Him. And Me. And them. Us.

posted on: Saturday, 29 May 2010

My husband (Mr Lou as he has been named) and I have been together since I was 18 years old and he was 22. He and I grew up on the same street; he lived at number 4 and I lived at number 5. We have been married for over ten years now, together for eighteen. I have so few adult memories that he was not a part of. We got together the first term I spent at University. But he lived in our home town and I travelled back and forth and we did the long distance thing for a few years.

A best friend, L, who was my bridesmaid and who has known us both since our first unplanned date told me to read back on this post about our two children, a girl and a boy and their characteristics. It was to see how much it actually described my husband and I.

I wrote this without any thought - it's what struck me first when I thought him and me:

Sturdy build, dependable, strong.
Smells like freshly washed cotton.
At a party, always always the last to go home.
The first to invite everyone and anyone back to our house - Mr Hospitality.
Fit, muscular, did I mention strong?
Charming, funny, sharp-witted.
Outrageous - I worry who gets seated next to him at dinner parties, as he offends!
Full of integrity.
Responsible (most of the time!).
Messy, mucky.
Sport-watcher, sport-player, all things sport.

Gangly, long-limbed.
Smells like Diptique Fig perfume.
Early to bed. Bed lover.
Obsessive planner.
Dry wit.
Big on etiquette.
Erudite, intellectual, well-read.
Sentimental, nostalgic.
Glass is half empty.
Stalwart friend.
Deep and meaningful.
Trashy TV watcher.

I thought, surely not, I am sure it does not bear a close resemblance. Does the apple really fall that far from the tree? Have we created two new 'mini-me's'? And for us, do opposites always attract?!

1950's family frolicks...

Things of beauty...

posted on: Friday, 28 May 2010

Long, long week, the one that has just passed. My husband has been away all week, climbing that corporate ladder again, so it's been the Boos and I, home alone. It has its upside; easy meals, quiet nights, no wet towels left on the floor ;-) But Monday to Friday seems like a long stretch and I want him home now. It is bank holiday weekend and we are spending one night away with friends; a group affectionately called 'Cottage Club'. We are staying overnight in a local place - less than 5 miles from home but crucially it's away. Good friends, good food. Freedom from the everyday.

I think I hit a friendly nerve with yesterday's post and we are all in vehement agreement that life is too short for all that malarkey. Thanks for all the lovely comments, as ever it's a marvel to me how many kind people there are out there ready to say hello. 

Boo swam in a swimming gala yesterday and I was awfully proud as her little lithe body slipped through the water like a fish. I know I am biased but she is just so cool and beautiful.

Here are some more things of beauty...I like to ponder on a Friday...

Natalia Vodianova...looking ethereal.

Milkshake and cookies...

A verdigris door handle...

'Apples and Biscuits' painted by Paul Cezanne

Kate Hudson just always looks like she is great fun. Like she'd be a interesting friend to have....

Georg Jensen diamond pave bracelet watch...

Pillowy pink roses...

These are scenes we will all come to know and love I'm sure; this is from SATC 2 but it caught my eye because SJP just does this hairdo so well! There really aren't many women whose features would take this pulled-back look. I also love the necklace. Funny that I choose this picture and so did a good friend of mine in blogland - making the same points about the hair and the necklace! Must work on my originality but it did make me smile after yesterday's post about parallel posts!

Wallpaper heaven...it's wonderful how the rooms just open into each other and the wood floor just sets it all off...

via it's mary ruffle

Boo slept in plaits last night so she would have curls for a school show today...

How pretty is this table decoration? I love coloured wine glasses...if only I could get to plan a wedding all over again - same husband but just the chance to pick all these lovely details!

A view outside...more beautiful roses...

This photo print I bought from the lovely Natasha, who is a very talented photographer and blogger - this is her Etsy shop.  I am so delighted with this picture, I am going to find a great place for it in my house.

 It's half term, so I shall be trying to bake with the children (I know I always say that and in reality my Mum steps in and does it, but I am going to try!)...

via it's mary ruffle

I am completely addicted to Leah's thx, thx, thx I think she is a genius of little thoughts...I especially like this one:

Hell hath no fury...like an anonymous commenter

posted on: Thursday, 27 May 2010

What is the deal with anonymous blog commenters? Not the nice ones, they are ticketyboo...I mean the rare nasties. I have seen a few examples of anonymous venom being dripped and wonder what drives people to do that? Seems odd to me. I do understand that sometimes you have an urge to say something, but why not just say it and be open and known about it? Say what you feel. But put your name behind it!

In the last few months these blogs (that I have seen; I am sure there are many more) have been touched by anonymous commenters of vitriol. Diary of a Yummy Mummy, who was told she looked old in a post that featured a photo of herself. Kasey at Lola B's, who provoked a disproportionately strong reaction with her April Fools post that someone didn't quite 'get'. Mrs A in the Cove whose pain-staking and beautiful house renovation was poo-pooed by an anonymous commenter. And then Little Emma English Home who was told by an anonymous commenter that she had plagiarised another blogger's pictures. Bizarre. I love especially that Ziara from Little Emma English Home had to slip into her Italian mother tongue to publish a responsive rant to the comment! Sometimes only that will do. When delivering a riposte what better language than Italian to do it in? Although I don't know Ziara well at all, I imagine her typing away and pausing every now and then for a hand gesture and flailing of arms ;-)

So what is it? I do acknowledge that blog commenting is a strange sport and can feel a bit like making friends in the school playground. You know where little girls say 'I like that and this and I like your shoes and I like your hair and I like your Barbie and I like your rucksack and I like your smile' etc etc. We all like a lot of the same stuff; that's a given. Plus sometimes there are parallel posts where pictures are used and you get that distinct sensation that you've seen it somewhere before. That's just a spooky coincidence.

For what it's worth, I have a live and let live philosophy in life. People make their choices, they do their thing. I agree in some cases, in others I don't. If I don't agree I generally keep that opinion to myself as I would rather be respectful and polite than confrontational and mean-spirited. That's just me. As I always say it's whatever floats your boat...just be kind.

P.S. Hello to Amelia...my 100th follower :-)

Kitchen table posy...

posted on: Wednesday, 26 May 2010

I have a lovely friend at work; she is a colleague but equally we have known each other for years and she is a true friend, a kindred spirit. I have mentioned her before here. So, she reads my blog and often tells me how bizarre it is to witness the public Louise vs. the one she knows and sees each week. This seems to be a commonly held perception amongst the few friends to whom I have confessed my blog. They find it surreal that I have this public persona of 'Lou of Lou, Boos and Shoes'! Of course it's all me, but I guess the point is that the me that gets published on my blog is usually the best version of myself. That Louise is the one who lives the charmed life of blonde children, tousled curls, home cooking, a childhood sweetheart, a pretty farmhouse, jam jars of garden flowers sitting on the kitchen table.

That is me. It is a charmed life, for sure....but it also has it's unperfect sides. I note that when blogging that there is this concept of presenting your 'best self' to the anonymous world as who wants to read about people's day-to-day worries and strife? We all have enough worries of our own without the need to take on those of others.

However I also see that when I do share a worry, the world answers back to say 'it's OK...don't worry; [crucially] you are normal'. So whilst I do have a posy of flowers on my kitchen table, these are my worries of the day:

I am working on a project that is stretching me in every direction, challenging every bit of professional experience and integrity I have. In a way it's exhilarating, but at the same time just plain frightening.

I am not doing enough reading with my kids - blame the above project - blame the single parent Monday to Fridays, but whatever, homework is not coming high on the evening agenda.

My constantly messy house bothers me just a tad too much.

I am coveting a certain pair of patent shiny new shoes and I must not spend the money. As in Must Not.

I am delinquent in catching up with old friends. Some in particular - if you read this I promise I will do better... :-)

There might be a life-changing opportunity on the horizon for us as a family. Instead of being excited I am terrified. Change and me are not comfortable bed fellows...

In times of worry I find the best thing is to just look out the window, concentrate on something pretty, distract the mind, try to let it go... I hear from my new friend that optimism is the new black!

Images via it's mary ruffle

Well, in five years time...

posted on: Tuesday, 25 May 2010

I was tagged by Christina at Fashion's Most Wanted... for a 'five years time' meme. Now, Christina is the town mouse to my country mouse. She absolutely lives the London life and it's there for us to see and live through vicariously on her blog.

Where were you five years ago?

Five years ago I was caring for a newborn baby. Boo 2 was born in April, so I would have been a month or so in. I wasn't wild on the newborn stage; in fact sadly it represented one of the most challenging times in my life so far. There were some bleak days around that time, so when I think now how far I have come, it makes me very happy that those days are behind me. The downside is that my recollection is marred by that experience and I worry that I have missed a lot of the joy that should come with little babies. I tell myself the baby stage is just one drop in the big ocean of motherhood...

I was on maternity leave from the corporate world, we had just bought our (in much need of renovation) farmhouse and Boo 1 had started school. So, imagine being at home a lot of the time with 30 year old brown linoleum and brown carpets and brown walls. What was the deal with decorating with brown in the early 80s?

Where would you like to be five years from now?

Five years from now I will be the other side of 40! I find it quite hard to envisage what I will be doing then. I work on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis and rarely think that far ahead. I am grateful every day for the way my life has panned out; I married my childhood sweetheart, we live in the town where we grew up, our kids are healthy, happy and are turning out to be really quite good fun. I have a job I enjoy that gives me (at least some of the time) a work/life balance. We have awesome friends. I work hard at life, but it pays dividends. So if I could say in five years time I had that feeling of contentment with life, then that would do for me. If my husband has his way we will spend some time between now and the living in another country. I should try this outlook on life and see what happens in five years...

What is on your to do list today?

Clear the stack of papers that have accumulated on my dining room table.
Try to catch up on my work email which at the moment is like a mountain to climb.
Book a pedicure, eye test, haircuts for the kids, sort out half term childcare, book kid's summer tennis club, sort out social calendar, send thank you notes, arrange a birthday party.
Get to the bottom of the ironing pile that is threatening to engulf us all...

What five snacks do you enjoy?
  • Cheese - all kinds. I am a complete cheese freak
  • Liquorice - it's a Danish thing.
  • Fruit salad - I am the one who always falls for those ready-prepared melon and pineapple salads in Waitrose which probably have astronomic carbon footprints. I do love them though...
  • Chocolate. The good stuff. Enough said.
  • You will always find humous, taramasalata, tzatiki in my fridge...I'm into dips. Come to lunch at my house and you never know what combination you'll get...along with rye bread, olives and capers.

What would you do if you were a billionaire?

Money is a funny thing. Extreme wealth fascinates me in the same way that pure beauty does. When I see Gisele I wonder what it must be like to look in the mirror and see that face looking back. Similarly what must it be like to check your bank balance and see many, many zeroes in the black. Or to be able to buy anything you want...anywhere, anytime. Or to do everything in life first class, top drawer. But if I had pots of money, the key thing would be to bring friends and family with me, or else I figure it becomes an awfully lonely place.

The shallower side of me would love to do the most proper and outrageous shopping spree; to go crazy, throw complete caution to the wind, buy ANYTHING. But then I guess if I was a billionaire, even that activity might become old hat. Maybe the answer is to have more money, but not too much!

I pass this meme on the following intriguing blogs - where will you be in five years time?

Miss Sew and So
The Sardine Tin
She Wore it Well
The Ruby Blog

Age can not wither her...

posted on: Thursday, 20 May 2010

I can't really write extensively about ageing yet, as for me it's a process that has only just started to bed in. Clearly if I look at a photo of myself aged 25, I can really see the difference now, a little over ten years later. A lot happened in those ten years; no wonder! I am more conscious of being older rather than of aging. I have a girl who helps me with the children in school holidays; she's a lovely girl, exactly what any mother would want in a daughter. She is precisely half my age! When I see the endless possibilities of her life stretching out ahead (she is in her first year of University now) it almost takes my breath away. She has no idea how many roads there will be to go down, how many choices to be made and how much of it will either pass her by or get decided for her by some other cosmic force.

It is incredible how the age process creeps up, how the laughter lines appear, those tell-tale signs on the skin, grey hairs that need a six week colour cover-up. Certain clothes start to somehow look inappropriate, without really knowing exactly why. Skirts can seem just a touch too short. A preoccupation with comfort over style. WAIT! No, surely not...not that! Isn't the requirement that one always stays 'young at heart'? As is often the case, these things are all in the mind..

Fundamentally though I find there is something empowering about getting older, even with its cruel little reminders in my appearance. I know my mind now, I know what suits me, I have much more confidence than I did ten years ago...so that outweighs a wrinkle or two, surely?


posted on: Wednesday, 19 May 2010

I have been to see the homeopath today. I posted on this once before...it's not something I have really been into until this past year, when I thought I would try it out. The concept of homeopathy is all about achieving balance. It's about describing your symptoms and how you feel about them and then from that, homeopathic remedies are prescribed. It has a lovely apothecary feel to it...

It's a little bit alternative.

I am open to new things, and find the actual process so interesting. I see this lady who is very quiet and mild-mannered and she listens intently to every word I say and then consults her giant leather-bound homeopathy books. I come away with these tiny white pills that I am instructed to take at intervals. Even when I think there is nothing really the matter with me, she can draw out what I am feeling in a quite startling way. Today we talked alot about how I felt about my daughter and how her worries became my worries. We talked alot about teeth - don't get me started. We talked about modern life and stress and balance.

I was explaining how busy I have been and the pressure I put on myself to manage every element of my life to the highest degree. Work, house, wife-ing, Mummy-ing; staying on top of it all, all the time. She said '...what would happen if you didn't do all of that?' I stuttered '...well that would be bad.' She said '...what would happen?' I hesitated, not sure what exactly would happen. What would happen? Ummm, I would not excel at work. OK. The house would be untidy. OK. My husband might not have his dinner cooked. OK. The kids might be 5 minutes late for school. OK.

Would any of the above prompt the end of the world? No.

So - it's thought-provoking, for sure. Why all the pressure? Why not just chill?

I know I have said this before, but exactly what is it that is driving me on? I suspect deep down that it is all me and not the dozen other external factors that I think it is. Maybe I should just sit still for a while and just...be.

images from are so happy

'Blog-shaped hole'...

posted on: Tuesday, 18 May 2010

So bear with me while I explain this analogy. There is a fairly well-known book by a British writer called Allison Pearson called 'I Don't Know How She Does It'. Aside from the fact that the book is a bit of an ode to my life - working mother, school-run guilt, two children; a girl and boy, there is a description in it that always stuck with me. In the book the heroine has a virtual 'fling' with a work colleague and she describes him as a hole in her life that she didn't know needed filling, until she filled it with him.

This, rather bizarrely is how I think of blogging.

Before now, I never knew there was a blog-shaped hole in my life. But blogging has been like putting a mirror up to everything...it has made me think. Alot. And in a good way...

I have told very few people about my new habit. I still consider myself a new blogger. I still think it's surreal that a bunch of people 'follow' me. I still delight in the new and very lovely friends I have made. I still feel quite pleased with myself when I publish a good (in my opinion) post. I still LOVE getting comments (a little too much I suspect!).

I still marvel at how much cleverness and beauty there is lurking in the blog world and consider how close I came to completely missing out on it. I still love that when I think of something to say, there is someone to say it to. I still think it's cool that friends drop by and say 'hi'. I still am struck by how nice it is to write again...haven't done that, for fun, since school.

I love that I can appreciate the seasons from the other side of the world as my blogging friends describe them (when it's Spring here, it's Autumn in Australia). I love that there are now some blogs I have discovered which I can liken to reading a really good book or getting my favourite magazine delivered in the post.

I  think most of all that it's just lovely that anyone is interested in me and my baggage! Long may it last...

House party...

posted on: Sunday, 16 May 2010

I do love a good party. We really must get out more. In slightly more youthful (pre-children?) days there were so many parties that I never appreciated the true joy of a perfect one! Now there are a proliferation of 40th birthday parties, the same ilk as those I recall my parents going to. Tinged with a 'how did we get so old?' sensation of grown-up reality; we are incredulous at how mature we all are. There is also something marvellous about 40th birthdays. For many of our friends we are exactly where we want to be. Children slightly older, life regaining its freedom, sleep and more buoyant finance. Many hard decisions made and reconciled. The angst of how we appear to the world seems to have passed. We are replete. Traumas, for that night at least, were all gone away.

For me, there were last minute wardrobe doubts and a u-turn change of dress at the final moment. Despite that, it was so the right outfit in the end, (the LBD triumphs again) and I love it when that happens! There were a wonderful group of friends, old and newer, food and wine, nostalgic 80's music, a few drunken occurrences that were side-splittingly funny at the time. Tears of laughter. Dancing. A midnight swim for some; very warm pool, very cool night. More wine. A belated small-hours home-coming, sneaking in to a house all asleep. And today, that familiar hungover weightiness peppered with smiles and memories of a great, great night. I just had so much fun.

My chosen profession...

posted on: Wednesday, 12 May 2010

My work at the moment is crazy-busy. I think I mentioned it. I am working on this uber project that is just, well, manic. So it did get me thinking about why on earth I chose this profession. I work for a massive company, I advise people on how to do stuff with employees. I try to keep the company from being taken to court basically. It's niche. It's challenging. I like it, been doing it for years. But really - how did I get here?

If I were to choose - I have always fancied being a florist. What a lovely thing to be surrounded by flowers. To spend time making up bouquets for brides or pretty arrangements. This appeals to me. But then there must be a lot of early starts, flower markets at dawn, quite pressing deadlines (wedding at 3pm) and what happens when the flowers starts to droop or die? That would just make me sad.

Then I think: book shop. Just like 'The Shop Around the Corner' in 'You've Got Mail'. Kathleen Kelly's little slice of wonderful childhood nostalgia...'Ballet Shoes' by Noel Streatfield anyone? I am quite attached to books - being surrounded by them would suit me fine. I would make it all white-washed loveliness and indulge every one of my childhood memories...it would drip with sentimentality.

I do think its slightly odd how things turn out. You know when you are a child and people ask you what you want to be when you are grown up? I don't think I ever would have said '...well, I would like to be part of a corporate giant and spend my time advising people how to do stuff all day'. Yet I do love my job and what it gives me. So I am not complaining. But for those who do manage to combine the pleasure of books and flowers in their day and get paid for it - I have a little, tiny bit of envy for them!

Boo's day...

posted on: Tuesday, 11 May 2010

In some areas of life I have mental strength. I am consistently strict with my kids about manners, bedtime and saying 'please and thank you'. I have the bizarre resolve to tidy my house over and over and over again, despite the fact I am the only one who seems to care. In my job I may repeatedly explain the relevance of 'vicarious liability' (that one's for you Natasha!) to corporate executives and manage to make it sound interesting. If there is a pair of shoes I really want, I will 'think think think' about them like Winnie the Pooh on his thinking spot until there is nothing left to do but purchase them...

There have been times in the past, in darker days, when I have had the strength to think myself happy. My friend P and I used to say we circled the 'black hole' in those darker days (I am talking newborn babies and zero sleep) and peered just over the edge into the abyss, only to find the resolve to turn and walk away rather than to leap in. So that black hole became just a little, much less significant dot behind me.

But there are other areas where the strength vanishes and I turn to mush. My husband has the capacity to turn me to mush for lots of other reasons... But the key thing for upsetting the cart is the happiness (or unhappiness) of the Boos. If they are not happy, frankly life just doesn't work for me. This is hardly new news; most mothers would say the same about their respective Boos.

But these past weeks the mush-making capacity has come to the forefront. Not in a dramatic, life-threatening way; just in a peripheral, 'be aware' sort of way. My daughter is away and the anxiety of being away from home affected Boo in a way that made her completely not herself.

So today I get my girl back...

Today is her 9th birthday. But she is not here! I sit here this morning, but not with an excited birthday wake-up of tousled, morning hair and hastily unwrapped presents! She returns later from being away for the first time in her little life and can I just say: Oh Dear God, how much I have missed her! To have my Boo not at home on her birthday...well it's like my universe is out of kilter.

So I will this afternoon welcome home my darling, vibrant, funny, beautiful 9 year old daughter on her birthday and delight in getting my girl back...her old happy self.

What to wear?

posted on: Monday, 10 May 2010

Oh, what to wear? How to decide each day? What makes good style? When growing up, I would spend long summer holidays in Denmark. When shopping there I'd see that the children's clothes were quirky, unusual; fundamentally different to the ones at home. My Mum would always say '...don't you want to be a bit different to everyone else?' Back then I would agree, embracing the difference, but then we would get home and I would feel mildly ashamed of my unusual clothes, I could not carry it off. I just wanted to fit in and be like everyone else. Of course, I grew up and realised that being different is not a bad thing and clothes are a way to project yourself, depending on your mood.

Somehow that echo of my Mum's advice sounds out now and permeates the way I shop and choose clothes. For me, being different is very much tied up in my personal style. Yet I broadly conform to the standard 'uniforms' of my Mummy and Work lifestyles. But I am always looking for the little quirks that change an outfit from standard to non-standard.

That eye for detail makes me hanker after certain things...soft, muted cotton scarves, red shoes, the 'right' blue denim, a statement coat, the perfect belt, the just-so floral print...whatever it might be! I am constantly scanning for key items in any shop, like a magpie looking for shiny baubles.

It's so in-built in me that I do struggle to understand when women say they are not interested in clothes. I want to say 'why on earth not?' There is just so much to love, so much to desire, such a heady happiness of 'getting it right'. But I do wonder, is that just me? Am I the distinct minority to be saddled with this strange impulse to think about, covet and aquire clothes, shoes and handbags? It's not even necessarily fashion - although I love that too; it's just clothes...dressing up...creating outfits. I make it sound as if I am a complete clothes horse; really not, I am in my PJs by 9pm most nights. Nevertheless I still love clothes. I don't think I am alone in this litle obsession...but you never know...

Cupcake fairies...

posted on: Friday, 7 May 2010

Do you recall that scene in 'Titanic' where the ship-maker chap eases himself onto the lifeboat, even though it's reserved for women and children, and his face is just a picture of shame? On a magnificiently smaller level I had my own 'walk of shame' this week. Picture this: my children's school; a requirement to bring undecorated cupcakes, to be iced as part of a special visit, from a well-known British TV programme. I had not had time to make my cupcakes. By the time I had remembered to even get said cupcakes, Waitrose (lovely grocers) was shut. Cupcakes were purchased from the local corner shop which stocks every imaginable item on its packed shelves as long as it's the long-life version. Cupcakes could have walked out on their own considering the amount of preservatives they had in them.

Whilst I was hoping to drop off cupcakes at school in secrecy, I instead ran straight into the uber mother. This mother is a cupcake master. Her cupcakes (nestled sweetly in gingham wrappers in a Nigella cake tin) were the talk of the school at the summer fair. In one glance she heralded in me that spine-tingling motherly shame of having brought shop-bought cupcakes. Why oh why did I not make my own? Why did I not (even better) enlist the help of my Mum, who is another cupcake extraordinaire to make some for me?

Why is it that these little things have that way of making me feel - like I could have done better? Hmm sensing a theme here - see previous post! Another mother commiserated and said '...yes, but you are working...' as if that excused my lapse. The thing is, even if I weren't working I may still have forgotten this crucial activity.

So to all you wonderful cupcake makers out there (there is atleast one I know of here) - next time I have a need like this...can I please enlist your help? Maybe we could get some shipped in? I'm sure they travel well...I think I need a lifeboat ;-)

Like mother, like daughter...

posted on: Thursday, 6 May 2010

My daughter worries. As for me, I have to admit I am exactly the same. I have just learned to control it. People who know me well say I am not happy unless I have something to worry about. In fact it's true that after something big has passed that I have invested time worrying about, I do feel almost bereft afterwards, a little lost. Relieved yes, but (this sounds completely bizarre) a bit lonesome once my worry has left me.

Back to my daughter; a few years ago when she was about seven, my stepmother died suddenly of bowel cancer. This was the first time that my daughter had really ever entertained the prospect that people die. As in people we knew; people we loved. It sent her into a complete spin and for a few months that summer, I had a dose of proper parental worry. Not the kind where you think you know a way to fix it, but the kind where you really have no clue how to fix it. How do you give your seven year old their peace of mind back? Over time of course, she got better, she learned to deal with the prospect of loosing people and the rawness of that particular loss faded; for her atleast.

Now she and I, we rub along in the same way. Worrying day to day about some little things and some big. But this week we both have some bigger worries. She has a residential school trip where she will spend two nights away. I have finally (I think) got to the bottom of the tooth ache problem; it's my wisdom tooth and it has got to come out, err as in be forcibly removed from my mouth - ouch. Now, I am an adult, I understand that worrying about these two eventualities is futile. It won't make my bad tooth heal and it won't lessen the trauma of that first time away from home for an home-loving child. But still.

The thing to do is to think: this time next week it will all be done. So we shall be counting down til then...when we might be worry-free again...

House wifery...

posted on: Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A bit like touch-typing...I never realised how important house wifery was going to be in life. In some pseudo-feminist haze, I drifted along thinking I would never need to type like a secretary or keep house like I was from the 1950's. Now I find, email is everything and working for a multinational corporation, the faster you type, the better. Life moves pretty fast, you've got to be able to keep up. Likewise on the home front, the long lost skills of proper house wifery really do seem to be the answer to happiness!

As recently confessed, I only learned to cook in my 30s. But I have always liked things tidy at home. Pre-children this involved lazy Saturday mornings, pottering around, tidying our little flat or town house; really more styling than cleaning. Now with my messy brood, our house can go from spotless to bomb-has-hit in about ten minutes - trust me, I have timed it. I spend ridiculous amounts of time tidying up, organising, sorting, folding, piling, wiping; it goes on and on. I realise now that being a good house wife is the key to a harmonious life. There seems to be unrefutable evidence that if things are organised, life runs smoothly. List after list of 'to do's' get ticked off, the children have what they need, homework completed, meals planned, food is not wasted, admin gets done, bills paid and invites RSVP'ed. Husband drops in and out in the working week like a satellite and all is an oasis of calm.

I am all for being the retro Cath Kidston aproned Mummy, baking cupcakes in the Aga (actually we have a Rayburn; it's the 'poor man's' Aga!). Revelling in my cabbage rose adorned, kitchen-is-the-heart-of-the-home lifestyle. Come to my farmhouse and it looks just like that, maybe minus the cupcakes...

But finding that balance of house wifery with the reality of 2010 life is a challenge. One that I try day after day to rise to. And I still type using three fingers and a misguided thumb...ummm, time for a cuppa tea?

Country girl...

posted on: Tuesday, 4 May 2010

So we went for a walk by the river. The same river that I used to walk by as a child, just near the place where I grew up. You see, I have lived in this town since I was five years old. When I was about eleven, I guess, I would go on my bike (a boy's 'chopper' bike, it was black and could carry two with ease!) with my best friend and we would paddle in this river, spending hours catching newts and playing 'pooh sticks'. Now I take my children there and we do the same, some twenty five years later. It's lovely and poignant.

I am a country girl at heart. I do love cities, love visiting them, seeing the life and the buzz of it, but on the whole I am much happier walking rolling hills. Whenever I go to London I am stunned at how many people there are, how much activity; where are they all going? Day or night it's awash with people. I am always struck at the fact that this vibrant city-life is taking place all the time whilst I am snuggled up in my 'country mouse' dwelling, far from the madding crowd.

I wonder - should I participate more in it? Instead I live vicariously through lovely blogs like the delectable Emily's London Zest which points to coffee bars and florists and shops that I might never see.

I realise how times have changed since my childhood. I would disappear all day then, back in time for tea; roaming around in woods and by rivers. Never alone, but from my recollection not with adults. Now - would I allow my daughter to do that? Not in a million years! But for my children to have the chance to re-trace my footsteps is quite special and rare in this world. They just do so with me by their side...brimming with nostalgia all the way.

How pretty is she?

After she's gone...

posted on: Sunday, 2 May 2010

You know how you have some friendships where you stay friends, despite distance or life changes or differing opinions? And no matter how long its been since you saw each other, you just slip back in the comfortableness of friendship when you catch up? And then there are those other friendships where, even though at one time in your life you were as close as can be, you then drifted and instead when you see each other there is that awkwardness. Where you both realise that whatever it was that made you friends has now passed?

I had a friendship with someone years back, and now I don't see her anymore. Over time, something just went wrong with us. She was one of those friends who, in the nicest possible way, was like a wolf in sheep's clothing. There was alot of sweetness and light but deep down, she disapproved of me and what I was about and so every now and then these barbs would come out. When you have friends who you can grow with, there can be acknowledgement that you are different people, but that's OK as there is respect for that difference. But disapproval is a more complex thing.

With her there was this weightiness associated with the 'pleasantries' of friendship that I reserve for acquaintances instead of good friends. By this I mean for example, correspondence, thank you notes, thank you notes for thank you notes; that spiralling etiquette of women, where forgetting a coffee morning, or a belated birthday wish for one of the children or not being quick enough to respond to an email becomes more defining than the friendship itself. She used to make me feel like a bad person. When really I was just a naive young working mother, struggling to find my new place in life.

So in the end, we gradually extracted ourselves from knowing each other well. Over time we were less obliged to continue.

I now surround myself with friends who make me feel good about myself and who don't fret if I miss a date in calendar... and that's just so much better. Really I have learned, life's too short for anything else... :-)

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