Reading between the lines

What do you remember about yesterday?

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It’s hard to describe in words what and why our favourite memories are so important.

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Every story begins with a single moment in time..

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Every night my daughter and I write her diary… If it was up to her we would write the repeated sentence, “We did maths”……..

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But what if she peeked a bit further into her memory lunch box?

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So instead, as she comes in the door, I make a mental note of the trials and tribulations of her day… the playground dramas, the hay bale climbing, the secret societies being made and broken over a packet of crisps, and the shyly given piece of information of a boy smiling who smiled at her…. Next year these things will make her laugh and capture the essence of this day… far better than if it was listed or written by a well meaning but unobservant adult.

Last week it was my birthday, we ate amazing food and stayed in our favourite hotel. I had wrapped up gifts I had bought over the months leading up to the day itself… and the ironing was done well in advance… But what I remember most about the day was the silly moments, the spontaneous stuff and the effort made by other people to show their kindness- the candle lit cupcakes brought out by the kitchen at breakfast and the spontaneous happy birthday song from the rest of the guests, and the handmade frame lovingly glued together over several nights by the monkey in our neighbour’s shed .

To begin the week we had gone to a quiz night at the local community centre. I had naively thought this was an easy-ozey fun affair, where locals caught up on the week. Ha,… On stepping into the room at the exact moment of the arranged start time, pens were poised and papers grasped in the ‘ team-captain’s hand and tumble weeds slowly ambled past, as us two -and- a -half -humans appeared in the doorway looking for spare table room…oops.

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We were seated with three serious looking folk who for a long time wouldn’t let us answer many questions in case we were in fact as daft as we looked. Hilarious.

But as the evening, and rounds wore on, and the drinks in paper cups were downed, the table softened and we began to see between the lines on the paper… to the people who were there…stories unfurled and lives were glimpsed. We dug a bit deeper and realised it mattered so much more that you could catch the wave of this strange combination of people, mid mad discussion, sharing old and possibly half invented tales… than it did to know the answers to the questions… Thankfully!!

Look closer

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Memories- elusive little creatures.. what makes them park up and stay?

I’ve stayed in many countries on holiday in my previous life, enjoying the generic pleasures of hotels by the sea, but truth be told… I get them muddled up in my memory banks, because many places are awfully similar, catering for what us humans believe we need on our wish list, to make the perfect setting for a perfect break. Although grateful to have travelled, and having had the means to, if I had the chance to tell my more agile self anything, it would be this; get off the beach and do yoga up a mountain. There are only so many plates of all inclusive combo you can eat after a night watching parrots in national dress…

And all these things makes me realise that the key to memories that matter isn’t where you are, it’s how you are when you’re get there… What you let in. The truth is all in the details. Illness or disability might try and take something away; but, if you let it, it can be the beginning of delving deeper into life’s potential.  And I have decided if.. sorry.. when they give my wonky bones an oil change… when my hair is blue and I am in motorbike leathers, then I will not be on a cruise, I’ll be doing yoga up a mountain.

Sometimes the magic of adventure can literally take your breath away. Twenty years ago I stepped off an Italian bus one early misty morning and turned down an alleyway into a cobbled and arched Venetian street. It was a faded sparkly quitely lapping wonder. I Stepped through a cobweb of treasured stories read in adolescent novels, and inspirations hungrily devoured at college. It was real. I was finally there, breathing it in. It was all my senses at once. A perfect moment.  And like a camera click it is still there caught in my memory bubbles where I shall feast on it always. It made me cry. As did the moment my daughter was placed in my arms after ten long years of not succeeding in that particular quest.Image may contain: one or more people and baby

Roll on plenty more road trip adventures of all shapes and sizes please. x

( But one drama queen is quite enough…….!!!!

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Memories are bubbles of fabulous experiences that matter. They don’t need to be cost dependent but they should definitely be valued and treasured. For those of you not exhibiting in the Tate gallery.. Making Art or a craft are valuable ways of capturing something you want to remember through your own unique vision. The simple act of looking in more detail without judgement or filter encourages a better connection, whether you are drawing your favourite surroundings, your aged pet or your dreams..

Image may contain: drawingSt. Abbs Harbour Sketch from a moment on the way home from Brownies!

…..Make something… Anything…Or help someone else to..

True love and friendship.., your forever home, the perfect moment, a deep connection… none of these can exist without the ability to appreciate or stop long enough to look a little closer…

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We had entered the quiz hall feeling that we were outsiders in the big scheme of general knowledge and random clever-clog-ness and realised that the emotional intelligence it takes to connect with your immediate tribe is far greater and richer. Shaking that need to win, find reason, meaning which determines our greatness sometimes gets in the way of good old-fashioned joy. ( And despite the hysteria, we did still manage to get second place!

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So do what kids do…

I get told off by everyone I know for having too much stuff in my car, but being unable to dash off and quickly gather a deck chair/dog blanket/set of paint brushes or emergency outfit for a mucky kid has its disadvantages…

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I pack them just in case. And for the many, times now that we have surprised, comforted, calmed and quietened the folk we have met up with, I know we do the right thing..

And I do so with no shame anymore….

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Because, my picnics are legendary, I can always provide an activity for a hyper child and if you got stuck in traffic,  you could at least eat your limp sandwiches on an M and S retro plate. And these things make certain happenings…. into magic moments. Trust me.

Image result for smoked salmon bagel You do what YOU can. Someone else can run to the shops for the prosecco. I will be on the beach with the cosy blanket and salmon bagels…hoping I get into my small person’s diary once in a while…Ooh pick me!!!!

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Love and fabulous precious moments dear ones,

Liz xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire in your belly..

Lat week my delightful handy man was telling me a story. For Christmas last year he had been given a tin of seeds. They were chilli seeds and he had never gardened before. But he grew them anyway, and regaled to me the tale of the compost, the splitting of seedlings and the abundance of lavishing love and care upon his precious crop.

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A few months in, and his three-year-old was leapt upon grabbing a huge juicy chilli from the fridge to the sound of her parents concerned cry of ‘Nooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!’.

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Only this chill was the size of a red pepper. And so were all the rest of a mammoth bounty. He was confused. So, he did some earnest googling…

Apparently, to really grow peppers properly, one doesn’t feed them quite so much, one doesn’t wrap them in little chilli shaped blankets, or put them in the airing cupboard.

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Oh no. You starve them. The chemical reaction needs to be created inside them so they can BE a chilli only when they have less attention and do their thing themselves…

And then they become who they’re meant to be and ultimately taste like you want them to…..

And I was thinking…

One of my more cheeky neighbours recently, made a comment regarding how huge my bank account must be,  to have a garden full of flowers, and to create what we do.Image result for vintage woman fainting

Oh…… if only they knew…….

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Often, our most incredible journeys begin when we are penniless. Or have no family or friends to support us. Or when our health has failed which we had relied on and always thought would hold us up. The reserves you have, are unbelievable. To draw on what you can be and do without being spoon fed and nurtured regularly by well-meaning loved ones is sometimes a very worthwhile pursuit…..

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Personally, we dealt with ridiculous levels of change, all at once..Leaving teaching, leaving my best friends behind, leaving our choir, doctors, dentists we knew, my daughter’s friends, and school, our home, and our routine. But I KNEW it had to be done, and my previous blogs have told you our story. But the point is, we moved to a little village where we began again, on crutches, on our own, to a house that needed completely doing up and two, no .. including the furry ones  …five, mouths to feed.

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…….In my mind I could sort of see how it might be, but I didn’t want to assume too much. Just pure blind faith and an innate craving to move forward.

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Having trust in what you can’t see…Teaching is a bit like this. Imagine the most perfect classroom ever created, all the bells and whistles and every available technological device.. ready to search for the answer to any question in a second.. But how will this create a learner? A resilient learner who can make mistakes and learn from them, look and look again, look and look further.. and not just believe the first answer they find. When teaching was becoming more difficult because my crutches got in the way, I also saw less and less of a generation willing to open themselves to the vulnerability of not knowing. and having to reach a goal themselves. I truly hope that one day schools begin to understand that the key to teaching is to start from scratch and allow children to find things out on their own.. not from Wikipedia.

      The perfect classrooms ? Yes.. But Lets have a few more books please !!!

Sometimes your unique character and true gifts will only shine when the rug is completely out from under your feet.

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Let’s be better at waiting to get good at stuff. You-tube can’t hold the brush for you. It can’t show you how to create your unique language unless you actually do it as well.

The longer a hot pepper ages, the spicier they become, increasing capsaicin and creating a far spicier experience…Apparently.

Hold out on the over feeding…..

( except for your loved ones.. give them cake )

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Then you can set the world on fire..xxxxxx

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Chez Nous

 

Once upon a time there was a little girl who dreamed of living in a white cottage by the sea….

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(Not in the sea)

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It just had to be magical .

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An old boat fashioned into a hut? . A perfect childhood den..

 

So, fast forward forty (odd) .. actually very odd years…but that’s another story…Wigwams in the garden/ hide outs in-between sheds/ childhood bedrooms designed and redesigned for a (usually- bored parent)  /numerous crazy junk-filled student flats/ an escaped marital castle. a temporary refuge and our hug house which help put us back together again…..but still, this little dream of a little blue and white house remained..

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My small person and I kept feeding the plan, despite massive hurdles. It had to have no stairs, and be a place of sanctuary . Where flowers grew, and the kettle was on.

 

We imagined…..

A seasidey, comfortable little house where people would feel at home, hydraengas in the garden and shells around the edges, inspired by trips to France and Greece and a love of deep Blue from iconic paintings and seaside holidays, ( So much so that my daughter has blue as her middle name.)

Image result for ultramarine blueI knew all our years of looking would be worth it. The ingredients were coming together  and we had faith in finding our home.  We knew it was here.

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As you already know, we spent a long time over the last year doing the groundwork, the garden, the inside etc. Finally, this week, we managed to get the walls done and it was like coming home..

…Can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and the mess was worth it. !

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We were lucky to have the best village painter and the weather held out so we got the job done in two days. Finally the whole picture came together .

Day one.

 

Day two.

So.. here is our home…Image result for heart

 

And the stripey detail drainpipes..

And the funky tattoo doorstep with the fishermen donated by the other beach hut lady.

And the beach blue windows..

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And the additional path colours.. Which will be a lifelong project I think. A bit like the forth road bridge…

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And the fab shipwreck wood half gate which will keep our neighbour’s little dog from escaping when we pup sit… ( It is a work in progress as it needed to go up before the rain hit… )… Another masterpiece from my dustbin- cover-upper-erer…

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And the beach…( which will be a long term working painting given the temperamental nature of my joints and the weather here!)

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That’s Molly giving it the once over… Again, it needs another coat.. not least because of the er.. snow affect my lovely painter accidently added in a mini blizzard. But also it will have more detail in it as time goes by…

Hope you like it. Think my six year old self would be quite pleased, given how many small people have congregated here this Summer!Image result for lifebuoy

I can feel the weather and my body getting less adaptable already, so I am grateful for these last few months of long sunshiney days. If I have had an ounce of energy it has gone into making what we have here, chipping away until each piece is done. It has been done on a shoestring, it hurts, its frustrating, but for now the biggest things are complete. You need the patience of a saint to build something yourself, and the skin of a rhino to throw off your critics….My rhino skills are sadly lacking but the positive comments and new friends made over the fence have more than made up for that.

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not possible xx

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Love Liz

And six year old Liz xxx

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A Quiet wee village….

Our Little village had visitors in the last week.. Usually so calm and unassuming, contemplative and picturesque.. she has a patient and possibly weary tolerance of film and tv, having practiced her best side many times..

 

As the week wore on.. the house on the hill was transformed day by day by black watery paint making it look mildewy and spookier , and boarded up rotten windows, ivy attached by fairies and ‘dead’ plant props giving an atmosphere of an abandoned old house with a story to tell.

 

Maybe next time they should return in winter,  when this village holds her own in the beauty stakes and braves the elements in a hardy fashion, much like its residents;

 

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If in doubt grab a dog!!

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Which is in fact what the absolutely lovely film crew did.

We had already had an idea of the film from letters that had gone out, asking locals if it would be ok to park in their road. After ( not particularly tricky… detective work) ..

37198819_10156615387331869_7077374765366771712_n ….Was apparently being made on the doggie path…

37393476_10156621665396869_5400133729257521152_nAnd just to prove it !!! 

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The little block became home to a convoy of lorries and tech guys, all of whom told me about their dogs back home, and how much they missed them, as Skye climbed into their vans.. She sat on the camera, barked when they did a take because someone said hello.. And nobody minded. And she was cuddled by everyone.IMG_7677

Skye isn’t very well just now, so it was a special kinda thing for us.

So, from here in St Abbs, to the folk who came that day..

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You were polite, friendly, courteous and helpful, and welcome back any time. It was a pleasure to meet you and glimpse a few scenes..

It was a little too quiet today.. Maybe you could squeeze a dog bed into the premier? xx

 

Thanks from us in St Abbs!

Liz xx37592857_10156623873576869_3073169767394181120_n(1)

 

Homes and Gardens

I believe if you are supposed to be/do/get somewhere.. you will.. if you put in the effort and get out of your own way. ..Sometimes things are worth waiting for..

Somehow the more we stare at something directly, the less likely it is to move.. or boil or in fact perform.. Life is what happens in the margins of your essay.. pay closer attention to your doodles..

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And sometimes you have to make, remake and make something over and over again. You thought it was done and it breaks, or you have to walk away or it burns down ( a friend had this happen recently… a terrible ordeal, but she has told me a little re- modelling isn’t a bad thing, or your dream disappears, or it gets given to a passing traveller ( yes my first caravan literally was sold without my knowing for £100 with all my grandparent’s stuff inside) … ( wierdly as I have written this.. twice I’ve lost all the content and had to re- write…. )

But you start again. …

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I could write an entire blog on the patience needed to create this one… Ten years of trying, multiple broken dreams along the way.. But she has existed now in her own special way for nearly ten years now!! A to B to create the perfect family home is often a circuitous route through the rest of the alphabet…………

 

I made this home twenty years ago. For the family I thought I was making. I was fit, hopeful and full of dreams. I also taught high school full time.

 

It was meant to be the big chapter, the one where it all comes together. But there is only so much fairy dust can do.. and after it not turning out quite as planned,  when we left it, mini and I left with a carrier bag. Hope, trust in a support service and a hotel with a big bed and an extremely  lockable door…. it was the scariest day of my life. My friends told me to leave…. It was just a house.

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But,  a few months on, we created this house. …

And for five years it was our hug house. It built us back up and we evolved together, getting to meet some amazing people on the way. .. Again, personal issues followed us , and the stairs too were also getting tricky on crutches, … so after it was clear we needed to jump again, we decided a dream life by the sea was the only sensible choice.

The house sold in a week of being on the market and we had to find our dream home

( and the cash to buy ) it in twelve weeks..Image result for people in a box

…………we wanted something like this

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And I wrote an awful lot of affirmations….. Kept believing it would be ok and kept an absolute focus on what it would be like…

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But you can give them the occasional kick up the bum…….

We stumbled on this little number last February after driving around the area for a week…. And we saw its heart and potential…….

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The estate agent rang the next day, after we had only seen it for ten minutes. I heard myself saying I would buy it….

 

A year on;  This is our house now.. There are many days I hurt too much to move my hands or, in the winter, most of my limbs.. so when there is some energy, I go for it. Paint, rest stop, paint, plant, rest , stop, paint , put washing on, feed someone, paint, stop, etc ….

Lately as the weather has been kinder to limbs and there has been no school or  homework for small person.. I have mostly been out here… making this kind of thing… We have loved being outside creating,  painting  and planting , from early in the morning to a chorus of chirruping Starlings.. It hurts, but it hurts whether you keep going or whether you give in. Armed with voltarol and pain patches….

And for the beach Hut obsessed of us…

In a few weeks, the exterior makeover should be completed by a local painter too, with a few extra bits I have been painting.  When we moved here, a neighbour asked me why I was doing so much to this little house. It was quite simply meant to look like this. Our things have come home. As have we. And I don’t know when the good days will become less and less often. If you get poorly, better to have flowers to look at than gravel. And if you can’t change the world right now, at least you can paint a pattern on it..

Enjoy the home you make with each and every one of your senses and have a great Summer. Enjoy the sunshine, some things are worth waiting for. xx

Liz xx