Overload

Sometimes the weeks are just too full. I like having too much to do and I have often suspected that one of the things that forms part of the mutual attraction between my husband and me is that we both have a tendency to bite off more than we can chew. It's good to be married to a fellow sufferer who is up for all sorts and doesn't think you are mad or tiring.

However, it can get out of hand. This week for example started with an intense gardening weekend followed by a Sunday afternoon and evening driving all over the place visiting ailing family. Monday was, as usual, looking-after-two-year-old-grandson-day, lovely and exhausting in almost equal measure. On Tuesday I caught the train to London, having fed cats and chickens, filled bird feeders, written notes, packed bags and charged mobiles. After work I was meeting Ian, who was also in London for a couple of days, and going to Kensington for a meal with a friend who normally lives in France. He has bought a little flat as their pied a terre in London which is about as beautiful and perfectly finished and formed as a little flat can be. We ate a lovely meal and drank fine wine in luxurious surroundings. The evening whizzed away and soon it was time to leap in a taxi and zoom off to Finsbury Park to stay with younger daughter.

The alarm went the next morning as far as I could tell while I was still putting my pajamas on. A work day in Canary Wharf full of ten person conference calls and wall to wall meetings passed in a blur, like the view from a train window. At one point I went to the lavatory just to sit down for a minute. At six I jumped on a tube to go to see the Tutenkhamun exhibition in what was the Milennium dome, followed by a pub meal. In a determined, push the boat out attempt to get back to younger daughter's flat early enough for some sleep we ordered a taxi. The driver got hopelessly lost following his satnav, we crossed the river three times and a forty minute journey took an hour and a half.

Thursday again dawned after a three minute sleep and Canary Wharf beckoned. Fabulous views from the 38th floor; meeting; handshakes; meeting; coffee; Cadbury's cream eggs brought by a young colleague whose energy and enthusiasm lights up the day. I am only working to lunchtime and I am determined to get home in daylight which means that I can't catch the through train. I am telling another colleague about my journey home which will take four hours and involve two changes of train and I can see her total incomprehension. Why does having forty minutes at home in daylight matter a shake of a dog's tail? I don't try to explain. It's a country thing. I want to check my chickens, look for signs of badger incursion, see if the later daffodils are coming out under the quince tree, bring in the logs while I can still see where I am going. Amazingly I do all that and still get to Welsh class. I fall into bed at half past nine and sleep the sleep of the truly exhausted.

This morning the sun woke me at around half past six. I dozed and drifted, warm in my bed. At eight I got up and padded about the house in my giant dressing gown and furry slippers. Light was pouring in everywhere. The walls are feet thick and the windows small but when the morning sun is bright the light dances on the walls and reflects from mirrors and pictures. Bodran was coming for lunch today. I let the chickens out. After three days in their run, cared for by a friend but confined, they practically bounced with excitement when they saw me coming across the kitchen garden. The run is grassy and, according to everything we have read about space per bird, quite generous, but they like to be out, scratching, sitting under hedges, wandering about under the trees, making dust baths and the cockerel flying up to sit crowing on the tops of gates. When I let them out they ran like cartoon chickens, clucking and muttering, to the wooded area behind the house and settled down for a really good rummage amongst the twigs and leaves. As I went back inside one said just loud enough to hear "About bloody time too".

I made soup but when Jo came we decided to take a long circular walk with a lunch at the craft centre at the bottom of our hill which is about half an hour away on slow foot. Jo is a great person to walk with: she sees the first wood anenomes and notices the strange sculptures which are made by mature ivy thickly twining on bare trees. In a few weeks they will have disappeared under foliage. We climbed over stiles and walked down the track which in summer is a sunken green tunnel. Now there is light and openness and you can see the views out across the valley. At the bottom of the track we turned and walked along the side of the river, rushing clear and swift, almost too small to be a river but more than a stream or a brook. In Welsh river is Afon, pronounced Avon. One of the many words used in English which are Celtic in origin.

We walked slowly along the wide flat grassy path which was once a railway line and along to the craft centre. It is always busy, all these retired people drinking coffee and eating cake. Looks great, so much to look forward to. We eat a restrained main course and ruin it with coffee cake, knowing that the long haul up the hill will make us feel virtuous. Once home we sit and chat in front of the woodburner until Jo goes at about half five taking seed potatoes and horseradish with her. She has brought me another old map of our area. There is a chicken casserole in the oven, Ian is on his way home and the weekend is to come. A sane and satisfying day.

Comments

  1. I think I know why you do it.....but how you summon up the energy to do it is another question.

    You describe so well that yearning for the small details of home - don't the Welsh have a word for it? Hireath?

    Perhaps Bodran can tell us.

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  2. You're telling me. Sounds fab - although i was a bit shocked to hear about a chicken casserole in the oven after the loving description of your flock, gaggle or whatever it's called!

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  3. Ah, we don't eat our own chickens. They are layers and they have names!

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  4. I became exhausted reading the first part and then comfortably relaxed on the second. I think I did the right thing escaping to Wales.

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  5. Lovely writing, you took me right along with you on your hectic journey!

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  6. WOW!
    Days of contrasts...always the best.
    Enjoyed reading this! Thanks

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  7. What no mention of boots?? lol
    It was a lovely day and the weather was our friend wasnt it. i'm glad you think i'm good to walk with, i was once told it was like taking a child out! they didn't have children and i didn't whinge or ask to be carried once!so i took it as a complement....see you soon , ps your chucks are really handsome and miscivious i'm tempted to have some..xx

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  8. The peace and comfort of home is always welcome after the buzz and energy of the big city. Nothing like coming home, kicking off heels and putting your wellies on! (Or big furry slippers!)

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  9. In the middle of reading this, prompted by your words I went off to charge my mobile. Technology intrudes even into the lovely world of blogland. I am another who takes on far more than I should. But don't you find that everything has a cycle? If the cycles behaved themselves we could cope easily, but, no, everything has to peak together. One day you have 50 things on the to do list and on another a mere handful. Still you don't get much out of life by sitting on your hands. Great blog.

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  10. You have such a busy and fulfilling life. Glad your afternoon with Jo went well. Our hens are much the same, they go beserk if we let them out a minute past 9.30am! Can't stand to be confined. They love the freedom of the open countryside and fields and farmyard to wander about.

    Crystal xx

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  11. Oh golly, it's funny when you read of someone else who 'likes being busy' and ends up with busy turning into manic; why do we do it? Love the way the story came to such a lovely ending - the chicken casserole cooking away (love having the meal prepared and simmering - always feels like no effort), the woodburner, the chickens scattering and the meeting with Jo all sound wonderful. Hope your weekend is all it promises to be Elizabeth xx

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  12. sounds more than exhausting. Hope you weren't over-charged by that rotter taxi driver, and I can't believe you blamed his adorable satnav for it! I hope you get the chance to do lots of reading on all your train journeys. Have recently read The Secret River by Kate Grenville - about the best of the year before last's bookerlist and perfect for losing yourself in.

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  13. Having been to your absolutely gorgeous home, I completely understand that need for a precious 45 minutes in daylight there.

    I could also picture your chickens charging out in relief - you write about it so clearly.

    Am v jealous of the coffee and cake at the craft centre!x

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  14. I can remeber doing that trip when I worked in London for a while ....once past Birmingham New Street ..its the home strait!Glad you had a lovely walk on Friday ...just wait for the bluebells then we will be round our woods.....

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  15. You must yearn for home when you are running about in the city.

    That last day sounds perfect to me. I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing weekend.

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  16. Wow what a life of contrasts. I wonder could you do the job you do without having your haven to escape to.

    My late Aunt always said that energy breeds energy and in your case that would appear to be very true. You pack alot in and clearly get a huge amount out.

    Oh I too loved the descriptions of your hens and could just see them all keen to get out and do hen type stuff after their enforced stay in their pen. Bit like you all keen to take up the reigns of your life after an enforced stay of work in the city.

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  17. Wow. What a week. It sounds great, actually - fulfilling, exhausting, included chocolate (as you know, close to my heart), and not a nappy change in sight! Beautifully written, too.

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  18. You have had such a hectic time & described it all so beautifully that I felt I had been with you!

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  19. You sound so like me. I love contrasts, althouh sometimes the yearning for home can strike for no apparent reason and then the rest of the meeting is lost on me! I will see those Welsh hills someday ...

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  20. I have never felt so exhausted just reading a post before. Am v impressed, especially with talking chicken.

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  21. I wish I had your energy. Good blog.

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  22. What a full and interesting life you lead, Elizabeth. Very envious of your talking chickens and long walk with Bodran. Somewhat less envious of your 10-person conference calls in Canary Wharf and hour-and-a-half long taxi journeys. You always write so engagingly about your beautiful corner of Wales, it makes me long to come and visit. Lovely reading - like a breath of fresh, Welsh air.

    xx

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  23. You paced this so well! I was exhausted at the start, then padding around your house with you at the end. I know where I'd rather spend my week, you definitely deserved your lunch!
    Pigx

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  24. You take it easy, EM.....that sounds like WAY too much for one woman to do! What was the Tut exhibition like... I remember going when I was at school and my memory is of flashes of gold seen through lots of bodies..... it was SO crowded. Saw them again in Cairo, in the dusty old museum and that was fabulous.
    Lovely catching up on your last few blogs.... How wonderful that Zoe is going to help you with your planning - good choice!
    Ah, I did wonder if the Jo was our Bodran and now see from the comments it was. Love the idea of you two walking, observing, chatting. I hope i can join you one day.... jxxxx

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  25. What a lovely post! You have far more energy than I have. After a day in the office all I want to do when I get home is curl up on the settee and watch something mindless on the television! Before you think, I'm a lazy cow, though -that's what I'd LIKE to do. I do in fact first do all the usual "housewifely" chores and sometimes get my second breath for hobbies and exercise!

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  26. I do so understand your need to get home in daylight! But I'm amazed that you can pack so much into a London trip, I feel exhausted just getting from the station to my hotel and from there to the office!

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  27. I was tired before I read this post - now I think I need medical attention. Busy is fine, but if I have too much to do, I end up flitting from job to job not getting anything done. Quite jealous of you actually.

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  28. Hi

    I have tagged you to do 7 facts about yourself.
    Please come to my 'The Glory Hole' blog for instructions.

    Thanks!

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  29. Hello Elizabeth, I'm sorry I missed this post when it came out. My goodness you have some stamina. Would love to meet up with you all and I have got much better at longer distances since living here. I'm sure Preseli Mags and Cait - Cait? Yes? - would come too.

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  30. I know my hens are always pleased to see me when I have been away. No one else is quite so generous with the corn!!!!

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