august break 2014

Not that I need an excuse to be a lazy bitch but I've got one now thanks to gorgeous Susannah.

I heard about the august break last year but was too late to take part, needless to say I love the idea, how divine to have a summer holiday from blogging, a chance to recharge, rethink and maybe get started on some new projects.

I'm already imagining the excitement of getting back to it again in September, be like getting ready to go back to school, always my most favourite time of the year. Any excuse for a new pencil case is good for me but I'm getting ahead of myself here, we've still got the long, happy month of august to go and this summer already feels never-ending, just brilliant.

So I won't be writing anything in august however I will be taking part in the photo challenge on instagram and perhaps posting the pictures here if they're not too shit.

I've never done a photo challenge before, I see them all the time and often have a wild few seconds of thinking I'd like to join in but I'm way to inconsistent to even attempt it, and lazy. Should be interesting to see if I manage this.

Happy august everyone, enjoy the summer, summer, summertime, let's just sit back and unwind.


on running

I have a love/hate relationship with running.

It seems to me to be a pursuit that's equal parts ridiculous and essential. I fight it, I embrace it, I punch it in the face, I hold it in my arms. Gah.

It would perhaps be less troubling if I was any good at it, in my head I'm leaping down the road like a baby gazelle, however the reality is much, much different. I can usually manage to look quite normal for the first half a mile but after that I'm struggling every step of the way and it shows. I literally have to fight my bloody legs to carry me, fight my bloody head to keep repeating that I can do it, I can do it, I can. It's this internal battle that doesn't seem to lessen with time that's led me to wonder why I bloody bother.

Maybe it's because even if you are shit at running and look a holy mess whilst partaking of it, it doesn't matter because you've got off your arse and gone out and done something haven't you? I always think 'good for you' whenever I see somebody running, maybe because I know how hard it is, not just to do the actual running thing but to get your bum off the sofa, struggle into skin-tight lycra and open the front door with your trainers on and the world's largest iron-clad running bra strapped to your boobs.

Then there's the challenge of it I suppose. If your body and your mind are both screaming no but yet you still carry on then that is immensely satisfying, no? But quite freakish too, because if your body says no and your mind says no then who exactly is it that's saying yes? What part of you is carrying you forward? Your ego, your spirit, your soul? Your magical, mystical imaginary friend?

Is it possible that all that talk of running being a zen activity is true? Did I scoff at those theories prematurely? I think the answer is yes because whilst I'm dragging my old body round my run route and hurting every step of the way, I know once you've pushed through the first bit of pain (am I really saying this) you settle into this wonderful zone of invincibility where your body feels relaxed and soft, your mind has settled into the plod, plod, plod of your feet and you feel like you could go on forever. A painful, lung screaming, over-heated, vomit inducing forever but a forever just the same.

Run anyone?


when mice attack

We are under siege.

It is truly terrifying, scary and stand on a chair with my skirts pulled up scream-worthy.

A crazy ass mouse is stalking us and it's playing havoc with my nerves.

I've been seeing it now and then scampering about the garden at dusk and everything was fine with Mr Mouse being outside, all was fine. I would prefer him to bugger off but still F.I.N.E.

Then it happened. The mouse made it's move. He came into my house.

The cheeky bleeder just trotted right up the steps and into the house, I was sitting on my own in the dark watching telly and I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye and Mickey was boldly on his way in to my manor. I leapt up and shouted "Noooooo" thus scaring the little shit off, shot to the door, slammed the door, panted at the door and then ran, heart pounding in my chest, upstairs to tell on it to Darren.

Firstly I will say this, he did not and still does not believe me, I don't care what he says to the contrary, his inability to be freaked out at the thought of sharing our home with a rodent together with his relaxed "I don't give a shit" attitude have led me to realise that I am in this on my own.

Me against the mouse.

The mouse is doomed.

I will not stop until I am convinced that it has found a new family to terrorise.


things you don't know about holidaying in France that will make you happy

France is just as you expect it to be, the clichés do not disappoint.

I had waited so long for a holiday in the south of France that I would have felt robbed without the fields of sunflowers, the grapevines, pretty shuttered houses, tree-lined roads, rustic farmhouses, good bread, cheese and red wine. It was exactly like that, exactement, and heaven knows that made me one happy lady.

But it was the things we didn't know about France that made our trip so really brilliant, the things that nobody told us, the things that people had said would be perhaps a 'challenge'.

The unexpected laid-backness of the place being top of the list, it's just so amazingly chilled out in France, it really is. The uptight, rigid culture of corporate homogenisation and extreme busyness that is so abundant here hasn't taken hold over there and it's rather refreshing to walk into a supermarket where people don't wear uniforms, where the fruit is all bashed and bruised and real looking, where every petrol station looks different and the shops are shut on a Sunday...and a Wednesday...and for two hours at lunch time on all other days.

People walk to the boulangerie to get their bread in the morning and stop for a chat along the way, stop for a chat in the shop, stop for a chat with the postman. There's no hurrying, no rush and the streets are wonderfully devoid of the unrelenting march of a branded coffee cup.

It was lovely to slip off the uptight english overcoat for a short while and relax, once the initial panic of forgetting your schoolgirl french and not being able to buy food on a Sunday has gone, you can't help yourself. The French countryside is a dream, there is literally no traffic anywhere, we would go on short day trips expecting UK-type car chaos and not see one person. We were continually wondering where everyone was and constantly delighting at the lack of vehicles and abundance of parking spaces.

And to top it off we found it friendly, we had been told not to expect smiles and civility but the peoples were wrong about this too! Betsy helped, being so freaking cute, especially once we taught her to say 'bonjour' - that was it, local hearts melting all over the south of France, big smiles and hearty slaps on the back everywhere.

So get thee to France, it's brill* and have yourselves a very bonne journée!

*except for the flipping eurotunnel which had an 'incident' on the day we were travelling home which left us stranded at the terminal for over eight hours....yep.



It's such a wonderful time of year isn't it?

England does good summer with her blue, blue skies and her most green and pleasant land. I am loving midsummer even more than usual because this year we have a working garden, by that I mean we have a patio whereas last year we had a giant gravel pit!

The joy of having a patio is never to be underrated, never.

We are a contented bunch here at bloom. Our days are spent gardening, reading, walking, goofing about and being annoyingly happy. These are wonderful days and I'm loving them to the max, just relaxing and being in the moment with my wonderful girl who is currently sitting beside me watching Old Jack's Boat and sucking her toes!

She is now old enough to potter in and out the back door to the garden and up and down the most treacherous stairs you've ever seen to her heart's content. She loves being outside. If you don't get the hint quickly, her standing in front of the door saying 'outside' repeatedly, she brings you her shoes and then your shoes and then daddy's shoes, anything to get you to open the damn doors.

I am cultivating my own brand of hodge-podge gardening style in which I buy pretty plants, dig them in and hope for the best. Most stuff does okay you know, gardening snobbery is revealed to be all a sham, designed to keep the florally nervous in the gloom of a flowerless summer.

There have been a number of high profile failures including a rather expensive purple hydrangea that I planted in, stood back to admire when Betsy came hurtling out of nowhere and landed on her bum, plop, right in the middle of it. The poor thing is still out there, the hydrangea not Betsy, squished and sad looking, there seems to be little hope for it but I'm hanging in there for a potential grand, purple return next year.

Serenity rules, summer is for lazing about and we are off to the south of France this weekend for even more of the stuff. Really looking forward to our holiday, planning on doing lots of nothing with a bit of sightseeing in between.

I'm officially a gardener now though, it's just started raining and I'm actually pleased because I think the plants need it! Hope the garden doesn't miss me too much.


how we spend our days...

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

And this picture sums up the Annie Dillard quote to perfection. It might not look like much but this is a perfect snapshot of my life right now. This is how I spend my days.

This day was warm and sunny, not late-summer-hot but fresh and breezy early-summer-warm. I was walking down a busy road, forest on one side, posh boarding school grounds on the other. It was noisy with cars and birds competing and the odd thumping bass through an open car window. It smelled gorgeous; hot tarmac, exhaust fumes and great waves of sweet, fragrant azalea which filled the air with a honeysuckle-like scent. I was warm and happy with my girls, Elizabeth was warm and happy with her spotty sun hat on and holding the ever-present Bruno. Tilly was hot and happy, her black fur being ill-suited for sunny days but she never cares because as long as she's ahead of us and in the lead she is happy.

This is how I spend my life and I love it. I confess that I love it especially when it's warm, walking in the sunshine is one of life's best and greatest pleasures, but I walk every day regardless of the weather and it's satisfying to be a dog-walker because you get to see so much, so very much. The seasons are alive with change, with smells, with beauty and summer is here and she is bursting out of everywhere with aplomb and fury.

Today smelt of sweet, freshly-cut grass and the air was full of the sound of distant mowers.

Lawn mower is one of Betsy's new words. Along with helicopter, bit longer and noisy.

The blackberry bushes were heavy and pretty with their delicate, white flowers, bringing to mind our magical blackberry day out last year, collecting big, fat berries in a dog-poo bag and not caring because it was so worth it for the taste of the sweet, juicy berries, the look on Betsy's face as she ate them and the joy of blackberry crumble with custard later that evening.

I passed a beautiful, shocking pink and very wild rose that took my breath away. Again. Last year I was so enamoured of this rose that I snipped off some cuttings and have been growing them in pots in the garden with dubious success, mine don't look anything like the ones I saw today.

It's also giant daisy time. Every year I go mad for these massive, gorgeous giants. Every year I take a ton of photos and they all pretty much look the same, I must stop now, I have done daisy-gazing to death. I'm not sure if I can though, they are the most photogenic flowers ever.

This is a somewhat rambling and self-indulgent post. I make no apologies, I'm in love with life and it's when you have something magical like life to record that you realise having a blog is a grand thing. In time I shall look back and wonder where these days went and how they flew but for now I'm going to sit back with a cup of tea, enjoy them and be glad I've written the magic down to save for a rainy day.