Monday, 30 September 2013

Cat nap

There is something special about clean linen, fresh from the line, smelling of sky and new mown grass. Crease free and cool to the touch, I smooth, tuck and straighten; controlling and confining billowing duvets and over plumped pillows into the perfect symmetry of a well made bed.
 Cats wind around my ankles watching, waiting to claim those first  squatters rights to stretch out and doze the day away, safe in the knowledge I am too soft hearted to banish them when bedtime comes; choosing instead to wrestle my square footage of duvet from beneath their soft, supine forms......subconsciously matching my breathing to the low vibration of a contented purr as I curl into vacant spaces and slide slowly into sleep.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Signs of the times

I live with a goat and a bull, testosterone driven, who paw at the ground snorting and bellowing; locking horns with all the sound and fury they can muster. Too alike to see they are of the same mould, they battle for the right to be heard, to be seen, to be justified..... whilst I, the small fish, glide between angry hooves soothing, pacifying, rebalancing; until almost by default I am transformed into the troll beneath the rickety bridge, and they, united at last, can enter the green meadow.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Clean and fresh

I am the queen of gleaming porcelain ; citrus -over- bleach scented , showroom ready, watermarks wiped away. My prayer flag of  colourful laundry flutters in a gentle breeze, as the weak sun breaks through the morning mists to spotlight socks in pairs - whites with whites, stripes with stripes; shirts and towels sized in perfect order; a stark witness to a mild compulsion.
Freshly ironed shirts grace the wardrobes , and the act of symmetrical folding renders drawers smooth opening and crease free.

Today's flurry of domestic duty hides the deeper truth. I am at heart a slattern; happiest curled on comfy cushions, glasses perched on nose to blur the dust soft settling around me; allowing words sharp focus. My book-stack beckons, full of promise and the scent of fresh pages whilst I , always eager to submit to the sirens' call, shrug off this mantel of domesticity and retreat once more to my true form.

Friday, 20 September 2013

East End

Today I travelled east to where the bright young fashionistas sip bespoke coffee, or stand on cobbled corners sketching the world as it drifts slowly by. I browsed through vintage racks of prints and plains to seek out clothes I'd worn the first time round; and gazed into shop windows filled with sumptuous fabrics from far flung places; crying out to be cut, stitched and shaped in soft folds.
I wandered down sun drenched lanes,where street art and graffiti mark the gritty urban cool of a coveted postal address; stumbling upon little cafes where spice is king and aromas beckon the hungry passer by.
My bag was quickly filled with pungent French cheeses, artisan earrings and soft organic t-shirts; before giving into temptation and snacking on crumbling carrot cake and double espresso to the background sound of indie pop and a spluttering  gaggia.
It  was relaxing; a trip away from the usual to and fro of my humdrum escape to a place of infinite possibilities,that shall be stored carefully away for future reference.

Monday, 16 September 2013


Now that the warmth of Summer has leached from the day, the cool of Autumn sends me scurrying for my scarf drawer to drape soft silks, wools and cottons round my neck.
This is how I find myself unconsciously echoing the rhythms of childhood ; burrowing my nose down into their gentle folds as I curl up on the sofa lost in a book.

As a small child 'manky' went everywhere with me. It was a piece of my mother's silk petticoat, that felt cool and gentle against my skin and smelt of love and comfort. Cocooned under thick quilts at night, I would stroke it slowly against my cheek,soothing my body into sleep. During my waking hours it was clutched tight in my hand as I went about my daily routine. It was a part of me, my protection against a confusing world.

 Being a third child, I wanted so much to be accepted as a 'big girl' in the eyes of my family;  so one chilly night when the fire was roaring in the grate, and my father was home on leave, I solemnly put down my mug of warm milk and handed him 'manky' ; demanding that he put into the flames..... which of course, he did!

Watching 'manky' slowly disintegrate into ashes was, I suppose, a small rite of passage.......... the funny thing is since that night, I cannot bear to drink hot milk

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Into the forest

On sultry summer days we go to the woods, small son and I , to walk along windy tracks dappled by sunlight,and to sit in the cool shade of tall trees.

There is something special about the quiet ; a heavy stillness, broken only by the gentle rustle of a stray leaf dropping through the canopy, or the sudden trill of birdsong. We seek out the fallen giants , where ants and beetles wind their way through slow crumbling bark and fungus blooms; to balance and scramble across broken branches and exposed roots.

As children the forest was our playground. Dog in tow, we would stomp through springing heather, down rutted tracks and into to shady glades, to  net sticklebacks in cool slow running streams; or rustle amongst the fallen leaves for the green prickly cases plumped with nut brown conkers.

There was always an empty bag or two for sweet chestnuts, which we would peel and eat as we walked, our mouths puckering around the slightly cotton feel of raw kernel unsweetened by roasting. Blackberry gathering demanded a tub, and a walk away from the beaten paths to the places where they grew in abundance. Purple stained hands and mouths signalling a good harvest, to be sugared and stirred and transformed into sweet bramble jelly.

The blackberries are ripening now; and as I pass the swathes of bushes at the end of the road, I can't help but think to myself  that perhaps it's time I learnt to make my own jam .

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Lazy daze.....

This past week I have become as a cat; curled on soft cushions devouring words and dreaming of warm sun. My book pile grows as I browse reviews; purchasing new worlds and other lives with the tap of a smooth screen, whilst a soft shuffle iPod soothes the silence.
Life has slowed and I walk through my world on unshod feet; wrapped in the comfort layers of  vintage tees and  soft wash denim. Lethargy is king now there are no demands to mark my passing hours, no calls, no meetings, no long corridors to stride in high heels and determined air.

To awake from this lotus eater's existence isn't easy, but today I forced my unwilling body to the gym, to stretch, to glow,to remember true tiredness. A 3k run, a slow hill climb then 20 lengths of the cool blue pool.... Just me, myself and I.
 I felt every step, every stroke, in the smallest of joints, the tightest of muscles; but I also felt refreshed, revitalised and ready to rejoin the world.

Saturday, 7 September 2013


Some say that chicken soup is the panacea for all ills.... but for me it's tomato; slow roasted, fresh from the vine.

The sweetness of red onion, fine chopped and softened in a glug of olive oil, tomatoes scattered with sea salt and added to the pot; no need for chopping, skins hold in the flavour as they cook. Basil and thyme from the garden, crushed garlic and a chilli for warmth.

The kitchen smells of comfort as the oven does its work.... Skins burst, juice mingles, onions and garlic caramelise. Now the stock ; with sugar to cut through the acid and sweeten the mood.. smooth blended, rich and inviting.

A crumble of cheese and tortilla chips to garnish....... et voila! Happiness in a bowl, to warm the heart and banish the dark clouds.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Shedding skin....

I am the woman who talks to cats, who mumbles as she walks; thoughts clamouring to be released. I move through the world like a ghost; unheard and unseen whilst all around the masses go about their daily courses.

The rumour mill rumbles on and I, unwilling to share the why's and how's, the gaze of others; make myself small, insignificant... to be overlooked and forgotten.

I read, I dream, I listen to the silence; my days humdrum and ordinary. I miss the hustle and bustle, the noise, the joy and the frustrations that used to colour the hours.

 I have learnt to bask in the warmth of the sun, to be still in the silence; but I have not yet learnt to grow a new skin and start out into the world.


Monday, 2 September 2013

A great escape

So we celebrated my non return to work, small son and I, by travelling up to town.
We spent the day meandering along sun scorched pavements,  through shady alleyways, and out onto grand plazas; where fountains sprayed and tumbled, and workers snacked on pre packed deli delights.
 We gorged our senses on museum exhibits, and our bellies with Italian peasant food.
We browsed through books, bought random trinkets and stopped to take in the river views.....
It felt good, a way to exhale at last; to banish the sadness, the sense of failure, and gather a little glimpse of how it could be.
Tomorrow,when the house is still and silent, I shall hold this glimpse in my head and teach myself to breathe once more.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

.....I don't like Mondays.......

Midnight has struck, and with the last chime, my life has changed irrevocably.
Until now, the thought of not returning to work could be pushed deep into the darker recesses of my mind, as the daily humdrum filled my waking moments. But as Monday approaches and the house will once again be still and silent; the realisation that I won't be rushing out of the door, laptop in hand, ready to do battle with whatever the day brings, is suddenly a very daunting prospect.

For so many years I  have been defined by what I do, not only by others, but also by myself. I have breathed my work into every corner of my life; so now I find myself struggling to redefine who I am. I catch myself  composing emails, and planning to do lists in my head; only to be pulled up short as I realise that this is no longer my responsibility, there is no one to email, nothing more to do.

Time stretches before me, to be filled with the promise of fresh starts , new horizons, greater challenges....... but my confidence is gone, and the thought of taking a risk fills me with a cold dread.

If this were Wonderland, an innocuously labelled cake would point me in the right direction; well either that or an enigmatic cat, grinning from ear to ear.....but as of yet, I am left searching for a glimpse of  the elusive  white rabbit.