And, just like that, January has gone.
I’m pleased in a way; apparently it’s the worst month up here for storms and there’s only so much horizontal rain I can take. The wind’s still here though. I put some bedding out on the line earlier in the week and the snapping and cracking noises as it was flung around could be heard from the deep within the house.
Speaking of which: we’ve switched things around. The big square room has now become an office (me) and creative space (Joe). It’s just too cold in there at the moment so we’ve decamped to the little smaller room which has the wood burning stove. We’ve been merrily switching on the central heating through the day for the past month but then we took a meter reading. ‘Astronomical’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. So now we’re tending the fire, timing the hot water very carefully indeed and awaiting a delivery of thermals and hot water bottles. The bed’s so heavy with blankets you’re literally pinned down once you’re in.
So trying to stay warm has become a major operation. Obsession even. But there are green shoots appearing in the garden and I saw a huge clump of snowdrops at the weekend when we were visiting new friends in Ullinish. I’m looking forward to the swathes of russet bracken becoming verdant again. The bluebell leaves are already out on the banks by the road.
This past week has been full of small distractions: a doctor’s appointment, a meeting with the school nurse, joiners coming in to mend some flooring. It’s meant that work has been slotted in as and when – not something I’m comfortable with. I’ve got so much on my to-do list and it’s already Thursday…
But good things have happened too. Blog content for a new client has been written and emailed out, and they’re very happy. I finally sorted out some business cards. I’ve had a flurry of shop sales and found the ideal packaging at the post office in town. Again, more happy customers. It’s always exciting to think that my work’s being sent all over the world.
I’ve written two pieces for the Creative Countryside spring issue and another for the online journal. Although I am having to look back at recent photographs to use as there hasn’t been much getting out with the camera. Sunday is forecast to be bright and not as windy so we’re planning a day somewhere. Probably a beach or two and a picnic. And a flask of very hot tea.
Joe’s doing well at school and has written his first ever poem:
To a bluetit
Oh how cute you are
I will give you more and more food
I'll plant more trees and flowers for you
I love you my friend
Lots of love from Joe.
And yes, I was very proud when he brought it home.
We still go the library every week and he’s having swimming lessons too. We made our own ice cream last weekend – he wanted ginger in it but then wasn’t overly impressed with the little chunks once it was in his bowl. His fickle moods are becoming like the changeable weather up here.
The café in the village opens again at the weekend and I’m really looking forward to going in for coffee and cake, and to look at all the secondhand books they have. It overlooks the bay so there’s a good chance I’ll be spending time there doing some writing and gazing out of the windows. Next week I’m hoping to get some artwork done – a bit of a freshen-up for my online shop. Plus, the stock’s dwindling slightly so it’ll be nice to add some new spring-themed items.
I found out the other day that there are two snowdrop walks at the castle soon. It’s still closed until April but they’re opening the gardens and giving a guided tour. Joe will be at school and Jay will be out at work so I’m planning to go along with my camera and make a morning of it. I miss being able to visit so it should satisfy my castle cravings until tourist season starts again.
We’re still adjusting to island life. You accept that things take longer (my doctor’s appointment yesterday, ten miles away, was 45 minutes behind schedule so I lost most of my morning). To get warm the stove needs to be cleaned out, a fire laid and tended. A trip for provisions can stretch to half a day. The key is to accept it. We no longer have everything on our doorstep and that’s why we came here. You have to slow down whether you want to or not. Once you get used to that, you go with it and 'slow' gradually becomes the norm.
You learn to become more resourceful and organised. Killing two birds with one stone. Planning the week’s shopping in advance, attending a children’s library session in between going to the bank and collecting provisions. Making the most of that journey into town. Heating the water whilst making tea, running the bath as we eat, switching the water heater back off again. You pay more attention to the things you’d normally do without giving them a second thought.
It isn’t ‘mindfulness’ in the sense of relaxing and becoming more zen. It's a kind of household diligence. But you do realise that small things are important, and that by paying attention to those small things you begin to live in a more considered way.