Showing posts with label Country life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Country life. Show all posts

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Staying put

The subconscious plays strange tricks.  Deciding to acquire Oskar, our new puppy, was an emotional decision and totally impractical given our plans to move house and downsize to a busier, more urban environment with better facilites and transport links to our growing extended family, preferably back in the rather overcrowded South East of England where we brought up our children (despite this being our second marriage, the children grew up in the same area and were educated at the same school, so lots of ties there). 
All sensible, reasonable, carefully thought through and definitely achievable with one older, settled dog (and the three cats who are well used to upping sticks anyway). But the subconscious was having none of it!

We are still enjoying a love affair with our pretty village house, very much off the beaten track and on the road to nowhere in particular, and with the gorgeous countryside that surrounds us. We can step out of our gate and be in fields in minutes, well away from noise, traffic and pollution and revelling in the space and unspoilt beauty of this part of Suffolk.  Ideal for dog walking and yet within driving distance of so many places we enjoy visiting.  Perhaps if we had found another house we could fall in love with, our decision would have been different, although given the cost and disruption of a house move, it would have had to be very special indeed.  

I have also had to face the fact that my wish to move is very much linked to a strong desire to turn the clock back.  Back to a time and place where I was happy in my role as mother and daughter, where I had a job I enjoyed and found interesting and was surrounded by like-minded friends, very much the hub of my family and part of a community, but life has moved on, choices have been made and for now, it is clear that Oskar has helped us to crystallise our thoughts and, after two years of uncertainty and playing the options, tolerating hoards of strangers tramping through our much loved home, always believing that there would be the perfect house for us out there, we are settling for what we have.  We are simply not ready to give up our country life yet. The colour charts have come out and I am having Rightmove withdrawal symptoms, but we do have two happy, contented dogs (and the cats would be relieved too)!  Of course Oskar is totally oblivious to his role in our decision and is happily getting on with the business of being a puppy but he has certainly changed our lives in more ways than one and I have found out why I needed him in my life.


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Autumn Blues (again)

I make no apology for re-posting this piece - it is one of my favourite blog posts and one I feel proud to have written.  Another time, another place, another life but still the essence of an English Autumn for me.  I miss my orchard so much it hurts!




"Leaves and fallen apples litter the grass in the orchard now. It has an air of faint neglect and spentness, the hammock stashed away, no more time for lazy afternoons. The bonfire has burnt itself out and the charred remains smoulder gently in the light breeze. A lazy wasp investigates the fallen fruit as I wander through the trees, wondering when I will find the time to cook the apples to a fragrant pulp and mix them with the blackberries that grow so abundantly in the hedgerows as I walk through the quiet lanes.

Jars of plum jam are stored in kitchen cupboards or have been given to friends and family. Pears have been pickled with cinnamon, cloves, juniper berries and peppercorns and glow palely as they marinate in their spicy vinegar, waiting to be opened when winter bites. Logs are stacked in the woodshed and the year begins to unravel slowly towards it's busy end".

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Hoar Frost

We are living in a deep freeze in East Anglia at the moment, the weather from Siberia hitting the East Coast hard.  The cold is intense and relentless and makes our daily dog walk a chilly but exhilarating experience as every blade of glass, every fallen leaf, every holly bush is etched with a thick coating of hoar frost, the shivering bare branches of the trees silhouetted against the bright blue sky.




Coming home is a real pleasure too and I have never appreciated more our lovely warm, welcoming house and the joys of the woodburning stove.

 

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Getting There... maybe

I'm sitting here alone in my house tonight with a glass of Kentish white wine and a frittata, made with vegetables from a neighbour's garden.  I bartered the vegetables for a pot of the marmalade I make every January, a popular present.  Yesterday afternoon was spent sitting in the garden of another neighbour in the village, together with the latest additions to the next generation.  Tomorrow my next door neighbour and I are planning a blackberrying expedition in the country lanes that surround the village.



It's been just over a year now since my partner and I made the move from Kent to Suffolk and it's been a challenging and sometimes fraught time.  I have often been horribly homesick for my old life and familiar people and places, but having decided to leave my comfort zone, I am slowly beginning to reap the rewards. Friendships take time to grow, but there are some promising beginnings.



Today was spent sorting out the garden, a new challenge for me after years of living in rented houses.  It is a continual puzzle to me, what should go, what to keep, what will thrive and where.  There have been some successes and some ignominious failures. I am currently trying to work out what to grow beside my pink climbing rose, now planted in the courtyard outside the kitchen - should it be cat mint, lavender or a deep blue Hebe?  And what will do best in the very dry corner of the bed by the front door when the Cosmos has finished?  I'm tempted by a deep red lavatera framing the herbs - the silver thyme I planted there is spreading itself very nicely indeed. There is so much more to do, so many plans to make, but it's been a good first year and I'm enjoying myself, rootling around deep in the Suffolk soil.  It certainly keeps me grounded.




My peaceful time will end tomorrow, as it should.  I really wouldn't enjoy it so much if I had too much of it.  My youngest son, home from university for the summer, will be returning from his visit to his father in London, soon to be joined by my oldest son and his girlfriend, staying for a couple of days rest and relaxation - them, not me!  Then it's off to Holland on the ferry to join my partner, who took the boat over yesterday, for a week or two of cruising the Dutch canals and inland seas before it's back to earth with a bump and perhaps an end of summer Pimm's party for all our new friends and neighbours.


Friday, 21 May 2010

Goats Butter

That's torn it.  All credibility gone.
 
I'm trying an exclusion diet for health reasons but I didn't expect my partner to actually go to the Village Shop and ask if they stock goats butter.  In front of a queue of villagers.  And then explain to the bemused assistant that butter can be made using milk from mammals other than cows...

Well, that will keep the village going for a while, until we make our next faux pas.  They are still reeling from the information that he practices transcendental mediation and is a Bowen Therapist, whereas I am thinking of training to become a homeopath.  Oh, and that we have seven children between us, and we're not married! That's particularly popular and spiced up many a drinks party.

Still we feel we are fulfilling our role as newcomers, giving them something to talk about.  Lots to talk about actually.

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Nine Lives

It was a cold clear winter's morning nearly 20 years ago. My then husband rose early as usual and left for the City, leaving me to dress and breakfast our two young sons, then pack them into the Land Rover and head out across country on the school run. I threaded the big car through the narrow single track lanes, occasionally pulling into a passing place to let another vehicle by, slowing carefully to take blind corners, passing farms and eerily silent, misty fields.

I kissed my five year old son goodbye as he ran into school, greeting his friends, exchanging news, rushing headlong into his day, then strapped my three year old into his car seat and turned the car round, back into the quiet lanes, doing a steady 40mph, Radio 4 playing quietly in the background.

The black and white cat came out of nowhere, streaked across our path. I braked hard and swerved to avoid it, just clipping the telegraph pole sitting too close to the edge of the narrow lane. The Land Rover turned through 90 degrees and crashed noisily to a halt on its left side, my son and I suspended by our seat belts, shocked, bruised but unharmed. With shaking hands I switched off the engine, terrified we would explode into flames, undid my seat belt and tried the door handles on the right side, completely disorientated. They were jammed solid. My son cried out, frightened, and I tried not to panic.

It seemed like hours but was probably only minutes before help arrived. Farm workers materialised from the seemingly empty fields, exclaiming, concerned. I managed to open a window, unstrapped my small son and passed him out to them, relieved to have him safe, then somehow extricated myself and crawled through the window after him, eager hands pulling me to safety. They took us to a nearby cottage, called the fire brigade and the police. Someone eventually drove us home.

If the telegraph pole hadn't been so close to the road, we would have avoided the accident. If I had been driving an ordinary car, we wouldn't have turned over. Land Rovers have a high centre of gravity and roll easily. We were lucky. We survived. The cat disappeared into the undergrowth and licked its paws pensively, eight lives left.

The Land Rover was a write-off. My then husband bought a field with the insurance payout and bought me a Volvo instead. Safe, but a little dull. I still miss the Land Rover though, it had bags of character.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Stranded

"I forget to pray for the angels
And then the angels forget to pray for us ...."
Leonard Cohen


My indoor shoes are quite enchanting. Black leather pumps with a small heel, peep toe and two bows perched jauntily on top. I love coming home and slipping my feet into them - so much more civilised than slippers.


I need to change my shoes when I get home because every winter I live stranded in a sea of mud in the depths of the country. To get out of the front door, I have to hop gingerly from one baked clay terracotta tile to another (my make- shift path) until I reach what passes for my drive, but is just a slightly harder mud path that leads to my car. I never actually reach the car without acquiring a rind of mud on my shoes. It is not recommended to leave the back door at all without a pair of Wellington boots in which to schlurp and schlock through what, in summer, is my back garden. I live on the water table on poorly drained clay soil.

The last time I needed indoor shoes, I was 11 years old and a new arrival at my Catholic convent school in Yorkshire. They were truly ugly things - the colour of pea soup and shaped like boats, secured to my reluctant feet with a strap. Together with thick national health glasses, bottle green pleated synthetic knee length skirts and bad hair cuts I, and my fellow pupils, were completely and utterly de-feminised. But I suppose that was the point. Perhaps that is why I am so feminine now. A reaction against so much ugliness and suppression.