Wednesday, May 30, 2012


One of my favourite photographs from last year for 52 Photos Project week 6: Light in the Dark

            Even after all this time
            the sun never says to the earth, "You  owe me."
            Look what happens with a love like that,  
            It lights up the whole sky.


in the shadows

I wrote this a while back, intending to post it  for ME/CFS and FM Awareness Day on 12th May, and totally forgot to schedule it  to post while we were on holiday, and then when we got back I thought it was depressing so I didn't post it. Looking at it now I still think it's depressing but hell, that's the way it is. 

I don't want to write about this
I want to throw it all far away
 lock it in a box
stuff it under a cushion
ignore it

I don't want to write about the worst days
my giddiness, nausea, exhaustion, pain and confusion
The time I got hopelessly lost on a street I have known for years
The days I can't stand long enough to make a sandwich
Or raise my arms to dry my hair
When I can't read
Or understand the simplest tv plot
Or stand the noise
or the light

I wish people understood that
fatigue is the very least of it

I don't want to write about  
 standing (lying) here watching everyone else move forward
Seeing my own life pass me by
Worrying before every social occasion
How many days will I take to recover

I don't even want to write about the good days, 
when I feel enthusiastic and make plans
which time and again I can't carry out
I try to be positive but this negative situation
  means I am endlessly disappointed

I don't want to write about wondering how long I will be ill
and the possibility that I may never be well again

I don't even want to think about 
watching my own life 
from the shadows


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This evening

Outside my window a cool evening breeze, drying the clothes on my two washing lines. I have said it before, but one of my greatest pleasures is to see the laundry blowing on the washing line! You can't beat the smell of line-dried washing either, it smells of sunshine and fresh air.

I am thinking I really should bring the washing in and fold it, and clear up the kitchen.

I am thankful for the sunshine, chocolate, a new ecourse starting next week, and a free download of Susannah Conway's Photo Meditations ebook. Details here

In the kitchen Thai red curry, made with curry paste that was 1p a CASE! from Approved Foods. I used mince instead of beef or duck as it said on the packet. I also thought it was bland so added a couple of big dollops of Marmite. We had it with basmati rice, naan bread and mango chutney. I kind of liked it, but don't really want it again. Which is unfortunate as I still have about 12 packets of the curry paste.

This was my first Approved Foods order, and I have realised that I need to order more carefully! I assumed that 2500g of tomatoes would be split over several cans, not that I would receive one can the size of my HEAD. I also assumed that the 3 tins of tomato puree for a pound would be the usual little one-dinner type size of tin. There is enough puree in each tin for maybe 8 meals for 4 people - and I bought six cans. Conversely, I spent 25p on what I thought was a big box of Special K red berries cereal, and when it arrived it was one of those individual serving boxes. It seems I have a lot to learn.

I am wearing a black vest top, yoga pants, or to be more accurate non-yoga pants, flip flops. I am always in yoga pants when I do these posts, I have several pairs and tend to wear them around the house and save my nice clothes for going out. I do have a lovely pair of white gold earrings on though, does that make me seem more glamorous? Oh.

I am creating a Battenberg teacosy, a Jubilee necklace made from red, white and blue buttons, a pair of wrist warmers to be given as a prize in the WI raffle next week, and a twisty curly knotted lump of wool that is supposed to be a granny square - yes, I am still finding crochet a challenge.

I am going to - LEARN TO CROCHET!! LEARN TO CROCHET!! (and I am not the slightest bit tense about the difficulty I am having, can you tell?)

I am reading Tired of London, Tired of Life, a book which lists something to do in London every day, and making notes. I am also looking at a book about cottage gardens - I have plans for my little front garden, though it probably won't happen until next year, when the Prof has finished his MA dissertation. I would love a cottage garden, traditional plants and a winding path through the flower beds. I might even have a picket fence. 

I am hearing birdsong, a distant siren, the faint sounds of reggae music from a passing car. And now the dishwasher as well, as I just interrupted this post to tidy up the dinner things. 

Around the house piles of books, piles of clothes, piles of papers, piles of laundry, two big lads (the Young Philosopher has a friend staying), a very tired Prof, and me. 

I am enjoying The Voice, especially Bo . Also, this marriage proposal video

One of my favourite things My Auntie's bench. It used to be in her garden and I have happy memories of sitting there with her. Now it's in my garden, and like to sit there with a cup of tea and a book, and listen to the birds.

A few plans for the rest of the week tidying up the garden in preparation for planting up some pots of flowers for the summer months, ironing my summer clothes, catching up with the assignments in my drawing course and a classical concert in the Abbey ruins.

Joining the Daybook

Monday, May 28, 2012


I came into your room just now and you turned to me, full of enthusiasm for this little red gadget, a new mini speaker you have bought for your laptop.

I heard your words, as you explained how it works and why it is fantastic, but I saw the bed I have been asking you to change for days, the dumped clothes, the glasses and crockery that belong in the dishwasher.

So I listened with half an ear while you spoke, and then reminded you that you need to tidy and to change the bed, and you need to get it done before your friend comes over later today.

You said yes, you were going to do that now.  I saw the light leave your eyes and as your face fell my heart went with it.

For a moment my little boy was there in front of me again, face lit up and eyes aglow with excitement, wanting to share something with me as once we shared everything, and I let the opportunity go.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Yabba Dibber Do

This weekend the sun shone, and there was a lovely summer breeze

There was a wood turning workshop for the Prof, and a happy couple of hours writing and reading in the sunshine for me

There was a frugal shopping trip to Aldi and then spending what we saved on dinner out for two, with a glass of Pinot Grigio and dessert

There was a Sunday morning lie in, then a breakfast of pain de campagne with strawberry jam and coffee with cream

There was Sunday afternoon in my parents' garden catching up with Mum, Dad and my brother, with talk of moving house, new girlfriends and women with freakishly long arms (who,me?)  

There was much mowing and strimming by the Prof, and at 10pm tonight there was me planting sweet peas using the dibber that he made yesterday, with which I am mighty pleased. Yes, those are Cath Kidston gardening gloves. I am so chic. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Impromptu picnic and a duck that can't read


Hay is the kind of place I love. Stone cottages, winding streets, and countryside all around. The B and B we stayed at, St Marys, is situated just a few minutes walk from the town, highly recommended if you are ever in the area. This was our second time, we were also there in 2010, and both times everything has been great. Our room was immaculately clean, and landlady Ann very friendly and helpful, even lending us her book of maps and places of interest to take out with us. We also appreciated her lovely breakfasts, and tea, coffee and biscuits in our room, replenished every day. I do like me a biscuit. 

On our first morning, after a lovely full English breakfast we set off to explore.
The Prof, outside the B and B. You may be able to spot him lurking in some of the other photos, a little Where's Wally-esque in his striped rugby shirt.
I love this country post box, set into the stone wall. Isn't it sweet?

I really don't know why I am facing the other way to the direction I am going.

There are two routes to the town, along the street or the longer, lovely walk by the river. We chose the latter, and went to explore the bookshops. I wish we'd had time to walk along the river path again another day, it was so green and peaceful.

Oh, to live somewhere with countryside all around....
Oh look, there's Wally!

Hay has a LOT of bookshops. Almost thirty, I think. most of them sell secondhand books, some of them news ones as well. Some are more general, others specialise in particular areas. These are just a few. I do love me a bookshop.

and there's Wally again!

Hay Castle. You can just about see the 'bookshop' sign in the window. 

We did a lot of browsing, I did quite a bit of sitting and reading (love bookshops with armchairs! Why don't we have those at home?) but we didn't buy many books this time. The Prof was on the look out for some specific academic tomes and didn't find them, I just made a few notes of some fiction books I might get from the library at a later date. I found a great volume of Leonard Cohen poetry I would have liked to buy, but there was only one copy and it was very battered, so I will put it on my Christmas list. I did spend a whole £3 on a cookbook , though.  I already have another book by the same author, entitled ' How to feed your whole family a healthy balanced diet, with very little money and hardly any time, even if you have a tiny kitchen, only three saucepans (one with an ill-fitting lid) and no fancy gadgets - unless you count the garlic crusher.' which is a great title, I think, and fairly apt for me. 

This is the pub we ate in most evenings. Slightly pricey, but pretty nice food. The Prof liked the beef stroganoff, I liked the lasagne. The chocolate marquise was so divine, I didn't bother to try anything else. I do love me a chocolate dessert. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I took this photo in preparation for my first time joining in with the Yarn Along at Small Things and wouldn't you know, when I checked the 52 Photos Project for this week's prompt, it was 'pink'. That's what I call serendipity. I trust I can include yellow as well, they go so nicely together!

I am reading This I Know, by Susannah Conway. I pre-ordered it months ago, it arrived this week and I read it the same day. I am rereading now. I have taken online courses run by Susannah, and read her blog and this thoughtful and thought-provoking book has her voice running right through it. The subtitle of the book is 'notes on unravelling the heart' and it tells Susannah's own story of how the terrible experience of losing her partner led her to a new way of being, and a better understanding of herself. Her own gorgeous polaroid photos are scattered throughout the book, and there are occasional writing and photography exercises to try. It's a lovely book.

Don't you think the colours in my knitting are exactly the same shades as Battenberg cake? I think I will call it the Battenberg Teacosy. It is half completed. The yarn is taken across the back of your knitting and adds a layer of insulation, and it has been quite slow going, probably because you are changing colour ever few stitches. It's easy though, and I do like things I can knit in front of the television or while chatting. I knitted this whilst watching series 2 of Lark Rise to Candleford on DVD, sadly without any Battenberg cake. I think I might have to celebrate by eating some when it's completed. Or maybe today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On the way to Hay: Tintern Abbey

This is the first instalment of our holiday photos. We usually try to make the most not only of the holiday itself, but the two travelling days, visiting somewhere on the way there and the way back. 

On our way to Hay-on-Wye, we stopped at Tintern Abbey, near Chepstow in Wales. It was founded in 1131, rebuilt in the thirteenth century and in 1536 was part of the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. I was surprised to see so much of it standing. 

I love really old buildings, to walk around and be able to touch 800 year old history is amazing to me.  When I was 16 and had a Saturday job in Tesco, I would take my lunch and sit in the ruins of Barking Abbey, thinking 'wow, William the Conqueror stayed here!'. Barking Abbey will have to wait for another time, but I'll be back soon with some of the thirty or so bookshops of Hay. 

Monday, May 21, 2012


Two posts from me in an hour?? I had just posted, and was hanging out some washing in the back garden, when the postman rang the doorbell - parcels! And not one, but THREE!!

One was our membership pack from the National Trust. We decided to join and then visit some of the NT properties that we pass when we are on our country drives. Lately I don't seem to be able to post at all without mentioning country drives do I? Have you noticed? We got a free gift too, a pair of binoculars. We have a pair each already, but mine seem to have vanished, so a new pair in the post is pleasantly fortuitous.

The second parcel contained the sweet pea plants I ordered from ebay. They are my absolutely favourite flower and I adore the scent of them. I can't wait to see them twining themselves prettily around some canes in our garden, and pick them to have in little vases all over the house.

The third parcel I deliberately saved until last as I knew who it was from and that it would contain wonderful things, and I wasn't wrong. A lovely card and a letter from Jen, and two gorgeous magazines.

It's getting on for 12pm now and as usual I haven't got around to breakfast yet, so I am going to make myself a nice lunch - I am thinking hummus and salad with avocado - read my magazines and think about garden plans for the summer.

Happy me!

working wonders and making miracles....or not

From the car, somewhere in Monmouthshire/Herefordhire/Shropshire (we did a LOT of driving in the countryside!)

Do you ever have one of those days? An old friend of mine used to say 'I was going to work wonders and make miracles today, but...'

It was one of those weekends here. I think we are still coming down from our few days away last week. We got up early on Saturday morning, full of good intentions, and somehow the day ran away from us, and then there I was on the sofa at 8.30 pm and Not A Lot had been done. Oh yes, the Prof had a haircut, and I did our monthly financial jiggery pokery, we went out for breakfast and the Telegraph crossword, and spent a couple of hours with my parents, so it wasn't a complete bust, but still. Lots to do and no enthusiasm for doing it. On Sunday we got up late, and whilst it was nice to have coffee and biscuits in bed, and finish up the crossword from Saturday, it meant by the time we got up there was only time to shower quickly before leaving to visit friends in Kent. Ah well, it was a nice weekend even if we achieved little, and I always love driving around in Kent. I'd like to live there one day.

I came across these rules for happiness the other  day, and it seems pretty true to me. 

Rules for happiness:
someone to love,
something to do
something to hope for
-Immanuel Kant

Thursday, May 17, 2012

a little at a time

"My way of doing things is simple. It's not necessary to make impossible efforts when troubled. Put simply, when you are vexed just be vexed and say, 'Yes, and what shall I do?' Just be in suspense about the outcome and move forward a little at a time."
Dr. Morita

There is so much to do in the house and garden, I find the whole thing overwhelming. I have lived here for, um, let's think, getting on for nine years, yes that's right, we moved here a couple of days after the young Philosopher's twelfth birthday. That seems such a long time ago, though on the other hand I can't believe I have lived here this long and so many of the things that needed doing then still need doing now. I had very little money back then, as a home educating single parent priorities were roof over heads, food, and education. Most of the time there wasn't much left after those things were taken care of. We wuz poor but we wuz 'appy.  I threw some paint around a couple of times and that was about it. In 2008 I met my dear Prof, and he came to live here the following year, though in the meantime he had been made redundant so again, love was all around but the money wasn't. He found work in February 2010 but the next things on the agenda were getting engaged and then married, so finances were channelled towards that. A year after the wedding, it's time we really started getting around to making this house into the home we would like to be, but oh, there is so much to be done!

Every room needs redecorating, and I expect that when we pull the paper off the eighty-odd year old walls and ceilngs, (where it isn't hanging off already, that is) much of it will need plastering. The bathroom needs, well a complete new bathroom. The front garden needs a complete overhaul and I don't know where to start, probably with the 80 year old privet hedges that need ripping out. I can't decide whether to do something nice with the garden, or whether to apply to the council for off-street parking, as several nasty things have happened to our car while it has been parked in the street. The back garden needs a new fence, one panel is threatening to fall over altogether, and several others look very sorry for themselves. We need a new gas fire, new carpets - in particular, we still have the carpet from the previous occupant in our living room and on the stairs and it's horrible. We need a new sofa. We don't have enough cupboard space in the (tiny) kitchen, the Prof is going to build some. Same with the bedroom, he intends to build fitted cupboards in there too. The living room is a logistical nightmare. Like the kitchen, it is tiny and has three doors leading off it, furniture placement is really difficult. We also have a LOT of stuff, including five bookcases of books. Major decluttering is in order, though probably not many of the books will go! It's hard to get all this stuff done, the Prof is often exhausted when he gets home, and is studying for his MA in his spare time and then there is my CFS. When we have time at the weekend we just like to get in the car and drive away from it all. 

I said yesterday that I only ever seem to have head space and breathing room when I get away  to the country, be it for a holiday or one of our weekend country drives. That needs to change, I want to feel comfortable and able to breathe here, in our home. I don't want to feel overwhelmed all the time anymore, like the things-to-do are pressing on me from all sides. So. One thing at a time. Decluttering and reorganising, then. I'll start with the living room, do a little every day that I can, depending on other events and my health, and just keep on keeping on, and eventually I'll get there, right? 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

breathing space

We just got back home last night from a five day break in the was wonderfully refreshing, you know how I love the countryside. Somehow I find it so much easier to breathe there, and the literal space seems to give me space in my head. I took hundreds of photographs while we were away and when I saw this week's prompt, I wasn't sure which to choose on the theme of movement. I have pictures of water rushing over a dam, streams, a cheeky chaffinch on the wing mirror, sparrows and a robin who could scarcely keep still long enough to pinch the crumbs from our picnic table. I will share some of my other photos later, as for now I have settled on this one. Taken from the passenger window of our moving car, a red kite wheeling overhead against a glorious blue sky. 

Thursday, May 03, 2012

May Parade of Adventures, or Should I Bother?

self-inflicted punishment for Epic Fail. I am smiling because I just had some lemon and blueberry cake

Looking back at last month's Parade of Adventures, I have to admit to not being brilliant at doing the things on my list. I tend to change plans and veer off in unexpected directions, doing everything except the things I planned, that is just me, and part of my irresistible charm, I'm sure you agree.  Last month, though,I excelled myself and didn't do even one of the things on my April Parade of Adventures, which were:
  • Go out for lunch with the Young Philosopher. We seem to be like ships in the night. He is mostly either working or asleep, I am often ill. Must try harder. 
  • Make a blanket bag to keep a blanket in for when i am chilly in the car. Scheduled some time with my Mum's sewing machine later this week, though probably only a couple of hours, and I have something else I want to finish first. Maybe I will just put the blanket in a bag I already have, for now. 
  • Try a few new vegetable dishes. Nope. Cancelled the veg delivery, it was easier.
  • Make a cake. Hahahahaha
  • Buy some new jeans. I hate clothes shopping. I also hate not having what I need. Catch-22. 
  • Do some badly needed decluttering of the loft. The Prof's been ill, I've been ill, we've been busy, we're going away...this month we have to make some space up there. My parents are moving house and some of our stuff, currently living in their loft and shed,  needs to come home.
  • Write four letters. I wrote one.  

Ever hopeful, here is my Parade of Adventures for May
  • Take lots of photographs, especially during our few days in Hay-on-Wye later this month. 
  • Write more. Writing is always last on my list, after such things as laundry and housework. As I am never up to date with those things, I don't often get as far as the writing!  I hereby resolve to do even less housework so I can do more writing.  
  • Force myself to enter the hell that is Lakeside Shopping Centre and purchase a pair of jeans or two. 
  • Write another letter. Starting small...

That will do. Keeping it simple. 

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Sunshine and Patience

This is the clematis on my side fence, in a rare sunny moment this week. When I first moved here I planted various things along the fence. The pyracantha was soon doing well, with clusters of tiny flowers and later, masses of berries. The honeysuckle and red jasmine I planted all did quite well right away. This clematis grew and grew and grew, it covered the fence with a bushy mass of leaves, but every Spring I would wait in vain for flowers. It was three years before it bloomed, when I had given up hope that it was ever going to. It is so beautiful with hundreds of small, white, starry blooms that smell faintly of sherbet. I look forward to seeing them every year.