019 Blog – London, Family and Art

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I’ve done more London-ing in the past week than I have for ages – just at a time when I’m about to stop living in the centre of everything!  The first outing was to Dulwich Picture Gallery for the Eric Ravilious exhibition.  I have long loved his work and am ever hopeful of delving through a stack of old plates in an innocent junk shop/charity shop (ie one where there is not a bunch of astute antique hunters on the lookout – perhaps I need to start to frequent car boot sales when I move out of London) and chancing upon an original Ravilious design.  I made do with buying a print – first purchase for the new house!  His ability to create light almost by negative – the blank-spots created by bright sunshine – is remarkable.

The one I bought:

Ravilious 1

Seriously thought about buying this one:

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Glare of light:

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It’s always good to have a couple of anecdotes to go along with any outing – I have two related to this one:

Numero uno (In Italian for no particular reason) – I was delighted and very lucky to go to the wedding of Mary Sanver and Eddie Rich in the Dulwich Picture Gallery a few years ago.  Sitting there at a very long table set up in the very long main gallery, amongst so many well-know and wonderful paintings, sipping on our white wine (we were not allowed red, for the sake and safety of the pictures), was an absolute delight.

Dulwich Picture Gallery

Number two – Back in the sixties I lived in Acton and it was a more than weekly journey from home in Horn Lane, down to the High Street, and across to the old Eden’s Greengrocers in Church Road.  On the corner was Ravilious’ men’s wear shop – I seem to remember a window of shirts, socks, and underwear.  Later, when I got to know about Eric Ravilious, I checked for a connection, and found that this had belonged to his parents (though, having said that, more recent reading suggests that it may have been the shop of a relative – Eric’s parents certainly lived in Churchfield Road in Acton – where Eric was born – and had a shop there, whilst other members of the family had a couple of further shops).

So, I’ve been searching online for any old photos of the Ravilious shop and along the way came across a photo of an old local Acton and Chiswick twice weekly newspaper.  This one just happens to be for Tuesday 1 January 1907 – my Father’s date of birth.  Didn’t know before that he’d been born on a Tuesday!  One of the stories summarised on the front page is about the “annual banquet” given that very afternoon for the “animals at the Acton Home for Rest for Horses”.  The expanded story is partly captured at the bottom of the page:

Equine banquet

Here are a few more:

On the dangers of flanelette:

flanelette burnin

No home should be without one:

Acton Almanac

Death by burning:

Burns

Kindness to a dead employee:

laundry death dead laundress

Most of the rest of the front page is taken up with a look back to 1906 and its General Election.  The other main story is of a death on the underground:

tube fatality

The second art-related outing of the week was on Sunday – to Tate Modern with my lovely niece, Kali – along the way we saw this thoughtful piece of street equipment for a spot of emergency bike maintenance:

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to two exhibitions (thanks to second cousin, R, being a Tate Friend).  Agnes Martin, subtle, spare, cool, calm, obsessively and repetitively executed, squares of serenity, elegance and beauty.

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Sonia Delaunay, vibrant, bright, bold, paintings, and amazing clothing and fabrics and embroideries – full of verve and vivacity.

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Both women lived to a great age and kept on producing throughout their lives.  What two excellent exhibitions.

Before all of that though, the morning was spent being regaled – in wonderfully precise accents and with the aid of a diagram – with Kali’s stories of her time in Kythera – in and out of various homes on the island, including that of my Father (the birth day boy mentioned above!) and Athens.  This promises to be another wonderful family tale to tell – but perhaps a Winter’s Tale to be unravelled in the dark, cold winter months rather than now – a time to be outdoors and in the sunshine, especially as this was the Summer Solstice.

Pitsinades

After the Story of Kythera and the Paternal Home, and before the Art, was The Food!  At Pizza East in Portobello Road, a long, slow, serial lunch of shared starter followed by starter, followed by salad, followed by garlic bread, followed by main followed by a waddle to the car and the Tate.

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We finished the day with strawberries and chocolate and tea and cards.  We played the old family rummy game and imagined Fifi and Veti hurrying us up and checking to be sure we laid down a run and that it added up to 51 and that we played the replaced Joker immediately and that we hurried up and that we were quicker to organise our cards in our hands, whilst at the same time issuing a running commentary on whatever was on the television at the time and serving tea and cake.  If we could get all the family women together for one more round of Rummy, what a grand afternoon that would be!

Cards

018 Blog – Blog Break!

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It’s been such a long Blog Break – it feels like going back to school after the long summer break – takes time to get back in the rhythm.

Can I please start with an open letter to Total Jobs and Reed?

Dear people at Total Jobs and Reed

A while back I had a slight inclination to consider some very part time work in order to continue to fund my boating lifestyle – you probably don’t need to know the full story behind that statement, and in any case, even if I gave it to you I know, from past experience, that your technology is not up to taking on board (heheh) such detail.  So, I filled in all the relevant filters and details – part-time, within 5 miles of Walthamstow, admin.  Of course, I also had to attach my CV, which, it seems, completely over-rides filters.  I had been a teacher in the past; I had been a Learning Consultant in the past; I had lived and worked in West London as well as East London (but never in South London).  I had had some Finance and Office Management experience, and some of my work for a building company had elements of Project Management attached to it.

I’ve been sent details of jobs as Teacher (music?!), Accountant, Recruitment Trainer, Police, Learning Assistant, Project Manager, in South and Central London, and mostly full time, but none as a part time admin worker in East London.

018 blog Blog Break

Just now I’ve attempted to unsubscribe from your services – let’s see how that pans out!

Yours, etc………..

I suppose it serves me right for ever signing up for anything!

Next – “customer service” or “customer care”.  I was in George at Home (Asda’s household and clothing outlet) today, not minding my own business as usual.  A customer at the next till to me had bought some baby stuff in a box for – judging by his partner’s bump – a very obviously imminent birth.  The box had a carry-handle.  He – for whatever reason (and that’s entirely his business) wanted a carrier bag for it, and asked for one.  “It’s got a handle” said the assistant, “We don’t give bags for that.”  “Yes”, said nearly Dad, “But I don’t wish to carry it that way, I’d like a bag please.”  “We don’t give bags for things with carry handles.”  “Well, maybe he could buy one,” says, I, unable to stay out of it.  “No, we don’t give carrier bags if items have handles,” says the insistent assistant.  “I’d not buy it then,” says I to the other customer – raised eyebrows emphasising exasperation.  Then, out of the blue – “You can have one if you want”.  Geez, I think to myself – who’s doing the buying here?  Who’s passing good money over in exchange for a product?  If the man wants a bag, he should be given one.  I can understand that it’s sensible and ecologically sound to take your own bags to the supermarket or the market, but let’s not have household goods shops refusing carrier bags to customers in such a peremptory and unapologetic manner – presumably (but unspokenly) hiding behind a “saving the planet” banner – I don’t believe them for a moment!

Now, let me get on to B&Q.  As we make our way to the self-service tills, there’s an assistant standing by to ask “And how are you today?”  “Did you find everything you wanted?”  “No”, says we (I’m with my friend Christine, though in truth, although it was Chris who did not find everything she wanted, I’m doing the talking).  “We couldn’t get the sand-paper for a belt-sander.”  “Ah,” says he, “did you look in the hardware section?”  “Geez!” Thinks I to myself, “No, we looked in the Garden Section.”  The thing about this exchange is that it is an absolutely pointless exercise in “no service customer service”.  Why is he asking these questions?  What’s he going to do about the fact that nine times out of ten this gigantic chain of DIY, Hardware, Gardening, etc stores, doesn’t have what it is you go in to buy?  Where is the answer to his question about finding what we want going?  Is it going to help in keeping the shop well-stocked in such basics as belt-sander sandpaper?  I think not.  His questions do not give me a nice squishy, cared for feeling at all; they just make me frustrated with the increasing use of that dirt-clogged feather duster of customer service,  that is a totally ineffective tool, but perhaps enables a box to be ticked which says that customers were greeted and asked about their shopping experience.  This is the thing, isn’t it? It seems that as long as they ask us stupid questions for no good reason, they can claim to be showing good customer care.

So the beggar outside, sidling up to me with his Costa Coffee cup, as I put my trolley back and reclaim my £1, is the last straw.  “Go away!  I’m not going to give you any money!”  A bit harsh, I know, but wrong place, wrong time I’m afraid.

Maybe I should just not go out.  I’ve enjoyed a couple of weeks of massive de-cluttering of the boat in readiness for moving away and selling up.  It’s an awful responsibility, this constant keeping on top of the cleaning, but I have to admit to enjoying the results, even though it’s making me somewhat precious about people coming on board – I so have to force myself not to straighten the rug under the visitors’ feet!  But the boat looks absolutely lovely.  Unfortunately the people who have come to view so far are too tall!

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Here’s what’s been taken off the boat: 10 large storage boxes and 3 small ones full of stuff; one outdoor garden box of stuff; two suitcases and two big bags of stuff.  Here’s what’s still on board: a whole cabin-full of tools and wood; 8 kitchen storage units; loads of cutlery and crockery; a large computer; a TV; two lap-tops; a bedside shelf; an ottoman full of shoes; five Ikea little pen and paper storage drawer units; a huge storage drawer of papers; a huge storage drawer of bedding; a huge suitcase and two carry-on ones under the bed; a large storage bag of more bedding under the bed; 4 drawers and two shelves full of clothes and a rail of hanging clothes; three shelves of books; a chest of drawers full of scarves and DVDS.  How????

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Christine and I had some fun decorating the wood from dismantled units in the boat, now being used to partially hide all the storage boxes!

Cat pic

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Oh, also outside, and to be moved, about 10 large and small pots – rose, feverfew, lavender, alpines, carnations, sage, mint, etc, etc, plus a gooseberry bush.  Will the new house be big enough?

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017 Blog – Nuts in May

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I was reminded today of some nonsense I wrote on the online scrabble site – there is the option to add some – what they call (Thanks Miranda) “finger notes”, rather oddly and slightly rudely!! Another player referred to one of them whilst chatting to me during a game.  Considering what I’ve I just been and gone and done, they are rather apt.  I was playing around with Mike Leigh film titles – here’s what I wrote: Life is sweet As long as there are no secrets and lies Another year has just begun Hope it’s a happy-go-lucky sort of a year And nothing goes too topsy turvy Hope we don’t go nuts in May nor Have any bleak moments Meantime I have High Hopes Hmmm – I wonder have I gone nuts in May?  I’ve reserved shared ownership of a not-yet-completed house. P1210320 When I say “shared ownership”, for the uninitiated, this does not mean that I share the house with anyone – I just share ownership of it with a housing association.  Seems to me that, just for starters, this is pretty topsy turvy.  My life will be very different.  I won’t be on my boat; IMG_0692 I won’t be in this beautiful marina; I won’t be in London.  I won’t be so near my every-day friends.  I will be on the outskirts of Peterborough – in a house with endless water, flushing loos, non-fire heating, a south facing good sized garden.  Happy-go-lucky is going to be uppermost in my mind and avoiding any bleak moments.  High hopes forever! These will come with me: P1210275 P1210272 P1210268 This will stay behind – my legacy: P1210270 I have two of my three essential ingredients – outside space in the form of the garden and an open outlook – partial – beyond the houses there are fields and I think my house is positioned well to give me views.  I plan a water feature in the garden, to complete the full package. Perhaps not as grand as this: P1210309 I have looked at courses/classes – both Peterborough and Stamford have good offerings – perhaps some photographic thing, art classes, pilates?  I think possibly food hygiene might be interesting – perhaps then to get some baking underway for the various markets that take place – Peterborough, Stamford, Market Deeping.  Then there are some woodwork courses and electrics.  I don’t yet see a good creative writing option, but I have not completely researched yet.  There is a good arts cinema in Stamford – with all the live screenings offered by Hackney Picture House.  There’s a film club in Peterborough – screenings followed by de-briefing in a local pub.  There will be space for my sewing machine to be out and at the ready at all times. I feel a slow burn of excitement building. I don’t have photos yet – except the pretty poor one above – every time I go and take a look at the site, I forget to take photos of the already completed houses in the same style as mine. As well, there are fields and farms and interesting houses dotted along the long, narrow, almost traffic-less, flat roads that look the epitome of an Enid Blyton cycle ride and picnic with, of course, lashings of all the essentials (all available in the big, new Waitrose in town).  There is a gigantic Van Hage garden centre 5 minutes away by car – with outlets as well – Le Crueset, Pavers shoes, etc. There’s a lot of water with opportunities – I think – for some canoeing. There are endless, huge skies. P1210260 P1210256 P1210252 P1210246 Okay, it’s not Carling, but it’s very, very good.  I am feeling positive. By the end of July I should be living in Peterborough and I envisage exciting and interesting times ahead. Oh, and there’s a wonderful industrial site – heartening signs of solid work for local people – I particularly liked the metal recycling plant and the plant being built that will turn waste into energy. P1210244 P1210235 P1210233 I like the suburban feel – Peterborough is a small city with suburbs – hmmm a bit like Perth?  Following tradition, I hanker after re-creating my childhood, but here, in this country – like Nan recreated Slovenia and Dad recreated Kythera. It is one hour by train to King’s Cross in London, and one hour and forty minutes by car to marina friends.  It’s an hour closer to my sister and brother-in-law. But it’s much further from Cornwall! The Wash is an hour away and Holkham, Wells, and Cley, all about an hour and a half. So, instead of a boat, I will be in a two-bedroomed house with kitchen/diner and lounge, downstairs loo and sink and upstairs bathroom, south facing garden, garden shed with water butt.  Pretty good going, finally to move into a house I at least part own when I’m 68! P1210249

Okehampton, Camborne, Newlyn, Penzance, Wadebridge, Bath, Peterborough!!

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So, I’ve travelled far in the past couple of weeks – exploring my possible futures.   Where shall I go?  Where shall I be?  What am I looking for?  Possibly I’m always half looking for the past – I went to Slovenia and saw how Nan tried to recreate her childhood environment in her adult Western Australian life.  I went to Kythera and saw how my father tried to recreate his childhood environment in his adult Western Australian life (of course, I did neither of these two things in the last two weeks you understand – just referring to past travels here). I think I might be trying to recreate parts of my Western Australian childhood in my English later life – here’s an Okehampton gum-tree!  Didn’t entirely draw me to Okehampton, but there was a ripple of reminiscence.  I know I also look for the clapboard of my first home and – ridiculously – the asbestos boxiness (though perhaps in a different material) of Nan’s Queen’s Park house.

Okehampton was not for me – even though there was a Waitrose.

Camborne felt more real – but far – and without sight of water or open space did not fulfil the brief.

Newlyn has water in abundance, and fishing, but no affordable housing

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Penzance is vibrant and watery, but likewise no affordable housing

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Wadebridge has everything – except affordable housing, unless I fancy moving into a one-bed flat for retired people (NOOOOOO!!!)

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Bath was my delightful resting place on the way home with my lovely, generous-hearted friends, Cath and Jamie, who would provide a comfortable bed, sustenance and conversation, even if all three were buried like a needle in the very middle of a very dense haystack – thank you C and J!

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And so home, and more thinking and researching – emailing, applying, telephoning, googling, and of course, talking endlessly about it and causing family and friends to contemplate X-directory numbers, changing email addresses, unfriending me from FB, leaving the country, joining the French Foreign Legion!

Along the way, as I look at this house here, that flat there, I keep seeing Peterborough and then looking elsewhere.

Let me digress for a paragraph or two from home searching.  I have one experience of Peterborough dating back from – I think – the late 90s early 00s.  My good friend, Alex, and her then partner, were having a narrow boat built and after research went to the yard of Pat Buckle – on the River Nene, in Stibbington, near Peterborough (although it is not actually in Peterborough, every trip up to check progress, paint, sand, etc, was discussed as “going to Peterborough”.

There are memories and images crowding in.  How to put them well and appropriately into their places?

Coming off the A1 and sometimes stopping off at the wonderfully old-school transport café – not your little trailer affair in a lay-by – but something more of a hot and steamy school canteen in thrall to the “Full English”, “Great British Roast Dinner”, fried bread, sweet tea, world of long-haul truckers.

Stibbington Diner

Interior

Look!  It’s even reached Trip Advisor:

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187045-d6536872-Reviews-Stibbington_Diner-Peterborough_Cambridgeshire_England.html

Then you drive along through idyllic lanes – cottages, grand houses, farms, church – achingly pretty – and come to a fork – right to meander on and out of Stibbington, and left to take yourself right inside Malcolm Bradbury/Francois Truffaut’s Farenheit 451 and the Land of the Book People

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– with no railway line,  but with lots of metal junk (or useful at some point stuff), broken down caravans (wheeled and static), scratch-built outbuildings, woods, trees, huts, terraced gardens, little gardens behind each boat, cars (in good nick and almost dead), friendly people, meandering pathways, scruffy but efficient wood workshop, and Pat Buckle himself – still smoking; still coughing, but looking much the same.  He gets out of his car and is friendly, though, of course, doesn’t remember.  He helps his old dog get out of the car.  The dog’s legs don’t work well and it keeps collapsing to the ground.  “He’s a bit stiff after the drive”, says Pat, “He’ll be all right in a little while”.  There is apparently no identifiable cause of the dog’s falling sickness – he’s perfectly fine apparently.

Along with the wonderfully run-down, higgledy-piggledy-ness of Pat’s yard (out of which many lovely boats have emerged and been handed over to very satisfied customers), there is a section – to the left of the “car-park” –  which is fenced and immaculately maintained, with solid buildings (all closed up and unidentifiable of usage), paved and formally planted areas, and a few boats beyond.  There was no real clarity from PB about what this all was – just that he had previously leased the land and at the end of the lease had decided not to extend – hence this was now in the hands of someone else.  Its tidiness – at least in my eyes – bodes ill for the long-term future of this magical world.

So, then, Peterborough and houses.  I’ve looked online and a number of them seem like they might be okay.  But I kept veering away from Peterborough – I’m not sure why – perhaps because it’s a bit in the middle of things – not near the coast?  But there’s one house in particular – one of three in a cul-de-sac – that keeps drawing me back. I’ll give no further details here – there are several steps to take before I get close enough to decide whether this is “the one”.  Suffice it to say that there is garden; there is outlook; there is water – all three of my two out of three essential ingredients.  There is also clapboard (always appealing – though I fear, plastic).

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As well – there is diversity – in people, wealth, architecture.  There is a station that sends trains to King’s Cross in an hour.  There’s an easy road route back to visit London friends.  The journey to some family and friends is closer, but to others a little more distant – but no matter – I have time to travel.  There are cycling possibilities – and possibly canoeing ones as well.  There are boats in abundance and – I think – 3 Waitroses (although if they haven’t rethought their decision to discontinue Benecol Olive Spread, my loyalty may be compromised).

An unconnected event (but I’ll find a thread, however fragile).  The other day, in a very expensive designery things sort of a shop, I got an idea for a birthday present, got a wonderful Ted Hughes-related card for my son, and clocked wallpaper on the wall behind the counter – immediately and undoubtedly recognisable as Dungeness.  Should I eventually move into a house, I will have a half-drop (which even in such a small quantity is ridiculously expensive) of it – perhaps framed on a wall.  I think that if I can’t have a house in Dungeness, at least I can possibly have some Dungeness in a house.  I was told by the woman in the shop – before I had time to stop my ears – about the young designer types who had bought one of the converted railway carriages in Dungeness, out of which they were creating their wallpaper.  Although I’m excessively jealous of them, I suppose I should give them some acknowledgement for beautifully recreating Dungeness on paper:

Dungeness wallpaper

http://www.minimoderns.com/product/dungeness-wallpaper-chalkhill-blue

Another loose connection – Eric Ravilious’ affinity with Dungeness.  I’ve always loved the work of Eric Ravilious, having first come into contact with it many years ago whilst living in Acton.  At that time I got curious about the shop on the corner of the High Street and Church Road – and subsequently discovered that………

Eric Ravilious was born in Acton in 1903. 
The Ravilious family owned a number of shops selling household linen and drapery. There were shops in Churchfield Road, and later in Acton High Street, and Church Road. The last Shop with the Ravilious name was in Church Road, which closed some 20 years ago.

From http://www.actonw3.com/

Eric Ravilious Dungeness

The artwork on the wallpaper is reminiscent of some of Ravilious’ work, oh, and of course, all of this nonsense allows me to include a photo or two or three of Ravilious’ subsequent “home” the De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill-on-Sea.

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Stepping away from the cliff edge

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I was running headlong towards the cliff edge and luckily a little prejudice in the back of my mind about living in a park home, along with a dose of intolerance of synthetic smells (room “fresheners”) pulled me back down to the ground with a bump, just before I went over.

Everything that had looked wonderful at first sight, began to look a little less rosy at second sight.  I suppose I began to be able to do something I didn’t think I could – to imagine myself in a place – and I found it didn’t feel quite right even though the places nearby are undoubtedly beautiful.

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Added to that, on the one day I had back in London before heading off for a weekend in Brighton, the weather was glorious and I sat out in my garden space, looking across at the beautiful Springfield Park, watching the birds feed, chit-chatting to my friends, enjoying the openness and the water and my feet began to feel icy cold even though the weather was so warm.  That’s not to say that staying put is the answer – it’s not, but nor is a mobile home in a small town.

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So then I went to Brighton, and enjoyed the skies and the sea and the vibrancy of life around me and I grew more and more certain that I needed to find another direction.

I phoned the agent on Monday and withdrew my interest.  I wrote a letter that night to the owner and made my apologies to her.

So now I have a small list:

Outside space (garden or balcony)

Water (to look at – I’m assuming the drinking kind will come with the property!)

Open outlook (no banging my nose against the property opposite!)

I might not get all three, but two out of three would suffice.

So, in between some big decisions I’ve enjoyed a weekend in Brighton

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– looked at the sea, saw some of the Brighton Marathon in action, took very conveniently placed Brighton buses (or was the Airbnb place conveniently placed to the buses?), played on the machines on Brighton Pier – lost a lot, but won 4p on the money slider (tipping point) and my sister lost a lot but won 20p on the horse races (when I say “a lot” I mean 50p and £1 respectively – we’re only baby gamblers!),

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had an ice cream, wandered the Lanes (which mostly haven’t changed in the ten years since I was last there),

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went to the Blue Programme of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which was showing Tashi and the Monk, partly edited by my nephew (proud aunty), and won a pair of Keen mid-top waterproof walking trainers! Oh yes, and had two gloriously warm and sunny experiences of tea in the gardens in front of the Pavilion,

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and thoroughly (somewhat to my surprise) enjoyed and flamboyance of that building’s interior (I took some sneaky photos – my favourite being Queen Vic’s toilet).

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So, with all of this, the blog has been neglected; I’ve hardly been present on Facebook; I’ve not done my usual immediate reply to an email (apologies John), but I have pottered and potted in the garden – planted sweet peas, more eating peas, runner beans and replenished the earth in some of my pots. I’ve also attempted to reinforce the pretty well useless defences against the pooing cats – more slate chippings (known to the cats I think as cat-litter) and pepper dust (known to the cats as a particularly pleasant form of snuff).

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Leaving London in a Hurry

Well, back on 25 March, less than two weeks ago, I looked at a mobile home in Norfolk.  I’m going to look at it again next Wednesday, 8th April 2015.  In between I seem to have lived a lifetime of emotions – nervousness, excitement, fear, anxiety, stress, anticipation, happiness, sadness.  I put in a conditional offer, and waited.  Rejected.

Here’s one thing I love about Norfolk:

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Meanwhile, I’m googling like a crazy woman, trying to find out everything I can about the place and the ownership and leasehold position; looking at which bed could go here, which washing machine there, which sofa in the living room.  I’ve pondered the logistics of a move and how to get the boat ready for sale.

Another Norfolk beauty:

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Another offer, and an even longer wait.  I’m now completely frozen – can’t do anything except stare at the phone that is never out of my sight.  Every time I go back and look at the photos and think about where this is and look at what else is available, I am increasingly convinced that this is the one for me in the right place for me, at the right price for me.  Rejected!

So, I go in at the asking price, and wait.  6.45 in the evening (agents close at 7.00) get a call – answer is ………………. In all likelihood “yes”, but J feels she has to wait until S comes home to have a final discussion and agreement – by which time agents will be closed.  They’ll call me back as soon as they hear in the morning.  Yesterday then was to be the day.  I wait.  I’m nervous, irritable, certain that they’ve changed their minds.  The day goes on and again I can’t manage anything other than a bit of washing up and laundry.   The phone rings (I don’t get many calls in my day to day life – mostly texts and emails).  Nope, it’s a friend – one who, by the way I’d been trying to phone the day before.  Each time I called, there was one ring, and then a message that she was busy.  So twice more I called back.  Then I got a message “I’m at a wedding!”  Oops.  Finally, about 3.00 in the afternoon the call comes through and my offer is accepted!

And another:

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Whew!  Well at least for a moment.  There are still hoops to go through, hurdles to jump, rivers to cross, mountains to climb, space to be travelled.  I have to look again, with family support this time.  I have to get a look underneath, to check the chassis looks in good nick.  I have to examine carefully for signs of damp, step carefully to check for sturdiness and solidity.  Then I have to check that the terms of the leasehold on the plot are right.  Then I have to get to doing more tidying and clearing out of the boat than I would normally to ensure that it looks in good order for selling.  I definitely see more stress over the next few weeks.

Norfolk again:

I will not add any photos of the potential new home until it’s a done deal.  I don’t know why I succumb to this superstition, but I do.

Meanwhile, spring is doing what it does.  Here are butterflies – Peacock and Common Tortoiseshell.  There are a couple of crows – nest all ready and tidy – out for a relax on the branches.  A couple of the pea plants have poked through.  Wildflower seeds sown a few weeks ago are popping up shoots and the birds are having a feeding frenzy.

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Leaving London?

Not so sure what that opening image was – but I like it!

It’s not so much that I’ve got tired of London.  Rather, I think that London is getting near to wringing me out, bleeding me dry, squeezing me until the pips squeak, opening up a chute down which all my meagre stash of money is disappearing.  It may be time to depart to East Anglian sunsets.

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More than 48 years in London, 23 of which on a boat – marriage, births, death, divorce …….. but perhaps I’ll do the reminiscences when the event has actually happened.  Meanwhile, what an adventure awaits.  Dry land and countryside are beckoning.

However, the not-quite-conventional persists – both first time round and this time governed by finances rather than any romantic notions of alternative lifestyles.  So the move is to be from a boat in London to a mobile home on the edge of a Norfolk market town, which will place me within day-trip distance of places I love on the north Norfolk coast, and within day-trip at a push – or overnight with lovely friends – of London.

Boat

Nevertheless, even though finance is the driving force, I have to acknowledge the joy of living in a slightly alternative environment on board a boat, and look forward to another small-space environment in a mobile home – the closest I’m ever likely to come to living Australian bungalow style – should I get this mobile home I will be severely tempted to put in a veranda – just to complete the picture (actually there’d have to be a broken-down old sofa on it for absolute authenticity).

couch on verandah

I’m picturing the woodwork that will go on in the generously sized, electrically lit outhouse.

The outhouse

The workbench will be here, next to the metal tool-box.  The bike will live just over there, through the door and propped against that wall.  The two water butts already in place behind, with tap, will water the pots and the raised beds.  Washing will dry (or not, or freeze) on the rotary line.

Inside, in the smaller bedroom, there will be a single bed, a wardrobe, and I reckon space for a sewing table.  In the front room, a sofa, perhaps an armchair – or even a rocker (but perhaps that will be for the future veranda) – the work-table will be under the front window.  Possibly a piano keyboard will fit in as well.  So that will be woodwork, sewing, writing, painting and music-making all covered.  The kitchen looks like it could handle something the boat galley couldn’t – a mixer – for bread-making and baking.

Blimey-O’Reilly!  I’ve moved in before I’ve even put in an offer!  Hold back!  Take a breath!  Stay calm.  What will the next few weeks bring?

Meanwhile, I think I’ve almost defeated the digging cats with slate chippings in the new bed.  The honeysuckle has been all but murdered – is currently in intensive care and might possibly pull through.  The radishes or beetroot are coming up – can’t remember which I planted where.

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No sign yet of peas or anemones or tulips, but there are two flowers on the aubretia and buds appearing on other alpines.

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Leaves are opening, fresh green, on the gooseberry bush

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and the rose bushes are glossily producing leaves in abundance.

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Soon the walkers, cyclers, joggers, buggy-pushers and dog-walkers on the lane behind will disappear behind the burgeoning leafiness of the hedgerow.

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The birds are on a feeding frenzy – Great Tits, Blue Tits, Robins,  Green Parakeets (and the blue one), and of course the pigeons and crows and Magpies.  The coots are displaying and mating and fighting and starting construction works on their crazy nests and it won’t be long before the swans are murdering young Greylag geese.  Ah, the blossomingness of spring!

Fortunately electricity pylons go with you wherever you go.

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