Slow Lane Life II

How we moved to the West Country and learned to slow down even more


Learning curve part II

The expectant mother – Son’s Girlfriend – has been staying with us for over a week, joined a couple of days ago by the Lovely Son himself. During that time, as well as buying a pram, we have continued to familiarise ourselves with all manner of things to do with pregnancy, childbirth, child-rearing, and the many many many things to worry about regarding them all. There is so much – too much? – information out there, and it can all be used to torment the worried well. I feel almost grateful for my cluelessness at 22, in the months of blissful ignorance before the Lovely Son was born.

Yesterday evening we drove the expectant parents to the railway station, and waved them off. I wondered, as they departed with babyless pram, if I was the only person who thought about The Importance of Being Earnest?


The Gardener, his days of parenting a newborn a mere seventeen years behind him, has been a calm, sensible, reassuring rock in the turbulent seas of of fearfulness last week.

At one point, he said quietly to me: “Next week, we are not talking about babies….” Well, maybe.

We are visiting in May, and then we shall Go Shopping. And talk about babies some more.


It’s that time again

You know which time. The time when the increase in daylight shows your house up in its winter shabbiness, highlighting the high-up cobwebs, the chipped paintwork, the dingy corners.

The time that shouts “Spring clean! Tidy up! De-clutter! Paint!” but those are familiar themes here, regardless of light and season, and often ignored. But it really is that time, and action must be taken.

So we’re going to paint. This cottage is mostly painted white, which suits its simplicity, but sometimes we long for a splash of colour on the walls.

The bathroom, moist, dusty, spidery, is desperate for a makeover; its once-crisp white and pale greys are rather tatty now, and look cold and uninviting. In my desire for simple, easy-to-clean, hygienic-looking bathrooms, I fear that, quite inadvertently, I have developed a great talent for making them rather bleak and chilly-looking.

This will be our first project.

We are going for Autentico paints this time round – the Outdoor range is perfect for bathrooms and kitchens, I’m told. Just as simple to apply as Annie Sloan chalk paints, but with a much lovelier choice of colours.



Inspired by this old sponge bowl, we’ve chosen Summer Sky and Roman White for the bathroom walls, after a lively discussion with knowledgeable stockist Claire from Hatty’s Attic.

DSCF0538 DSCF0539

And while we’re adding colour, the space between the two little interior windows in the utility area will be getting this old wall shelf, recently acquired from a downsizer whose garage was bursting at the seams with all the stuff she thought she could fit into her new cottage. Oh how I empathise…..


Probably painted blue too.

I’ll keep you posted.

Now for the Spring cleaning part. (You didn’t think I’d be painting over the dust and cobwebs, did you?)


Learning curve

Note to readers: this never happens:


Gosh, there’s a lot to learn for the first-time grandma! The Lovely Son was born in the era of terry nappies, when I thought flushable nappy liners were cutting edge, and the babygro (onesie) range came in about four very unexciting colours. Knitters played safe and made tiny garments for the not-yet-born in lemon or pastel green. Midwives and health visitors were generally obeyed without question; the concept of ‘choice’ in matters relating to childbirth was largely unheard of.

Things have moved on.

I haven’t kept up at all with the prevailing wisdom and changing fashions in pregnancy and birth (and I won’t elaborate on what I really do know a great deal about after years of working with child neglect and abuse) or of all the wonderful stuff designed to enhance your experience of life with a new baby. So I think I shall keep a list of Things That I Didn’t Know Until Now about the whole baby business. (I do know some things, though, for example the big fat lie that is the stork….)

Sporadic emails between the expectant parents – who are studying hard and earnestly in preparation for the seismic shockwaves to come – and I touch on all sorts of topics, to be discussed in more detail when they come to stay next month, and I must say, are a bit of an eye-opener for me, even more so than the astronomical prices* in the current Mothercare catalogue, which in 1971 I spent hours poring over before the Lovely Son’s most-definitely-not-delivered-by-the-stork arrival and wishing that our meagre budget could cover more than a few doll-sized  vests and nighties.

Today’s Things I Didn’t Know and which are very likely to involve the grandchild include hypnobirthing and co-sleeper cribs. Go google if you must, just as I did.

*Prams, car seats, pushchairs (as we used to call ’em) – I could buy a car for what some of these things cost! Ooh, I do feel old….


Repeat performance


Oh dear. As we get older, some of us tend to repeat ourselves, thus testing the tact and patience of our nearest and dearest. The Gardener says he knows now that I really really love my cats, and I know now that he has to have shoes that are really really comfortable (although I can’t quite fathom out why he really really needs quite so many pairs of ’em) because we …er… may have mentioned this to each other before, usually with feeling.

But today I found this post from January 2012, and was mortified to find that I was moaning on in much the same way then about not having anything to say. Sorry. But the comments were interesting (and made me wonder if anyone did try out that ammonia and shiny brass tip?) although I clearly forgot all the encouragement they offered. Oh dear again. I think I shall click on them all, to find what has happened to the many now-missing commenters. I know not everyone followed me from Blogger into WordPress, but I too may have been remiss in not sticking with some enjoyable blogs, and need to see where they are now. You’re all still out  there, I hope.



Okay, okay

Oh dear, I feel a bit attention-seeking now, like the boy blogger who cried “Wolf!” to garner ego-stroking comments, but The Gardener nagged me too, and so I shall carry on with this blog, posting the odds and sods of a quiet existence on a sleepy road in a tranquil village outpost of a small seaside town in a rural county…. Thank you for the affirmation; if I keep rabbiting on writing, please keep reading!

But it would be so much more interesting to write about what really happens in the quiet existence on a sleepy road in a tranquil etc etc. That would mean writing about the people, and so far I’ve largely avoided doing that, as hardly anyone knows about this blog, and it feels a little unfair to write about them without their knowledge. Not that many would follow up on that knowledge by looking to see what was written about them, as so many don’t bother with new-fangled nonsense like computers….

Things do happen here, though, in a subdued but intense sort of way. There are bitter enmities: neighbours living across from each other, in their 70s and 80s, who say terrible things to and about each other, use very bad words, make V-signs at each other (for American readers who may not be au fait with this ill-tempered gesture, these are so not the V for Victory signs made famous by Winston Churchill, or the peace sign often seen on youthful selfies. For more information than you will ever need, but that manages miraculously not to use the essential F-word in its detailed explanation, see here), and who complain to the council about real or imagined violations. Long vitriolic letters are written on old manual typewriters. A neighbour tipped the contents of a vacuum cleaner into the sun roof of another neighbour’s car parked – quite legally – outside her house. Someone left an unsigned note on The Gardener’s car pointing out that his parking would make it difficult for the emergency services to squeeze past, and calling him an idiot. The Gardener took it well, and in fact agreed with it. He hasn’t parked there again, but other people usually do. Clearly the village has its own permanent but interchangeable idiot.

Parking is always a contentious issue here, as we have no pavements or much space to manoeuvre cars; a meandering old road that evolved over centuries rather than being in the least bit planned might look interesting, as it widens and narrows, with lumpy low walls to the brook and front doors that open into the street, but can be challenging for modern life with multiple car households, as well as for the many horse riders and dog walkers. Most local cars sport a scrape or two. The brook wall is a relatively new addition; old photographs show that there was no protection for the inebriated to prevent them from tumbling into the water before street lighting was installed….

alcombe2imagesTobias Cottage (old)Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 16.50.07Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 16.35.46IMG_0082

Traffic is surprisingly heavy for a road that ends in the woods. My car was side-swiped last week by something very large that didn’t bother to stop and tell me; everyone noticed it except us, and assuming that either we knew or that I had done it myself, didn’t knock to alert me,  so I didn’t find out until a day and a half later, when out with Flossie I was asked repeatedly what had happened to my car. “What do you mean? I asked innocently, thereby reinforcing my image of being not quite with it. Well, my excuse was that I come out of the front door and head up the road with the dog, not passing my scratched and dented car….


I refused to invite the inevitable insurance write-off (I hate the waste involved – in many Third World countries cars are patched up and kept running for decades after they would have been scrapped here) or fork out for a hefty non-insurance-claim bill for repairs. Instead, I chose the option most in keeping with a rather unlovely and unloveable dog-odorous 10-year-old car previously owned by an elderly neighbour who lived beside a lumpy low wall (you know the rest). Besides, every time we have to cram ourselves into a spiky hedge to allow for oncoming vehicles passing on the narrower lanes, new scratches will inevitably ensue, so there seems little point in restoring one side to a glory that I never knew or that will never match the rest of the car.

So I got the worst damage cleaned and polished off for the princely sum of £20 by the jolly chaps at the local body shop. The broken skin was touched up with a dab of paint, thus sparing us the ignominy of sticking a little piece of silver duct tape over it; duct tape is The Gardener’s favourite remedy for most things. “Great!” said bodyshop Ben, as I handed him the £20 note. “That’ll pay for my lunch at Morrison’s”. When I wondered what he could possibly find for lunch that cost £20 at the nearby supermarket, whose budget cafe is much favoured by elderly ladies and their friends, he patted his paunch and said cheerfully, “Lots! You don’t get a belly like this without working on it!”

In May, we will escape the excitements of home and visit The Lovely Son and Girlfriend. Traffic and its related risks will acquire a different meaning.


An encouragement of bloggers

New collective noun.

So many of you commented – and so beautifully! – on my grandchild-to-be announcement! Thank you so much. Also, most encouraging to me was the evidence that more than a few stalwarts actually read my posts. I had been on the verge of closing this blog down (maybe just for a while), thinking that no one would really notice – we do seem to be a dwindling community – but perhaps I should persevere now! It’s a long time till September and the arrival of the grandchild  (whose parents call it the Bean, after its first scan), but surely there must be things to blog about before then?

Meanwhile, the cats go on as before, in blissful ignorance of what outrage will be perpetrated on them in the future….

DSCF0458 DSCF0482 DSCF0459DSCF0498DSCF0447A toddler in hot pursuit of a cat has no mercy….


I hesitate to say this

because it still seems a bit too soon, but I have full permission, now that the second scan has been carried out (with a remarkably clear image resulting), all the tests are encouraging, and if I don’t say something soon, I shall burst.

The Lovely Son and Girlfriend are thrilled to be expecting a baby in September. There, I’ve said it. I could wax lyrical, full of beautiful poetic thoughts, or just carry on as I’ve been for weeks, burbling with inarticulate excitement, but I shall merely state (deceptively) calmly, as these things happen all the time to better women than I: I’m going to be a Grandma!

Overwhelmingly wonderful.

Scan 53

1972; the Lovely Son and his mother, Holy Island. Well, there had to be a baby photo….


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