundry basket that I held up to her. It made a merry show for our dear retired neighbor across the street who loved to sit on his porch and watch our family's daily circus. I love seeing all your re-do details, and thank you for the good photo of your light, bright laundry area. What a lovely space you created.

The Village Queen said...

I love your blog! Your boring life to you is interesting, funny, pretty and enviable to me who is very far away. I love hearing about your building process, what everyday life is like there, its so different in small ways from mine. Your builders sound lovley, the best kind of man person, one who comes in, does the work you tell them and then goes away again! Kittys are the same everywhere and youres are sweethearts.
You drapes are very nice, and as a drape professional myself I wonder what they charged you for them... intesting to compair.
Your mince pies are beautiful, having just made my first pie from scratch am admiring the very fancy crusts... not too sure about mince though. Cant help you with the scones, dont make those here either! I wish I lived in a small village where you get to know people, here there are over 2 million just in the general city area. I know my duplex neighbor and thats it. So if you havent gotten the point yet, to your readers, your boring village life in a work in progress cottage with cats sounds like heaven and we want to keep hearing all about it. :)

MLou said...

"Life is made up of days that mean nothing, and moments that mean it all..." Unknown

Your blog is about moments. Don't stop telling us about the moments that tell us about the meaning of everything. (I missed you and thought you were suffocated under a pile of filing. I definitely could suffocate under mine!)

knutty knitter said...

Don't stop now!!!! I agree with all them above and I do like your new room and the new photo of Catkin too.

viv in nz

Ginnie said...

I will echo all the other comments - your life is interesting! Your writing is fun to read! Your pictures, whether of cats, dogs, house, or scenery, are wonderful! You might not feel inspired, but to me it is still compelling, so keep it up!

Great idea, too, about aging the metal on the fixtures. How smart. And your curtains are beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I have come out of lurking to thank you for a great blog - one that I always read and very much enjoy. To read about your cats and dogs, your new house and beautiful Somerset after my difficult day at work always brings a smile and is never boring. The food and house images are inspiring (I almost never bake and we live in an old house on a very busy street). So please do keep on.
Ann in Oregon

Anonymous said...

I guess Catkin's definitely staying then - she's 'official' now.

jabblog said...

The minutiae of other people's lives is (are?) always fascinating and you write so entertainingly. The house smelling like home perms really tickled me, but what a good tip. I wish I could pass off tarnished silver as 'antique' . . .

hasenschneck said...

For someone who doesn't know what to blog about, that turned out to be a very long post. I wouldn't worry about it. I'm in the same mood at the moment – feeling that I've got nothing to say. It comes and goes. It helps to remind myself that I'm writing stuff for me really, rather than for an audience.

Very helpful tip on bright brass things too. Now I just have to dismantle a few things...

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