Friday, 29 January 2016

... of Puppies and Frosty Morning Walks

Life changing moments don't always announce themselves with a great fanfare.  A week ago, as I took an early morning walk with my camera, enchanted by the hoar frost which had transformed the mundane into the magical, I wasn't thinking of acquiring another dog just yet, if at all. 

Somewhere in my head, these last 30 years or so, I have carried a picture of two dogs, one black, one blond, sharing my life and although over the years I have usually had one dog to accompany me on my walks, two seemed an impossible dream; time, space, money, practical considerations all held me back.  

So when my sister-in-law phoned me to tell me about her new puppy, a working cocker cross, with brothers and sisters waiting for their forever homes, I really tried hard to say no.  Taking on another dog, rather like having another child, is a massive commitment and there is rarely a perfect moment, but she convinced me that this was a litter worth looking at, both parents living in a home environment and the puppies being raised in the house with children, all beautiful, healthy and well balanced. 

I think the point of no return came when I picked up the phone just to have a chat with the breeder and found myself making an appointment to visit.  My husband was no help at all and frankly encouraged me in achieving this long held dream and somehow we went from 'shall we have another dog' to 'which puppy shall we choose'? (actually, he chose us).  After all, if not now, when?  Crazy I know but we will find a way to make it work and still have our freedom too.  After all, if you have one dog, how much more of a problem can two be?  No doubt we shall find out, but we are committed now and delighted to welcome Oskar to our family.

Are you a pet lover?  Would you have been sensible, or like me, would you have followed your heart?




and some frosty Suffolk village scenes...










Friday, 8 January 2016

Time to Commit

Walking alone today on a rare clear, sunny but very cold winter's day, with our young yellow Labrador, was a good opportunity for contemplation as another year begins its cycle.  Christmas already seems a distant memory as our lovely tree stands naked, propped against the brown bin, waiting to be recycled, which is the best we can offer in return for bringing a little magic into our home.  I do hate putting Christmas away and yet there is something liberating about the space created.  The almost empty calendar is pinned up in the kitchen waiting to be filled with whatever form our lives will take this year, a blank page waiting for its fill of the special and not so special occasions which make up a life.  

Last year was a very special year as we finally celebrated our marriage and also witnessed my youngest stepson marry his girlfriend of the last eight years.  There was, sadly, my father-in-law's funeral, attended by most of his steadily increasing family - a fine testament to his life but a sad loss to those who knew him. There is another big family wedding already booked in for June this year, my step-daughter, and another engagement has just been announced.  Perhaps there will be more grandchildren soon - an empty nest and no grandchild of my own yet is both an opportunity and a vacuum.

But, as I walked through the empty Suffolk countryside this morning, what was really on my mind was the need to commit.  Our house has been on and off the market for most of the last two years as we try and work out how it is we want to live, what is important to us, what is possible and what is just an impossible dream. Moving to Suffolk over 6 years ago, after more than 20 years living and raising my children on the Kent/Sussex border, has been a mixed experience and I have struggled to settle here.  

We have come to love this strange, relatively empty and unspoilt county with its huge skies and stunning coast line, which we were lucky enough to explore on our boat when we kept it here.  The rivers are beautiful and we appreciate the sense of space, the beautifully painted houses, the ancient towns and villages which nestle in the valleys and the warmth and friendliness of the people who make their lives here.  What I have missed, though, are the deep connections I formed during those years of school runs, plays, matches, parents' evenings, putting down deep roots in a community which takes a long time.  So, for over a year, we have really explored the possibility of going back to Kent/East Sussex and have spent a lot of time visiting the area, catching up with old friends, trying to decide if this is a real possibility or if life has just moved on too far, whether we are just chasing a dream and letting go of something that has real value to us here.  


Boxford
Walberswick
Clare
Snape
Aldeburgh
The Stour
The Orwell at Pin Mill
Butt & Oyster
Ponies at Pin Mill
 There are, of course, options three and four! Renting out our house and renting another, almost anywhere, for a year and really shaking things up.  The Ari├Ęge beckons... I have always dreamed of living in France for a while.  Or we could move almost anywhere else in the country - the Yorkshire Dales are proving a big draw at the moment as long as there isn't a river nearby.  

One way or another, the challenge this year is to commit and then to make whatever we decide to do be the right choice.  

What challenges do you face this year, what decisions and life events are on the horizon?