I never understand those who are always the same: either always on the go, rushing and achieving and leaving you breathless with their lists and accomplishments, or always idling about, doing very little, very inclined to let you put their kettle on when they want a cup of tea. I have friends of both persuasions and find them lovely but exhausting in their different ways.

The achievers are like living in a wind tunnel. It's all terribly impressive but you can't hear yourself think. The idlers are like living through a veil. In the end it's all too misty and slow and you long to jump up and cry for "For God's sake, just do something!"

I understand both because I am a composite (an adler? an iver?). But I swing about and can be found either curled up by the woodburner reading old copies of Good Housekeeping, wandering through the garden vaguely kicking things or suddenly gripped with a frenzy, throwing off achievements like a toddler throwing off clothes.

Hopeless, idle, drippy, droopy day to day. Yesterday was the last day in a mad achieving couple of weeks. I leapt up early, determined to clean and shine so that the Shropshire crew would see my house at its best, not all covered in spiders' webs and crumbs. At nine o' clock I decided I hadn't bought enough food (I always do this, and with drink too) and whizzed about making soup and pastry for a quiche, picking the last of the courgettes, cleaning up the cat sick. At 11 I was laying the table and by half past I was ready. It was a great day, full of laughter and talk. The weather behaved itself and even the cockerel strutted his stuff as if to order. I should have gone to Welsh last night but at about 7 o' clock the stuffing ran gently out of me and I gave up.

This morning I have been working in a desultory fashion and this afternoon I was going to plant all the lovely things I have waiting, presents from yesterday: agapanthus, japanese anemone, inula, and cyclamen that I bought last week from the WI market. But it is a damp, grey day, neither raining nor really dry. I can't see the hilltop across the valley. From half way up the valley side the fields disappear, gently dissolving into murk. Ian has gone to a funeral and I am drifting about, settling to nothing, not even getting round to letting the hens out or to collecting the post. I don't like myself when I am like this but I have learnt that it just seems to happen sometimes. With company I might pull myself out of it but on my own I'll just weeble about. It's better just to let it be, to go with the flow, put another log on the woodburner and have another herbal tea, look up again how to look after penstemons and forget it by teatime, google mindlessly and blog, because that is the nearest today will come to an achievement.

The diet has gone sliding away too, put aside yesterday to eat banana cake and whinberry pie (yum, thank you CCA and SBS) but today it seems so hard to get back on the wagon. The bread is calling gently and insistently from the bread bin. It's a good job there is no chocolate of the dark, black variety in the house because I would already have yielded.

So here is the deal with myself: get out of my slippers and go to the village and sort some things out and I can have two glasses of bodran's rosepetal wine with Gardeners' World.
Hmm, moments have passed and I am still sitting here. Let's have another go.


  1. Elizabeth, that was very comforting to read. I like to think of myself as a doer, an achiever, but I have times (and the last few weeks have been very much in this category) when I wonder what on earth I did between the hours of getting up and going to bed. You make me feel less guilty by far. Comforting too, to hear that you look up things and forget them. If i have looked up how to prune raspberries once, I've done it fifteen times now and I'm driving myself potty.
    Sometimes I think we're too tough on ourselves.....and should all take a lesson from you and just go with the idle flow sometimes.
    PS - Do wish I could have been at your get-together.....and rose petal wine?!

  2. Sounds like my sort of life too, one day frenetic, the next drifting along, idling pleasantly and going with the flow. Yesterday sounded such fun.

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  4. I'm a mixture of a different sort, always thinking I'm in a tearing hurry, wildly inefficient, yet dubious about what achieving. Get together sounds fun, and am in envy of your lovely plants. There's a sea of stuff to do here, but the thought is daunting. But when it is actually tackled, it is always so much better than dreaded. Picture us this weekend man-handling an ENORMOUS ancient wardrobe up the stairs and into our bedroom and then that will be a lovely finished room, a sanctuary, the furniture settled until we move out or die. The latter seems more tempting at the moment given the endless months of juggling. Sorry this is turning into an essay. Just can't wait to be in a "normal" house rather than mess and mud. Have a great weekend and hope the funeral doesn't take too much out of Ian.

  5. Our get-togther was excellent - but I don't think it would have mattered if you'd neglected to dust. It's the warmth of the welcome that counts.

    I think you deserve an idle day to recharge your batteries. Light the woodburner. Sit down, snuggle up. Enjoy it.

  6. Totally agree with my mate above....get snuggled up in that gorgeous room with the log burner and the rose petal! you know what's the matter though don't you? After shock from us mob yesterday...allow yourself a relaxing day to get over us. Then start getting yourself ready for the next 'session'

  7. Elizabeth! It sounds as if you were entitled to a day of not doing anything after tearing round the house preparing everything for the girls. It sounds as if you had a lovely time... wondering exactly how far away you are from me and how long it would take me to drive etc. When I have a day of idling I think of it as 'recharging my batteries'!

  8. 'Drifting about, settling to nothing'....I know the feeling well. You are not alone! But sometimes we need to be unfocussed, just to recharge.
    Your get together sounded great...I'm envious.

  9. I'm envious too....

    Lovely warm cosy blog actually!

  10. We are obviously on the same wavelength! I am a real mixture too, usually, but today I haven't managed to get to grips with anything. At about 4.00 pm I gave it up as a bad job and decided to relax and enjoy having a blah day. Have the wine cracked open now and the fire lit - and the children to get to bed! You described that state of mind so well. The get together sounds perfect.

  11. It is so interesting to read the comments.

    You seem SUCH a calm and in control person. Nothing seems to phase you and that was even more pronounced in your own environment where you are clearly so very happy. (+just left a comment on your last blog)

    I find you an incredibly calming and serene person. Probably comes from having been where you have in the past. And living in such a beautiful, peaceful haven.

    YOu are probably where I aspire to be...I think you will probably know what I mean.
    So good that you can love yourself enough...

    I look forward to seeing you again soon and hoping some of that rubs off on my naturally anxious, highly strung character!

    warmest wishes

  12. You certainly deserved a day off. It is not just the physicle (sp?) part of yesterday but the mental stuff that all of you went through. It is quite a test to meet several people that you haven't met before but feel you know!!

  13. Which I was good at either - achieving or idling. Trouble is, I seem to always be in between - starting something, then getting distracted, then going off for a walk or popping into someone's house for an unplanned coffee. The trouble is, I always end up going to bed feeling exhausted, but ultimately unsatisfied, and too tired to be bothered to plan tomorrow properly. I think I need a life coach...

    V interesting read (and I'd love to talk to you about your house - re magazines, etc. I'll pm you.)

    LBD x

  14. I think sometimes we need days where we do nothing much. It recharges the batteries. I have days (sometimes!) where I achieve lots and other days where I'm a complete slob!

  15. "living life through a veil."

    that's beautiful.

    i think i'm like you, a little of both. i can be as slothful as the next guy. but i am also very, very good at getting stuff done.

  16. That's so true here too - some days are frenetic (Fridays, Mondays) and just occasionally I do nothing but lie on the sofa reading. It's the equivalent of the old 'duvet days' when things got too much at work.

    Your day with the girls sounded lovely. x

  17. This is so famililar to me. My life is lived in a series of peaks and troughs, busy times, followed by fallow times of just being rather than doing. A rather satisfying pattern I think.

    You are quite right to just go with the flow sometimes. What is this preoccupation we all have with achievement? Sometimes it's enough to just get through the day without falling apart and enjoy what can be enjoyed. Wood burners, old copies of magazines - sounds lovely.


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