This morning I woke up feeling very down and old, which wasn’t helped by the low sun shining into the window of my bathroom showing up the saggy skin on my neck.
As a side note, I have discovered this firming neck and bust gel stuff from Asda. Cheap as chips but it really seems to work. At least temporarily, which is all I want, really. Next stop plastic surgery!
So I slathered that on and zoink! The skin tightened up beautifully so I didn’t have to spend the rest of the day with my head tipped back and neck stretched.
The good news is it is half term so not only do I not have to do the school run for a week – yay! – I get to move out of school accommodation and head back out to my real home which is an old, falling down place in the middle of nowhere. Bliss.
The best thing about the place is that although the house itself is fairly small, it has a lovely big garden. I’m not much of a gardener, but I love a garden. Luckily because we can holiday let the house when I am at work, the rent covers a couple of gardeners (my best mate Guy’s Mum and Dad) to come and keep it under control when we aren’t there.
This morning was unbelievably cold (Rob doesn’t believe in heating the place – we just wear jumpers and light log fires) but gorgeously sunny. The sky was blue and the air crisp and clear, which, as always makes me think of one of my favorite George Herbert poems.
I was feeling miserable. The day before I had stayed resolutely low-carb and by supper time was feeling strong and focused. I made an amazing round of fajitas (even if I say so myself) which were delicious and low carb.
All was well until I was overwhelmed at about 9pm with an uncontrollable frenzy for toast! I couldn’t go too mad as there wasn’t much food in the house. So no marmalade, jam or honey. The only thing I could find was maple syrup so I poured a bit over buttered toast and chowed down on that.
It was drippy, but it was delicious.
So I was having a ‘I hate myself and my crap food choices’ morning and going into the kitchen didn’t help either. Rob had gone to work and the children had been left to fend for themselves breakfast-wise. The kitchen was in a complete state. There was a full bag that had been taken out of the bin AND LEFT NEXT TO THE BIN, piles of dirty dishes had been left on top of the empty dishwasher and the dog had frolicked all over the newly washed floor with very muddy paws.
Feeling miserable, resentful and hard done by – and a bit fat – I stomped outside in my pyjamas and wellies to dispose of the full bin bag.
Oh what a glorious morning it was. (Isn’t that a hymn?) I ended up wandering around with the dog, breathing in the fresh, cold air and feeling my shoulders drop and my little scrunched-up-cross-face start to smooth out. Despite the cold, tiny hints of spring were everywhere. Dog was very happy. She loves crunching on ice and there was a rich seam of it in the garden which I broke up for her.
Dog enjoying a good old crunch on some ice
Tiny little irises (?) in a lovely combination of green and blue are starting to peep through, brightening up this rather bare flowerbed.
The Apricot tree looks really bare but it’s soaking up the morning sunshine as it rests against the warmth of the wall. Tiny little buds are starting to appear.
Last year we managed to grow a grand total of four apricots. Rob watched them grow, mouth watering, head full of dreams of apricot Tarte Tatin grown from our own garden. We waited weeks and weeks for them to be gloriously, beautifully ripe and were ready to pluck them when we discovered a holiday guest had pinched all four of them! Hopefully, better luck this year.
The fig tree is huge but also bare and you can just make out the old figs – which I should have picked off – I spent a happy ten minutes trying to get rid of as many as I could to make way for the new ones.
Through the Secret Garden door, which will soon be covered in flowers from the jasmine, clematis and honeysuckle we have growing here. Can’t wait!
The snowdrops are out and I can see the leaves of the daffodils starting to appear – or Daffy Down Dillies as my grandmother used to call them. Nothing says spring like that wonderful yellow splash of daffodils.
This doesn’t look like much, but this boundary marks the wildflower garden we are hoping is going to grow through this spring and summer. Very butterfly and bee friendly!
The walnut tree was affected by a terrible late frost last year so we haven’t seen any nuts since we moved in. My absolute favourite tree – the Horse Chestnut – is full of lovely, sticky buds.
Before going back to the house – I was pretty cold by this point! – I stopped to say hello to the beautiful tree we planted for James, and I sat quietly by the Acer platanoides or ‘Crimson King’, a ravishing Norwegian maple we planted when Rob’s Dad tragically died last year of Aplastic Anaemia.
Rob’s Dad never saw the new house we bought as he was too ill and died soon after. We miss him dreadfully. Some of his ashes are buried amongst the roots of the tree and we take some comfort from the fact that part of him is here in the garden.
Last year it was stunning, and the rich red of the leaves could be seen from everywhere in the garden. It drew the eye and was a true reflection of his strong and memorable character. It looks a bit bare right now, but I can see the new growth coming through.
When I walked back into the house I felt energised, cold but happy. Dog and I had completely shaken off any bad mood and I no longer felt down about being old, just incredibly grateful to be around and enjoying such a beautiful day.
As the old quote goes: ‘Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative’. I walked into my sunny kitchen where Radio 2 was blasting out ‘I Just Can’t Get Enough’ by Depeche Mode. This made me happy on three levels.
- It’s a great song and I know all the words and dance moves.
- It reminded me of my dad. When I was a teenager (when this came out) he absolutely HATED this song and would moan about it all the time saying how dreadful it was. One day he collected me from school and told me with great satisfaction he had proved how bad the song was by making a note of how many times the band sang ‘and I just can’t get enough’ (which was a lot). To him this was proof that the song was poorly written and unimaginative. It still makes me laugh today thinking about him on the train back from work with his walkman on, earnestly counting off every time Dave Gahan said ‘and I just can’t get enough’
- It also reminded me of the very exciting time when I met Dave Gahan at a parents’ meeting as I taught his son. Gahan was absolutely charming and wore leather trousers and eye-liner; I nearly fainted with the glamour of it all.
Life is good.