aide-memoire

Well. Previous days have gone and if i can recall anything from them great, but if not then hopefully it all starts here.

I ended up screeching out of the kitchen door, having managed to carefully place a full mug of tea on the side but NOT having managed to stop myself from flinging the phone and some kind of long-horned beetle across the room + along the way upending a chair and the clothes airer. Upon sober inspection, the beetle was quite glorious but that’s not the point, is it? I first saw little parts of it out of the corner of my eye. Just stop. And consider those last few words for just one moment. I was sitting down…in the kitchen ..which meant that the beetle…yup. You’ve got it! Waaaay too close! So i flicked my hair and one outraged beetle ended up on my leg and waggled his legs at me. The rest is history.

Overhanging branches in the lane were lopped, so a few have ended up filling in gaps in the ‘hedge’ and the flowering ?cherry ones brought inside to stand in front of the fireplace. It looks fabulous.

I’d been waking up in the middle of the night for quite some while and couldn’t really work out why. According to Quadrille’s fabulous bird song book, it’s a family of Tawny owls. For a few nights i’d been closing and opening the windows which scared them off but their exit was very vocal indeed so i’m just living with my wonderful nocturnal choir.

Whilst uprooting a thistle, i had quite obviously not checked carefully enough as a shiny blue (large) beetle scurried up the nearby grass and waggled it’s legs at me. I carried on, so the beetle came much closer and carried on waggling. Left it to the thistle and will go back tonight.

Clearing the well established dock i (yet again!) didn’t check carefully enough and leaning down with face at ground level, brushed aside a clump of not-yet-gathered grass cuttings. An eye opened and closed; clump of grass cuttings was replaced smartly! Five minutes later i lifted it again. The eye opened again, closed and four legs were gathered closer to the toad’s round cosy body. The eye opened for a final time and i swear the toad said,
“Would you mind? thank you very much indeed”, as it sank down further into the moist grass cuttings.

There are some orchids growing in the garden, common spotted i think and hopefully not blind. Don’t like the look of them though….sure the leaves should be more rosette-like…Hmmmm. The toad and i shall keep an eye on things.

Whilst de-brambling the japonica an eye opened and there was a rush of greeny yellow as a young frog nipped into the middle of the bush. It sat tight, keeping an eye on me. We eyed each other, then got on with our lives….i clipped while it dozed.

We have some ancient beech hedge around the house that is partially maintained by someone else…and ….a low wall with fencing on top (that i originally didn’t like but now understand the reason for for). The wall and fencing also has Some hedging/ trees/ honeysuckle/ other plants in it. This needs adding to. We have already had one dog break Into our garden for a play with ours! i am almost certain that a fox was strolling through another part as well. THAT part has now been firmly blocked but something tried to get through the other night, i’ve blocked it again! the fox can jolly well go round and go through any number of far more easily available gaps on the Other side of our garden.

Apparently it’s going to be cold tonight so before the garden runs away with us completely….i’m back off outside….
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Drinking…apparently, far too much tea
Eating…..anything that can be prepared swiftly
Listening to….birdsong and tractors
Watching….things grow
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…and just like that, i’m home.

For me anyway, the concept of “home” is an odd one and it is something that i’ve chatted about with others. Is “home”, however one defines it, an area? A building? A room? Is home the people? A person?
For me anyway home is really about having a bedroom, my own space, even if shared with another or others. True, if more rooms are involved, i’m even happier. But push to shove….the nurses home at Central Middlesex Hospital springs to mind… i can make myself at home, in a room, quite easily. Opposite that nurses home there was an old deserted children’s home that had escaping purple iris, galloping pink flowering currant bushes, wild and endless herbaceous borders with flowering shrubs around the edges and random bulbs providing endless blooms throughout the year so my bedroom usually had flowers.

A swift count tells me that this is my 27th bedroom. So it’s the 27th time that i’ve put down roots, invested emotional energy in a place, coaxed plants to grow, arranged photos on a handily available surface (gosh, that dates me!), it’s the 27th time that i’ve made decisions about where to place furniture. The 27th time that i’ve shaken my head and wondered yet again about my propensity to collect clutter.
We are almost there. There IS the minor matter of a previous home to sell, but matters are taking their natural course and i have no doubt that the right person is waiting to move in, to start their life in that part of North East Manchester that i grew to know and love so well. Initially (way back when) there were misgivings about living on the edges of a city, loathing suburbia it had to have easy access to wilderness and Moston Brook so near provided a much needed escape for me. Moston Brook with its damp and ever changing habitat.

So imagine my amusement to discover that our garden here in Scotland, is frankly a minor Moston Brook! But however tempting it might be, a Garden is not a publicly available wild space nor should it be treated in the same way. So no, i will not be encouraging swathes of bouncing meadowsweet, nor will our garden include banks of butterbur. For now at least, what grass is available must be cut….the thistles will not be allowed to grow….ground elder or dandelion can’t be allowed to flower along the boundary with our neighbour….and somehow, the rush will have to go away without forming damp, dank, colour-leached patches. Hedging plants need to occupy some gaps…..a massive towering bundle of old brambles and odd dead branches must be cleared….a few shrubs require rescuing…. but that apart, all we need to do is reclaim what was once a perfectly decent garden.
As far as gardening goes, I’m not great at destruction. But here? Here there needs to be some fairly tough ground rules:

1) Thistles and brambles are banished. If we want blackberries there are perfectly acceptable thornless varieties and don’t start me on the thistle.

2) Eating ground elder/ sorrel/ dandelion is not a rational form of weed control, not in this garden …

3) That old adage of ‘Less is More’ is a very good place for us to start…and also remain for a little while longer.

4) Rush in one’s garden is neither acceptable nor helpful. Some people might want to weave with them and suchlike, i don’t. They can go and the sooner the better. I’ve been told about and shown nicely mown areas that were once rush infested. So i know that without recourse to draining the land it is possible to heavily discourage their existence in a garden. It shall be so.

5) Gardening on into the evening is now out. (Midges)

Excuse me, there are about three years depth of dead rush to rake out.

Oh…and would i go back to living in England or on the edge of a city?
Nope!
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Scotland.

Last month we started the journey towards Relocation!

Retirement beckoned…and then shook the hand of….my other half and in the run up to this momentous event, we took rental of a property in the south of Scotland. It’s near enough for Elderly Parent Visits and convenient enough for one of the offspring and their family. Importantly though, it’s North of the Border.

Already we’ve done an overnighter…i’ve managed Two and ….it’s home. Just like that.

So one house is being folded down whilst the other is looking positively cluttered. We are in one place and what we want is often in the Other place. Lists. Diaries. Notes. Hopes and prayers.
Boxes come to mean the difference between a good nights sleep and one spent trying not to forget that the china cups are next to the slow cook. While a decent supply of post-it notes and marker pens, to say nothing of stamps/ envelopes/ sellotape and scissors, has ensured many tranquil nights of fantastic and very deep sleep.

And as we leave one place, the importance of what we either move to Scotland with us or leave behind….shifts somewhat. There is no deadline or target, no hurrying and ferreting around, this move is tranquil by comparison with All other moves and will take place in a leisurely manner over the next month or so.

The only problem is that life does go on. Diaries will HAVE to be used or i foresee extended family ructions.

Yet through all of this, i still amble around; checking on the sweet woodruff, wondering about the wild garlic and attempting to identify a particularly wonderful plant that is spilling out of the ditches in Scotland right now. It might be far more helpful were i to attempt the back shelf of the shed, but the garden here in the city is muddy, my boots have only just dried out and to be honest wild flowers are a better bet….ISTM
😉
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Ireland

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Popping over to Ireland to visit family is one thing.

Being surrounded by water and beauty is quite another.

I’ve met wonderful people, seen amazing buildings and contemplated seemingly endless stretches of lochs.

It’s…..not the same as Manchester.
At all.
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….reporting in.

So….

* the shelves and drawers have ALL been gone through and for the second time!

* bedding cupboard is brutally sorted and most bedding and linen won’t see the light of day until we reach Scotland.

*cherished clutter has been…er…decluttered, sorted & sifted and with what remains neatly packaged into labelled cardboard boxes.

* the kitchen is depleted and we have to stop asking each other where such and such is. As if it can’t be Seen…it’s been packed!

* snagging list is being worked through but i keep coming across rulers, random nails and screws, pieces of string, pieces of wood and last week a screwdriver in the bathroom…

* grandchildren have now been banned from the house, frankly it’s way too dangerous.

And as this process goes on, my grasp on previously cherished objects has decidedly ‘loosened’. The bowl of china shards that i have spent the last ten years picking out of local rivers and brooks have been released back into wild. It was like releasing minnows back into the Lune after a day spent looking at them in jam jars when we were children. Various bits and pieces that i’d thought i would keep forever, have been blown away to find their new lives and the local charity shops are very friendly towards us now.

Christmas Day tomorrow and for the first time in many a long year we are at home with no little ones, nor yet any Grown Up little ones either. It’s quite lovely but will i think be the Last year with no one else around at Christmas time. So we are going to make the most of it; little things really, like having tiny sherry glasses out on the sideboard with our Ginger Wine!

A few days left until 2018.
A year which will bring many changes.
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Every, single, last, blessed item that i possess…..

Not actively Going Out To Work anymore, frees up loads of time and energy for this Going Through our Stuff malarky.

Contents of the bookshelves, CDs and cassettes (yes this household uses them ) are all gone into self storage. Majorly large pieces of furniture (think: two table and a set of solid chairs) have joined them and we’re now eating at what amounts to a garden set of table and chairs.

Back garden had the first direct-hit sort out last week and round two will happen anytime when rain is absent for more than 48 hrs.

Surfaces of our kitchen units are now (always) considerably clearer than they have ever been before. All the cupboards are full, but hey.

Every single last piece of assorted ironing that had been strewn throughout the home was corralled and smoothed. Along with everything in our household linen drawer, which meant that all of a sudden it wasn’t quite so full after all.

As a result of sorting and labelling the bedding cupboard, it is entirely possible that I may very well have been a librarian in a former life.

This week has been Cupboards in the Bedroom. Oh yay. Of course the contents of my wardrobe scattered across the bed produce deep joy. Not. So now our rubbish/ recycling / charity shop containers are full.

On the horizon is beckoning L-O-F-T. But as a bottle of red wine is in the house + hubby is off exploring Scotland, loft exploration would be a Very Bad Idea Indeed. So no doubt this weekend will be Shed…or Kitchen Cupboards. Neither option will allow our hound to sit in the doorway and receive adoration from passing dog owners though……

Holding everything in my hands has been a salutary experience. Drastic sorting like this should not have to occur and i never ever want to do it again.
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jussayin’
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Float down, like autumn leaves…..

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“….Do you ever wonder if the stars shine out for you?
Float down
Like autumn leaves
And hush now
Close your eyes before the sleep
And you’re miles away
And yesterday you were here with me…”

(Thanks Ed Sheeran)

From where i’m sat watching and around my own (very little) world, this autumn seems to be a time of reflections and complicated untangling. People, places, lives; startings, endings or hovering somewhere in-betweens. Little people coming into the world and other people leaving their lives on this earth. Situations waiting, like so many shy actors in the wings for the right time to step out onto the stage…
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At times brilliant flashes of colour while the next second it’s all about finishing, yellow leaves and seed-heads.
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Some things seen from a distance, like this yellow leaf glimpsed from down the path. Other things only seen afterwards, like the green leaf…only spotted when home and actually looked at the image. Coal-black seed heads waiting until just the right time to leave their moorings and fall to the ground; interrupt that and the next stage won’t happen.
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In other news i have discovered the joys of cleaning. Not just ordinary cleaning, but that which falls onto a person so they are moved to drop to their knees and scrub whole rooms. Ordinarily i would worry and take myself off to be checked out…but given the overdue cleaning that this house has suffered from, i’ve got a while to go before there is any measurable impact to a casual observer!
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(…back to my housewiferly duties…..)
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