Monday 29 September 2008

Sew hard

If I were still at school I could imagine the words on my school report right now, those dreaded "needs to concentrate more", "too easily distracted", "must remain focussed". That's right I've been too much of a butterfly of late, flitting around from one thing to another, being drawn to the pretty and ignoring the nitty gritty.

I have found it really difficult to get myself into any kind of routine over the past few weeks. I have a notebook full of ideas, wishes and "things to do" and haven't been able to settle at any of them. I know the dentist has been looming and making me feel uneasy but now that's out of the way for a while I really need to get on with things.

If I were at school I think I would have to sit on my hands to stop me fidgeting and fiddling. Too many things going on in the brain and not enough to show for them. I thought I'd get back behind the sewing machine last week but decided to sort out my sewing cupboard first.

As a result I spent two hours playing with bits of fabric and looking at all my old bits and bobs.

Packets of old needles - if you're going to make needles, could you want for a better name than "Mr Prickle" I wonder.

Along with Mr Bun the baker, Mr Bone the butcher perhaps there could be a haberdashery family ... there you see I'm going off on a tangent yet again!

So an afternoon past with very little to show for it. I wonder if I'm just a little afraid to start sewing again? I wonder if I need to leave it for a while or just get on with it? The lack of time over the summer to get on with any crafting has resulted in a slight lack of confidence and enthusiasm.

I don't think this unexpectedly beautiful weather has helped. As soon as the sun hits the kitchen window I'm off into the garden it does seem too good to waste. We spent Saturday on the beach, who would have thought that on the last weekend in September Big and Little Sister would be swimming in the chillingly blue sea whilst we lay reading the newspapers and eating our lunch. No need to focus here, for the first time in ages I felt really relaxed, really enjoying the moment. Knowing that the sunshine was bound not to last made us appreciate it even the more.

Temptation came my way the other day too.

I won this US copy of Country Living from a giveaway held by the lovelyDeborah. Thank you! I sat and read it the other afternoon after the dentist and it did the trick!

I have also been lucky enough to win two other giveaways recently. Do you see this lovely little cup and saucer with the butterflies on it? It is from the very kind Catherine. I seem to have a growing collection of all things "Nature related" on my fireplace and this cup and saucer fits in so well, I love it. I guess it's a sort of nature table next to the computer. Thanks so much Catherine, my mother use to collect little cups and saucers like this, I'm not sure what happened to all of them so it's really good to have one again.

And that's not all - a while ago I won this lovely spotty Cath Kidston shopping bag from Tesco from Sian in another giveaway. Thank you too! It looks lovely in my kitchen and makes a trip to the shops a little less dreary.

So it is now 3.30pm and I started to write this post at 9.30am ... In between I have helped at school, done the food shopping, two loads of washing and some ironing, but still no sewing! This evening I am planning to start some ragrugging - we'll see...

Thursday 25 September 2008

Necessary distractions

So today I had the second part of the dental treatment. Unlike last week I knew what to expect and was therefore much more anxious and nervous and had been losing sleep over it too. Fortunately the grey skies that greeted me first thing this morning had cleared by the time I set off. I remembered last week how lovely it had been to walk through the park. Armed with my Ipod (yes, yet another Miss Marple to solve whilst sitting in the chair) and camera I took a leisurely stroll to the dentist. I decided to photograph the dahlias that I had so admired last week.

As I walked through the park with my ears concentrating on the goings on in an English village in 1940s and my mind choosing which photos to take, I found myself at the dentist's in no time.

Well enough said about the dentist, on my way back I wandered through the park enjoying the solitude and the relief of knowing that I was dentist-free for a whole month. I walked past the Edwardian Manor house that sits at one end of the park, oh how I love this place, the shutters do it for me everytime!

Through its gates and into its gardens, the secret garden we use to call it when my daughters were little.

Up and down the brick paths I ambled, enjoying the peace.

There is a walk in the path that has dahlia planted on each side. Two long rows of dahlias - a riot of colour and shape.

They reminded me of rows of jars of boiled sweets in an old fashioned sweet shop. Something for everyone, a taste to satisfy us all.

This white one reminds me of the white witch in Narnia, spiky and glacial.

You can't be miserable for too long when these are staring you in the face.

I can't grow dahlias, the slugs seem to like them too much in our garden, but oh how I would love to have a garden full of them. Their symmetry just fascinates me, the tight pompoms, the blowsy blooms, there's nothing shy about a dahlia. Confident, sometimes brash, but always fun.

Other people had stopped too to look at the flowers and we smiled. (it was only a couple of hours ago that I realised how stupid it is to try and grin when your mouth's numb, I'd obviously overcompensated in the cheesiness department and taken a big bite out of my bottom lip, that'll teach me!).

So I carried on walking and Agatha Christie continued to describe the intrigues, poison pen letters and dramas of village life and it struck me how very little the scenes I was seeing now in the park would have changed over the years. People out for their daily constitutionals, playing tennis, the white uniforms of the members of the bowls club, toddlers pushing dolls in prams, swinging in the playground, swaggering about on the grass. Friends meeting in the cafe by the rose garden drinking tea and chatting, the park's gardeners busy tidying up the beds for the Autumn, I was so deep in my daydream that it wouldn;'t have surprised me if a village bobby would have cycled past me in hot pursuit of a sultry murderess, bitter blackmailer or petty thief!

I use to spend every day in the park when my daughters were little. Sunny days, cold days, blustery days and fine days. Hours spent in the sand pit, out the sandpit and shaking sand from our shoes. I have very vivid memories of me playing in the local park when I was younger, tearing round the roundabout, hours on the swings, playing with our dog on the grass. It is one of life's coincidences that Mr Ragged Roses and I, although we grew up miles and miles apart, spent our early years living very near to each other. When we met twenty years ago we discovered that we use to play in the same park at the same time as toddlers. We both remember the squirrels and the boating lake, - did he chase me round the playground I wonder?

Today was the first time in a long time that I walked through the park and really noticed it. Park life had really won me over, aren't we lucky to have these spaces? I needed a distraction, and found one, I came home happier and relieved that it was all over for a while, and, if it wasn't for all the injections I'm sure I would have smiled.

Monday 22 September 2008

Golden Days

This past week or so has just been wonderful hasn't it, beautiful blue skies, golden sunshine and a warmth that has been lacking for months. To lift your head and feel the heat of the sun smiling down on your face, to close your eyes and yet still sense the orange warmth that seems to reflect all around us, has been uplifting, energising and makes us thankful for these last few truly golden days of late Summer.

Even without the truly abysmal summer that we have just had, there is a sense of the specialness of these days, of one season spilling into another, of things running their natural course. We have been out walking on the Downs and really, really enjoying the moment. Impromptu picnics on top of the hillsides, wondering at the change in colours, grasses that were just a while back lush and green, now bleached by the sun, ready to move on and slip into the gentleness of Autumn.

Did anybody see the harvest moon last week? It was beautiful. You can smell the onset of Autumn now in the mornings, it is so exciting. I do love summer but it so often brings with it so much promise and hope and leaves us feeling cheated. At least with Autumn you know where you are. As the door on Summer closes and we catch glimpses of our Autumn, we know that with or without the sunshine, the leaves will colour and fall, the air will smell excitingly of change and any sunshine that comes our way will be golden.

Last week I walked through the park to the dreaded dental appointment and pinched myself for not taking my camera, the gardens were just beautiful, rows of dahlias, late summer blooms holding their heads high to the sunshine, whilst under the trees the squirrels were busy and through the bushes the bees and butterflies got on with their daily business.

We had friends over this weekend to celebrate my birthday. I picked the last roses from the garden to put on our table, Little Sister spent the day on the hammock reading, the cats slowly melted in the sun, our friends arrived early evening sunkissed from their walk on the Downs, and we ended the evening cheeks flushed from laughing, wine and the warmth of the fire blazing in the living room. As we opened the door to say goodbye to them, the chill of the air that greeted us reminded us that change was on its way, and it's exciting.

Friday 19 September 2008

No ordinary day ...

In many ways Miss Marple would have been proud of my birthday presents, I was delighted with them and was once again left ooohing and aaaahing over the thoughtfulness and generosity of my family and friends. Mr Ragged Roses had taken the day off work, so that we would be able to spend the day together (a gift in itself) and had also agreed to do the school run (another gift!). Before the girls went their separate ways I was told to open their pressies.

Well Little sister I think has been reading my school post recently and taken it all to heart. In true Miss Marple fashion I wore it all day on my grey knitted cardie. I think that for this day I was really allowed to be Head Girl too, spoiled rotten.

She also bought me the latest Alexander McCall Smith book, the latest in the 44 Scotland Street series, which I think is my favourite of all the books he writes. I love them and particularly as they're always published around my birthday time!

She was also very insistent that I would like some fabric samples! So M had to go to CK for her and request some "Pretty material" - methinks he deserves a "headboy" badge for that!

Big sister not to be outdone, had taken herself off shopping and had come back very pleased with herself at having found just the right present for me. She wasn't wrong - I love the vintage sweets' advert ( I loved fruit gums in the yellow box when I was little) and some milk bottles for me to enjoy before the dentist (in a pink and white striped bag no less). Didn't they do well?

During the day whilst the girls were at school. M and I went for a walk, our first walk alone together in years. Isn't it amazing how fast you can walk without children. We practically legged it down the side of Ditchling Beacon, but it was quite a different story on the way up again, I think it was all the food we'd eaten for lunch in the village that did it. It was the perfect way to spend the day - I loved it.

As for M, well knowing me as well as he does, it came as no surprise that his presents were so lovely, generous and well, just right. Look at these beautiful, scrummy CK jimjams (I told you Miss Marple would have approved), aren't they just beautiful. I think they deserve another photo don't you.

Anyone who knows me knows that I really don't like being cold and I really love snuggling up in my PJs on the sofa with a book or a good film to watch, but these jimjams were almost too good to wear (more on them later ...)

So along with my nightwear came an assortment of books. Well Mr RR for somebody who forgets wear his glasses or keys are most days, you certainly have a good memory! I saw this book months ago when we visited the Tate, I drooled over it. I love the work of Edward Bawden, love his illustrations

Look at the endpapers, Brighton Pier, it was meant to be ...
His book illustrations are wonderful and

after visiting the Transport Museum in Covent Garden

I fell in love once more with all the beautiful old London Underground posters.

I finally got my copy of (the very appropriately named) "A Fortnight in September" (look at the bookmark, isn't it beautiful) . I had tried to order it but it was being reprinted and M found me a copy for sale in a bookshop. I breathed an audible sigh of contentment when I snuggled down to open its pages - oh how I love those books.

I also got a bit of pretty too - do you like my hairslide? It makes me feel all girly and not Miss Marpleish at all.

A dear friend sent me this book. Now, she and I seem to be living in paralled universes, the daily coincidences that take place in our lives are remarkable. Just the other day I was standing in the bookshop looking at this and wishing hard that it would come my way and thud there it lands on my doorstep. Thank you! I spent a very indulgent afternoon reading this yesterday whilst recovering from the dentist (thanks for all the well wishes, yes, it was awful, no I won't tell you all the details, suffice to say that I had 8, yes 8, injections!). I have long admired the Yarnstorm blog and this book is just wonderful, a real delight, it really really cheered me up yesterday.

Well now back to the pyjamas. Those gorgeous, gorgeous pyjamas. There is I'm afraid an unhappy ending. I rushed to put them on in the evening and found that not only lost sight of my hands and feet as the arms and legs seemed to go on for miles and miles but, here's the problem, I couldn't move without them falling down! Not one step could be taken without the trousers rolling down my legs and, of course, my hands being hidden up metres of sleeve I was unable to do anything about it. Being 5'2' (5'3" on a good day) and a small size I can only assume that these are only made for the long legged beauties in the catalogue. Oh woe is me. Mr RR found it hilarious I was devastated!

There is a happy ending - I swapped them for this lovely bag this morning. Not very good at keeping me warm at night I have to admit, but oh so lovely and just the right size!