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A Year

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 A year - a long time and no time at all.  This last strange year has often felt stalled, coming round again and again, living in the groundhog day of lockdowns and restrictions but when I lift my head and really look at it I can see what a lot has changed and how far we have come. This time last year we were living in our old house on the hill, waiting to exchange contracts on our sale, surrounded with boxes of books and china. And exactly a year ago today it had snowed.  We walked up to the top of the hills and tried out our snow shoes and were amazed by how beautiful the white world was. And then in February we moved.  It was sort of a wrench to leave the lovely old house and it sort of wasn't.  The fact that the new house was beginning to emerge from the mudbath of the building plot was so interesting and so exciting that it felt right.  It felt time to move on and shape the new stage of life and we knew that in our old house's new owner, we were leaving it in good hands. H

Changing seasons

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I always was and I remain a lover of spring.  I love the lengthening days, the growing warmth, snowdrops, cyclamen and the daffodils standing in breeze.  And most of all I love the point when spring begins to turn to summer in May.  There is nothing more glorious than the dazzling intensity of May's green, the new leaves bright against the blue sky, blossom falling over itself, birds rushing in and out of the hedgerows intent on the overwhelming need to grow their chicks.  I just love it.   I was a late comer to the joys of autumn.  For years and years even the glories of September seemed to me to be shadowed by the knowledge that summer had gone, winter was coming, days were shortening, things were dying.  It was a friend whose enthusiasm for autumn encouraged me to try to see it differently.  There is a quality of light principally in October which suffuses everything with a gentle gold.  There is a beauty in grasses in autumn, shimmering and holding the light.  There is a vividn

New House update

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One of the striking things about having a new house built is that it is not a linear process.  Rather than following an even curve. slowly growing week by week, it moves in leaps and bounds followed by periods of inactivity.  We seem to be having a leaps and bounds period right now so I thought it would be a good time to record where we are up to. The whole structure is up now, with the roof on, but with no windows.  There has been a bit of a delay with the windows but we hope to have them installed by mid November.  This will make an amazing difference to the house, both from the point of view of making it watertight and of giving it some soul.  If the eyes are the windows to the soul in a person, the windows are a huge part of  what gives a house character and personality.  I can't wait to see them. Inside the stud work is up for the walls.  Ian is standing here in what will be our bedroom looking down across the landing, which runs like a bridge across the double height hall, to

Thinking about travelling again

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Months and months ago we booked a ferry from Plymouth to Roscoff.  Our son and his family were going to be in France and we decided we would take the campervan and go and visit them.  It all seemed very up in the air and like something that could not possibly happen.  At the time it was not possible either to go specifically to France or to travel at all in and out of the UK.  The rules kept changing, switching about and moving like shifting sands under your feet.  In the end I decided that I wouldn't keep checking and trying to keep up with whether or not it would be possible to go.  We would just park the whole idea.  We would wait until we were much nearer the time and then, with only a couple of weeks to go, we would be able to see if it would happen.  It was just a dream. So here we are and it looks as if we can go.  France is letting in people from the UK who are double vaccinated.  The UK is at last allowing people returning or coming in from France not to quarantine if they

Exercise and getting older

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I was never a sporty kid. I looked as if I should have been sporty but I wasn't.   I didn't like games and had no ball skills to speak of.  I hated hockey and the clattering clash of sticks that made your teeth shake.  I was never last to be chosen for netball because there was the heavy fat girl and the girl who could hardly see.  I could run and I could see so I was generally the third last to be chosen.  My problem was that I really was not interested so could be relied upon to be looking the other way when the ball was passed to me or not to be in the right place when I should have been helping someone to take a shot at goal.  I spent my tennis lessons sunbathing and reading by the court.  I could swim but not really well.  I could run but not very quickly.  As a teenager I read and dreamed and lived in my head. So it is something of a surprise to find that now I am in my sixties I do really quite a lot of exercise.  For the last two or more years, since doing the Couch to

Building a house

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 I have just been for coffee after yoga outside in a friend's garden.  We were catching up after our last week away and I was telling her about the progress which my sister and her husband are making on building their house (a real with their own hands sort of build) when another friend said "You mean you and your sister are both having new houses built?  That's odd!  I don't know anyone other than you who is building a new house and then there are two of you from the same family!  How did that happen?" I hadn't thought about it as an oddity but I suppose I see what she meant.  And as to how did that happen, I am not really sure! I am not even sure who began the whole process.  I know that my brother in law, who is an intensely practical man and an electrical contractor by trade, has always wanted to build his own house.  I know that Ian and I have always been interested in houses and that for some years we had the idea that building a new house might the one

Summer

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 I love summer.  I love longer days and sitting outside.  I love sunshine and flowers.  This summer is a strange one, living in a rented house amid the uncertainty and stagnation of the pandemic.  Here is a record of a day for when all this is behind us. I wake naturally, without an alarm at about half past seven.  This is one of the great pleasures and privileges of being older.  After years of being woken by children or the demands of work when the morning was a frantic time of juggling and school bags, of taking the dog out and leaping in the car, using the journey to connect with work, always feeling rushed and on overdrive, these days I wake quietly.  Ian usually gets up first and makes himself a cup of coffee and me a pot of tea.  I drink it quietly in bed, reading the paper on my ipad.  The road where we live is quiet too.  From here we can hear the church bells striking and they might call me to get up. Going downstairs here is very different from coming down at our old house.