How strange! I feel as if a beloved friend has just left us… the time had come to replace my Mac Mini. We’d had it for over 10 years and it had served us well; it’s been replaced with an updated version as that’s what does the things I need from a personal computer the best & fits the space available. It had become slower & slower over the last few months, and every now & then the fan would kick in audibly as it struggled; I suspect it had got very dusty inside. I opted to go for the trade-in option, as that means that anything that’s still usable inside the box will get re-used, and the bits that aren’t will be recycled rather than just sitting in a cupboard until I got round to chucking it out.

So I did the Mac-to-Mac transfer, which wasn’t as horrendous or time-consuming as I thought it might be, though there were one or two little blips. But Apple Support were great & smoothed it all out for me, and the New Mac Mini was up & running easily a couple of days ago. Yesterday I managed to track down all the bits of data that had wandered off to other folders, so today was “Wipe Mac-Mini-1” day. I followed the instructions on the Apple website to prepare it for returning to Apple, but as it came to clicking the “Erase Disk” option I felt a real pang of sorrow!

It’s very strange; I know I’ll feel the same when my beloved Mazda Bongo finally trundles off to the great scrapheap in the sky. Or if my 1909 Jones Medium treadled sewing machine jammed irreparably, something having broken inside. My head knows perfectly well that they’re just machines; they don’t have personalities, they’re not my “friends” no matter how useful they are, but somehow my heart “knows” otherwise. And I suspect that that’s one reason why I feel I have to do what I do; I see perfectly good old tools, furniture or books sitting in a skip or at an auction and somehow they seem to be begging, “rescue me!” But that does rather lead to an excessively cluttered home, despite my efforts to re-home stuff profitably.

I suppose the answer is, stay away from skips, scrapheaps and auctions. But please tell me I’m not alone, and that other people out there do sometimes feel the same, and that some of the good old stuff that’s tossed away in our wasteful society will also be rescued – just not always by me…

My beloved “rescued-via-Ebay-for-£2.50” Jones Medium treadle, still very much in use!

Rainy days…

It was quite tempting, this morning, to pull the wool over my my eyes and stay in bed… I have a lovely cosy wool duvet, which has proved to be a sound investment as it’s lasting really well and seems to keep me at the perfect temperature, winter or summer; no mean feat, with a lady of a Certain Age. Anyway, the wind was howling through the holly tree and the rain was hammering against the window panes; not exactly conducive to leaping out of bed with a happy smile and a willing heart.

But rainy days, like the clouds that spawn them, have silver linings. It’s a chance to catch up with some cooking – a batch of hob-nobs, some chicken stock & soup, and an aubergine bake all got done this morning – a little light housework (though it’s far too dark & grim for spring cleaning) and one or two projects that have been sitting on the back-burner for a while.

A number of vintage dressmaking patterns have been checked over before being offered for sale, and my neighbour’s handcranked sewing machine has been sorted out – I hope!

And this sturdy but curious little suitcase had been tripping people up in the conservatory for months. I’m not sure what it originally held – a musical instrument, maybe? – but it had a dark red plush lining, part of which had been ripped out. But I couldn’t help thinking that it would benefit from being introduced to some of the leftover sofa fabric… Result!

And here’s my “find” of the week: a set of 5 pristine vintage aluminium pans, most likely from the late 1940s. They came in with a vast collection of old knitting patterns, dating from the 1930s through to the 1970s; it seems from the few letters, etc. amongst them that the lady who collected them got married some time in the 1940s, and these look very much like a wedding present that had been stashed away and never used. They do have all their lids, and were separated by brown paper bags from Bourne & Hollingsworth of Oxford Street, W1.

Off now to sort out the best part of 1,000 vintage knitting patterns!

Don’t mind if I do!


£5 for that big needlework box, and a few other items of interest? Don’t mind if I do, thank you! It’s quite heavy, though – full of books, maybe? But I’m on the run, no time to check…


Ohmigosh, that’s not a book…


It’s a rather-lovely little Singer Featherweight Plus 324! Complete, with instructions, looks as if it hasn’t seen a lot of use. Which may well have been due to the lint & old thread stuck in the shuttle race… Now spruced up, brushed out, oiled & stitching well. I gather that’s the original “case” – considering the pretty-awful & not exactly durable black plastic bases with grey plastic covers that they put the late-model 15Ks & 99Ks in, they get full marks for this one!


“Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be…”

I’d planned to write something about – well, something else. But instead, I’m inspired to write again about Why Vintage? Life takes these funny twists & turns sometimes…

Lovely old Jones Spool from 1894. Still beautiful, still working…


One of my husband’s favourite sayings is, “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be…” meaning that wistful looking back to an imaginary golden age is just that – more to do with imagination than reality. And I think it’s true that all throughout history, and probably prehistory, people have just muddled along as best they can & simply tried their best to stay afloat one way or another, but that’s not what we see when we look back. Looking back at the Roman invasion of Britain, we see fit, bronzed warriors in metal-studded miniskirts building long, straight roads in the summer sun, not miserable conscripts with dripping noses scrabbling in the winter mud, wishing they could wear woollen breeks like the natives, or tubby merchants gleefully piling up their denarii in their slave-driven centrally-heated homes. When we look back at the Tudors, we see the world-spanning voyages, the introduction of potatoes to Europe, Shakespeare penning his wonderful plays and poetry, and the fine, fantastical & wildly-impractical costumes of the wealthy, not the probably-somewhat-itchy home-dyed, spun & woven everyday wear & pease-pottage cuisine of the peasantry. When we look back at the 1940s, we see the slender waists, Victory Roll hairdos and glamorous lipsticks, not the look of dismay at the idea of Woolton Pie for tea again, and the mind-numbing terror of hearing, or worse still, ceasing to hear the whine of the doodlebugs…

Yesterday I had a conversation with my nearly-89-year-old mother. She cannot for the life of her understand why people would want to live in the past, in any way, shape or form, and how I can possibly make any money out of it. She remembers all too well the hard work, the misery of being so very cold but unable to afford to heat the house, or even the room she was sitting shivering in with her newborn baby; the sheer unrelenting effort of making sure that the wood was chopped, the garden crops were picked & processed before they spoilt (no matter what else had to be done) everything dusted, & polished & swept daily and all our clothes clean, starched & pressed. Yet I know of, and have sold things to, individuals, couples and even families whose homes & indeed lives are a shrine to a bygone era, who are looking for wooden dollies or tongs for their washing tubs, slate or marble slabs for their larders, carpet beaters for their pure-wool rugs. And I have a lot of sympathy with them. My mother has lived all her long life in the sparse bosom of the Church of England, and has no real sense of the tremendous disconnectedness of the world that we’re living in now. I think many of my customers are hoping to return to a time when it felt like life had some meaning, apart from just working to get as much money as possible in order to spend it as quickly as possible.

Some of the people I talk to are 20th-century re-enactors, rather than actually trying to live the life of our forebears all the time. But if I ask any of them why they do it, they all say that it’s the Blitz Spirit, the sense of everyone pulling together, & the fairness of rationing. They’ll mention that everyone was healthier, that things were built to last & be mendable, and the sheer exhilaration of mastering the dances. The fun of tinkering, of making things for yourself, and of rescuing good things that can still be useful, usually comes into it too. Possibly even the feeling of living on the edge, that every mission might be the one you didn’t come back from, that any infection might be fatal, that every dance might be your last, so that it all really meant something. And in some indefinable way, that life really was a lot simpler for having far fewer choices. Which is all so very far from how things are in our society now…

Affordability comes into it, too. None of them have been forced to live in the past by being broke & unable to afford modern conveniences; it’s a conscious choice they have all made, and sourcing authentic clothing, fabric & household items is rarely cheap, unless you’re very lucky. Most of our customers do have decent jobs or trades. But if you spend £50 on an old hand-cranked sewing machine, and keep it somewhere dry, brush it out & oil it regularly, it will keep going & doing the job it was designed to do for another hundred years. Your £25 mangle will still work long after your £250 tumble dryer has given up the ghost. Your preserving jars still work in a power cut. So it makes sense to invest a bit in good kit, to save money in the long term. You will need more time, to do things in the old-fashioned way, but it’s quite easy to find if you can give up some TV-watching, FaceBooking or gaming.

And I don’t see that it’s so very different to removing yourself to another country, which often seems to exist more in the mind of the ex-pats than in reality. The Spain with a great past and a wonderful future, where the sun shines all the time that the fireworks aren’t crackling, is not the same Spain where most young people have no chance of ever getting a decent job, or where you can suddenly find that you don’t in any sense own the property you handed over your life savings for. As L.P. Hartley put it in The Go-Between, “”The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” Maybe in some ways, they did things better, although not perhaps in the context of the book. Or the War, or the discrimination, or the lack of universal health provision…

Or maybe, we should be doing things better, so that people don’t feel the need to escape into the past. A lot of people don’t want to live in a constant electronic smog, or on mass-produced food with dubious ingredients, or wear ill-fitting semi-disposable garments, just because everybody else does and it’s all that’s available now. Some people even, to estate agents & local authorities’ horror, actually want a reasonable-sized garden, to grow & raise edible things in, not just a tiny outdoor entertainment space.

Is it nostalgia? Is it daydreaming? Or is it imagining a better, calmer, more creative & productive world? A world where things were built to last, out of the best available materials, with real craftsmanship, even if they cost more to start with? A world where fashion flattered the female form, rather than tried to erase it? Where bedlinen lasted for lifetimes, rather than months? Where fun didn’t consist of blowing up or running over imaginary opponents in a virtual maze? Where outdoors was not a scary place best paved over?

A world that could exist, bits of which have existed; a world that could made to exist if enough of us have the will to bring about the change?

Vintage curtain fabrics & evening purse – lucky survivors, or made to last?


Catching the moment…

It’s halfway through Sunday afternoon & I’m about to drift off upstairs to my new “sewing station” & try my hand at free-motion quilting. On one of my trusty old Berninas, rather than on the beautiful new-to-me Pfaff computer-that-sews, because I don’t have a darning/free motion foot for that yet! So far today, my feet haven’t touched the ground, so I’m due some down-time, although Sunday is a day most people associate with rest. But sometimes you have to make the best of what comes your way, and catch the moment… make hay while the sun shines, sort of!

We’re just back from an invigorating walk in the sunshine down at the riverbank. As we turned for home, we could see the storm clouds piling up once again on the western horizon, but we were ready for anything it could throw at us, wearing wellies & waterproofs. First thing I did this morning on seeing the sun was to whack the washing into the machine & set it off; the clean stuff went out on the line before 10am and came back in at 2pm, dry as a bone in the stiff breeze and early Spring sunshine. Not that it’s at all warm down here! But the bulbs are up & the flower buds are forming, my chickens are laying fit to bust, the garden birds are pairing up and pottering off with twigs and straw, and although there’ll undoubtedly be some icy bits to get through yet, as well as yet more rain, it’s increasingly obvious that the year has turned once again. I’ve cooked a big roast dinner, which will reappear under various easy-cook leftover-dish guises throughout the week, and trotted round to the local market to hoover up £4.50-worth of last-minute-bargain fruit & vegetables to make soups & puddings with, or to dehydrate & use at another time if I don’t have an immediate use for them. There was even a bag of 18 limes for £1; I can feel some Lime Curd coming on, which will use up some of the egg glut, and maybe I’ll also chuck a few limes into the marmalade I’ll be making in the next couple of days with my pristine little vintage Spong marmalade cutter (£5 at the car boot yesterday, works beautifully) and the two boxes of on-their-sell-by organic Seville oranges I found at the supermarket for £1 the other day.

There is a point to all this rambling on, and it’s this: I could easily have justified having a bit of a lie-in this morning, and thought, well, I’ll do the washing tomorrow. I could equally well not have bothered with the market; we have enough F&V in to see us through the next few days. We could have stayed indoors in the warm, rather than hare off down a sodden pathway in the stiff cold breeze. BUT then I’d most likely have ended up drying the washing indoors, possibly even with electrical help, so it didn’t end up going smelly. I’d have had to pay full price for top-ups of fruit & veg later in the week, and I’d have felt very guilty on the exercise front, as well as stir-crazy. And I’d have missed a bargain sewing box full of intriguing vintage sewing, knitting & crochet patterns, not to mention the sparkle of the sunshine on the racing water and glimmering through the golden skeleton reeds. And that’s exactly what I would have done, without even thinking about it, just a few years ago; just stayed indoors, in the warm. My family will tell you I’ve always been a world-class procrastinator & day-dreamer. But somehow I seem to be learning, at this late juncture, to get up & get going

I know I’m very lucky to be able to seize the ideal moment to do some things now – like I’m carving out 5 minutes to write this – and believe me, it doesn’t always work out this way. But it certainly does feel good to think you’re on top of at least some of the tasks in your life, possibly even a little ahead of the game! And it frees me up, in my head, to go & do something now that I actually want to do…


Home again, home again, jiggety-jig…


Well, sort of. The problem with a wonderful holiday is that sometimes, you’re not quite ready to leave it in your head & get back to reality. It doesn’t help that it’s cold & grey here, and there’s tons of stuff that really needs doing, preferably right now, or before. Usually at the end of a holiday I’m looking forward to getting back to all the things I’d miss about our beautiful & quirky little part of the world, but now I’ve found somewhere equally beautiful & quirky. And warmer… Say no more!

It was very interesting to see how people have lived, and to some extent still live, in a landscape that’s equally as benign as our own, if not more so. I live in a smallish medieval market town just inland from the mild & beautiful South Coast of England, and we stayed in something very much equivalent in the south of France, just where the Pyrenees are sloping down towards the sea. Like here, there are still markets; the bigger ones are partly what we would call “grockle-traps” though we found (and bought!) some excellent, inexpensive regional specialities too. But there’s a tiny weekly market in the village we stayed in, too; just four food stalls selling absolutely top-notch, mouthwatering local produce, that you were encouraged to try before committing yourself to buy. The leftovers are in my fridge or my garlic pot even as I write.

I don’t think I have ever been in such an abundant & beautiful landscape. On closer examination, what looked like acres of verdant wilderness clearly was no such thing. Just about every tree was edible or otherwise useful; down in the villages, fruit trees predominated, with olives, figs, grapes, citrus & cherries everywhere – the area is famous for its cherries, in particular, but the tiny black figs were melt-in-the-mouth, honey-sweet gorgeous too – but higher up the slopes, nuts predominated, with chestnuts, hazels & walnuts dotted amongst the cork oaks. The villages consisted of tall terraced houses (with wooden shutters, all painted in beautiful colours – I do love shutters!) clustered tightly around their town squares, Mairies, little forts or priories, usually with mountain streams running in channels down both sides of the roads. Presumably these were once their main water supplies.


Outside the villages, usually a little upslope & almost indistinguishable from the forested surroundings, were areas of gardens, possibly allotments, though they seemed much more permanent & not all of them were used just for produce; we saw one which was clearly a family relaxation area, with outdoor oven, swings & an above-ground pool as well as tomatoes, sweetcorn, beans, olives & berry & currant bushes. The water channels ran through these first, with little pipes going into each garden & channels leading the water though to each bed going downwards, all fed by gravity from the river. In the villages, there were lots of little independent shops, which do seem to be well-used by the locals, though there are hypermarkets & estates of villas with pools & sterile gravel gardens springing up nearer the main roads down on the plain. There are ice-pits upslope, where ice was stored (and still could be) each winter, and thermal springs, which the French take very seriously for their health. In short, a landscape that is or has been used to the full, in a beneficial & light-handed way; there seemed to be plenty of wildlife too. It’s a bird & butterfly heaven!


The coastal towns were delightful; each had its own distinct character and most still seem to have reasons for existing other than as holiday havens or yachtie stopovers. Anchovy warehouses & big local wine domain “outlets” sit alongside the leather goods shops & the soap & candle emporiums; the soaps are a genuine local speciality & our suitcases smelt fantastic on the return trip. I also stocked up on spices as we get through them in much larger quantities than most households, and things like culinary lavender & juniper berries are much cheaper out there.

Needless to say, Elder Daughter & I couldn’t resist a trip to the vide-greniers & marché-aux-puces of Perpignan, the nearest city. And although we couldn’t bring back a lot, as we were flying Ryanair, we did find some irresistible vintage treasures and had a lot of fun, although it almost hurt to leave that beautiful old Kohler industrial treadle unexamined…


One day, we will drive down & come back with a loaded car… but it’d be touch & go whether it’d be loaded with lovely vintage stock for our stalls, or with edible & potable delights to see us through a grey & dismal British winter! And if ever I persuade my doctor to say that I need to go & live in a warmer climate for the sake of my health, you’ll know where to find me…


A point of view…

Went carboot-cruising with DD1 this morning, and came home with a very respectable haul from the bootsale area of our local market, I’m delighted to say, despite the fact that probably more than half of the sellers there are actually regular traders rather than people emptying their attics. But then I went on to another sale elsewhere; I knew it was likely to be more upmarket than the other one because of the “posh” venue, but some of the prices were eyewatering! I’d halfway expected to find people packing up as I was so late, but most of the stalls were still laden. Which isn’t surprising, when one of the vendors was charging £16 for a small rectangle of fabric, just big enough to scrape a cushion out of. Yes, it was nice Sanderson fabric, and probably half of what she’d paid for it new, but that is NOT a boot-sale price. If I want to pay half the new price for posh fabric, I’ll wait for a sale in at our very-good local interior designers & have a choice of fabrics.

And as for the gentleman who happily sold me a lovely ebony glove-stretcher for 50p, a matching ebony & ivory clothes brush also for 50p, and then spoilt it all by asking £5 for a white enamel milk jug with cracks, that someone at some point had filled with orange paint, which was thickly plastered inside & splashed all over the outside, oh dear…

I’m not daft, I know enamel is hot just now. But that poor jug was past it before the paint incident; you might have got some daft banker-on-secondment to pay £5 for it with cracked enamel. But liberally plastered with well-dried-on orange paint, too? I think not… but I’m very happy with the glove-stretcher & the clothes brush anyway. They’re beautiful, if not currently fashionable, and have true & lasting value.

I go out to boot & jumble sales with a change-purse filled with £20 of small change. I may or may not have more money with me, and if I saw something that I knew to be a real bargain – a Timbertops spinning wheel, say – I might dig into other resources. But mostly I manage to keep well within what’s in my purse. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not intending to be mean, and I don’t begrudge a decent price for a decent article, and yes, I do know what it’s like to crawl out of bed on a freezing morning to try to earn a few extra pennies to keep the wolf from the door because I cut my teeth on car boot sales, but if you want to do well at car-booting, don’t charge too much!

I found one of my friends there, and she’d done well & enjoyed herself, by charging between 50p – £2 for good quality, serviceable clothes. The guy selling healthy, well-grown, unusual perennial plants like Saponaria for £1 each had clearly done well too, and deservedly so, and I was happy to add to his profits. And the lady selling delicious home-made fudge deserved every penny of her earnings. But charging nearly as much for everyday things as they cost new, or as much for stuff that really is past its best as you’d pay for top-quality items in an antique shop, is a sure-fire recipe for going home with a car full of unwanted items you brought with you. If you have something of real value to sell, chances are that a car boot sale isn’t the best place to sell it.

Yes, I mostly buy with a view to selling on. But I will have put work into the items that go onto my stall; every handcranked or treadled sewing machine & spinning wheel will have been serviced & supplied with instructions, feet, needles, & bobbins. Fabric, clothing & table linen has usually been washed, mended & starched if appropriate, pressed, trimmed & measured for pricing. Patterns have been checked; some of the older ones have up to 20 fragile pieces to identify & smooth out. Books are checked for defaced & missing pages, and so on & so forth. So if you want the same price as I’m likely to get for it, I’m not going to buy it from you! (Although, of course, someone else may.) And if you want more than I’d get for it, you’re probably not being realistic.

It’ll be a while before I have a chance to do a car-boot sale or something similar myself. But I have a garage full of assorted non-vintage clutter that I need to dispose of; let’s see if I can take my own advice when the time comes & let it go at a price that people are happy to pay!



I don’t think I’ve ever been so exhausted in my life. But we did it! DS3 is home safe & sound, we’ve celebrated this in style, and somehow we managed to get our stall at Molly’s Den ready for the Grand Opening as well.


I really didn’t know what to expect; I felt that due to time constraints, we’d only managed to get half of what I’d planned done, sorted out, prepared & over there. But it did look kind of like I wanted it to, sort of slightly olde-worldy farmhousey, cosy & comfortable. And hopefully intriguing… Some of the other stalls are gorgeous, stuff to die for, so I wasn’t really expecting too much to start with, until I’d got it straight. But this was the same stall today, after two visits to tidy up & bring other bits & bobs in…


The chair has gone. The sewing machine, the little table, the Laura Ashley curtains, some of the kitchenalia, the old saucepans, and a couple of rugs have also gone. I think some books may have trotted off to pastures new too. So I am rather pleased! I have lots more stock, more coming in all the time, and lots of bits I can mend, alter & make anew to try out down there too. Let’s see if I can keep it up…

And now I finally have ten minutes to stop & think, I’m going to have a go at this too: 30 Ways To Save £1 so watch this space for my entry, hopefully very soon!

Isn’t it time we got over it?

Two posts going up today, I hope – that’s what happens when you leave it too long between posts – too many ideas mulling over at the back of my mind!

I followed a link last week & read about a family in the States who are managing to live on what looks like to us a very low income. More power to their elbows; none of it seemed exactly revolutionary to me, as somehow we’ve managed to raise 5 kids and pay off our mortgage on one fairly ordinary salary & the little part-time jobs I’ve managed to hold down between ferrying assorted offspring around. But what did stop me in my tracks were some of the comments underneath… you would think this unfortunate couple were condemning their kids to a living hell by buying them “thrift store” (i.e. charity shop) clothes, giving them home-made  food, and, crime of all crimes, making some of their clothes!

Several comments were along the lines that, by making them “different” from other kids, they were bound to be making them targets for bullying. Well, excuse me, but the basic fact is that everyone IS different! And it isn’t being different, in itself, that lays people open to bullying – which isn’t confined to kids, by the way – it’s feeling bad about those differences. Feeling somehow ashamed of them, which you might well if people make negative comments about them, and thus not reacting with vigour when the bullies start to pull you down… and anyone who stands by and mutters words to the effect that they brought it on themselves, or that they blame the parents, is legitimising bullying and making it far, far worse for the victim. Is a bully themself, in fact, by allowing it to happen & by making excuses for vile behaviour. Are we no better than the chickens in my chicken run, that we seek to bring down anyone who stands out in any way, in case they attract unwanted attention to our flock? Or should we finally realise that there is indeed strength in diversity, and make the bullies stop, rather than giving them tacit approval?

We are rapidly entering a time when it simply will not be possible for everyone to wear “new” clothes all of the time, as fuel becomes too expensive for t-shirts made by child slaves on the other side of the world to be sold for pennies any more, and thrown away after a couple of uses because they won’t wash well. Where home-made food may once again become “the norm” rather than an oddity, if only because people don’t want to find they’ve been eating something other than what it says on the packet. Where accruing debt just because everyone else is doing it, just to have what everyone else has got, may come to seem rather stupid. It’s more than possible that the family featured in that article are actually ahead of the curve, rather than the eccentric oddballs some of the commentators seem to think they are. Those kids may grow up with attitudes and a skill-set that will allow them to break free of the wage-slave-debt trap.

By the way, I am asserting that everyone is different as the wife of an identical twin. Yes, they look very alike, enough alike that our neighbours regularly talk to my brother-in-law without realising he’s not my husband. And no, they are not at all the same…! And I am making a point about home-made clothes because it is entirely possible to make clothing (and other things) that is good enough for other people to want so much that they’ll actually buy it, with nothing more than an old sewing machine, some cast-off old clothing or curtains or similar, the odd old book or magazine (Golden Hands, for example!) and a head full of ideas. If my pillowcase pinnies, scrap-yarn shawls and denim aprons haven’t convinced you, have a look at Raggedy’s site.

And please, help those who haven’t realised this yet get over the idea that everyone has to look the same, buy the same things, think the same things, and that anyone (and their kids) who doesn’t live according to their narrow worldview is fair game for negative comments and worse…


Long time no see…

I know it’s been a whole month since I posted, but I’m not referring to that – it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to see quite so much of our floor! I’ve been busy, very busy, decluttering like mad. It’s needed doing for a very long time, and bringing all the shop & market stock back here tipped it from something that really needed doing, to something acute – if I didn’t do it, I was going to go under mentally, or break my neck tripping over a pile of something. There are still a few piles hanging around, waiting for new homes, but I reckon I’ve reduced the rubble by something like three-quarters over the last four weeks. Some things have been sold on, although the last vintage market was cancelled, but most have been given away, either to charity or on Freecycle/Freegle, and some even dumped.

It’s interesting that now the kids are older (youngest now rising 17) the resistance to change has diminished. When they were younger, they’d complain about the mess, but often actively derail my attempts to actually do anything about it. But now, they’re helping me clear & deep-clean, and are full of ideas as to how we might redecorate & reorganise; we may not always see eye-to-eye about this, but it feels like a huge step forwards. I think I’ve been too easily discouraged in the past; there was a point about two weeks ago, when I seemed to have been working flat out for two weeks but it didn’t look any different. At that point, I nearly went under & gave up, but thanks to an inspirational thread over on MSE, and having a bit more time on my hands, I kept going this time and now it’s really beginning to look like the home that I’ve always wanted to live in.

Some of the things I’m parting with I’m very sad to see go, but I have to face the fact that one lifetime is too short to do everything I’d like to do & learn everything I’d like to learn, and one household, shared with 6 other people, isn’t big enough for 2 treadle sewing machines and 9 spinning wheels. And I was spending too much time looking after things, or indeed looking for things, to actually achieve very much at all!

But some of my attempts to reduce my hoards have been blind alleys… this morning, I emptied & cleaned the fridge. I’d decided that some of my beloved cultures had to go, too – one of my “endearing eccentricities” as DD1 calls them, is a belief that we in the West don’t eat or drink nearly enough traditionally-preserved or cultured foods, or a wide enough variety of foodstuffs, for optimum health – but I failed miserably! I’d just about brought myself to the point of pouring the milk-Kefir down the sink when DD1 announced that she loved the stuff & would take over responsibility for it. The Kefir a l’uovo smelt gorgeous, so that got refreshed too, and the ginger-beer Kefir is a household staple, much loved & drunk daily by several of us. The sourdough starter’s in regular use & I have some Kimchi virtually every day; that only left the Kombucha, where I’ve had first my old SCOBY, then a newly-bought one, die on me in short order for no apparent reason. So I’d made up my mind that I’d stop making that, but I came across a bottle at the back of the fridge, and I’d forgotten just how lovely it tastes! Oh dear, there’s no hope for me, is there?! But the small amount of work & space involved in looking after my “fridge-pets” pales into insignificance beside the complex, healthy & above all, delicious tastes they reward me with, for almost no money. However, the four half-empty jars of mayonnaise, several “stubs” of home-made jam and three bottles of tomato ketchup did get rationalised…

One positive thing that has emerged from the chaos; I’d forgotten just how nice some of the things I’d accumulated were, even if it’s no longer appropriate for me to hang onto them. Below is a pic of one little beauty that I rescued, looking very sad & with bits hanging off her, from a street market about 18 months ago. A bit of elbow-grease & know-how returned her to working order & decent appearance quite quickly & she’s on Ebay now. She’s not a practical wheel to spin on for any length of time, unless you have tiny feet & a lot of patience, and want very fine yarn, but isn’t she pretty?!