Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Weekend


To conclude the round of anniversaries, it was husband's birthday. We held a little soiree at our house in his honour, much, I should think, to the disgust of our neighbours. Try as we might, 13 people in one house plus a cat equals possibly more noise than we usually make. To offset it a little, we headed for the beach/park as often as possible: to play football, to sunbathe and, on the Saturday evening, to sit around a driftwood fire drinking rum.

(as an aside - when sleeping in this warm weather, I think a soft vintage sheet and vintage blanket is possibly the nicest feeling, especially when your blanket smells a little like childhood camping holidays).

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

3 years ago


3 years ago, we went to Cornwall for a long weekend to mark the end of my last-ever exams, to go surfing and, as it turned out, get engaged. So many of our friends had joked that this would turn out to be the reason for the trip that I really did not think it would happen. I had been wondering if and when we would get engaged for a while (and even had a bet with a friend at a wedding that we would be engaged during the 12 months following that wedding in Feb 2008. She bet yes, I bet no. I still owe her that tenner) and lay on the beach speculating when over the next summer it might happen, if it did. I didn't have long to wait at all. M returned to the beach after dropping his surfboard off with fish, chips, champagne and two glasses. 
And, as it turned out, a ring. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Glastonbury


March 2002. I have been with M for one month. He and (now one of our best friends) T buy tickets for Glastonbury. After one month of seeing each other, he doesn't ask me if I want to go with them, and I don't buy one, not wanting to impose.

June 2002. M and I take the train to his parents and I meet them for the first time. I am wearing flared black cords, a striped shirt, beaded necklace and a band hoody. We take the train further north, to Manchester, to watch Sonic Youth. I drink too many budvar and pass out on a mattress on a bed with no sheets, covered by a duvet without a cover. We arrive back at M's parents, spend his birthday morning with them and then take the train back to university. That night, we go to the university ball. We walk back to M's house as the sun comes up, me still in my long silk dress and high heeled sandals. At M's house, we sleep for a few hours; on waking, he packs his bag for Glastonbury. We part, a quick kiss, for M is not keen on goodbyes. I wander back to my house in the blazing midday sunshine, hungover, blinking back tears, still wearing my dress, this time with a pair of M's flipflops. I wonder when I will see M again. That won't be the first time Glastonbury makes me cry. I get the train home to my parents and attempt to adjust to a summer back home. I sit in front of the TV, switching between Wimbledon in the day time and watching Glastonbury long into the night after my parents go to bed. In tears. Because I am jealous. Because I am Missing M. A few weeks later he comes to see me. My parents are on holiday. We break up. My sister's boyfriend brings me tuna melts and drives me to Cornwall to join my parents.

April 2003. M and I got back together, as soon as we went back to university. He starts his 2nd year again, I begin my 3rd. With pressures of final exams and impending future decisions, M decides to end our relationship. I am devastated. It is the Easter holidays and I return to my parents. Glastonbury tickets go on sale. I don't buy one. 3 days later, M and I get back together. A week after that, he tells me that once again he and some of our friends are off to Glastonbury.

June 2003. We go to my final summer ball. We walk back to M's house as the sun comes up in the midst of a shouting drunken argument. M heads off to Glastonbury. I go out with some of our other friends, back at university. I stay at M's house. He isn't there, so I sleep in one of his flatmates beds. Nothing happens but someone tells M. I head back to my parents house, fighting hard the urge to get off the train at Castle Carey to try and find M, to explain, to work things out. I watch Glastonbury on TV late at night, hoping I haven't effed up my relationship.

April 2004. That September I moved to London. M remained in our university town for his 3rd year. I spend weekends commuting between the two. I sit up late to try and buy Glastonbury tickets. Finally, early the next morning, we get tickets. I do not relish the first time I have sat up all night pressing refresh. It won't be the last.

June 2004. We go to Glastonbury. Together. I don't recall how we got there, nor much of what happened when we were there. Forever more, the smell of wood smoke will take me back to that summer.

April 2005. That past September, M and a whole heap of our friends graduate and we all move to London. We go to an internet cafe early on Saturday morning to buy Glastonbury tickets. We are all successful.

June 2005: We all head to Glastonbury on the train. We have an amazing time. Until, something happens. I can't remember what, but we ended up going home separately. M and I travel home, squashed in the back seat of L's car, moments from tears, knowing that one of us must say something or it will all be over. We arrive back in Greenwich, to L and my flat. I walk with M to the tube, another hot afternoon. He gets on the tube and I wander back home, barely able to see from tiredness and tears, wondering what will happen to our relationship. That summer was the end of law school. I had just finished finals. A few days later, I moved into a new flat, with strangers. M and I started talking again.

Glastonbury took a break in 2006. We haven't been back since. We haven't broken up since, either. I still sit up far too late watching it on TV, blinking back tears and wishing I was there, the nostalgia crippling. For different reasons, now.

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Original photos taken back when we used film and printed it out and put it in albums. (which, six/seven years later I photographed using my iphone).

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Fear


All weekend, whilst on the surface I have been doing nice. things. inside, I have had The Fear. Also, The Anxiety. The Fear and The Anxiety are both fuckwits, playing off each other, determined to spoil my nice weekend, the second in a row on my own with my husband.

Nice. Things. included browsing the church fete in the rain and leaving with 2 vintage necklaces for £1 each and a box of vintage christmas decorations for £2. "We didn't think these would sell" said the tiny white haired old lady on the white elephant stall. "We didn't think anyone would buy christmas decorations in June", looking at me as if I was clearly nuts. "You won't get ones like this anywhere". [I chose not to mention that Shikasuki sell them]. M bought a maglite for another £2. He's convinced they didn't mean to sell it to him.

Nice. Things. also included a blustery walk for a mile or two along the beach (towards the man that lives in a Lime Kiln, although we didn't get as far as his part of the beach because the tide was coming in). Sometimes it easier to talk whilst walking. Especially on a beach where you have to concentrate very hard on not falling over because it is so pebbled. Talking helped for a bit. But still The Anxiety and The Fear persisted. Not even cream tea helped. Maybe I've eaten too many of them.

On Sunday we had a drink at a peaceful hunting lodge in the middle of nowhere. We ate one of my favourite suppers (breakfast with mimosas). We watched the build up to Wimbledon. We had a fire. It might be June but I am still wearing thick tights and cardigans and a fire is essential for Sunday night snuggling with Husband. We watched The Painted Veil. And sat there afterwards, whilst I cried. Turns out watching people die of Cholera does not help The Anxiety or The Fear one little bit. When I went to bed, I wiped black off my face which went right along my cheek bones, like I had applied black eyeshadow where I had really meant to use blusher.

But there are good things: Wimbledon. M's birthday. Summer solstice. The golden light against the dark moody sky in breaks between rain showers. Coffee with friends. And next week, a whole bunch of my favourite people.

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as usual, iphone photos of Nice. Things. by me

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Happy Father's Day


This is my Dad. 
When I was tiny and he was 26. 3 years younger than I am now.
He looks so young. But then, so do I.
He'd just finished his PhD. About to start work. 
It's his birthday this week. 
He always got joint father's day and birthday presents. Poor old Dad.
This year is no exception.
He loves sailing (in fact, that's where he is right now. I spoke to him this morning and he and Mum are on the boat somewhere near to La Rochelle) and so I have got him a vintage sailing guide. 
A vintage sailing guide which is as old as he is.
Next time I see him, it will be when the whole family gathers for my sister's wedding. 
Two daughters; married.

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Photo taken by either Mum or Grandpa. Borrowed from the family album and scanned by my sister for our family photo collage at our wedding. Saved. Treasured.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Cowshed


I think Cowshed might be my favourite toiletries of all time. Made in Somerset, they are natural and organic and smell wonderful and *actually* work.

At the moment I am using the Lavender Cleanser, Evening Primrose Facial Oil and Quinoa Moisturiser as my daily skincare routine. I was using the Camomile Toner as well, but that ran out and I replaced it with a lavender one from Neal's Yard. I also have the handcream and in the past have loved the showergel, body lotion and room candles. 

They are expensive, so I usually wait until they have an offer, or free delivery and if you follow them on facebook they often release codes. But, to my mind, they are worth it. I've never been disappointed by a product, the packaging is lovely and they deliver really promptly. I am just waiting until I have more money to treat husband and I to a visit to the Cowshed Spa at Babington House. 

This week, Cowshed released their festival kit. Were it not that I already have the flight bag that it comes in and all the contents save the knickers and the nail file, I would be tempted. I am a sucker for beauitfully packaged products and sun-flared photography. I highly recommend the products and it looks just right for a camping trip, holiday or festival.

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Image borrowed from Cowshed's website

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

I wish...





... that instead of driving husband to Taunton on Monday, so he could go to London, and I could go to ballet, that we had driven the other direction instead. That instead of work and scouts and more work that we could have spent the week on the beach, or picking and collecting wonderful ingredients, or sleeping in a yurt with a wood burning stove, or exploring harbours. Or just, you know, being on honeymoon. That would be nice.

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All photos by me (except the bottom one, which is by husband). Mousehole, St Ives, Charlestown, Kynance Cove. If you were wondering.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Delilah, one week on




Delilah has been with us just over a week now and I am both getting to know her and getting used to her. I didn't realise that cats had such a variety of facial expressions and ways of communicating. I am starting to be able to translate her range of noises and slowly tell when she is annoyed and when she wants to play. The first weekend she was here, she barely made a noise and spent a lot of her time sleeping. Now, she is talking lots and playing and fighting. Just like me, she loves shoes. She's already put her claws through one of M's leather boots and scratched the hell out of the back of one of my loafers that I wear to drive to work. She also enjoys fighting my belts if I leave them on the floor. She also likes playing with the mouses I bought her, with stripy tshirts and long legs.

I'd never been a cat parent before last week; I didn't have a pet of any sort during my childhood and although I've helped feed the cat and dog at my parents in law's, it's not quite the same as having your own. We adopted Delilah through the Cats Protection which involved a house visit for assessment and then a wait for a suitable cat. In our case, Delilah was rescued a couple of days after our house visit. In other cases, it may take a few weeks to find a good match. We were telephoned to say that Delilah (not her name then, we changed it to give her a new start in our family) was with a volunteer and would we like to visit her, which we duly did. We believed we would know the right cat for us and we both straight away knew that Delilah was our cat. I went back to visit her a further evening during that week and then we went together to sign her adoption papers and bring her home.

In no way am I comparing cats to babies, but I can really see, on some level, how having a baby is such a life changing event. We just went and collected Delilah and have lost no sleep due to her presence. She only needs to eat twice a day and I only clean her litter tray once a day. And yet, it's been a shock to the system, that something is dependent on me for her care. She cries when she is hungry (and, I've discovered, when she's not). I didn't realise I would need to get to know her, which seems so completely obvious now. Multiply that by a hundred for a new baby, add the exhaustion of birth and feeding/changing every 3 hours and the added worry and fragility of a new human baby and mix it all up with some huge hormonal changes. I can see how strange an experience it must be, those first few weeks.

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iphone snaps by me. one day I will learn to use a proper camera.

Monday, 13 June 2011

2 years on


I, Rachel, take you, M, to be my lawfully wedded husband. To have and to hold, from [that] day forward. I promise to do your laundry and to eat the food that you cook for me, except for cakes, which I will make, for I am better at that. I will do my best to only use one tea cup per day and when I don't, to put the whole lot in the dishwasher before you come home. For better, for worse, in Somerset and in London. I promise to get out of bed and get to work on time, just as long as you remember to ring me on your way to the station to help wake me up. For richer, for poorer, I will try not to do so much shopping just as long as you are earning more of the money. As soon as my law loans are paid, I promise you will be able to buy as much wine as you like. I will pick up my clothes off the floor and try and wear the ones that I have, rather than my endless quest for something new. Or, sell them on ebay. In sickness and in health, with my migraines and endo and my general whining, I promise to keep the roar to a whisper and to feed you hayfever tablets every day from March til September, never letting the house run out of tissues. I promise to listen to your work chat, without getting distracted. I will learn about wine and support without mocking the endless round of dinners and entertaining. To love you, unconditionally, and to cherish, without taking, when we are together and not-together, in Somerset and London, til death do us part. This is my solemn vow.

(Inspired by Anna K of Any Other Wedding, who also shares our wedding anniversary)

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iphone snap by me of our anniversary peonies in the bathroom

Saturday, 11 June 2011

May Baby Shower




My sister-in-law's baby is due next week but s/he could be here any time soon. We celebrated the imminent arrival with an afternoon tea party back in May (just in case s/he arrived early or in case T didn't full up to hosting a house full of women much nearer to the birth). 

T and I made the invitations together one rainy weekend afternoon, which in itself was very enjoyable. I printed the wording onto plain white Smythson cards using my home printer and a font that I downloaded (creating a pdf of the cards measurements) and we then hand drew the decorations together before using watercolours to add a wash. The matching Smythson envelopes were then hand addressed and posted.

We didn't want the main focus of the baby shower to be presents, rather we wanted T to be able to have a chance to chat to all her girlfriends over the course of the afternoon. So, we served prosecco and fizzy elderflower and a spread of food including a selection of finger sandwiches (cucumber, salmon, ham), scones, coffee cake, mini sausage rolls, strawberries, blueberries and grapes. Later, we had cups of tea. Several of the guests also brought various additions including cupcakes. The food was served on a Marrimeko table cloth made by T's mother and we had grey striped straws. And somehow, in all the helping to host and serve drinks, either I didn't take any photos or they've disappeared into a photo black hole, as I can't find a record.

However, we didn't want to let the occasion pass without a present of some sort, so we gave T a present from all who came of a box of goodies including a giraffe pram toy, various Aden + Anais swaddles and muslins with giraffe and cow prints and some Burts Bees toiletries for baby including the nappy balm which I read somewhere was above and beyond the best you can buy.

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iphone snaps by me and edited (rather crudely, sorry) to disguise the party's location.

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Friday Before (2 years on)

This time, two years ago, the weather was identical. That soft perfect rainy English June country weather. The kind that marks Glastonbury and picnics and seaside holidays in the south-west. Warm-ish but with pretty insistent rain, sweeping in off the coast, creating magnificent clouds and strange darkness for mid summer. Where you feel as if you should be wearing rolled up jeans and boatshoes, or shorts and wellies, a jersey and a waterproof. A hat, maybe. Holiday weather.

This time, two years ago, we were wondering whether the marquee would actually fit on the lawn, buying beer and soft drinks as fast as possible and generally engaging in lots of wedding organising. In amongst all of this, a massive box arrived from a flower farm - brim full of peonies. The ones that day were all white, and we stored them in two box/bucket things, waiting for about 11pm when, finally, my mother and I turned them into bouquets (with the assistance of my Dad).

Today, the same box arrived at work. Slightly smaller, but containing 4 dozen peonies. Some white, some pink. Some barely breaking, most tightly wrapped. Some sit on my desk at work in a borrowed vase. The rest are in buckets at home, waiting to be arranged in enamel jugs. Two years ago, wedding over, we set off for Cornwall and our honeymoon with all the leftover peonies. I remember remarking at the time to Husband how wonderful the jugs of peonies were, and how in the future they would take me straight back to that wonderful two weeks in June. He remembered. They have.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

blue stripes


Image borrowed from the Anthropology website

Followers of my twitter account (top right, if you're reading this on my actual page) may remember me moaning a few weeks ago "where are all the long blue&white stripy maxi dresses hiding". Well, after extensive searching, I have located one. One. Seriously. There is a dearth of maxi dresses which are long enough. And I'm not excessively tall. 5 foot 8, actually. There are plenty of taller girls than me. 

My search took me far and wide, across the high street and across the pond. This one from Anthropology appeared quite early in the search, but, at £118 plus postage, it wasn't exactly cheap. It wasn't the first dress that I ordered. That honour went to one from ASOS. It's sitting here, waiting to go back, because, despite the photo promising floor length on a model they claimed was 5 foot 9, it barely skimmed my ankles. In the end, I took the plunge and ordered the Anthro one. I got a (modest) pay rise at work, so decided to treat myself. 

It arrived, promptly, last Friday and I immediately detached the blue top. It's not that it's bad per se, but I just prefer the dress plain. It's heavy jersey fabric, grey and navy striped, and hangs beautifully. All the way down to the floor. I wore it out on the Saturday last weekend and it was cool in the heat of the day but also warm (with a cardigan on top) when it cooled down in the evening. 

Sadly, it looks terrible on the mannequin on the Anthro website. It was only because, by chance, I noticed Rebecca wearing it in her post of maxi dresses for maternity wear that I realised it actually looked nice on a person. I don't really understand how with styling like they have, they can represent a dress so poorly. The photo is actually doubly misleading - the top is nowhere near that sheer either. It's more like a proper, off shoulder, jersey tshirt. It's not connected to the dress either, save for a little string, so that (if off shoulder draped jersey tops are your thing) you could wear it separately over a vest and jeans. 

Anyway. There you have it. Things are out there, if you're prepared to overlook terrible photography/styling and pay lots for it. £118 is a *lot* for a jersey dress, when all is said and done. Thankfully, I am very pleased with it. I just hope it survives washing...

Monday, 6 June 2011

Monday



Husband had to be back in London this evening so he got the bus whilst I was still at work. This meant I didn't have to drive to Taunton so I traded my ballet class for a walk along the coast path. Endless blue skies above moorland, stubbled fields alternated with meadow grass, hedgerows and wild flowers, the sound of the sheep calling to each other competing with the bird song from the multitude of wetland and sea birds. The wind whistling in the long grass. And then home, to Delilah, who sat on the sofa for just a minute, before leaping on to the dining table and stealing the remainder of the cheese off my plate.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Introducing



Delilah

Rescued Monday, with us Friday evening.
Doing everything in twos: two miaows, two pouches of food, two visits to the litter tray.
She's sniffed every inch of the house and declared the back of the sofa on a vintage blanket to be her favourite sleeping spot, already stretching out in some comical poses. 

Delilah means (among other things) uprooted. We hope that today marks the end of her uprooting. Dare I say it, she seems quite at home already.

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iphone snaps by me