i knit because i can ...

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Life in the fast lane ...

I have cast iron reasons for not having blogged, I do, I do ...

For some time now we have been plotting to leave London and move to the country. But selling up and buying something new is not all that easy right now. Funny that, who'da thought it?

Basically the story goes, we are not tired of London, but we may tire of life a little quicker than we'd like if we don't find somewhere to live that is conducive to us taking more exercise than a gentle stroll to the supermarket and back three times a week. So we decided we should make the leap, especially as I now have three grandchildren of an age to be better suited to outdoor activities, than creating havoc in a twelfth floor tower block apartment. Or rather, they are perfectly suited to creating havoc, but I'd rather they didn't have the occasion.

Of course, as soon as we make up our minds, the property market goes into freefall, the economy takes a nosedive, and the future is neither bright nor orange. But, heigho, we are going for it anyway. There are all sorts of things going on which I am not allowed to hex by mentioning before, in that time-honoured phrase, 'we have exchanged contracts'. However, I'm sure it's not tempting fate to say that as a consequence we have spent more time on the M3 Motorway between here and the New Forest, which is where we hope to end up, than in our own comfy goosedown.

In between I am tackling that room in the house which is laughingly known as my study, sorting stuff out, chucking and packing. Now I have moved often in my 'interesting life' (like the Chinese curse) and have always tried to work by the three-pile rule: everything is to be sorted into three piles, one to keep, one to give away, and one to throw away. The theory is that the 'keep pile' should be the smallest. Well, I have to be the first to admit that's not going to happen with my study. I am a bookaholic, and although I am trying to find things to sell on Amazon, most of my extensive collection will be going with me. So to make up for this weakness, I am attempting to catalogue my books as I pack. There is a good reason for this, other than simple masochism. I have been known to buy books twice, having forgotten that I have already bought them once. And although my shelves are (mostly) reasonably in order, there are enough of them for that to happen even so. Don't ask me how many, that I hope to know when I have finished cataloguing. Hopefully then, when I am tempted by a book purchase, I can quickly check my catalogue, thus saving me from wasting money that could better be spent on a book I don't have yet!! It's a good theory. ;)

So I do have an excuse, I do, I do ...

Friday, 8 May 2009

Oh my ears and whiskers ...!!!

Once again it has been an unconscionably long time since I blogged. The usual causes, I guess. Rushing round visiting grandchildren, places, etc. And now more, we have finally sold the flat, so although there is a long way to go before we actually leave (end July), there is also a lot to be done in the meantime.

As it has taken us so long to get this far, now we find that there are very few properties on the market where we want to buy. Properties that were on the market finally sold when they reached a realistic price. Few are coming onto the market, because people who don't have to sell right now are waiting in the hope that things will pick up. So we can look forward to a long search for something suitable. At the same time, we must start packing. My study lowers at me, with so many books, files and stacks of papers. As we shall probably end up renting for a time, I have to be careful to separate packing for store and packing to keep with us. What fun! not!!

Add to that two imminent grandchild birthdays, both of which will be celebrated in Ireland, and I have a schedule that makes me feel like going for a lie-down in advance. But I shall not complain, we are only too pleased to be sold, and at a reasonable price.

In anticipation of our removal, we have been assiduously visiting things that will be harder to reach once we have moved away from London. Our recent delightful visits to Kew and Wisley have been followed by other joys. We started by visiting Bateman's, the house of Rudyard Kipling. This involved a lengthy journey through Kent, into the delightful countryside around Tunbridge Wells. The house is utterly charming, and I for one could not help feeling awed when looking round the writer's study. Not least when I realised he had a couch, and more important, he frequently lay upon it, thinking!!!!!

The gardens and grounds were already showing promise of their beauty to come. An especial delight was a visit to the working mill. It was wonderful to recognise the millstone grit of my native North Derbyshire in the grinding stones. We took away some wholemeal flour to bake bread at home.

The latest of these was a visit to Pashley Manor Gardens, on the East Sussex/Kent border, to their Tulip Festival. Absolutely wonderful. The house itself, although not open to the public, was beautiful from the outside, with the most magnificent wisteria I have ever seen - and I've seen some good'uns in my time - and a wonderful Rosa banksia lutea climbing right to the roof. We lunched on the terrace, beleaguered by ducks and drakes who were so tame they thought nothing of poking their beaks into our laps to beg for scraps!

The tulips themselves were indescribably lovely, and I was so tempted as to place an order in the hope that we will have a garden by the autumn! Husband Peter was mightily taken by this clematis, which we may also have to add. Just hope we get an appropriate garden.

Pashley Manor is also host to an outdoor sculpture exhibition later in the year. There were already some sculptures in the gardens. OK, they are hares, not bunnies, but that's near enough for me!

Not to mention the beautiful bluebell wood:

And here for good measures, two more wonderful trees:

I recently purchased a large set of Erich Engeln knitting instructions/charts and am knitting my way pleasurably through a number of doilies, but so far no pix. Watch this space!!