Thursday, 19 April 2012

It's life (Jim)..but not as I know it.

In amongst the absolute complete and utter shambles that is to be my wedding, next weekend..I have been mostly unable to find peace. I have been awake at night, when finally asleep my mind has been full of worries such as 'Will my boiler fall through the ceiling into the bedroom?' 'How will my son cope with 'big school TWO YEARS FROM NOW?' ...Y'know, the sort of thoughts that REALLY need not be keeping me awake, and yet, with all this utter tosh that is wedding planning, they do. Random thoughts are haunting me.

I feel frazzled. I have to be honest and say that if this is meant to be a romantic time in my life, in a girl's life..I seem to be missing the secret to make it so. I feel like curling up in a ball and turning off the lights and waking up when it is all over. Urgh.

So, as I was saying before. I have been trying to find a way to cope with feeling like I might scream or cry or just pass out and turn into a wobbling heap of jelly on the floor and that way, the way I have been trying to plants.

PLANTS! - lovely, sweet, healing, pretty, lovely plants.

Each weekend, Monty Don (I love you, thank you for saving my sanity) talks to me about things I know nothing about, Helibores here and Marigolds there, Jewel Gardens, Hot beds and Mounds of soil, soon-to-be turned into meadows of beautiful wildflowers?! It is like a stream of peace washing over me in this shitstorm of a time. I love it.

Two weekends ago, in the middle of what can only be described as a 'funk' I decided that it was time to get out into our garden, divide the huge space up into four sections and work on them one-by-one throughout this year. Section one (The kitchen-garden) was done two weeks ago, weeded, tidied and planted up with new seeds, ferns and flowers. It is a shady area right next to the house, I use it as a nursery for all my seedlings and cuttings. I like it very much here even though it is dark and concretey and not very pretty really...actually, I kinda love it.

Last weekend, it was section two (Patio, 96, sheds and bin store) of the's where I planted all of the plants I could possibly take from my old garden - 96.

Located right next to our bathroom window, blocking out all the light and being useless whilst doing so is an old coal shed. There are in fact two coal sheds dating from the 80s ish and both are as ugly as sin, I'd been meaning to get rid of it as it is pointless and we need the space it takes up, so I sneaked out..annnd I HIT IT with a sledge hammer REALLY HARD and it felt GOOD, it cracked and a big bit came off and I was happy. I MAY not have told L about my doing this on a whim and he MAY have found me out in the garden with a sledge hammer in the rain looking like a crazed lunatic, and this MAY have angered him for some minutes, before he calmed down and agreed that it was ugly as hell and we could definitely make something better of the space, then he HIT IT as hard as HE could with the sledge hammer.. and the smile on his face! w-o-w

Two hours later, it was gone and a lovely area was created for our recycling boxes so that when you look out of the kitchen window you no longer have a sea of bins and bags full of trash. You now see garden 'cos the bins are round the corner in the lovely new 'bin storage area'

Next came the 18ft Forsythia tree behind it, which is/was trying to rip up the foundations of our house (the previous owner thought it would be good to plant it RIGHT NEXT TO THE HOUSE????? - this is a common theme here!) We chopped it right down to about a foot in height, feeling very guilty but relishing the light it created by being gone. It will grow back but it will take about five years before getting that big again.

Then, after all of that tree mess had been swept up, chopped up and put on the wood pile or disposed of in the green waste bin..THEN came the idea of a path in the area of the garden near the house that we call 'no man's land' it's hellish and barren and awful...look - awful.

                                                 And so it grew, our new path idea.

We spent from 10am - 6pm the next day carrying trug after trug of bricks, removing wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of soil until the area was flatter. Then we placed brick after brick until it sort-of resembled a path or patio. I felt proud. Neither of us are gardeners, brick layers or any good at starting a task and completing it and yet, there is was, almost done. It isn't the straightest or most level path/patio..but it suits our higgeldy piggedly garden and it was fun to build. We still have one last bit to put in then it will be done :-D

Next, I planted up a section of the old rubbishy 'flower' bed with baby plants I had grown from cuttings last year. Some of last years Hollyhocks are already coming up..those plants somehow all managed to stay alive (yey) and waved about happily in the sun. Then came the seeds, Chives, Sweet peas, Nasturtiums, Wild flowers, Eccinechea, Red Valerian, Red Yarrow, etc, so many seeds. After a while I realised I would rather like a greenhouse for my seeds (woops- gave that away to L' s parents when we moved in - fail) No money to buy one, so I decided to build a  temporary coldframe out of the left-over pavia until I can afford a greenhouse of my's butt ugly but it does the job. I will surround it with pots of pretty things and it will be hidden. Yet functional.

                  SEE - UGLY, yet functional - soon to be fixed by many pretty plants to hide its ugliness

Finally, whilst browsing on Ebay that evening, my plant kleptomania reached its worst yet, and I accidentally bought FOUR baby spider plants (four different types - as if that is any less weird) as I read they are great for purifying the air in your house (and I am convinced our air is whack as the house has crumbling 1920s plaster on the walls which is basically made up of all kinds of bad and our boiler just got moved to the attic where, I am SURE it is going to leak fumes or explode or something rational like that.)

After they arrived - the next day! I placed them lovingly on the mantle in the lounge on little saucers. They are happy there, waiting for crochet jackets for their pots and cuter saucers to sit in.
Where does one find four cute vintage saucers?

The day before yesterday, I thought I was finally coming down from my soothing garden-based times when I had an overwhelming need to plant more stuff, so I took Baby F off to the kitchen where we sat at the table and planted up some Hollyhocks and runner beans in pots.

Much to my delight, this morning (two days later) the Hollyhocks have already sprouted and are standing up looking rather pleased with, all in all not a bad week, despite the crappy wedding hoo-ha.

And it turns out that I love gardening, I don't like weddings and I have created life, just not as I know it!

Friday, 13 April 2012

Unfinished Business

Isn’t it lovely, this time of year? Despite the rain and clouds we’ve had of late! As I sit here at 8:07pm the view from my window is that of a garden bursting into bloom, the dusk is falling over trees that are abundant with new leaves and growth..oh, it is wonderful. I can hear a bird singing its final song before lucky I feel to live somewhere in the country with such lovely things to admire.

Today I half-heartedly cleaned out the area surrounding my desk. Underneath there was all manner of unfinished crochet projects. I am not sure if it is just me or if everyone who crochets or crafts does this, but I seem to start a project with excitement and power through about 80% only to lose the wind from my sails come the end and there it is, my almost finished project discarded at the bottom of my ‘to do’ basket. And it sits there, looking at me, and I resent it the project I was once so excited about. It sits like homework or chores or an unwanted ex-boyfriend.

I am not sure what to do with them (my unfinished business) really, we have an unfinished baby blanket for a friend who doesn’t want to have gender specific colours – but this blanket ended up looking so girly I quit it.

Then we have the next bunch of squares and rows for the non-gender specific blanket, but I didn’t have enough shades of blue or red so it also got dropped.

Then my eldest son’s Christmas 2012 blanket, which hasn’t been forgotten but I haven’t made squares for it in ages and I am not very excited by it to be honest, it's meant to be block colours and boyish..It might just be dull?

There is also the Attic24 flower cushion which I loved making but I lost count of the stitches and then when I got back round to making it I sort-of lost the love for the colours. Perhaps I will do a bit more on that one later on tonight. I also need to buy another cushion pad for it as I stole its pad for my liberty round cushion I made (and love)

We also have a few gloves and mittens (one of each) some random squares that have been left over from other projects, an unfinished snood for my friend who is visiting in two weeks, bunting for my kitchen, the back of the flower cushion, also unfinished and a lovely collection of cream and various coloured squares which I have sewn together ready to be the topper for an ottoman I am redecorating and using in Baby F’s room, there are probably WAY more unfinished bits, but for now, that is all I can face owning up to. It is shameful.

I frequently visit Heather at Little Tin Bird and Lucy at Attic24 and I am impressed by their ability to do one job at a time and not have tons of unfinished (unloved) projects on the go; how do they do it?

How do you get through your projects without giving up?

Well, dusk has turned to dark and Baby F is falling asleep so I guess that is my prompt to begin my night of crafting, perhaps I’ll finish one of those pesky projects, who knows?

Bfn xx
Ps..The last bird tweeted at me at 8:29 - you know he's gone home for Gardener's World!

Monday, 2 April 2012

The EX (is hex)

That is something that me and my friends used to say when we were silly young girls.

What did it mean?

I don't exactly know what it meant? Ex girlfriends are horrible, a dangerous and different breed, watch out for them, they are evil..who knows?

I have never dealt well with exes. I find they have this nasty habit of not quite being as EX as you think? Maybe that is just my own paranoia?

I have spent four long and painful years being very aware that my partner's ex was still very much around. His brother's ex-girlfriend was her 'best friend' (although not behind her back) and had a very clever habit of telling her things that would motivate her to get in touch with L. Not cool and it caused the wound to remain open for FAR too long.

Anyway, in my mind I just wanted us to get on with my new relationship and let their old relationship fade out with some dignity.

I must pay her the respect she is due and say apart from reading his emails right at the start of our relationship, in a last panicky bid to see if it were really the end, and writing a few more emails to him, which he shared with me, she has been very dignifed, she left us to it eventually and I admire that. I have not been as strong to let go of things in the past - that is very hard. She was braver than I.

Anyway, we have managed to just about avoid one another over the years and I like it that way. I have nothing bad to say or nothing bad to feel about her, but in these weird situations you can't just go and find her or email and be all 'hey, let's talk about it ALL' that would be WEIRD.

When we went to her and L's mutual best-friend's wedding last year, L was excited about introducing me to her. Why do men just not get it? I REALLY wasn't up for it and even if I had been I wouldn't have wanted to meet her RIGHT after I had just had our baby at her best friend's wedding with the man who broke her heart...not ok.

So, as I was saying..we have not actually met, as such. I've not been within four feet of her..y'know. I have avoided her with good intentions and kindness..I have been a virtual ghost in her world.

I had been a ghost....UNTIL my hen night.

It all went weird from there.

My (frankly pathetic) hen day culminated in me and my two loundmouthiest (I LOVE them both) mates, sat on a bus, one drinking a bottle of wine out of her bag (how old are we?) me with tissues under my nose as I have a stinking, drippy nose cold and a migraine. I can't breathe, my face is all red and blotchy and to top it off I have a Kids tiara and wedding veil on my head! I am NOT that type of girl..I would sooner wear an empty tuna tin on my head and a cow pat on my face..seriously.

So drunken mate 'A' is laughing and yelling and being a dear sweet drunken yank and mate 'B' is also feeling ill with vomiting bug and is on the bus en-route to go home..we get to our stop, the driver laughs at A andher antics and we jolly off to the cash point, gobshite, snot-bride and pukeymate. CLASSY. At the cash point I turn and suddenly, I go ICY cold..right in front of us, on the opposite side of the road, there she is!!!! Seriously, this is happening! ohmyfrick..nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!

Why today? WHY??? The bride hat veil thing, the snot blotch face, the shouty friend the pukey friend..the only three of us as everyone else cancellllllled on me, the lame arse no-friend bride of pathetic she was. Plain fresh face, tall, pretty, blonde, (I can't tell you how PLEASED I am to have seen that up close - sarcasm) casually dressed in an effortlessly easy-going way and here I am, atilla the hun with rocky and bullwinkle by my side. I swear I stopped in my tracks and froze like I'd just seen Medusa..christ.

Any number of thoughts went through my head at this point..I am sure none of them made sense but the first, was remembering that it had been years and it didn't it was the bride hat on my ill head and how in your face it was..then it was the panic, I just wanted to curl up in a hole and die. The culmination of many years of clever it was, off the bus and BAM, uglybride in your FACE!

It didn't help that my yank mate was shouting YOU WON! YOU WON! FORGET HER, YOU WON! in my ear..I don't care if I won, it wasn't a competition!!! She was only being kind and saying what she thought was right..but jeeeeezzzuuussssss....timing?!

HER mate (the exes mate) she was pretty and sixties and all young and pretty and thin and pretty and did a very good, under-thirty catty stare glance thing, the kind I wish I could do but:
1. I never think to do them because I don't work like that
2. I am too saggy with my old-lady eye wrinkles to find my eyes in order to position them to glare. I would have to find a mirror and make a good effort to see how to do it first..oh youth.

So there it is. We walked past each other and I looked down, she looked down, we both died a bit inside and our friends were silly.

And all I could think was... We have something in common, we both love/d the same man and we are women who have been hurt by other's stupid actions. We could and probably would be friends in any other circumstances, I don't want to be a hurtful figure to her..and I felt bad. And sorry I couldnt just lift up my head and smile. And it be an ok thing to do.

So I have learnt the ex isn't hex, she is you and me, and every woman. We all love and get hurt..we should be kinder to one another, life is hurtful enough.

I'd never usually blog something so personal but I feel like I need to vent it, and as I have said before, this is a place for memories...perhaps from here they will be happier. I hope so.

Date 3 of the year - Caversham Court

At the end of last month we went for our third date of the year:

Caversham Court

L and I (and the boys) used to live in Caversham. It was where my Hotel 96 was located. I haven't been to Caversham in nearly a year. It was painful leaving. I loved it there but O was bullied so badly at school and the house was megabucks to keep up, so we moved!

Coming back to Caversham it still feels the same. Reading as a whole is a pretty crap place. If you can see past the horrid new buildings and the tons upon tons of pikeys then you will find the roots of a beautiful old town hidden amongst the weeds of modern day 'society'

I lived in Reading for 12 years and found all the lovely spots and secretly cool places to go and treasured them, but my heart always lead me to Caversham, a little suburb of Reading which can be found over the river Thames. Caversham is essentially a little village. It is a 'town' as it is part of Reading but it isn't. If you live there you know you have a home in a village. There is one main street running through Caversham which splits off at the end and either takes you up a hill to the next suburb of Emmer Green, or out and along towards Henley-On-Thames.

The river is Caversham's winning feature. There are abundant gardens, fields, parks and places along both sides of the river, boat houses with little boats you can hire for an hour or so at a time for not many pounds. There are ducks, swans, moorhens, weeping willows and flowers is lovely.

Caversham hosts many a cool charity shop, filled with wonderous retro things, a cafe 'The Caversham Cafe' run by Ian, who is a lovely, lovely man and who will make you a hangover breakfast and laugh at you (a lot) when you are a silly early to mid-twenty something and drank too much the night before, he'll make you a tea and ginger biscuit when you are preggo and sick'n'tired out and he'll make you a piece of cake and a smile if you're anyone else...I LOVE that place and him. It's not glam but it's salt of the earth.

Oops, anyway, there is also a real ale festival, a jazz festival, a circus, Reading beer festival and Reading's a pretty busy sort of a place. There is also an outdoor cinema by the river and a fairly permanent ice cream van that seems to only go home on Christmas day.

When L and I first met we used to walk to Caversham Court, the site of an old mansion which is placed right on the water's edge as you drive out of Caversham towards Caversham Heights. We'd spend hours there, just laying by the river and talking and being happy, so it seemed only right to go back with the boys and have a nice date there, now we are too busy to lay about by rivers and suchlike.

I am aware that about a year ago Caversham Court Gardens won a large amount of money from the lottery fund people and have used it to modernise and clean the place up. They have done a wonderful job. There is now a little stone coffee house with cute little tables out front,
 There are  (currently) lovely neat flower beds and various features all over the place. It's very nice.

To me, I was most excited about taking Baby F out to have his first proper un-leashed run around in a grassy riverside location..and boy, did he run. He took two bottles of Ribena that we bought for our picnic and he ran around like mad, waving these bottles and shouting at the swans and laughing at was so sweet.

He is only just bigger than daffodils lovely

It was not so sweet when he took his Ribena's over to an older couple who were laying semi-naked by the water having a cuddle, and clonked them..that wasn't so sweet..! He is so fast on his feet I can barely catch up with him and you only have to turn your head for a split second and he is off!

Anyway, it was a beautiful day. L was ill with the cold I now have (humph) and even he enjoyed it in the end. There isn't much more to say about it as a place. It is lovely, if you are going to Reading and it is a nice day then definitely detour. I'd avoid it around the festival time as it is definitely its best without tons of people there. Same can be said about Caversham itself. NEVER visit at the end of August - horrid.

Mostly it cheered me up, I always feel happier about life when I am by the water and in the sunshine.