Thought for Food

Spiderman on a porch roof. No reason.

Now I can’t say my life is stressful in the sense that I do not have to file reports, meet press deadlines, create spreadsheets for inexplicable data, worry whether HR are monitoring ‘all’ email attachments , or suffer the unbearable sweat inducing hunger that every British person must in preference to taking the last biscuit during a meeting. Even if it is only one of those shortcake ones with the dried currants in.

So yes, I am lucky in that sense, but instead my mind is generally preoccupied with a hundred and one other things, some useful, some not – but strangely I’m finding that the more I have to think about the happier a person I am. Curious in a sense, as previously when I found myself in conventional employment, the notion of relaxing and not having to think about anything was a distinct luxury. Now I find it is quite the opposite.

Along with the mental chaos that comes of making sure three people are alive, clothed and fed, I have found myself develop a yearning for learning about random things at the moment. In fact it’s become a serious addiction that requires feeding, a nourishment that I crave and never thought I would – a genuine need of ‘thought for food’.  This is why I think I have become so fixated with TED.com – I can get a fix of trivia in the time it takes to don a clean pair of socks and dab on a bit of mascara.

I think I rather wish I had become addicted to something useful like jogging or hot yoga or something. Then I could have a toned physique and buns of steel! Instead here I sit, cherry bakewell in hand, learning about how the human brain is wired to comprehend our own mortality. Now there’s a delicious irony for you.

There are however downsides in wanting to fill my brain with random curiosities, in that sometimes over capacity often leads to a distinct malfunction. And I do stupid things. Some recent embarrassments include:

  1. Wearing my pyjama top to the supermarket, featuring an over-sized bunny;
  2. Hunting for a cup of tea I made, only to find it in the toddler’s wardrobe;
  3. Using deodorant to polish the bedroom furniture;
  4. Leaving a voicemail for my builder explaining why I can’t make my dental appointment…

and most unfortunately…

5. Inviting a friend to meet me at a local National Trust property. She arrived at said property on time. I also arrived promptly and began looking for my friend at the ticket office (as agreed). It was after some moments of confusion when neither of us could find each other at the modestly sized ticket office, that I realised I had suggested a destination and meant another. My friend was in Basingstoke. I was 25 miles away in Henley-on-Thames. Yep.

So I need to come up with a way that I can maintain a working level of mental stimulation without also compromising friendships and causing myself public humiliation and eventually, dehydration.

But at least in the short term, my bedroom smells 24 hour fresh.

The Toddler loves…

We have found the Toddler’s Achilles heel.

Balls.

She loves them, would cross oceans for them – or her equivalent, a deep gravel car park, tripping twice, picking herself back up, all in pursuit of the prize – an errant football that none of us could even see at a hundred yards.

We now have reins. But what a joy it is to see such pleasure derived from something so simple. Kate was beaming.

There’s a message in there somewhere.

There is a risk this blog could get a little Toddler heavy. But she is my (not so simple) pleasure, and to me, that’s worth sharing.

 

Contemplating the unobtainable

I am  really deeply tired.

That is not what this blog is about, rather than given this physical state  I allowed myself to sit down at nap time, guilt free, and indulge in a bit of Chelsea Flower Show magic. I love Chelsea, the show gardens particularly! I adore the immaculate lawns, the sharply clipped hedges, the beautiful ways in which water is used, the the flawless drifts of exuberant planting (and particularly how much ‘representation’ the BBC presenters seem to be able to read into a metre square of crazy paving). To me, it truly is magic!

But if you look a bit closer, you realise it is actually magic. In many cases there is no way many of the flowers would be in bloom simultaneously if they hadn’t been prepped for months beforehand in polytunnels. Many of the structures used also look amazing, but made of solid marble, are a bit beyond the budget of your average B&Q patron, whilst the sheer perfection of each garden I imagine is very difficult to maintain if it is also a working garden (i.e. at the mercy of people, children and animals).

Which got me thinking how I often chuckle at the ‘lifestyle magazines’ I also have a mild addiction to. Pretty much every issue is an ode to impractical perfection – country kitchens only available with artistically placed satsumas, a beautifully made up mother-of-four carrying home the week’s shopping in a wicker trug wearing a chintzy pinny, sprightly children running through fields in smocked white dresses (that are still white), and chickens sauntering about immaculate flower beds without the merest hint of eating/digging them up. Here are a few more examples of the beautiful yet improbable quickly plucked from my latest issue of Country Homes and Interiors…

I never put out my washing without also making sure I have my essential chicken, pot stand, jug and floral decoration.
I never put out my washing without also making sure I have my essential chicken, pot stand, jug and floral decoration.
Shabby chic living room
Household with toddler use books beautifully as side table.
Coastal living - hallway
A theme in all aspirational homes – rooms must contain a wicker basket with colour coordinated throw leaping out of it
Pastels country bedroom
See
Floral country kitchen
Except in kitchens where they are a guest at the dinner table

Now, I jest, but this is the very principle applied fashion magazines but with a homemakers twist – a guide to domestic airbrushing if you will. Not that I mind this unapologetic display of make believe, indeed I still choose to subscribe to such publications, and readily lap them up each time they fall on my doormat.

But that is part of the problem. A large part of my personality (for good or bad) has given itself over to being a dreamer – I crave unobtainable perfection. Yes I know in reality, living with a DIY enthusiast and toddler, my worktop is more likely to boast a collection of drill bits interspersed with rusk than a rustic hand tied posy, but it is a little difficult to accept.

Social media also seems to be having an impact of similar proportions on my being. Occasionally I am forced to ply myself away from the likes of Instagram and Facebook which often make me feel I am rather falling behind on my cocktail consumption, or that my life is missing necessary *sparkle* given that my only celebrity siting of late was Alan Titschmarsh purchasing a strawberry cornetto, and in such hot weather, a request for a selfie seemed rather unreasonable.

Indeed I do need to remind myself that most of the lifestyle accolades portrayed are a matter of perception and interpretation – (an ad man’s currency).

Still, I have always been taught to follow my dreams, so I have ironed my pinny for my next outing to Londis, a bag of easy-peels adorn my counter top, and I have popped a hydrangea head that the cat decapitated on my whirlygig.

It’s work in progress. See social media for updates.

Solar powered

OK, so blogging every day was perhaps a tad unrealistic, particularly given that the sun has been putting in a lot of appearances lately, and every part of my being just wants to burst into song, frolic amongst ears of wheat, and run through the hills sporting an Austrian girdle.

Do you get that?

Sun (snd very blustery days) makes me a little  bit ADHD, and so I have been dragging poor Kate and others that are willing to anywhere open within a 25 mile radius. It’s been super!

Water Garden at Cliveden, Maidenhead
Water Garden at Cliveden, Maidenhead
Kate and her Grumpy
Kate and her Grumpy
Lady Muck
Lady Muck
Small girl, big chair
Small girl, big chair

I also suspect I am in need of a holiday. I do tend to go a bit stir crazy given any restriction on movement, and there is only so far we can currently travel whilst keeping to the toddler’s nap schedule (to be messed with at your peril), and my dear daughter does become rather restless if in her car seat for any length of time (and the raisins run out).

In fact she hates sitting still.

Don’t know where she gets it from.

23 things I need to rein in

  1. My admiration of well pedicured feet (I know people can see me looking – but how do they make their feet look pretty?).
  2. The amount of time spent reading posts such as ‘the definitive ranking of banana flavoured things on Buzzfeed (regardless of how compelling and potentially useful this information may be).
  3. My obsession with Gabriel Macht.
  4. And Suits.
  5. Or possibly just Gabriel Macht.
  6. The number of times I tell people my interesting hedge trimming fact (not a euphemism).
  7. The need for all curtains to be striped.
  8. Number of Peppa Pig episodes watched.
  9. Excitement at finding an episode of Peppa Pig I have not yet seen.
  10. Need to sort smarties into colour groupings then eat them in order of the white light spectrum.
  11. An inner itch to knock over the plates display in John Lewis (afraid one day I will).
  12. My secret delight in sometimes hiding my husband’s slippers.
  13. My love of filling in visitor books.
  14. The frequency with which I listen to this song.
  15. Smelling chlorine on my arms after swimming.
  16. My prejudice towards people who incorrectly pronounce ‘aitch’.
  17. A growing obsession with watching the man who is always cleaning his camper van.
  18. An enjoyment of chewing wooden coffee stirrers.
  19. My predilection that a cup of tea looks lonely without a biscuit.
  20. An uncontrollable urge to make lists of everything on Google ‘Keep’.
  21. And my blog.
  22. Re-homing slugs found on our allotment plot to other peoples.
  23. Never going to bed early enough.

Night then.

Green and pleasant land

A family day out to West Green Gardens in Hartley Whitney for a bit of R&R and inspiration for our own garden project we hope pursue once our house extension is completed this summer.

Despite the rain we had a lovely mooch found, Kate worked on a refinement of her walking skills and indulged in some gravel appreciation (her current passion), while us ‘grown ups’ had the opportunity to genuinely catch up and spend time as the friends we are – a rare luxury given that everything has gotten so busy lately.

Kate walking at West Green Gardens - Hartley Witney

Clipped hornbeam under planted with box, areas of wild flower meadow, fountains flowing into cascades and rills, formal borders interspersed with splashes of colour in benches and obelisks.

Clipped hornbeam - West Green Gardens, Hartley Witney

Formal walled courtyard - West Green Gardens, Hartley Witney

Can’t wait to get out my trowel and get stuck in!

Finding home

A return to blog titles.

Today, when I had 5 mins off, I watched this TED talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love.

She describes writing as being her home, something she returns to when everything else is a bit haywire – her grounding. She doesn’t care if her books flop, she writes because that’s just what she loves to do.

I keep coming back to this blog, sometimes after a period of many many months, even though on numerous occasions I’ve considered not renewing my domain and giving up on blogging entirely. However being without this little space to write random musings felt like a real heart wrench …

 Maybe that’s because this has been my home all along?

I have never known really ‘what I want to do’, and have always deeply admired those people who have, and are able to lead very fulfilled lives as a result.

Recently someone told me that what you do when you procrastinate is what you should be doing in the first place. 

Maybe, finally, I have my answer.

8 May

On this day my Mum arrived on this earth,  I was married, and victory was declared in Europe. 

Not bad all round.

Oh and here are some step by step instructions for obtaining rose water if you are making a cake requiring said ingredient, but your local retail outlet doesn’t have any in stock:

  1. Attend new toddler group
  2. Befriend a Mum newly arrived from Australia (preferably her shipping containers will have arrived that morning).
  3. Randomly drop into conversation your need for rose water.
  4.  Find out she lives opposite your Auntie Thelma.
  5. Force feed your toddler the remains of their apple and blackcurrant to free up a suitable container.
  6. Drop by new friend’s house and load up on prized ingredient purchased in Melbourne (be sure to compliment new friend on giant pouffe).
  7. Wheel toddler and rose water towards home.
  8. Temporarily forget where ingredient is stored. Feel slightly guilty as toddler resorts to licking buggy handle for relief.
  9. Buy carton of apple juice from newsagents in a bid to remedy situation.
  10. Arrive home and make cake.

7 May

Today, a play date with my Goddaughter and her Mummy, finding out that socks and sandals are bang on trend (no, really) and surviving gift shopping with a teething toddler. Just.

I am also attempting to make this cake as it is my Mama’s birthday tomorrow. Except our shop doesn’t sell rose water so I’ve had to substitute it with vanilla essence. Oh, and I did take a special trip to the big Waitrose for the edible rose petals, but I left the shopping bags in the hall when I got home, and the toddler found and snaffled them, so I have just sent Neil to the garage for a packet of malteasers instead. Otherwise it’s totally in the bag.

Watch this space.

6 May

 

For Mother’s Day I was given an annual pass to our local wildlife park, and Kate and I visit often (the gardens particularly are so beautiful). Kate’s obsession is the little train that does a circuit of the park, and we have made it a tradition now to catch a ride before heading home.

Today as we approached the little station, it appeared we would be the only passengers on this trip. The train’s driver asked if we minded waiting to see if a few more people would turn up, and as we were in.no hurry, we stopped and chatted and were regailed with this story.

A month ago Bryan the Train Driver had been sought out by a company who specialise in finding the heirs of unclaimed wills. This had led him into discovering an Aunt he never knew he had, and becoming the recipient of a sum of money that was greatly unexpected. Feeling rather awful he had never had contact with this long lost relative, Bryan felt it only proper to attend the Aunt’s funeral, where he met a couple (The Cornwells) with whom he shared a connection – Glebe Court, an old manor house in Goring-on-Thames.

The Cornwells had been house keepers for the owners of Glebe Court – the Shoolbreds and later the Golodetz, but left when the ouse was demolished and the land sold to developers in the 1970s. Bryan’s link to Glebe Court had been to obtain some architectural salvage prior to its demolition in order to sell this on for his employers at the time. However, he had found it so difficult to let some of the pieces go, such was the beauty of their craftmanship, he had bought them himself and incorporated them into his own home in Goring (where he had moved to from Worcester). At the mystery Aunt’s funeral, Bryan had told Cornwells of this, and they were visiting his house this very evening to reminisce about the good old times of Glebe Court.

I write about this because my Grandparents, Frank and Ivy Godfrey, and their seven children (including my Mum) lived in Glebe Court Lodge, the Groundsman’s residence at Glebe Court, as my Grandad was Head Gardener to the Shoolbreds and knew the Cornwells well.

They say that you know everyone in the world through 9 people. Today I believe this to be true.

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