But, I am not here to moan, though that was one of the reasons behind having somewhere to rant and rave and ramble, but I did think it would be good to remind myself of some of the pleasures in my life (and you know who you are!) plus some others, little things that give me pleasure, simple pleasures in fact.
The garden is obviously one, even though I can only potter in it these days, it is such a lovely thing to look at, to sit in the conservatory on a day like today, with the sun making the water in the fountain sparkly as it splish-splashes into the pond where the fish like to dart about, trying to catch a splash as it lands (I wonder do they make a competition out of it?). To watch a family of four long-tailed tits chase each other down from the very top of the large silver birch, right down to the lower branches, flitting from one to the other, hanging upside down for a moment, then taking off. To see the goldfinches at the thistle seed feeder, we have four of these delightfully pretty little birds as well. The bluetits on the peanuts, the starlings on the fat balls, the two jackdaws occasionally swooping down whilst being watched by the pair of ring collar doves, who like to sit in the lower branches of one of the holly trees, out of sight almost, watching what's going on. The crocuses in the lawn at the bottom of the garden are almost over, lying on their side as if the effort of being in flower, battling against heavy winds and rain have finally defeated them and they need to rest. But, there are lots of daffodils, of all sizes and varieties, beginning to brighten up the garden, from the bog standard Wordsworth-type of bright yellow to the tiny mini ones. All seem to have a lovely scent, which is accentuated when I bring a few indoors and leave them in the warm conservatory. (I have a special spot where ordinary daffs grow, but which can't be seen from the house, and these are the ones I pick). The fancy tulips are coming out... I love the stripey leaves of this dwarf variety, but the colour of the flowers, a vivid orangey-red is a bit too strident for me. However, they certainly brighten up what would otherwise be a rather dull spot. The bluebells are in leaf, the snowdrops over, a carpet of tiny deep purple violets covers the ground under the laburnum, and the outdoor hyacinth will appear soon. There is the smell of wallflowers as you walk down the path to the bottom of the garden, and the sight of frogspawn in the pond. So easy to pretend that Spring really is here, but no counting of chickens, for it has snowed at Easter a couple of times since we came here twenty years ago almost.
Crafts are another of my life's pleasures and at the moment I seem to have lots of different things on the go. There is a tapestry cushion on a frame, a designer needlepoint I found on the internet, and which is full of rich browns, pinks, red, some jade green and rusty shades too. I find working with a frame easier, used to use a floor-standing frame but since we changed the furniture, I can't sit comfortably to use it, so now use a hand held frame, balanced on a cushion in front of me. I always have lots of knitting on the go, sometimes crochet too, and right now I have a silky blue shawl being crocheted for a friend, and I'm also knitting a tweedy brown cushion cover for another friend, and am about to start on a small knitted and lined bag, complete with knitted corsage, for myself. I found a website a couple of weeks ago that sells really fancy wools at a fraction of the price, like a fifth! I like to have the odd ball of fancy wool, it can add interest to a bag, a hat, a cushion cover, or be used with other wools, plain and fancy in a throw or cushion, but usually these wools cost about £2.50 a ball, so are a treaty sort of buy. However, having found them for 59p I was in heaven, and bought five different ones, an eyelash wool, a couple of nubbly wools, a ribbony type wool, in rich plummy shades, deep pinks and reds, purples and blues, and lemony. I also have plans to do a patchwork quilt, one of flower shapes, with hexagonal patches, in bright primary colours, reds, greens and white mainly, stripes, spots, plains and small flowers possibly. And somewhere along the line I will make a larger one of small squares, though will do this on the machine, and in older, floral fabrics.
And it goes without saying I include books as one of life's pleasures. The swimmy head caused me not to take a very steady photo of the book pile, apologies for the blurry photo, but you'll be pleased to know it's not your eyesight at fault. These are some of the books have read recently.... the latest offerings by PRUE LEITH, ERICA JAMES, and ELIZABETH NOBLE.
Prue's book is CHORAL SOCIETY, about three women in their fifties who become friends through a shared love of singing. Three very different women, but all strong characters, all memorable for one reason or another... one is a widow of one year, another is a highly successful businesswoman, and the third a food critic.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS is the latest offering by Erica James, another of my favourite writers who never fails to please. This is about a group of friends who survived the Boxing Day tsunami, and how it affected their lives, their outlook on life, how their lives were changed.
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is by Elizabeth Noble who wrote, amongst other titles, the wonderful, THINGS I WANT MY DAUGHTER TO KNOW. This latest is set in an apartment building in New York and tells of the lives of several of the inhabitants, from Eve and her husband who move there from England with his job, to Violet an elderly English lady, and includes the Kramers and the Schulmans, the latter seeming to have everything the former wants. A tale of love, unrequited and unbidden as well as real, lasting, true love between a man and a wife.
Also read Joan Bakewell's autobiography, PREP by Curtis Sittenfeld who wrote AMERICAN WIFE, mentioned in a previous blog (this book is one of her earlier novels and set in an American college, a tale of growing up), and A BOOK ADDICTS TREASURY, full of quotes about books and reading.
I was going to take a photograph of a Cadbury's mini roll, another of life's little pleasures for me... but I ate it!