Hasn’t that been a

long while since I last posted. To be honest, I’m still in two minds as to whether this gets posted or not. Do I really need another online thing to consider, what with my social media, my work’s social media and website, and e-newsletters what I write for another company?

Let’s just tap away and see how we feel as I go on, shall we?

In many ways, life has not changed that much: I’m still incapable of wearing nail varnish for longer than 24 hours without picking it off. My book buying is still out of control. I still work within the weird world of museums. I’m still socially inept and prone to saying the Wrong Thing with gusto, commitment and volume.

In another, more important way, my life has changed hugely. The Teen set their sights on university last year and in September made their intrepid way to Preston to study sport science and nutrition. Now, whilst I am overjoyed to have a family member back in the Northern bosom of our ancestors, I’m not convinced that this sudden switch to all things sporty and nutrition-y aren’t signs that they are actually a changeling.

So now I find myself confronting life finally living on my own, with time on my hands that is all mine. Have to say, I quite like it. Weekends with friends? Sure! Weekends on my own. Absolutely! Sunday morning routines and songs that are Sunday songs only? Of course! Wednesday evening living room dances because it’s Wednesday? Too right!

This week, I went for a long window-shop with my sister and mum, met up with my closest friend for a day, went to a puppet show (for grown-ups, and shut up) with another, made bread, went to a talk on climate science and Hollywood (hint: they don’t always get the facts right, kids!), cooked risotto and vegetarian pasties, dog-sat, chatted to an ex-colleague-and-now-friend for 2 hours, worked. My slightly skewed weekend is dawning (I work Saturdays, so weekends are Sunday-Monday) with the promise of cooked breakfasts, walks in the countryside and impromptu visits.

So yes, I miss my Teen, but I know they’re happy and thriving, making their own way. When they take off for a year studying in Canada in August, their own way will be a long way from mine. This phase of my life as a parent hasn’t ended (my Mum has confidently – and a little wearily – assured me that is never ends), but a whole new phase has started up alongside it.

Exciting-terrifying. Excifying, if you will.

Actually, probably don’t .

 

 

 

An Entirely Unscientific Life Theory in which I Leave the Door Slightly Ajar

For a long time, I’ve held the entirely unscientifically tested theory that every three to four years something comes along and shakes me from my foundations. Some of these things are naturally occurring disasters … and delights. Birth, death, illness, wellness. That sort of thing.

And some of them are self-inflicted, for better or worse. Marriage, divorce, job changes etc. You know, those *simple* things.

Well, not for nothing did my word for the year turn out to be ‘new’. It would seem that I am due another self-inflicted occurrence for I am in the process of a new Big Something.

After 10 years working where I currently do, I’m off to a Big City for a bigger role and a bigger future than I thought possible twelve months ago.

It’s scary and exhilarating. Terrifying and terrific. At the end of May I will wave goodbye to a team I have known for many years. This place has been where I’ve grown, adapted, survived. Even thrived. And we’ve weathered all the life changes above together. They have been the best team; and, as always with the people you love, I shall miss them terribly.

But. I am so ready for this change.

I think I am ready to let this blog go now too. It may reappear in another incarnation several months down the line when things have settled and I’ve made the transition to city life. Maybe by then I’ll have learned to be more comfortable in heels than wellies, to carry a little (or large) handbag balanced in the crook of one arm whilst sipping on an espresso, to resemble a graceful person rather than an over-enthusiastic puppy.

Somehow I doubt it. And somehow I doubt it will matter.

On Staying Houses

When I was growing up, every three years or so the following conversation would take place at the dinner table:

“Your Dad and I have decided that the house/yard/land isn’t big enough, so we’re going to be moving to…” The next day, a For Sale sign would appear in front of the house I’d been thinking was a staying house, and thence would start the familiar routine of investigating new houses and packing up beloved toys. There were no staying houses. That’s not necessarily a complaint, by the way; it’s made me more resilient to change as an adult than I might otherwise have been. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20s with a partner and a babe that we moved to a staying house and thought that was it. Fifteen and a half years ago.

Red brick, flat fronted, not particularly big. Situated in a tiny hamlet where the social divide was neatly signposted by the council: “Upper W….”, “Lower W…”. Know your place. And over the years, I did get to know it: the woods and the hill that stood guard over us all. I shopped at the butchers and the bakery; sent the child to the local schools; attended coffee mornings; made the occasional friend.

I have clambered over the hill forts and run down their ramparts; poked sticks into streams and lingered by lakes; said hello and goodbye to countless other dog walkers, apologised to countless non-dog lovers; watched the moon over the house change shape. I have picked up fossils and pebbles and leaves and feathers. Dawdled in the nature reserves. Gathered armfuls of cow parsley. Breathed long in the deep blue scent of the bluebell woods. Laughed at the colony of rooks cawing haughty disdain on anything not in a tree, and seen them fearlessly set after patrolling hawks.

Got twigs in my hair, bramble rents in my shirts, grass on my jeans. Mud on my boots.

There have been lambs, calves, countless songbirds, the occasional jay. Wildfowl and beetles. My favourite buzzard families. Once, a red kite. Deer disappearing like ghosts into the tree lines: tiny muntjac creeping along on stiletto hooves and giant roe stags making gurking noises at does. Grass snakes and lizards. Toads and newts. Endless fecking daddy longlegs. Bats on the wing, the rare cat-grounded pipistrelle. The owl that hunts and hoots every night by my window.

Every winter has seen the advent of the Great Muddening, and spring has brought the lemony-rose, bridal fouff of cherry tree blossom. Summer hazes over cornfields and cliched autumn mists that somehow still manage to take my breath away. Picked blackberries and sloes, sniffed out the wild garlic, pondered but never picked the mushrooms.

But everything changes. An early-learned lesson that I’m grateful for.

The babe is now a teen and off to sixth form college; in two years time she’ll head off to university and a life of astrophysics. The costs of living and driving keep rising. The Great Muddening lasted so long this year, I thought the dog and I might never dry out. The butchers is closed, the owners retired, and the bakers is now owned by others. And the loneliness I may have mentioned at the beginning of the year? Well, it hasn’t really gone away and it strikes me now that being as isolated as I am is not, for a natural loner, the very best thing to be. I am missing great chunks of my red-headed funny fire-cracker of a niece growing up, diffusing the tense stuff of life in her uncomplicatedly happy way. I could do with a regular dose of uncomplicated happy.

So the Teen and I are moving. Not just yet; there is a house to be found, and a great deal of sorting out to be done. Closer to my family and my work, closer to her transport to college. Closer and wiser and a lot less on my own. No longer entirely rural.

But.

This is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. “There’s nothing to keep you there.” No, there really isn’t. Apart from the wild tangle of memories and associations, but I am expert at uprooting myself. Pack lightly the good memories, ditch the bad with the unwanted crockery. Carry your home with you.

Tin ShedBut not this home. Seriously. One has limits, regardless of how in my price range it might be.

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