Alexander Averin

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Wednesday Apr 11 2007 00:56:23
By Cait
Dear Diary, We all live in a beautiful house but rarely move out of the basement. In our dreams we move around the home. Carl Jung I have had terrible problems today and was unable to post the blog until tonight as the site kept crashing. Well actually it is early morning and next day now! The weather is set fair for the rest of the week, including the weekend. Aren’t we lucky? I’ve decided to limit my work in the garden to two hours a day as I don’t want to wear myself out or do my back in which is so easily done if you overdo things. I have got today off work as an annual leave day so I can enjoy being out in the sunshine again. I finally cleaned the greenhouse this morning. We bought it rather late in the season last year, too late to grow anything much. We did buy some tomato plants and they did well. Hopefully we will get more planted and sown this year. I gave it a good wash and a hose down and tidied my pots and the other paraphernalia. Now she is drying out in the sunshine. One of the roof panes is missing as it was blown away by strong winds in the autumn but M has managed to get through to the manufacturers and they are going to send us a new one in the post. It’s only six feet by four and made of plastic but is quite adequate for our needs. * This cottage which we think was built in the 1800’s, not sure when, has been home to several blacksmiths and their wives and children over the years. There are no ghosts, just a very relaxed and peaceful feeling about the place. I have never felt frightened here even when I was alone when M was in hospital. Of course even when my son was away and M was in hospital I still had the two dogs for protection, they are great guard dogs. I have always had a dog for a companion since I was ten years old apart from just a few years when I was a young woman working full-time and living in a flat; I had to be without any four legged friends then. My two dogs are especially alert and protective whenever M is not here and are even more wary of strangers should one come to the door, if they are brave enough to come through the gate that is! They are not savage dogs but at least I know I can rely on them should the need arise. The lovely couple who lived in our cottage before us were here over forty years, it was kept spotlessly clean by the very houseproud lady of the house and the garden was just as immaculate. I would hate her to see inside the cottage now, it’s not filthy or anything but it certainly wouldn’t be up to her standards! When we came here we did remove all the many layers of wallpaper in every room. They went back to the 1950’s. I know that because I recognised some of the same wallpaper patterns that we had in our house when I was a child. When we finally found the walls again we painted them all white. Now the kitchen and the snug walls are a honeyed gold sort of colour and the bathroom is sexy pink with duck egg blue woodwork. Everywhere else still has whitewashed walls; I toy with the idea of using colour on them but cannot decide. The cottage is tiny and I wonder if white is best to make it seem more spacious.? We demolished a 1950’s tiled fireplace in the parlour and knocked into the wall behind it but the original range had been removed. We installed a woodburner and it has served us very well; we don’t have central heating but we do have the old original model Rayburn in the snug and some small oil filled electrical radiators in the bedrooms and one in the parlour. I don’t want the walls to be knocked about and pipes installed. But let’s not talk of heating on a day like this when we don’t need any. However my much-loved Rayburn stays in all year round except when we have exceedingly high temperatures in the height of summer. It heats our water and dries and airs the clothes for me. It keeps the airing cupboard warm and there is always a kettle boiling away on it ready for the next cuppa. I call it the heart of my home. The ‘big house’ next door, the one we are attached to has been home to preachers in the past but it is meant to have a resident ghost. I haven’t seen it myself and don’t find the place creepy at all. I’m still thinking about having a sunroom on the end of the cottage. My son could build one for me, I would like something very basic. I have visions of myself at a great age sitting in it in my rocking chair, cat on my lap, dogs at my feet, reading or making rag rugs (I love rag rugs), listening to the radio, watching the birds and the river flowing past, dreaming and hopefully still writing a line or two. And feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin through the glass, even in the winter which is a very pleasant and sensual experience. But I don’t have to be old to enjoy those things do I? My son didn’t mow down my violets yesterday. I am so pleased because there are a lot of them amongst the grass on the riverbank. They are a sign of faery magic. I keep seeing fresh cobwebs about the cottage, it is said that spiders absorb negativity, if that is true then there is even more reason to leave the webs be and to love the spiders. Perhaps that is why gypsies never kill them. I was frightened of them as a child but I can even pick one up now (spiders I mean not gypsiesJ). I look forward to my lilac tree flowering, it lives by the back gate and is growing bigger each year. A poor specimen, half-dead really, I rescued it from the garden centre and nursed it back to health. It struggled for a few years but slowly got stronger. Lilacs are meant to deter ghosts and are also favourites of the faeries. Their scent is meant to improve the quality of clairvoyance. Another shrub on my wish list is the witch hazel, the plant of kindliness, loveliness, learning and poetry. I also want a rowan, they are considered to be sacred by the faeries. We had a fine rowan outside our first farmhouse in Wales, they were traditionally grown outside to protect from all kinds of evil. You will notice that, being Irish, I am very much into faeries. I have a sign by my front gate ‘Fairies welcome’ and another one in the back garden which my granddaughters love that says ‘SSShhh, please be quiet the fairies are sleeping’. It actually makes the youngest, E, go very quiet when she is in that part of the garden. Willows are also anti-evil and we have two of those as I wrote in yesterday’s blog. The wind blows through them! We have a beautiful laburnum outside the back door here, she is getting on in years though and I am told they don’t live that long. Some years the blossom is so plentiful it is breathtaking, others it is not so good, that is how trees are, same with how they fruit isn’t it? They vary from year to year. Have you seen the laburnums in the garden in Giverny? I will try and find a picture. Talking of books, which we weren’t, the book title I forgot yesterday was James Fenton’s ‘Gardening from 100 packets of Seeds’. It’s only a little book but lists lots of seeds suitable for gravel gardens. I’ve found a net bag and filled it with nesting material for the birds as a little wren has been pecking at pieces of fluff which were sticking to the study window, I have been watching her as I have been typing this. She is so tiny, imagine how small her nest must be. I wrote about kingfishers in my previous blog and lo and behold this morning on Radio 4 on the Today programme they were talking about a kingfisher survey, I believe it is just in England. They are another bird like the dipper in that they are only found in areas of unpolluted water. I forgot to count my blessings yesterday, only the second time I’ve done that, so there will be a double dose for you today. Greenhouses Gardens Seeds Plants Sunshine Days off Phone call from my daughter today, the person I always hope it will be when the phone rings (though actually I always know who it is). Kind words. Friends. Baths Red cabbage You will notice I have put red cabbage at the end. It is one of my favourite vegetables. I braise it on the stove. This is the recipe from the good old Paupers Cookbook. The book that a lot of you seem to remember and like as much as me. For those of you who don’t know the recipe here it is. Slice the red cabbage and a large onion and chop large apple roughly. Melt a dollop of butter (I use olive oil 2 good Tbs) and chuck in veg, add cider vinegar and brown sugar mixed together, as much as you like really. Bring to boil and then leave on a very low simmer for about an hour and a half or even two hours. It will smell heavenly while it is cooking and taste even more heavenly. Goes well with frankfurters which you can just stick in the pan near the end of cooking. Today we had it with the most wonderful Welsh pork sausages which we bought at the food festival. I think they were possibly the nicest sausages I have ever tasted. We had cheesy mashed potato as well. French wholegrain mustard on the side. Delicious. Before I go I just wanted to say that although I don’t visit the CL chat room there has been a lot going on there that I cannot have failed to miss. Pollyanna talk and criticism of people writing about their families? Our country lives can be compared to the everyday story of country folk which is The Archers. It’s not just about farming, country sports and nature, there is also family life with its inevitable ups and downs, gossip (lots of that!), humour and sadness. There is trivia as well as serious issues. Life is life wherever it is lived , in the heart of the country or in an inner city and a blog is a diary about your country life. If you have a growing family, to not mention your young children and how you exist from day-to-day in your blog would be very strange. Being a mother is the hardest job you will ever do. From the moment of birth your time is not your own any more but it is the most important job you will ever do and the most rewarding. The happiest days of your life I would say, from my own experience. And bringing up your children in the country is, apart from you love of course, the best gift you can give them. Not to write about it? I don’t think it would be possible. It is part of our social history as well. I hope I have not been too Pollyanna ish………………… Before I go a poem: I Remember, I Remember I remember, I remember The house where I was born, The little window where the sun Came peeping in at morn; He never came a wink too soon Nor brought too long a day; But now, I often wish the night Had borne my breath away. I remember, I remember The roses, red and white, The violets, and the lily-cups— Those flowers made of light! The lilacs where the robin built, And where my brother set The laburnum on his birthday,— The tree is living yet! I remember, I remember Where I was used to swing, And thought the air must rush as fresh To swallows on the wing; My spirit flew in feathers then That is so heavy now, And summer pools could hardly cool The fever on my brow. I remember, I remember The fir-trees dark and high; I used to think their slender tops Were close against the sky: It was a childish ignorance, But now ’tis little joy To know I’m farther off from Heaven Than when I was a boy. Thomas Hood  Bye for now, Caitx

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