Thursday, July 14, 2011

Life Is What We Make It.

Interesting to hear that Toronto is a city formed from many villages Margie. Suppose much the same happens here, although some of our very large ones (Birmingham, Manchester, London...) are more like a collection of small towns under one roof.

Leeds, where we used to live had also gathered in outlying villages, each with its own small shopping area, and Morecambe where we now live is much the same, and we live in an area (called Bare)that still calls itself a 'village' (even having it's own 'Mayor' with an annual day of celebration)it also has it's own small railway station (more of a 'halt'). With it's own (and old) shopping parade, we are lucky in that at least a few of the shops remain 'old style', such as an excellent butcher (that doubles up as a deli and also sell a small selection of fruit and veg - displayed on a table outside the sh0p), a bakery that also sells cakes (expensive), a chemist, a toy-shop, several small 'boutiques', a florist, a meat pie shop (that never seems open when I pass), two cafes, an off-licence (wines, spirits and beer), the rest mainly all the other non-foods mentioned yesterday. Fresh fish is sold from a van that appears somewhere (have yet to find it) every Wednesday morning (but that is when I have my hair done), however - there is a very good fresh fish shop (yet to be visited) in the next 'village'. This being an area full of original fisherman's cottages - now sold for a premium price.

Other than the newsagents (that sells sweets and crisps etc), we do have a small 'corner shop' that sells bread, milk, canned and packet foods etc, but of course all these foods are higher in price than the same sold in the supermarkets who can always cut prices lower than anywhere else due to large amounts they buy and the deals they make with their suppliers.
Think if we could all afford to, most of us would go back to buying our food from the smaller (local) shops. All we need is more money! Or eat less do I hear some of you say?

We do have a Farmer's Market on - I think - the fourth Thursday morning of every month, but have only been there once, and really must go there again, especially at this time of the year when there should be so much fresh produce on sale at a reasonable price. As I can manage to scoot down there on Norris, it would make a 'morning out' for me. Unfortunately this Market usually falls on a day when it is raining!

Please (am asking all readers) do let us know if you don't agree with any of my comments. Otherwise I will end up thinking I'm always right, then danger them I become more firmly glued to my pedestal. Worth repeating a saying "there is no truth, only a difference of opinion" so the more views on a topic discussed - the better.

Your way Urbanfarmgirl, of setting your mind on being happy and thankful for what we (already) have, is the very best way to live. Most youngsters today seem to follow the crowd, adults too. Sometimes it can cause so much pressure that a few drop out of 'the rat race' altogether, and all the happier because of it.
If someone has a new car, carpet, mobile phone, and/or wears the latest fashion, maybe even going to the Maldives for a holdiay, then today it seem everyone wants (or even HAS) to do the same, never mind whether they can afford it or not. "Keeping up with the Jones' " I think we used to call it. Our next door neighbour who used to live next door to us in Leeds was like that. Whatever we had, she wanted - but it had to be bigger, better and more expensive.
Whatever I cooked (I was not as experienced in those days - but could still cook a good meal - she then came to tell me she had cooked the same but "had improved it"!
When I first went on TV (as 'just a housewife') I didn't mention this to her, and when she heard about it through the neighbourhood grapevine she nearly burst a blood vessel and ranted and raved around our street saying she should have been asked instead of me because she was a better cook. What did I know that she didn't etc.

Over time I became so stressed with her jealousy that it made me quite ill, almost trembling when she was around and I heard her penetrating voice telling more and more lies (about us) and was more than relieved when they moved. Even then she felt she had beaten us, for the house they had lived in for many years (a big Edwardian semi) had a garden twice the length of our (this running through to the next road - with houses built either side). We had bought our half of the semi, but as theirs was council-owned, and having lived there for so long, they were able to buy it very cheaply indeed. Some few years later (as soon as allowed) they sold the bottom half of the garden as a building plot, selling it for more than they paid for the whole property, and when they sold the house and garden (at a very good price) several years later, all of that was profit. My turn to be envious I suppose - but I wasn't. I was just glad to get rid of her.

"The Englishman's home is his castle" as the saying goes, and once we have pulled up our drawbridge (in other words shut the garden gate and closed the outer doors), our life is what we make of it. If we wish to improve things, this can be done easily enough without having to fork out a lot of pennies. Thankfully, it is 'fashionable' to furnish the house with a lot of 'hand-mades', such as embroidered cushions, patchwork quilts, rag rugs etc. Items that our ancestors used to make and only because they were too poor to buy what was needed. Now, all these are normally the most expensive on the market.
There is so much we can do to give our home an 'expensive' look (if that's what we are after). 'Brown' furniture (dark oak etc), is not what is sought after today - the 'look' being either scrubbed pine, or - even worse - flat-pack furniture. All sold at a very high price. Go to an auction house and you will find the most beautifult furniture that will go for a knock-down price of very few pounds. We could furnish a whole room for the cost of one flat-pack wardrobe.

The older the property the easier it is for old furniture to settle in. But even the modern houses can find room for some of the smaller pieces of furniture. Not everything was made to be large, not every Victorian lived in a big and roomy house.

Think we should all ask ourselves what we really want our domestic life to be. Myself feel that comfort, a pleasant home furnished in a style I like (which is eclectic - in other words all sorts of things from different centuries have to go together - which they do), and being able to provide good food are the most important things. Having a garden is lovely (but wish there was more room to grow veg), keeping chickens would be even better (but so far have to work on that). Our life is not perfect by any means, but would any of us wish for that? If we always have what we want, then there is nothing to achieve. How boring can that be?

Have now talked myself into working my way through our property and really begin to start new projects (like making cushion covers). Anything 'bespoke' (in other words made specially as a 'one-off') would be extremely expensive if we had to pay someone else to make it.
Anyone who has seen "Kirsties' Homemade Home" (maybe not the correct name for this series on Channel 4), repeated recently, will have seen her learning how to make many if the items for her house. Not that she ended up making much, it could be a trial patchwork piece, or a strip of knitting, or just sewing a seam, with the tutor rolled up with the finish article (patchwork quilt,, cushions or whatever Kirstie fancied). But still 'hand-made', and nothing beyond what any of us could make given a bit of practice.

For some reason a very easy 'portrait' can be made to hang on the wall. We don't see these demonstrated as a 'craft' today, but many are for sale in antique shops and command a good price - especially considering they are bought by people who have no connection to the person in the picture frame. Am talking about 'Silhouettes'. These show the profile of a person only, painted in black on a sheet of white paper. Nothing complicated about that.
In the old days, a clever artist could just look at a person and cut the profile directly from a piece of black paper. Today the easy way would be to take a photo of a person sitting sideways on - have it printed - carefully cut round the profile then either paint this black on the reverse side and when dry stick it onto a white backing card, or - to look more authentid - place the cut-out onto a piece of while paper and draw round it. Then paper filling in the face part with with black (Indian) ink.
Mind you - have never done this myself (preferring to paint faces in oils, acrylics or watercolours) but this is a very simple and cheap way to make authentic family portraits that can be framed, hung on the wall to pass down through the generations if you wish.

In our family we have a small footstool that was originally made by my grandfather using (think it was called) seagrass for the top. After his death my mother had it and my dad upholstered it for her using some left-over furnishing fabric. When this began to wear, I stitched a tapestry cover for it. When this began to wear, another tapestry was mad (but not sure if used) as by then one of our daughters had taken it, and think she recovered it in a fabric of her choice - but all the original covers were always left there beneath the new ones, so the stool contains all the memories of our past.
The stool itself was more than just a foot rest. Upturned it used to make the perfect 'seat' to for small children, the struts holding the legs together supported the child sitting there. I was used for this purpose when I was only a few months old, followed years later by all our children, and later still our grand-children. And so - I hope - it will continue being recovered and 'sat-in' in this way by future generations.
Although most of our nine grandchildren are now in their twenties (and two at least having reached thirty) none seem to feel the need to 'settle' down on a permanent basis, so whether we get to see any great-grand-children remains to be seen. But am sure even if not - there will always be one or more 'Goodes' to keep our family flag flying.

Looks like being another lovely day again. Must go and have a sit out there to soak up a bit more sun. Did this yesterday. Rain is forecast at the weekend, so must make the most of the good weather while I can. Noticed the slugs had eaten the centres of all the courgette plants they could reach. The one in a pot standing on a block in a tray of water seems the only one not touched (so this water-barrier works!). Still have a couple of courgettes in the greenhouse in very small pots waiting to be put outside - and these now have flowers! So must find a slug-free place to transplant them.
The Romansco (that has managed to survive last winter and keep growing) is now covered with caterpillars, and the leaves full of holes. This happened last year. Do have one plant grown from seed this year - still in the greenhouse -this so far perfect - so must make a net mesh cover for it to keep the Cabbage White butterfly away - as hope this year to grow my own Romanesco so that I can taste it for the first time ever.

A busy day today (well, that's the intention) so must wend my way, put the washing machine on so the clothes can be hung out in the sun to dry. The arrangement is this morning we go and buy the new freezer (don't hold your breath), and also plan supper. Yesterday I had another 'mega-tired' spell, and apart from thawing the sausages, that's all I did, so B got his own supper: sausages, bacon, eggs and possibly chips. I couldn't be bothered to ask what he ended up with. Fortunately managed to arouse myself after having one thousand and forty winks to watch The Apprentice - this being especially good as they were given the challenge of opening a new food chain. Anything to do with food and I'm glued to the screen.
This tiredness is worrying me - hope I haven't got M.E.

The other day mentioned how our bodies craved foods at certain times. Now I find I'm wanting to eat a lot of fresh fruit all the time, particularly Kiwi fruit (these are very high in Vit C - so perhaps I need it). Yesterday ate six Kiwi (easiest way to eat is using a teaspoon, slice off the top of the fruit then spoon out the flesh and eat as we do a boiled egg). Apples too I am wishing to eat, and also finished off a bunch of grapes from the fridge the other night (and these were bought for Beloved! He hasn't yet noticed they are missing). Today am already craving the two avocados (one bought for B but I've got past caring). Just hope I'm not pregnant! Tiredness can be a symptom of that too!

B has just come in to say he has to go and help a friend fix a boat this morning - which means we now cannot go and buy the freezer. He has suggested this afternoon (but then I'd miss my cookery progs! Life can be very difficult at times). Have suggested we go and buy it tomorrow.instead. It's not really THAT important - have managed without it for a couple of years (but with difficulty) so a few more days shouldn't make any difference, just as long as we have it in time for the autumn crop of fruits and stocking up with quality meat (but only when on offer) for the winter casseroles. Not forgetting room to make plenty of ice-cream to keep B happy.

Even so - still have the washing to do this morning (but that's just a matter of loading the machine and switching it on), and making sure I have the correct measurements for so the freezer will fit in to the space allocated for it. B nearly always gets measurements wrong, and we will be in a mess if it ends up too wide. Aalready there is a small chest of drawers there which will now have to be put in the bathroom, to take the the place of a bamboo stand that will probably end up in the conservatory (if I can find room). Even though we have down-sized to the extent of getting rid of about 90% of our possessions (sob, sob), we still seem to have too much.
If only I had minimalistic inclinations, life would be far simpler. With me it's books, books and even more books. Kitchenalia of every description (old and modern), and storage of food, food, food. A conservatory that we have to fight to move through (B's huge table taking up half the space, my herbs, pot plants (two are sunflowers in full bloom), and salads taking over the rest. Hardly room to swing a cat! And no room at all if the weather is inclement, as also stand the clothes airers in there to dry the washing.

Am not surprised the plants grow well in the conservatory, due - it must be - to all the carbon di-oxide that comes from my mouth as I keep spluttering expletives as I bump and trip over things every time I go in.

This has to be enough for today. Am never quite sure why these blog pages gets filled up so fast considering my life is as simple as it can get. But then you wouldn't really be interested in hearing me say "Got up - sat in the garden for an hour - then went into the sitting room and fell asleep, letting B get his own supper. Later watched a TV programme and then to bed". Or maybe you would be satisfied with that. You'll have to let me know. Send me a comment and surprise me. Hope we'll meet up again tomorrow - and see you then.