A September miscellany

A September miscellany

What a difference a week makes.

Last Thursday we put the house on the market. That evening we had a viewing and within 24 hours we'd accepted an offer for the full asking price. The For Sale sign went up after the house was under offer.

I was surprised - actually, I was gobsmacked. The agents had told us that the house would sell quickly, but I really didn't think those first viewers came across as being particularly keen. So I'd written them off and was preparing for the two viewings we had arranged for the Saturday.

The way our agents operate is that those viewings are now on hold in case the sale falls through. I sincerely hope it doesn't.

So far we've had dealings with solicitors, the agents, the surveyor (who comes tomorrow) and even a primary school on Skye. We've secured temporary accommodation up there (I won't go into details - let's just say that long-term lets on Skye are almost impossible to come by). We've asked for an early exchange of contracts. Things are suddenly getting very real.

So yesterday was spent dealing with phone calls, emails and forms. But I also took advantage of the bright sunshine and made some cyanotype prints. 

I first discovered this method of printmaking last summer, at the local museum. Joe and I attended a session again recently (during the holidays) and I ordered the nescessary chemicals online so I could do some cyanotypes at home. It really appeals to me: how perfect it is for preserving plants; the indigo colour (I love indigo); the history behind it; the magical transformation from dull green to that rich blue as the chemicals are washed away. Also the simplicity of the finished prints.

I was terrible at science in school. But I do love a good process; weighing, measuring, watching things transform (I'm thinking baking here). And the same goes for making cyanotypes: mixing chemicals, painting them onto the paper in semi-darkness, working quickly before exposing the paper to sunlight, rinsing the chemicals off again and seeing images appear, drying out the prints.

Earlier in the week I did some more printmaking. A bit of linocut and - perhaps my favourite - some monotypes. Sketches of hydrangea bracts (I have so many dried hydrangeas in the house I'm considering making some sort of wreath with them) and a few studies of pine cones. In fact, one of those also became a lino print. I'm trying to produce some seasonal items now summer's over.

In other news, I've picked five 'new' books to add to my bedside reading pile. They all came from the local animal sanctuary. There's a secondhand bookshop there inside a wooden cabin and it's one of my Favourite Places. Books are 3 for £1. Yes, really. And there's a good selection - the beauty of it is that I can buy some books, see if I like them, take them back after reading (thus re-donating them) and come away with some others.

The sixth book - to round our purchase up to £2 - was one for Joe. He gets a bit bored in there because he likes to visit the goats, not hang around shelves of fiction and gardening manuals.


The weather has been much kinder recently so there have been walks down to the station to watch the trains, and a weekend trip to the park. We've collected conkers and - much to Joe's delight - seen a decomposing fox in the woods near the house. He does love a bit of gore.

We've baked an apple cake (Nigel Slater, of course) and made soup. Joe will be taking some tins into school for the harvest festival which is on Friday in the village church. I'm planning on going along and sitting upstairs. In my coat. It's a very chilly church.

There are things I'm trying not to think about yet. Some, in case the house sale derails (having a big clear-out, packing our things etc). And some because I can't quite face them. Mainly leaving my friends behind when we go. We may or may not have had a little cry already...

If everything does go smoothly we'll be heading north in early to mid December. So still plenty to enjoy first: Halloween parties, bonfire night, last trips to favourite places. But if I'm honest I'm incredibly excited about a new life in a new place, one which we've fallen in love with.

That's why the house selling process is so fraught. So much of it is beyond your control and you set your heart on everything that's supposed to happen once you've cleared that final hurdle: completion.

I'm not sleeping particularly well due to my mind racing, jumping from one thought or plan to another. I'm going to be kind to myself this afternoon. A cup of tea and a break from technology, just for an hour or so.

Lately we've been going for little walks, sometimes together or in turns, during the 'blue hour'. That dusky time after we've eaten our dinner when things look a bit hazy and the world gets a little quieter. I listen to the leaves falling and crunching underfoot. I feel the air getting colder. Lamps and fires are lit and you see cosy glimpses of domesticity: washing being aired, kitchen tables being cleared.


Then you come home to a warm house, ready for the evening ahead. I'm glad we're spending our last autumn here before the adventure really begins.