So now it’s on to the fun bit. This stage of the clearing out had been completed, and all my research and cookbooks have been corralled into one area of the house, so now I can sort, categorise, and most importantly, read them. The utility room looks better than it has for years and dear husband can now organise his tools to his heart’s content, and be able to find them quickly and easily when he needs them.
My big lesson this year, and as usual, please feel free to laugh at how long it takes me to notice the flaming obvious, is how important it is to be able to put your hands on things straight away and to have what you need for the jobs and things you want to do. Doing that meant giving myself permission to say goodbye to all the things that belonged to another part of my life or that I bought but didn’t use. (Those went under the worryingly large heading of ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’) As a family, we’ve definitely learned that we don’t want so much stuff, so our new rule is that, like William Morris said about houses, we should have and give nothing that we know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. There also needs to be places for everything and nothing is to be bought unless there is a place for it.
It won’t ever be minimalism, but it will be homely. I know the Americans think of that word as meaning ‘unattractive in appearance’, but in the UK it means simple but cosy and comfortable. And, as the signs on the porch door read ‘Sorry about the mess, but we live here.’ And ‘Be nice or go home!’
So now I have my cookbooks where I can reach them without climbing on steps. The ones I’m currently using are all corralled together and my cunning plan is to explore the recipes then type my favourite ones out and put them in one of those plastic folders with lots of plastic sleeves in. That way they’ll be easy to find and to wipe clean and they’ll lie flat, which makes my life so much easier. I’m loving the Women's Institute recipe books and a gorgeous German advent cookbook which brings back so many happy childhood memories. It’s got a set of recipes for each day of advent so this year I’m having a grown-up advent calendar and the family are wonderfully supportive and have offered to eat the results for me! They've even offered to taste test them beforehand to check I've picked the best ones. Aren’t they kind?
So how tidy are you? And how do you stay tidy? Please, let me know because I need all the brilliant ideas I can get.
Ending with today’s picture, which is a nice atmospheric beach one. Someday, I may stop being excited that, thanks to a National Lottery grant, I can now walk to a little beach in less than half an hour and my heart won’t lift with excitement when I walk over the brow of the hill and see the sea. I may even stop laughing as I walk around the Poole Harbour and watch the boats before I reach the Quay and see who’s moored today.
I know lots of people who live close to me who’ve never walked down there, and I’m pretty sure they think I’m nuts to love being able to do this as much as I do and doing it as long as I can. But you know what? I hope it doesn’t happen because I always dreamed of living in a cosy house by the sea, and it’s all the more special because I lived here all along so I have all the memories…