Saturday, 25 January 2014

We Get By With a Lot of Help From Our Friends

I'm aware that it's been rather a long time since I posted anything and there's a simple reason for that...we've moved!

Studies list 'moving house' as one of the top five most stressful life events and after the chaos of the last few weeks, I couldn't agree more.  For that reason this is going to be my last blog post for a while. I need a little time to take stock and reassemble! Once the dust has settled, I may think about how to resurrect The Little House once again. In the meantime, I look forward to visiting all my favourite blogs more frequently rather than adding to my own.  

S helps out

This is our third move in the last four years so you'd think we'd have a smooth running no-hassle operation by now. But no, if anything, this has for me been one of the worst moving experiences and, paradoxically, one of the best.

The Worst 
Having to move when you really don't want to.  I loved everything about The Little House - the sea views, the kitchen with lots of space for entertaining, the swallows in the barn, even the quirky uneven floors (and the front door that sticks). It was so very hard having to say goodbye and more than a few tears were shed. There is nothing wrong with the new house. Though it is very little, it's very sweet and it has an equally lovely location but I feel homesick for the old one.

The Best
Discovering delightful things about the new house including being woken up by an owl at 7am (was it confused by the still dark morning or just saying hello to the new neighbours, I wonder).  In the new house we are surrounded by trees and the gables, and leaded-light windows, make me feel that I'm in a fairy tale - I'm expecting Hansel and Gretel to come calling any moment!

The Worst
Luna's looking for her food
Trying to negotiate my way around boxes of 'stuff' and not being able to find anything.  It's an experience very much like camping in your own home or being the main character in 'Hoarding: Buried Alive'. Trying to downsize to a much smaller place without having had time to really sort through and get rid of anything, is much like a giant game of Jenga. I find myself asking deranged storage questions as I stagger about through the cardboard box maze - 'Can the towels go on top of the fridge?', 'Could board games go in the shed with the lawnmower?' Will a wardrobe fit on the landing and if yes, can you still open the door?' and in despair 'Where is the nearest hotel?'

The Best
Finding things you had forgotten all about and reminiscing -  the photo albums, the children's drawings and mementos and cards and letters that I've kept from family members now no longer with us. The girls have been surprisngly good about sharing a room despite the age difference (it's definitely not cool when you're almost 16 to share with your soft-toy-obsessed 11 year old sister). Nevertheless, H had a pleasant break from revision and created a fort with the boxes where she settled down with her little sister to watch a Disney film beneath the blanket roof.

And the Best Again
Keeping with the positive and the reason for this post's title - finding out who your friends really are. I've never been as thankful for good friends as I have these last two months. Old and new friends have rallied round and gone beyond the call of duty to help whether that's in storing furniture for us or physically helping with the move itself. We hired a van and the menfolk (and women and children too) heaved and lifted and manoeuvred, all in the pouring rain. I'm sure there was more than a little muscle soreness on Monday morning but I heard not one complaint just lots of laughter and good humour. I was handed a box of delicious brownies, endless cups of coffee, sympathy, tissues...and a box of wine! These are the reasons we more than 'get by'. It's what I will keep firmly in mind when I'm tempted to wallow in self-indulgent gloom - I am lucky, we are lucky and we're so grateful to have found this little community - and as one friend reminded me it's people who make a home not things and without love, family, and friends to visit, a house is just four walls. 
Arriving at the new little house 

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Little Boxes

Little boxes in the living room
And big boxes in the dining room
There are boxes in the bathroom
There are boxes in the hall
There are book ones and then china ones
There are labelled ones and some blank ones
And they're all made out of cardboard
And they all look just the same

And the Little House in the Borders
Is moving at the weekend 
And we're taking all the boxes
And things won't be quite the same
We'll be packing until midnight 
Then unpacking for a fortnight
And there'll still be lots of boxes 
And we'll all go quite insane! 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

New Year Traditions

(image credit: Kayla!)
Well, the Christmas tree has been taken out, the decorations have been put away, there is space in the fridge and the dieting adverts have started. I always find this time of year a bit depressing, even more so this January with the relentless storms and torrential rain. I thought I'd cheer myself up with a little look back at our New Year celebrations or Hogmanay as they say in Scotland. 

We have a few traditions for New Year one of which is the requisite walk.  I think we feel slightly less guilty about impending revelry if we've worked a few calories off beforehand.  We're very lucky to have some very dear friends that come to spend Hogmanay with us every year. We've known them for at least 16 years and so I think we've probably completed nearly as many New Year's Eve's walks in that time. This year we kept it very local and headed towards the Dunglass estate and on down the decidedly muddy path to the beach. 

Nice selection of hats

Photo-bombed by H!

Dunglass Dean and the beach just visible through the trees
Dunglass Beach is rock and shingle and forms part of the John Muir Way - a continuous path that links East Lothian with Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders. The pathway winds down through the steep valley where the Dunglass burn gradually opens up into the sea. It feels remote and even on the sunniest day in the summer, few people venture there. East Lothian offers more accessible sandier beaches but for me, Dunglass is more magical.      

We lost track of time, wandering along the shore, throwing stones in the water and looking out towards Torness Power Station which looks like it might be floating; a strange box-shaped ark.  Not many people see anything aesthetically-pleasing about it, or would want to have a nuclear power station so close, but I have grown used to its ugly beauty. Whatever feelings I might have about nuclear energy, the building itself often appears chameleon-like and seems to change colour, matching the surrounding light and particular hue of the sea.  

Back at home we got ready to party (well, party as you do when you're the wrong side of 40 and there are eight children present!) Another New Year tradition which is guaranteed to lift the gloomiest of moods is the Danish Parcel Game. It's a little long-winded to explain so you can read more about it here if you're interested in playing it yourself. Basically, guests bring one or two wrapped parcels containing inexpensive, silly items that you wouldn't necessarily want to receive ( I tend to buy things over the year). This year, parcel contents included: glow-in-the-dark glasses, a chocolate tool set, a pop-up pint glass, instant noodles and an inflatable 'air' guitar - you get the idea! 

The pile of often unusually or bizarrely-wrapped items is placed in the middle of the table and players take turns to throw a die. If you throw a six you are allowed to select a present. There are several different versions of the game at this point but once all the presents have gone and been opened then a timer is set and the process of bartering and exchange begins. This has to be done quickly and it gets a little manic. Some versions of the game suggest re-starting the throwing of the die with players able to steal someone else's presents but small children (and some more sensitive adults!) can find it a bit upsetting so we stick with the free for all and the swapping - equally amusing. 

Well, all that's left to say after all that nonsense is a big thank you to anyone who has visited my blog this year and regularly reads my witterings. Wishing you a 'Happy New Year!'