Driving, stretching, knitting, baking, being alive

Did I tell you we bought a Landrover?  There is a justification for a four by four vehicle up here on our hill and we also need something from time that will tow the trailer.  I test drove one (not a new one, an oldish one!) to establish that I was happy to drive it, we bought it and then very conspicuously I did not drive it at all.  I am not generally a driving wimp.  I happily drive on motorways and up and down the country and in all sorts of weather conditions.  So why wasn't I driving it?  I think I was just a little bit nervous that I would meet someone coming up our single track steep hill and, instead of merrily reversing up hill, down hill or around the corners,  as I do in the cars, I would make an idiot of myself.  But Ian is away working at our son's house in Manchester today so I had the Landy and, without anyone to watch me, it was time to have a go.  And it was totally fine, although I did not have to reverse downhill around a corner so perhaps it was not a true test.  It is good to be so high as you drive, peering over hedges and seeing our world from a different angle, fields full of sheep waiting to lamb.

First of all to yoga class where the wonderful Patti smooths us out and calms us down and makes my shoulders a little less like a block of wood.  I imagine that all the driving we are doing up and down to see my father is not helping my shoulders but as I can't do much about that I can make a big effort to stretch out my shoulder muscles.  I try to tell myself I will do the exercises at home by myself but it is surprisingly difficult to discipline oneself to do it and impossible to do any yoga exercise at home half as well as I do it under Patti's careful and sympathetic eye.

Then shopping, baking and a little wander about in the gently lengthening day.


Trees and hedges are still bare and stark but there is something about the quality of the light which says it is not too far from spring.  The sheep will be out in the fields in a little while but for now they are lower down closer to the farms.


I sit on my newly covered window seat to check my phone.  How long have I been planning a proper seat here?  Oh just the nine years or so.  No idea what took me so long.


A message comes through from my daughter in law thanking me for a little jacket I have just knitted for youngest grandson.  He is so round and smiley, like a baby from a picture book.


Outside the snowdrops are out.  It must be nearly time for the annual and anal snowdrop count.  Every year it proves to me that my snowdrops are indeed spreading and running their rivers of snow out across the garden.  I don't feel anal enough today and the wind has a keen, cold edge to it that sends me scuttling inside.

In the kitchen it is warm and full of the glorious smell of baking lemon cake.  There are tulips on the table, a gift from some lovely friends who came to see us earlier in the week.


At the moment Ian is reading "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande, a Christmas present from me.  You may feel this is something of a morbid present but I don't.  I heard the author give one of the Reith lectures and admired his honesty, intelligence and compassion.  Here is a review if you want to know more.  The book examines our attitudes to ageing and death and looks at how the ending of life matters.  Is it the awareness of our own mortality that sharpens our perceptions?  It is a truism I suppose.  But somehow today, despite the losses of the last year or so as both my mother and Ian's father have died and despite the ongoing difficulty of my father's illness and decline, sitting on the window seat I found myself suddenly profoundly content, feeling the pale winter sun coming through the window, the tulips bright in the vase, the scent of the cake filling the room.   Life is good.

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”


― William Morris


Comments

  1. Yes ! Love that William Morris quote.

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    1. It is a corker and for me at any rate it works.

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  2. Land Rover girl at heart here, grew up with them to the point that I didn't like travelling by car. Always feel safe in a Land Rover, and so much fun off~roading in them too! {designated areas, naturally}

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    1. You do feel safe don't you and you have this wonderful view of the land. I have seen over hedges since we bought ours which have been inpenetrable for years.

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  3. ours is yellow. (I am a wimp, have got out of the habit of driving, and am battling to get back INTO the habit)
    Stiff shoulders - my rheumatologist gave me a simple exercise - five minutes in the morning while my third cupertea draws. Works wonders!

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    1. I sympathise about the stiff shoulders. That is my problem too. I find copious amounts of yoga is a real help.

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  4. Life is good, despite all that it tries to throw in the path of contentment. I'm planning a window seat in the newly refurbished study so am looking very enviously at yours. It may yet take me nine years, but like you I will get there.

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    1. I always loved window seats as a child and they are particularly good here because in an old house with thick walls window seats are little oases of light.

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  5. Details, Details...you sure have a lot of lovely ones.

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    1. Details matter and that sits perfectly well with the whole idea of not sweating the small stuff in my view.

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  6. Elizabeth, what a lovely post this is, full of a variety of details.

    Your little grandson is adorable, and obviously is enjoying his handsome new jacket very much.

    Your mentioning your window seat took me right back to when I was about five years old, and my family lived in an old house that had a windowseat. It became my favorite spot to sit and read my very first books on my own. It's a very happy memory.

    Truly, I enjoyed reading about everything in the post, and have only just picked out a few of the details upon which to comment. xo

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    1. Thank you Frances. Funny how something like a window seat can play such a part in childhood, or adulthood for that matter!

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  7. Loving that landscape and ... not a bit of snow! so gorgeous.. and flowers blooming... so lucky!!!
    you did a wonderful job on the seat cover too.

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    1. Now you mention the seat cover I shall have to point out in that hopeless self critical way that I had intended to pattern match and only realised that I hadn't when I had already cut it! I have decided it is such lovely material that I like it anyway but you know, counsel of perfection...

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  8. I loved little "round and smiley," wonderful sweater granny made for him too.
    Snowdrops, . . . such a pretty flower . . .
    Happy you "took charge: and tried out the Landover . . .
    I must return to yoga . . . thanks for the encouragement.

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    1. I am not a snowdrop collector, not a real galanthophile. What I love is the impact of huge numbers of the same one, in our case simply the common nivalis. I haven't quite got to huge numbers yet but I am working on it!

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  9. What a beautiful view in that photo. I used to have a landy and loved it, only sold it on when we didn't need it any more. L learnt to drive in it round the fields aged 9 and perched on a cushion :o)

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    1. I had better not tell just about to be nine year old grandson that or he will be keen to have a go!

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  10. Lovely post, as usual Elisabeth - though I'm having horrible problems trying to comment on it. Hopefully this will work, because I'm trying to tell you how wonderfully full of spring I found your post, from yoga to snugglywarm babies...

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    1. No problem with the comment at this end! you are another lover of spring I know. Can't come soon enough for me!

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  11. William Morris knew what he was talking about didn't he.

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    1. He did, in this as in other things. In fact I like this quote even more than the ubiquitous "useful and beautiful" one.

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  12. A lovely post & how lovely to feel so contented. It is always a wonderful feeling when you find yourself thinking 'Yes I am content'. The increase of light levels has made all the difference I think, it has made me want to be outside more & more!

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    1. I agree about the impact of the increase in light levels. I always feel better with longer and brighter days.

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  13. Great post. Big cars scare me, I think the biggest car I've ever driven is my Mazda 3.

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    1. Now I have always been a fan of bigger cars. I like the solidity!

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  14. I. WANT. A. LANDROVER. BLUE. SHORT WHEELBASE. Just in case the Universe is reading this!

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  15. So many details to enjoy here and much nodding in agreement. I often wonder why I have taken so long to get around to quite simple improvements. I am enjoying a smiley grand daughter and your grandson looks adorable in his jacket. I am very slowly knitting a stripy jumper. I too wonder why I cant do my Pilates exercises without going to a class. I must know how to do them by now but cannot sustain even 10 minutes of solo effort. I miss having a high seated car, especially for navigating country lanes but will never be a Landrover owner.

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    1. Oddly I find that it is the often the really simple stuff that I just don't bother with for ages. Then I finally do it and am bemused with myself for what a difference it makes.

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  16. Yoga - I haven't tried it for over 30 years. I think it might be time for another go at it. My shoulders are rock hard and inching toward my ears.
    Good for you for taking hold of the new steering wheel. I'm all for conquering old fears. I'll have a look at some of my own. That makes two bits of encouragement from your post - and the gift of that wonderful William Morris quote. Thank you!

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    1. Without yoga my shoulders turn to a brick! Really recommend it.

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  17. Love my 4 wheel drive-it's a Toyota RAV4. There are many times during our winters that I am very glad of the 4x4. As we are both retired we don't, very often, have to go out when the weather (snow/ice) is really bad but when I was still working it was a godsend! I love your snowdrops. I've never seen them growing outside here. We are zone 3 so I think we're a bit too cold for them.

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    1. I love snowdrops too. In fact I love all spring bulbs and shortly will be waxing lyrical about daffodils!

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  18. Oh how true William Morris' saying! Will have to copy it and hang it on the fridge. Love your window seat. I used to own a Land Rover (1965!) and always thought it a beast. I am sure they have improved. I was already an American and will not tell you what I was told about it as it might insult a Brit :-).

    Love those snowdrops! Bulbs don't live here, they are eaten by wildlife, and I miss them.

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    1. I think Landrovers are a bit of a beast but they are also wonderfully sturdy workhorses. And living up here you know you will never be stuck!

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  19. You do if the right sort of country for a Land Rover. They seem out of place in cities. What an adorable grandson! You have a wide focus on the full spectrum of life; this is good. Thanks for sharing your tulips and snowdrops. It will be months before we seem them in Maine.

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    1. You have a long hard winter over there in Maine. There are beauties in both climates I think.

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  20. I've bookmarked this title, thank you -- on the must-read list. This post so resonates with me, having just learned that a good friend has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. And yet there is beauty all around, grandchildren (your grandson is clearly a delight!) spring flowers, restorative activities. . . . What a spectrum!

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    1. I think you would find the book fascinating Frances. I hope you get to read it. I am still waiting for my turn as Ian has it by his side of the bed!

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  21. My eldest as a Land Rover Defender and adores it - very Farmer Giles. Apparently they are stopping making them soon so they will become harder and harder to find and more valuable.

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    1. And Landrovers run for ever I am told. We shall see!

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  22. Such lovely countryside you live in. In the photo of the rolling hills felt like I could take a deep breath and smell spring on the air! (Here in Pennsylvania, we're still buried under snow with temps below 0.)

    Your grandson is adorable! :)

    ~Laurie

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    1. It is very lovely up here in spring and early summer particularly. I would have to find another way of spending my time if I lived with very long winters!

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  23. There's beauty in so much - guess we just need to slow down to start seeing it. And yes, Landrovers do provide a great vantage point for admiring the landscape (just keep your eye on the road!)

    Love your little smiley one - great cardigan by the way. I'm moving on to sun dresses - which is one of the good things about little girls. By the time the sun comes out I may have mastered the art.

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    1. Sundresses are great! I imagine your little one will look delightful in hers.

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  24. 'Being Mortal' is a great book and one to keep by. Very wise and sane. And lovely when contentment arrives like a blessing. Xxx

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