Sunday 26 May 2019

Bank holidays

This year, over the last three sunny spring bank holidays, we’ve had people to stay. But not without incident. Over Easter I managed, in my cleaning and prepping, to curl the hoover lead - snake-like - around my groin and almost did myself some damage. While our friend was out I left the milk in the fridge too long such that she said, so politely, on her return, that it had turned to yogurt. Not a good start to Easter!

For early May bank holiday, more visitors were expected and an irritating globule of adhesive had to be removed from the door into our ensuite shower room. The door isn’t top quality wood, unlike other, older ones around the house. Vain attempts to drill into it have left coat hooks dangling from resistant screws. An alternative stick-on hook was useful until it left behind this glutinous mass which I can’t erase even with tough sandpaper. The irritating substance is now secreted behind an ornamental hammered-metal seahorse. This tasteful aquatic object is covering the offending sticky feature and is stuck there with blu-tac. Nothing like a high-tech solution! 

This lunch time, the old Whit Sunday, again expecting more guests, I was surrounded by towels. Towels to wash, towels to dry, towels to use and towels to put away. We’ve been lucky with the weather thus far: it has been perfect for drying bulky items every bank holiday this spring but today... The clouds are dark, rain threatens, spits then peters out. But it’s strangely warm. The kind of weather to give a migrainer a bad head. But the towels had to be sorted.

Earlier today, while waiting for our guests to arrive, Richard was in charge of Henry Hoover and did a thoroughly good job vacuuming downstairs. It all looked clean and shiny. Except...moments before our visitors crossed our threshold I noticed not apples but a pair of his dirty socks in the fruit bowl. You win some and some you don't.

And of the various sheets which I washed yesterday two are from our own bed and are still soiled... but which of the many white sheets that are hanging ready for ironing were they? Thankfully I have a sensitive olfactory organ. Not as acute as Jo Malone’s, but it’s one way of sifting the washed from the unwashed when all our deep-fitted sheets look the same ie white.

Even earlier today I ended up putting wine glasses, cups and other crockery in our washbasin in the main bathroom as my hands were full and I couldn’t get down the stairs to the kitchen. Each step was littered with a bag of rubbish or table napkins or a small rug, or pillow cases ... you name it ... our stairs had a surfeit of it. And our family bathroom looked like a bomb had hit it. The only way of clearing the stairs so that the aforementioned crocks & glassware could go in the dishwasher was to dump it on the bathroom floor.

Then - by some miracle - at 4:30 in the afternoon - I put my feet up, the white sheets were sorted, the bathroom floor was clear, the towels were dry and in their correct places and the weather was just about managing to dry a couple of pieces of bed linen. 

But, hey, what’s that? I still couldn't relax:
Why was a shoot from a sycamore tree suddenly making itself known amongst our neat honeysuckle hedge? And what was that pile of soil doing beneath the planter on the patio. And where did that thumb print on the glass of the picture frame come from? 

Next week we have a few more guests. But by then our lovely cleaning lady will be back...Today it’s taken me all day to achieve what she manages in two hours... 

Not my forte! But now to enjoy my Sunday afternoon. And tomorrow is a day off.

Happy bank holiday one and all!

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Eight years on...

So what was early retirement supposed to be like? I think I imagined oceans of time to 
a) get the house looking perfect (or at least modernised and cared-for)
b) do plenty of travelling
c) having a superb garden
d) reading loads
e) getting my novel published after doing the MA in Creative Writing.

The reality is I still have pupils to tutor - I was told before I left full-time teaching that I would be turning away tutoring work. I should have believed them!

Reading a-e from bottom to top
e) getting my novel published. I’m still going to writers’ workshops but have yet to do a full edit on my novel or even follow up on advice from other writers. And only three literary agents have seen the manuscript. What am I doing with my time? 
d) reading loads. My reading habits were at an all-time high about two years ago when I dabbled with three book groups. However I’ve elected to stay with my former group. We meet in a lovely old pub in the city of Bath. Why wouldn’t I carry on meeting there? But - and it’s a big but - I’m reduced to listening to audio books as I’m not finding the time or energy to read 400 pages per month. Per month! I used to read two or three books per week ... what is the matter with me?
c) having a superb garden. I manage our larger-than-average garden by spreading bark on flower beds and weeding the bindweed which won’t be smothered by the mulch. Richard cuts the lawn. We pot up glorious pansies for the patio and grow beans, spinach & leeks in raised beds on our patio and at the top of our 120-foot garden. Richard uses the vegetable garden for an annual potato and broad bean crop. It is a maintained, neat garden but not yet superb.
b) plenty of travelling. I’ve been ‘retired’ for over eight years and we have yet to go on our round-the-world cruise. We see Sidmouth a lot! Erm - more progress there methinks. 
a) get the house looking perfect. Our four Airbnb reviews have been 5* for cleanliness and for having a ‘lovely’ ensuite double room, with parking. In fact we have an empty garage too so guests are well provided for. So one area of the house is looking perfect:-
We have an upgraded ensuite shower room and have redecorated the Airbnb space throughout. Our lovely professional cleaning lady is a life-saver and is quick and thorough.
But how do I keep the rest of the house up to 5* standards and still have time to live? What’s happened to the oceans of time I imagined I’d have after leaving full-time teaching? SBO ( still buggering on) I suppose...