My job is mobile and I split my time working alternate weeks in Norfolk and Nottinghamshire. I drive down country roads, enjoying rural England through the seasons.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Pussy cat pussy cat, where have you been...

Today we let Jasmine out for the first time since her big adventure.  Well, actually that's not true - I let her out yesterday afternoon, but when she headed straight for the gap in the fence, I blocked the gap up and brought her straight back in, and as she was barely out 10 minutes I don't think it really counts.

So, thinking about it, I felt I had the following choices - keep her in and force her to become an indoor cat; let her out with the gap blocked and wait for her to find another way out of the garden which might or might not give her access back into the garden later on; or let her out and unblock the gap knowing that she can get back as well as out this way.

In the end, there wasn't really a choice.  Jasmine is 11 years old, loves her forays outside the garden, and although she looks fragile and defenceless, she proved herself fairly tough after surviving unscathed through 4 days and nights out in the wild, coming home only slightly hungry and in need of a good sleep.  Her going missing was only the 2nd time she has disappeared for longer than a few hours, and even the first time I knew exactly where she was - she just wasn't prepared to come home until the children had left.  She hates children, an unfortunate result of being overly mauled in the name of love by my 2 godchildren when, as a kitten, her good manners stopped her from scratching or biting them when the girls snuck off and dragged her out from her under-the-bed hideout.

When she disappeared the other week, we had 4 nights of desperate worry and upset, hour upon hour spent walking the fields and calling, and a huge leaflet campaign mostly carried out by my fabulous sister and her hubby.  And it paid off; a dog walker spotted Jasmine on the edge of a cornfield over a mile away, and after a frantic 2 hours, I found her and brought her home - riding the dashboard of my car like the Queen of Sheba, letting me know that altho she was indeed very pleased to see me, she had, of course, been perfectly fine and able to take care of herself thank-you-very-much - I was so pleased to see her I decided not to mention that she had in fact been heading in completely the wrong direction for home.

She is totally spoilt, very much a surrogate child for me, and a grandchild substitute for my mum - an arrangement that suits everyone except my dad who feels he isn't quite spoilt enough in comparison.

So both mum and I pretended not to watch the clock or freak out when she went straight out and into the field behind the house.  But we were both very relieved when she came home safely after just half an hour - and gave her a little extra lunchtime ham as a reward.

Then we locked the door and decided that was quite enough freedom for one day - she can go out again tomorrow, by which time of course, we will be completely relaxed about the whole thing.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Daylight view

Trying to be artistic with the steps...

The walls need a repaint and I need to get some vinyl for the floor, but it's coming along.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Better late than never

Finally, after living in this house for - what, 8 years? - I've sorted out my porch and made myself a writing/reading/meditating den.  And I'm so pleased with myself that I'm sat out here in it, even tho it's way past my bedtime and I have a really heavy day, not to mention week, ahead of me.

So what have I done?

I suppose the biggest and most obvious thing is the sort-of-canopy I've managed to put up to create some shade and privacy.  One of the many reasons I don't call this space a conservatory is the roof which is just corrugated plastic.  I really don't know why I never thought of this before but the other day I had a eureka idea to pin a couple of cream linen sheets to the roof beams - it took me a while to get it right this morning, but I'm really pleased with the final finished effect.  For good measure I've also pinned some cream linen curtain linings over the window, and moved the sunscreen from the coal cupboard to the back door.

And voila!  After a couple of hours hard labour moving garden and general tools into the coal cupboard, general clean and sweep up, major spider eviction operation and reorganisation of some of the nice furniture I already had out here, I have a lovely space in which to sit and do my stuff.

It's that perfect combination - not outside enough that I feel the need to come in when it gets dark, but not inside enough for me to feel stuck inside now that summer has finally arrived.

And on that note, I suppose I really do have to post this entry and go up to bed.

But I intend to get up early enough to have breakfast out here in the morning!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Last post

It's just a little before 10 am, my last full day here.  I came down to the beach early, and until about 10 minutes ago I had it all to myself - well, and a couple of dozen swallows, and a few skinny sparrows.  Even now, there are less than 10 of us on this strip of beach - hardly crowded.   When I went for my first swim, water still perishing by the way, there was just me - I could and did look out over the bay and daydream myself back 3-4 decades when it really would have been just me and the local fishermen.

One of my customers remembers coming here in the 70's when there were just 2 hotels in Icmeler, and I've seen photos of how lovely it was before tourism took over - trees down to the shore line, locals living off fishing and their own market gardens.  I was talking to a shopkeeper when I went shopping in town yesterday - he needs the tourists to make a living, but likes it best this time of year, and in September when it gets quieter again.   I agree, definitely wouldn't want to be here when the non stop beer and cocktail bars/beach disco/karaoke thing is in full swing.

I've had a lovely week here, and will be sad to leave the sunshine and my spot on the beach behind.  But I am ready to go home now, I'm looking forward to seeing my family again, picking the threads of my life back up.  Not so sure about work though.  I am wondering if it's my usual 2-3 year career itch, in which case I just need to grit my teeth and get on with it - my 10 year plan doesn't allow for any more career changes before I hit 60.  I think, though, that it's just to do with how it seems to have taken over my life, and I have hope for that to change - in 3 months time my new 6/8 week Norfolk rota will start.  If I'm careful not to let my Notts clients "spread" into the gaps, I should have quite a bit more free time, and hopefully will start to enjoy my work again when it's in balance with the rest of my life.  Time will tell.

And if course when I get that free time I'm going to write more.  I've completed most of the things on my list this week - but not the short stories. Why is that?  Why do I want so much to write - and then when I get a bit of time, I don't do it?!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Life on the Beach

Holiday post no 2

Friday already and my holiday is rushing by so quickly I almost feel panicked.  I'm not only not managing to post every day, but my list of things to do is looking pretty long still.  Here are a few items on it:-

  • Finish 2 short stories - now altered to finish one and rough draft the second
  • Run every other morning  - managed the first, overslept this morning and now hoping to get on a treadmill in the gym later today, or run this evening before dinner.
  • Update my ipad work diary - maybe do at the airport or plane on the way home?!
  • Sort my Norfolk clients into 2 lists of 6 and 8 week rotas; plan their next 1-3 apps so that by the end of this year I'm only in Norfolk on this basis.  That is today's task and I've brought my diary, paper, post it notes etc down to the beach with me - am going to start soon, really I am...
  • Crochet that lacy housecoat I've had the silk for for at least 2 years now.  I did actually start this last night.  It took me 3 hours to understand the pattern but by 1.30 am I had it sussed out and had finished 1 of the 7 points that make up the bottom 2 inches of it.  The finished point only took 20 mins, so I should finish the rest tonight and make a start on the back and sides - as long as the next set of instructions doesn't take me as long to decipher!

So before I finish my lemon and mint tea, go for another swim, and then start on my diary, I'm just thinking of how I actually feel, sitting on the beach by myself, eating alone in a crowded dining hall, spending evenings alone, living an almost silent life.

I have to say I'm enjoying the solitude very much - in a way, I'm almost worrying that I'm too comfortable in my own company.  That's not to say that I don't miss having family and friends around me; I do, and without texting, Facebook messaging, this blog and the Internet in general, I think I would feel really quite lonely.  But I'm finding being alone rather than lonely rather refreshing as a short term option at least.  For this brief space in time, I feel lighter, less burdened with worrying about what everyone else wants, needs and expects from me.  I'm not fussed about how I look, as long as I'm neatly dressed and tidy - simple dresses for dinner, flat shoes rather than heels, make up free during the day.   The people around me are in couples or family groups; they're looking at and interacting with each other, and I feel quite wonderfully invisible.  On the beach and in the lobby when I go online, I feel perfectly at ease.  And I'm not exactly uncomfortable at meal times - but I don't linger, and tend to take my tea or coffee to the lobby or upstairs to my room afterwards.  I haven't had an alcoholic drink all week, haven't wanted one.

I do feel, though, that when I get home I'm going to lie, and tell people I've made friends and chatted more with other holiday makers.  Why is this?  Probably because I'm still ashamed of my social inadequacies, my inability to make friends easily, never knowing quite what to say to break the ice.  Knowing that one is a social misfit is not at all the same as being ok with it.

 So, off for my swim and then the diary planning....

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Holiday post no 1

Holiday blog no 1

So here I am on the second full day of my first ever package holiday on my own - albeit at the same hotel K and I stayed at last September.  Amongst a long list of things to do, I have resolved to make a blog entry every day as part of an effort to kick start myself into a routine of writing again.  I've also got 2 short stories to finish, but am not going to go into that now.  This blog entry is about my first impressions, and how it feels to be on holiday on my own at last - something I have thought a lot about but wasn't sure I'd ever actually do.

Yesterday was a bit of a stressy, tired-out blur, and, not surprisingly I suppose, I felt rather lonely and awkward.  I knew I'd be ok with the flight and travel side of things - childhood travel, my uni year abroad and solo visits to mum and dad when they lived in France have made me a fairly confident traveller.  As it was the couple in the seats next to me on the plane kind of adopted me and insisted on seeing me through to the transfer bus bless  them.  But it was a late arrival at the hotel - nearly 3 am, and then I had to ask for a room change which was a shame as I'd wondered last year about the forest lodges and thought it would be pleasant to have one with a little verandah amongst the trees.  My lodge must have had a leak in the winter, though, and there was a pungent smell of mould that made me feel sick. On the whole I'm pleased with the way I handled it, for not chickening out and waiting till the morning, for remaining calm and not letting the receptionist fob me off on the phone - I simply told him I was on my way and would sleep in the Lobby if I had to.  So now I'm back in the main block and realising that a light and airy modern room with balcony and a bath as well as shower suits me better - so much for my Walden daydream!

Going to bed as the birds get up has never been my thing though, and although I went through all the motions yesterday, I felt completely wired and twitchy all day.  Still, I managed a swim in the sea - extremely bracing I can tell you, followed by a short snooze under a thatched beach umbrella.  Then when a party of extremely fat Russians invaded my otherwise deserted part of the beach, I retreated and went for a walk to reconnoiter my morning run along the prom that runs from Marmaris to Icmeler.

I took a book down to dinner, sat in the lobby and tried unsuccessfully to get online afterwards, and then went to bed.  End of day 1, and at that point I wasn't at all sure that solo holidays were a good idea.

Today has been very different, and I am starting to enjoy myself very much, and that includes appreciating the peace and tranquility of having to please no one other than myself.  This may sound dreadfully selfish, but it is really rather nice to think only of my wishes, for a while at least.

I went for my run this morning as planned, but it was already quite hot when I went out at half 7, and I only managed 2 measly miles - had thought I'd do a 5k at least.  Some of it was nerves I think, running a strange path in a strange place; I couldn't get my pace right and varied between a way too fast 9 mins/mile to over 13, and ended up running out of steam and walking a large part of the second mile.  Still, I made the effort, and will run again on Friday and Sunday.  And in any case, when I think that this time last year I was still working towards my first 5k, I'm just happy to be running and enjoying the buzz that comes with the exercise.

After breakfast I caught the dolmus to the weekly market at  Icmeler, which we went to the first year we came to Marmaris.  I feel a dab hand now at flagging down the privately run, vastly overcrowded and probably rather unsafe minibuses.  They may be unsafe, but they feel fun - partly because it's such a foreign way to get about, and partly because the drivers all seem quite mad!  We career along at speed, sitting on the wheel arches if necessary, passing our money along to the driver via the passengers in front of us, and getting our change the same way, shouting out our stops at the last minute, shifting and shuffling around to accommodate people getting on and off.

I was a bit disappointed with the market but managed to buy a few presents before the noise and heat got to me.  And after lunch I came back down to the beach, have had another cold but exhilarating swim, and am currently sat in the warm shade with a coffee and my Ipad, alternating typing and watching the relatively small number of other holiday makers on the beach.  I'm quite surprised at the low numbers here and in the hotel - but I suppose that it is only the very start of the season and the weather is warmer and fairer than I had expected.  Whatever the reason, it's very pleasant and I'm not complaining.

I've noticed a few seasonal differences today.  The first was when I walked up to the main road this morning.  The house with the big garden at the top of the road looked a bit tatty and neglected last September - today the garden is bursting with life and purpose - broad beans already podding, tomato plants in flower, runner beans and peas climbing poles and trellis, grapes starting to form in bunches.  And here on the beach - swallows and martens skimming the sea, climbing and diving, then acrobatically manoeuvring to their nests under the jetties.  It's spring here already, you can see it, smell it, almost taste the energy.  And even I have started to feel a little rejuvenated today.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Country Memories

A little local history.

My customer's daughter mentioned that their vicar was leaving, which eventually led the conversation via leaking roofs due to lead theft, and falling attendances in church, to other changes to the village during the past century - my customer (EH) has lived all her life in the same village.   I mentioned that I had another customer who had lived on a farm not many miles away until the A1 Doncaster bypass came to be built, taking some if his land and leaving the remainder split into a number of unequal and now rather inaccessible parts.   So he sold up, moved away into a different life, and now lives retired in another village about 10 miles away.

My lady asked me his family name so I told her (probably a breach of confidentiality, but I couldn't see Mr L minding), and she asked if he had lived in Drayton as if so, she had gone to school with him.

"Tell him "Hello from EH,"" she said.

Naturally her daughter and I asked if she had any funny or interesting stories that I could tease him about - she said not,  he had been very quiet at school.  I laughed at this as Mr L hardly stops to draw breath from the minute I arrive.   He's a lovely chap and tells great stories of his times as a long distance lorry driver - including fantastic (although I'm not entirely sure if they're really true) tales of trips to siberia and the Baltic states hauling animal skins and furs.

EH said that they were all well behaved and quiet at school in those days - possibly a combination of fear of the teacher and extreme tiredness as they all had long walks of 2-3 miles to get to school in the mornings.  On top of that, those children coming from farming families had chores to do before they even set off.  She herself had to cycle down to bring their cows in from down Twyford Lane and milk them before having her breakfast and setting off for school.  

"Of course," she said, "I was always in a great rush to get the milking done, so I used to cycle along the cows, with one arm out on the cow next to me, getting them along.  But then one day a farmer saw me and told me dad.  "You want to tell that lass of yours," he said, "they're cattle, not race horses!"  So after that I had to go a bit slower, for a while at least."

EH will be 95 this year, born at the end of the Great War, has lived all her life in the same village, still walks up to a mile every day, and has a placid happy view of life that I often envy.

I have to admit I do encourage my customers to take trips down memory lane, especially if they relate to working on the land, or landscapes that have changed considerably in the last 50-60 years.  When I think about it, I'm a bit of a fraud; I have my iPhone and iPad, carry them almost everywhere with me, spend countless hours on the web, couldn't live without my daily hot bath, central heating, washing machine.  And still, I feel nostalgic for an England that has almost disappeared, both in landscape and in practice.