Monday, 21 February 2011

Spring is here?

I wish I could have phrased the title as more of a statement than a query. Whilst the weather is, undoubtedly, milder than it has been (not hard) and whilst I have spotted snowdrops (in abundance) crocii and daffodils all over the place, it still isn't feeling very springy. I'm not sure what I'm waiting for, to be honest - baby lambies? Primroses? Days warm enough to leave my coat at home? Easter? Who knows. I've seen catkins and pussy willows and, like I said, more snowdrops than I have ever seen in my life (photos to follow when we get a nice enough day to go and photograph them) but it still feels very much like winter here.

OK - I closed my eyes and really thought about it and realised what it was - all the trees and hedges are naked! We need some leaves. I love that first, luminous verdance where the trees look as if they've been dusted with the brightest, freshest green powder and not really like leaves at all. At the moment they're all bare and barren, their angular branches twisting and pointing rather than the fluffy sway the whole tree seems to undergo when the wind blows through leaves and sends them shimmering.

Then, once the leaves are through, you have the unbridled joy of blossom. It's one of the things I remember about my childhood in the London suburbs. By the time my birthday came round in late March every road would be a blossom-lined avenue - from the pink-tinged almond blossom to the fluffy candy pink of double cherry blossom and the white or shocking pink of the Horse chestnut candles, which had a particular charm all their own... At the moment the only nature-sprung colour I can see is the cheery red and yellow parrot striped tulips my beloved bought me for Valentine's Day - outside all is greys, browns and the winter-dulled dark green of water-logged grass and ivy.

Bring on the Spring! I'm ready and waiting :-D

Friday, 18 February 2011

Waving the flag for the NHS

I don't often get political in public, I don't like confrontation and nothing is more likely to raise peoples' hackles except, perhaps, religion. Some things, however, are just too important to ignore. Since the post war years the UK has been the envy of the world for its nationalised healthcare system, but now it is under threat and, except for one lone voice,nobody I know seems to have even noticed. Once I realised how big a threat this was to the one thing about all others that makes me proud of my country I had to do something, however small, so please read the following information, if you're in the UK sign the E-petition and pass on the details to everyone you know who has ever benefited from the NHS.

Thank you

Our treasured NHS is under threat. We believe that proposals in the new White Paper will break-up NHS services. At the heart of the NHS should be patients, but business motives are cutting deeply into the fairness, quality and value that we have come to expect. It is crucial for the public and NHS staff to join in opposing these proposals.

The NHS is already making £20bn of tough savings. So when jobs and services are under threat and waiting lists likely to rise, why waste £3bn on reforms that staff don’t want and which will make the NHS we know unrecognisable. Many people are now joining together to stand up for the NHS, so why not find out more and join them.

Sign the national petition at:

Friday, 4 February 2011

Happiness, the greatest gift that I possess

Firstly - sorry about the title. I can never resist a rhyme or a song quote and that one kind of forced it's way in as soon as I typed the word 'happiness'.

My friend Laura sent me an e-mail recommending the following blog to me: The Happiness Project and reading it inspired me to send an e-mail to my husband to tell him how much he added to my happiness. I had been wondering what to blog about today, but the mail I sent to him (with all the soppy bits cut out) seemed like a ready-made post, so I hope he won't mind that I copy/pasted the following from the mail I sent him.

I've sat and read a few posts on it and mindfulness came up - do you know what that is? It's something I need to keep an eye on, I think. It's basically staying aware of yourself and the moment you're in - that if you want to spend the morning lying on the sofa eating chocolate cake and reading a trashy novel (to pick an example out of the clear blue sky ;-)) then that's fine and it will add to your happiness - as long as you've made a conscious decision to do it over anything else.

Does that make sense? It means that if you've done all the important things you need to do, or have prioritised and decided that they're less important than lying on the sofa etc, then lying on the sofa is a great way to promote your happiness. If, however, you're only half concentrating on the sofa-lying whilst the rest of your brain is occupied with the things you 'should' be doing, then you're getting in your own way.

So I'm going to empty the dishwasher (hurrah - we have a dishwasher here! Love the new gaff!), wipe down the kitchen counters, clean the litter tray (bleurk) and hang the washing out and then I'm going to, say, cut myself a large slice of chocolate cake and take my Georgette Heyer to the sofa (just as an example, y'know...!)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

One Hundred!

Well, I felt I needed to mark the occasion of my one hundredth post somehow... so consider it marked.

I have managed to put aside the uselessness for today and not only did I shower and dress *as soon as I got out of bed* (and not, for example, after Loose Women), I also hung a wash out, took the post into town and set myself up for wife of the year award.

Hubby has been in need of some new shoes, but this was put to the bottom of the 'to do' list due to the more urgent items like moving house and switching over all the utilities. Buying him new shoes is not the easiest task in the world anyway, as he works 9-5 all weekdays and has an all-consuming hobby which consumes him all day every Saturday. With our most local town being a very cute market town which, adorably, observes Sunday closing still, this makes his opportunity to buys shoes almost non-existent, unless he wants a (not so foot-healthy) plastic pair from Tesco, I have to put on my personal shopper hat and bring things home for him to try, then return the rejects the next day.

Impressively, the well known chain I chose to patronise today (hello my good shop etc) were marking down all the sales pairs as I entered, so I grabbed two inoffensive size 11 black pairs, one laced, one slip-on, and was more than a little chuffed with the c.£47 price for the two together. Bargain. Let's hope at least one pair meet with approval.

Let's face it, doing this sort of personal shopper act for hubby sounds like a lot of faff - not least because it requires twice the number of trips to the shops, but it has two major advantages.
1- Not having to drag a -frankly- rather grumpy 29 year old man round the shops as he acts more like a 3 year old on the verge of a major tantrum.
2- By providing him with a small choice one gets to exert an influence over the clothing he wears without the accompanying accusation that one is trying to dress him or change him. Not that I do want to change him, but let's face it - I take far more interest in clothing and appearance than he does, so it's nice to have a hand in it, because who wants to leave that to the disinterested?

So - happy 100th post!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Turning uselessness into an artform.

Julie/Julia: what a delightful film. I'm watching it at the moment as I contemplate the few pitiful chores I have remaining to do and wondering whether I am really earning my keep as an unemployed wife (aka housewife). I mean, the flat is clean - it's much easier to keep clean than the old house - we have a full 'fridge, cake in the tin, emergency dinners in the freezer: what have I left to do to make myself useful? The only thing that needs ironing is a bunch of pillow cases that aren't going to be used for yonks and other than that it's personal projects - knitting/sewing/crochet etc which I love, but a) make a lot of mess and b) make me feel a tad guilty for devoting my time to something that benefits only me.

Of course... I say all this, but there *is* something I ought to be doing. I ought to be in town getting stamps so I can post stuff off, then I need to post it. But do I want to leave the flat in this awful cold weather? Do I heck. I think the post may have to fester in my handbag for one more day. I am a bad wife.

Now, in celebration of this blog being once more expanded I have decided to create another little list, because we all know how much I love them :-)

Reasons I am longing for Spring

1- We have no central heating and it's bitterly cold.
2- Did I mention the cold? And the lack of central heating?
3- The view is dreary (See below). I want sunshine and colour. Flowers and leaves of the most astonishing bright green. Something to look at when I go for walks. Already there are pussy willows and catkins - little silver velvet buds and delicate yellow earrings hanging from every slender branch and I am tense with excitement at the prospect of snowdrops, crocii, hyacinths, primroses, almond blossom, cherry blossom, mimosa, horse chestnut candles - oh - I'm sighing with longing just at the thought of it.
4- Hubby's probationary period at work will be up and that tiny little seed of uncertainty that insists on persisting despite my unshakeable confidence in his general wonderfulness can be thrown out and we can make a few decisions about our future in some kind of security - or as much as one can have in the current climate.
5- My birthday. Which I am determined to enjoy despite the fact it marks being another year older. It's a day to celebrate me and eat cake. That can't be bad.
6- Hubby turns 30. I am going to spoil him rotten and he will start the best decade of his life with a wonderful celebration.
7- I can dig out all my pretty-coloured spring clothing and finally stop wearing hubby's navy blue zip-up fleece which is very cosy, but unflattering to wear and probably rather in need of a wash.
8- I can leave the window open and the boys can let themselves in and out: this has two benefits. a) I don't have to act as their porter, letting them in and out ad infinitum ad nauseum b) if they can let themselves in and out then they will hopefully use the outside loo and I will not have to clean out their stinky stinky litter tray twice a day which is my *least* favourite chore.
9- Longer days. Hubby will come home in daylight and we can go for walks together and enjoy our new, carefree life.
10- Did I mention the horrible horrible cold? And the one, very expensive, plug-in electric heater? Warmer weather will not only be infinitely more pleasant, but significantly cheaper.

The view from my window yesterday morning when the sun shone, which improved the dreary winteriness considerably.

And now I'm done writing today's blog and will return to contemplating my navel. Anyone have any suggestions for something useful to do?

Oh - and guess what? The baby that hat was a gift for was born the day after I gave it to his mummy - ten days early! Welcome to the world baby Cameron.