Saturday 28 January 2012


I do spend probably far too much time imagining what life would be like in my dream house. Nothing would really be any different of course but I can get lost in my head for ages conjuring up what china would be on the dresser, how many tea towels would be hung in front of the Aga to dry, what paraphernalia would adorn  the wooden airer over the kitchen table, how the light might fall on the landing stairs on a summer morning and the view down the garden through a pair of, most probably, very rickety French windows.
Now it's important to know that I have never seen this house of my dreams, never set foot in it either, but  inside my head it is very real indeed and sometimes I feel I surely must have lived there. But I haven't. Although last week I thought I might have finally, actually clapped eyes on it, on the telly. You know, on one of those sell up and move to the wilds and spend the odd few hundred thousand (plus more) on a little place for the weekend sort of programmes?

I was babysitting at my sister's house at the time and sat for ages with the screen on pause, all goose-bumpy and shivery, thinking, "That's it - our house! And it's Cornwall, a pebble throw from the beach - it must be mine!"
Well of course it's not but I could hardly bear to press play again so I decided to draw it. I am a very childish, amateur sketcher and don't get around it it very often at all but I could think of no other way to capture my dream home and a scrap of paper and an old Biro I found were the only tools to hand.
Later I added a little colour. Just a few touches with my treasured "sorry boys these are mummy's", naughty pencils. Don't they look beautiful in this adorable roll I won on Nicole's Pay It Forward blog post. It came on my birthday a while ago and is absolutely just what I needed to keep my precious colours nice and safe and I think now they're so easily to hand I may have a go at sketching something else. Thank you so much Nicole, I love it enormously and will be running my own Pay it Forward soon.
Now I know this is quite hopeless as far as drawings go and the only reason I have posted a picture is that I'm sure the paper version will get creased, torn, covered in juice etc etc so I wanted to have a permanent reminder of my dream home. So on the blog it must go, embarrassingly.
Until the day I find my dream house, buy it, tidy and replant the garden, cut flowers from it for the kitchen table, open the windows and let the sound of gulls and the waves stream in, stack muddy wellies by the back door, hang our laundry on the line, bake bread in the Aga and slump on a comfy old sofa by the fire with my boys and look out of those rickety French windows down the garden for myself. Xxx

Sunday 15 January 2012

New Year, New Start

I love simple weekends and now I'm at work lots more, this weekend was just perfect. My first week in the new job has been full on to say the least but I've really, really enjoyed getting back into the line of work I'm experienced in. There's lots to learn and do (which is pretty daunting) but my new colleagues are lovely and very welcoming.

We're sorting out a different routine at home to make sure we can still spend as much time together sharing and doing the things we love. Woody is manfully taking on more cooking and I've been making up soups, casseroles and sauces for the freezer and some cakes for the tins.
I was worrying about having enough time to keep shopping locally, and really didn't want to go back to doing a big supermarket shop at all, so we've sorted it out. I'm visiting the butcher twice a month and portioning up mince, joints (and cheese!) for the freezer, doing a big weekend cook up or bringing something home from the family butcher in the town where I work that raises its own livestock and makes the most delicious free range sausages ever!
Our greengrocer is a complete star and is delivering us a box of veg a week if I drop him an email with what we'd like. This week's order came on Wednesday with just some watercress missing; unavailable. It was only an extra really for my lunchbox salads and I wouldn't have missed it. But the next day there was our greengrocer on the doorstep, full of apology and a bag of the green stuff.
I'm genuinely agog at this magnificent service. We paid up there and then but he's happy for us to call into the shop or send a cheque in the post. Everything arrived in brown paper bags in a cardboard box, not a single piece of plastic in sight and its all gone straight into our recycling bins.

The fruit and veg is the most fantastic quality and at 60p for an enormous Savoy cabbage, completely affordable. They won't even accept a delivery charge as they don't mind calling in on their way home. They deserve a medal but instead I've nominated them for a Hidden Gem award on here
We're making the most of the milkman too (ooh that sounds rather dodgy doesn't it!) He's delivering butter, fruit juice and our bread as well as the lake of milk we seem to get through each week. So that leaves just   a few bits and pieces to pick up from the bargain supermarket or the village shop.

I swear its cheaper than a big weekly shop. I can get easily distracted in a supermarket by the sweet treats, essential clothes and fancy bits of this and that I think we'd use. This way we support great independent traders, eat fabulous food and still keep a close eye on the pennies too.

So we celebrated with a family lunch today with mum and dad for company. Roast chicken (don't panic not one of our girls, they're strictly pets and egg layers), sweet potato gratin, roast potatoes, cabbage, broccoli and carrots then pear, ginger and chocolate crumble with custard for pudding. I don't think I'm going to eat again for a week!
There's no better way to spend a chilly afternoon that us all huddled around the kitchen table, remembering happy times with  family who've sadly long gone, sharing tales and passing the time. It was such a cosy afternoon and its been a great weekend spent swimming, playing with the boys, visiting the library, lots of drawing and a lovely treat for Woody and me last night. We celebrated my new job and Woody's contract being confirmed here for a cosy meal and time to talk. Can't remember the last time I put on a frock and going out shoes!

 Smashing. Just the way weekends should be in my book. Hope yours has been lovely too. Xxx

Edited to add: For Sally and anyone else in our neck of the woods, please do support Totally Locally Leek and give our fab traders a try. There's a brill £5 offer scheme on currently with great bargains too. The wonderful greengrocers is Harrisons', the shop is open everyday apart from Sunday (I think) and you can find it on the edge of the Butter Market Hall, even when that's closed. The full market stall is open Wednesdays and Saturdays. I'm not sure they do delivery as a regular thing btw. My butcher is Meakins inside the Butter Market Hall but they also have a shop tucked away in the back streets at the top of Queen Street. Don't miss the fabulous fishmonger in the Butter Market (Select Fresh Fish - again top notch quality and great service) too which is open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Thanks for the fantastically enhusiastic comments. You'd all laugh if you could see how disorganised I am which goes to show shopping locally isn't that tricky if you have good independent traders close at hand, they can just take a bit of searching out I guess.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Slow Start

It seems to be taking me ages to gear up and get to grips with this New Year. 2012, goodness. I remember when I was small thinking that I'd be ancient by the time the Millennium came around (all of 26) so 2012 seems pretty futuristic.

January has blown in on a fierce gale that's still buffeting our valley this morning. Trees are thrashing about, bending and bowing in the wind and chilled me to the bone out feeding the hens this morning. So B and I are cosying up indoors while the hardier souls in our family go for a swim.
Now the decorations are put away again, signs of the New Year are appearing. The first week of January always sees the first jug of daffodils on my mantelpiece. Thanks to the mild start to winter they've been around for weeks but I'm very strict about not buying any until after Christmas, a little herald of the spring that is still so far away.
I like winter, it's a slow Spring I despair of a bit. My favourite pastime this time of the year is daydreaming about the garden. My books come out again and piles appear on the kitchen table for a quiet read with a cup of coffee and by the lamp in the living room for the evening.
This is the stash on the kitchen table, mostly food and gardens. I've turned into a complete Monty Don convert recently. Once upon a time I found him a bit snobby if I'm honest but since he came back to Gardener's World I've really enjoyed his gentle, mellow approach to growing and his writing is fantastic.

The Ivington Diaries is next on my wish list and a bargain, second hand copy of The Weekend Gardener is one its way to me too.
Seeds have been ordered, seed potatoes are on their way and I've been doing lots of scribbling in my notebook. My head is full of ideas to change the borders. We've been here for four years now so a fair few perennials could do with being divided and rejuvenated.
(A thrifty New Year find. Anything that reminds me of The Good Life finds a home at our house! I can just imagine this poster on the wall in Tom and Barbara's kitchen.)

I'm not too confident about setting too but suppose I ought to really just go for it really. Not just yet. Time to do a bit more thinking and enjoy some more cosy, midwinter days.