Friday, 19 October 2018

Murder, trifle, slamming things





I am trying to work out how to murder someone. It's a writing thing, not an actual thing you'll be happy to hear. Nonetheless, it doesn't feel very healthy, devoting thinking time to it. I wish it could just sort itself out and I would sweep in and solve it. But alas, I must do the killing as well as the thrilling denouement. I'll let you know how it goes. I am leaning towards rohypnol and a quick shove into the docks. But I'm also going to need to weigh the body down. You see, not healthy. Let's talk about something else.

The biggest boy went to France for a week and is now all continental. He also had a birthday and got braces - it has all been going on for him. He's finding eating tricky, not least because they've sort of propped his teeth apart to stop him actually biting them together. We are all mystified as to how he is supposed to chew things. Does he have to eat soup for two years? Of course, we should have asked at the time, but he was a bit stunned by it all and I was struggling to stay awake (bad sleeping again). I am compiling a list of things that can be eaten without teeth. Gnocchi and trifle, here we come.

I have been busy, busy, busy here, but frustratingly no-one else in the house appears to have anything to do. I am grinding my teeth and building slowly towards explosion point. It's a common thing I think, that the woman of the household does almost everything. And the more capable the woman is etc. I shall say no more, but imagine me simmering away and slamming things.

Hence the weekend promises to be tense. I would rather love to decamp with my laptop to a cafe and come home when it's all over. But of course I would miss the urchins after half an hour. Well, at least after a month or two. So we will all rattle round together and no doubt it will be good. I shall concentrate on keeping my mouth shut and Getting On With Things. Wish me luck. And if any bodies bob up in the docks, it almost certainly will not have been me.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Bore da






A fancy house no? Legend has it that a wealthy merchant had it built so that he could climb the tower and watch his ships coming in to Bristol up the river. Photos from an afternoon in the city, having a Change Of Scenery. Since we've had the dog we haven't been into town much at all, so at the weekend we went for a wander on the downs and around the nearby village. A nice change, but Bertie prefers the wide open places where the lead can be put away and he can be all free range.

Thank you all for your great suggestions on how to deal with anxiety. I have read your comments several times, and taken note of everything mentioned, all excellent ideas. I shall refer back to them from time to time as needed. As well as being good suggestions, your words were encouraging and made me feel not alone in feeling anxious on occasion. So thank you.

In other news I am toying with the idea of learning a few words of Welsh. Every time I go there I wish I could speak it. Or at least pronounce a few things. And now we have the mighty internet, I'm sure it can all be done online. It was either Welsh or Italian, or maybe Spanish. But as we can actually see Wales from here and I'm not likely to be in Spain or Italy any time soon, I thought I'd start local. And before too long it will be free to go there when they remove the toll from the bridges (at the moment it costs £5.60 to go to Wales). There will be no stopping me then.

Have you ever learned another language since school? I don't imagine it's easy, but just a few sentences would be very satisfying to know. I do love listening to people speaking it. And oh, the accent, perfection, I love it. The biggest boy and I went on a boat trip a couple of years ago when we were in North Wales, and I could have listened to the boatman (captain?) talk for hours.

I'm off to investigate online Welsh now. Until next time my friends, hwyl fawr.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Vegetables and all the good stuff







I seem to have a photo shortage here at the moment, but I do have homegrown olives. They are small but plentiful. I don't imagine they'll be edible, but the hot weather (I assume) has spurred the olive tree into production. It never looks particularly happy, and I can never work out why. It's on a south-facing patio and I make sure it has plenty of water. Maybe it would rather be dry. But anyway, I have olives.

I know you can't eat them as they are. I bought some from a souk in Morocco once when I was cycling there and tried it, and they made my whole face crumple up. There must be some mysterious alchemy involved in the curing process. If they look fat enough I will do a little research and find out.

In the meantime there is the luxury of summer fruit from the freezer and windfall apples. Crumble anyone?

I am wrestling with a little anxiety at the moment. The vague, unsettling sort. A touch of insomnia, some teeth clenching. All ridiculously unnecessary. I am considering yoga or meditation. Does anyone do these things? Do they work? I'm sure they must, lots of people swear by them. I think it would take a lot of practice to empty my mind. Although of course some would say that my mind is already fairly empty.

I think I shall choose a happy, cosy book next time as well. I am reading Jane Harper's Force of Nature at the moment, which I'm really enjoying, but I read something really unsettling on holiday, and slept really badly. It was a good book, just a bit disturbing. So in the interests of anti-anxiety I shall re-examine my reading pile and remove the less positive stuff for now. Less murder!

I also need to start eating better. I don't have a huge appetite at the moment, and I know I haven't been eating enough veggies. I wonder if the iron tablets are to blame. I just need to get back in kilter, balance it all. Vegetables, healthy reading, a little light meditation. Fortunately the dog makes sure I get some walking in every day. We went down to the river this morning with his whippet friend. It wears him right out, trying to keep up with those long, graceful legs. Which means I can work without interruption for a little longer before he makes me get up and entertain him.

I was feeling a bit peaky this morning, so I laid down for a bit. Despite the whippet running, he took half of the stuffing out of his basket and then licked my face until I got up. There's no peace to be had. Wishing all a good, stress-free weekend. CJ xx

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Does my dog look good in this?





Autumn is here, so I have new knitting on the go. I've thrown caution to the winds and bought some actual wool. It's soft as a cloud, so we will see whether I'm okay wearing it. I'm usually not, but I think I might be lucky this time. I bought it online and when it turned up it look more sort of mauve that I imagined. It's called Madre Perla, which sounds far better than mauve, but I'm wondering if I should have gone for something with a bit more oomph such as Amoroso which is a riskier deep red. I have been reading about Decision Fatigue and debating whether I did my online shopping at the wrong end of the day. Apparently Barack Obama wore a 'uniform' every day, so he didn't have to waste any of his decisions on clothing. I think I shall implement the same thing here. There are so many miniscule decisions to make every single day, I get quite grumpy by the end of it. Or maybe I'm just innately grumpy. Yes, that's probably it.

Anyway, knitting, on the go. A scarf, of course, as that is all I can manage late at night when I have my knitting window. That or a blanket. It's sat on one of my new napkins, which I bought to replace the ones that Bertie has chewed. An ebay find, and I like them so much that I've decided not to use them in case he chews them as well. I am doing the same thing with my new tea towels, which are safely tucked away in a drawer.

I also have new cushions. I know it sounds as though I have been on a mad spending spree, but the dog has done his worst and everything has gone all tatty. The cushions lived on top of the piano for a few days, out of reach, but I finally plucked up the courage to put them on the sofa. The littlest boy said to me yesterday, 'The new cushions really suit Bert.' I have decided that henceforth that is how I shall make all of my soft furnishing decisions. No looking at complex questions such as examination of eco-credentials or washability or where things were made, I shall simply ask, 'Will the dog look good on this?'


Friday, 21 September 2018

Thermos at the ready






Gloomy photos from dusk at Bath the other day. I went to a novel writing thing, which wasn't very good, I should have gone for a wander round the old streets instead. The person I had gone to listen to was squeezed in at the end for a short while. I would have liked to hear more of what she had to say. But never mind, I was a little motivated, so all was not lost.

You find me bracing myself for a weekend in the wind and the rain watching the children do outdoor things, mostly football. Sometimes I pretend I'm outdoorsy, but the truth is, deep down I just love being at home when it's cold and wet. I tell myself that I will appreciate it all the more for standing outside for six hours. I take little treats along for myself. A hot drink, something tasty to eat, a book, in case I have the luxury of ten minutes in the car, something else tasty. Honestly, I'm such a wuss. One of the biggest boy's best insults is when he says to one of his brothers, 'You're so special.' For example when they have something different to eat because they don't like what I've made everyone else, or when they get a lift because it's raining. Well, I am special too and I will go all damp and shrivelly if I'm exposed to too much rain and cold without a sufficient level of treats to sustain me.

Bertie and I have been making regular forays to the community orchard this week, in the wake of the high winds. There are lots of windfalls to be had, Cox's Orange Pippins no less, the king of apples, and I have helped one or two out of the tree as well with my ball flinger. There's a bit of a technique to it, although to be honest I haven't entirely mastered it yet. Quite often the apple lands on me or Bert. Sometimes he picks it up and runs off with it. But I do have a very good apple crumble in the fridge. I am planning on taking the littlest boy, who is as you know a top tree climber. He'll shin up and get a few good ones from the outer branches with any luck.

On the second visit there was a cat there. Bertie was absolutely beside himself - a cat, and he not on his lead! He was spinning round and round like a whirling dervish, and barking and racing in (but not too close) and back out again. At one point he turned his back for a moment and the cat shot silently up the Cox's Orange Pippin tree. Bert turned back round, and oh, his face. Hang on, where did it go? Cat? Cat? Where are you? There was a cat wasn't there? But, but, where..? Oh the confusion on his dear little face. The cat sat up the tree watching his every move. I left it in peace and didn't bother with the Cox's apples that day.

Has anyone seen that trailer on BBC1 for a sort of game show with little coloured suitcases - red, blue, yellow, orange, green? I honestly thought for a moment it was for a programme about Brexit. I am now officially unable to distinguish between politics and game shows. It's slightly worrying.

The wind was whipping little white-topped waves into the river this morning when we went for a walk with our whippet friend. Now I have a cold. Not caused by the wind of course, but by all of the germs the children have bombarded me with since going back to school. I thought I had avoided it, but I can feel myself gradually sinking into uselessness. Maybe I will be excused football duty. No, that's just ridiculous, there are no days off for colds. I will strap on my Thermos, wrap all my scarves around my head and be a complete martyr for the entire weekend. And yourselves?

Monday, 17 September 2018

The seaside town











The beach has taken on a more end-of-season quality now. Deckchairs are still out, but jumpers are on. Children are still in shorts and a t-shirt and demanding ice-cream, but the rest of us have a coat to hand and are eyeing the hot drinks. Bertie loves it more this way, and I think I do too. It's more bracing. He can run and run without having to lie down and pant, and we can walk over miles of sand and enjoy mostly just the company of other dog owners and a few kite surfers.

The biggest boy is doing photography at school and had an assignment to take some images in the style of Martin Parr, so the beach was the perfect place. Lots of ice-cream stands and bucket and spade stalls and people doing the seaside things. It's a typical Victorian seaside resort; if you look beyond the seafront chippies and cheap bars there's a whisper of its former splendour to be seen, but on the whole anywhere on the front has been commercialised in some way. A couple of streets away there are rundown Victorian terraces, once grand, but now split into flats and bedsits. The occupants don't have the money for the upkeep of the grand buildings, so they are falling gently into dilapidation. Maybe one day they will be 'gentrified' again, such is the circle of things.

I like visiting the beach town. All life is there. The summer days are a raucous jumble of children and adults trying to control them and stalls and shops selling the horrible ubiquitous plastic rubbish. As night falls the atmosphere changes and the revellers take over. There are pimped up little cars making endless noisy circuits of the sea front, boys in tight tops with tattooed, suntanned skin, hanging around in tense groups, waiting for something to happen. Girls fluttering around the edges, short skirts, all the make-up, expectations high. You know how it is when night falls in the summer.

A couple of streets back from the front it's edgier in places. Dark corners and seedy bars, drugs deals and muttered half-conversations that only make sense to those in the know. Energy with nowhere else to go spilling out into a fight, drama created for the sake of creating drama, for something to do. Action, to give the night a purpose, to make a memory.

For some it attracts while for some it repels. Some just like to go and watch and take it all in. Life, and lots of it.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Peak begonia













Spotted this pub yesterday which appears to have reached peak begonia. At home in the garden, things are waning, and I'm picking up windfalls every day. It's crumble season, although I think the apples and pears might have suffered a bit from the hot dry spell we had a few weeks ago. The pears in particular are on the small side and a bit, well, I don't know the horticultural term, but they're sad-looking.

Thank you for all of your good tooth wishes. It's on the mend I think, and I am eating proper food, although I wish I had more time to cook things. As ever, the weekday evenings seem to be a perpetual rush. But I am joining in with the fam now and not living on yoghurt and custard. Although I do like to just have a bowl of overnight oats instead when I cook them something non-veggie. Pretty much my favourite thing in fact, but probably not the most nutritious dinner. My appetite is just a bit jaded I think. Maybe from the iron tablets I've been taking, I'm not sure. It seems to be a bit of a vicious circle. The less healthy food I eat, the less I feel like eating it. I am needing to take myself in hand and give myself a stern talking to. Just as soon as I muster the energy.

The littlest boy and I took the dog for a walk yesterday afternoon and then to a dog-friendly cafe. Bertie hasn't really got the hang of Walking Nicely with a loose lead or of Sitting for long periods of time when he's away from home. On holiday he could go for hours on the beach without ever sitting down. But we persevere. In the top photo it appears that he is lying down quietly, but really it was a twenty-second interlude. Here is an outtake where I have him in more of a death-grip. We didn't stay long.


I spent the entire day today working hard in house and garden, and I'm absolutely worn out. Things are a little bit neater, but it does feel like the tip of the iceberg. I am trying not to worry too much about all the jobs though. There simply aren't enough hours in the day, so I'll do what I can and the rest won't be done and that's the way it will be. I shall learn to not get in a state about things in the wrong place and mess and untidyness, I shall. The biggest boy says to me, 'Mum, you are so NEAT'. He makes neat sound like a bad thing. I like neat. It's just the way I'm made. I do try to leave things unneat, but I just can't do it. A rod for my own back, I know. Sometimes I think people move things around just to torment me. Maybe I need hypnotherapy or something. Then people could leave a mess and I just wouldn't care. Wouldn't even notice. Of course the question is, would they notice? Probably, when they couldn't find their football socks or their pants weren't in the right place. It's tempting to try it and see.

Hope all is well out there with you and that your corner of the world is all neatness and order. Bertie says thank you for all your kind comments about his sausage trick. He is working on something new involving a hoop and a cushion. Watch this space.