Monday, 27 July 2009

Blowing in the wind

Yet again, I have not blogged for a while/ Where do the days go? Like clouds in a puff of a wind, they disappear in the great blue yonder of life. Talking of wind, I heard Bob Dylan on the radio this morning. (Bear with me, there's an - admittedly - rather tenuous link here). I was so enjoying his warblings about the answer, which was of course blowing in the wind - but as I crooned along, I was unsettled to find myself frowning, as I considered that most practical of problems - the washing.
After another enjoyable and busy Mummy Me Time weekend, our ancient washing machine was coping manfully with 17 loads of washing - but drying the stuff was another matter. There are only so many bannisters over which to drape sheets, and the airer was already full. And as Bob pointed out, we didn't want this week's writer guests to feel as if they were staying in a laundry type establishment. There was nothing for it. I had to grit my teeth and load the tumble dryer. This was only the second time I had ever used the thing and I wasn't happy. In the same way that I dislike microwaves, I have a deep aversion to tumble dryers. They seem strangely unnnatural. Yes, I know, washing machines are too, but I draw the line at taking a ton of white sheets and towels down to the river and slapping them on stones.
However, as I was pondering the tumble dryer dilemma, a wonderful thing happened. The teeming rain slowed - and stopped. The grey clouds scudded away, revealing blue sky and those lovely white fluffy clouds which look so cuddly, and a nice friendly breeze kicked in. Practically shrieking with joy, I rushed outside clutching armfuls of white laundry, and moments later, was happily surveying it flapping on the line. Very happy to report that three dry loads later, rain shows no sign of stopping play. Yes, I know you have your own problems to which you need to find solutions. But I knew you'd want to share my joy.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

One of my favourite films is Mary Poppins. I saw it first when I was seven years old and was completely enchanted by Jane and Michael's strict but magical nanny transformed their lives. I've seen it about seven times since, once quite recently - and was only slightly put off by Dick Van Dykes ludicrous yankney accent.
But my favourite bit of my favourite film is the part where MP convinces the children to play a game called 'tidying the nursery'. The phrase 'In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun,' has always struck a chord with me (worryingly, even when I was seven). And when the lovely Ms Poppins smiles enigmatically and pronounces melodically 'You find the fun - aaaaand snap! The job's a game!' I am, quite frankly, her slave for life. Because in fact she's expressing a sentiment that deep down, I have always felt must be true. That is, a spoonful of sugar really does make the medication more palatable - and you can at some point, have a bit of a laugh doing even the most tedious of chores. It's just a matter of approaching it in the right way.
Last week I had a big changeover to do. Five beds to strip, along with five towelling robes, ten towels, 2 handtowels. A veritable mountain of laundry.
As I divested each room of its used linen, I hurled it over the bannisters, until, when I was done, the entire stairwell was completely hidden under a sea of white cotton. I hesitated only a second at the top of the stairs before leaping into the air and surfing all the way to the bottom, cushioned beautifully and shrieking with glee.
Mary P made perfect sense.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Remedy for PLS

I've just opened my eyes - but they were only closed for around 10-15 minutes. (Hard to judge when you're asleep.) And as a result of my brief excursion into the land of nod, I feel rejuvenated refreshed, wide awake and smiley.
I get up pretty early, to get the often unpleasant but eminently necessary business of exercising out of the way for the day.. By 7.30 I am showered, dressed and lipsticked and ready for the delighful job of serving up delicious breakfasts to charming guests. But the downside of starting one's day at an hour that, for a lot of people (my 21 year old son included) the thought of which is enough to provoke mild nausea, is post lunch slump (PLS). By which I mean that around 2pm, both body and mind begin to behave as if it were close to shutting down time. 'That's a wrap,' you can feel them saying. 'No more cooking, talking, thinking, concentrating or moving around of any kind.' In short, as if it were time for bed. This is a less than ideal situation for most people, and if you have copy to file and guests to look after, it's clearly the exact opposite of what's needed.
The choices faced by someone suffering from PLS are a) to snort copious amounts of cocaine (expensive and bad for the health) b) swallow quantities of black coffee (liable to make you jittery and irritable and necessitate going to the loo every 20 minutes) or c) power nap.
Take it from me, the only sensible option for a PLS sufferer is c. I know, I do it regularly and it works. BUT, it must be done right. Do not, repeat not, don pyjamas, grab cuddly teddy and/or hot water bottle and snuggle under your duvet. When you emerge, bleary eyed and groggy, two hours later, your day and those in it, will have gone to hell. Instead, put your head down on your arms - on your desk, at the kitchen table, wherever. Or, as I do, curl yourself up in a big chair (my huge black swivel chair in my study is perfect for this), turn it away from the window so passers by can't see you snoozing and spread the word that you're only pretending to work (a damaging rumour for a freelance working from home) relax and close your eyes. As you give in to PLS, you will drift happily away, and when you wake, as you will only a few minutes later, you will feel rejuvenated, clear headed, sparkly eyes and ready for the rest of the day.
Lets hear it for the power nap.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

A good blogger blogs at least 3 times a week. It's a week since I last blogged. I'm ashamed. My July 7th resolution is to blog more often.
Running a retreat is all about calmness. And last night one of our lovely guests told me that I have an aura of calm about me. What a delightful compliment. So why then, with a photoshoot for the potentially hugely successful iwalkdevon website/online mag looming, am I shaking so much that I managed to stick my mascara brush in my eye? Oh I'm calm alright - until you start waving a camera in my direction. Why? Why? After years of saying soothingly to reluctant interviewees, 'You'll look great in the pictures - you'll enjoy the shoot,' I am discovering that life on the other side of the lens can be uncomfortable to say the least. I loathe being photographed - and recently, it seems, I've done a lot of it. Call me a media whore, but in the last few months, I've been photographed for features in the Times, The Telegraph and The Express. Each was toecurlingly embarassing - and by the end of a 2 hour session of being told to lift my chin, move my hip further forwards, turn slightly to the left, to the right, look up - and of course smile smile smile - my body feels as if it doesn't belong to me, and my face invariably aches (and weirdly, quivers). I also now have a huge respect and admiration for professional models.
But, it's all for the good of the cause, so here we go again....clad in the brightly coloured clothes photographers love, wearing plenty of slap for courage. And of course a big smile..