Melancholy and excitement…


Strange sensations today.

The girls have gone back to school after the long holiday. For the first time in ages, we had a real sunny summer and what a difference it has made to us all. Number One Daughter who faces the heavy toil of Year 11 really doesn’t want to go back – and who can blame her – although her request at 7.30am this morning to be home-schooled fell on unreceptive ears. Number Two Daughter, who starts at the Upper school today, is full of excitement – I’m glad I’m not a teacher.

Not having the girls around, makes me feel a touch melancholy, but on the other hand, I am finally able to get back to what passes as my ‘normal’ routine – last night I excavated my desk so that today I could blog for the first time in weeks – a certain relief is beginning to flow in the veins.

The start of the new school year always gives me a buzz, which hasn’t anything to do with school, but everything to do with new beginnings, fresh starts and heightened enthusiasm. Especially strong this September I suspect because the summer has been so good and I’m definitely more refreshed and reinvigorated than I’ve been for quite some time.

And in the spirit of clean sheets – I think I should repent of my sort of failure – which is to admit to having failed on the no new book buying challenge. I gave it my best shot, I kept a wish-list instead of pressing Buy With One Click, I avoided the charity shops, I tried very hard- but during the summer I just couldn’t hold out any more. I now know, that being able to read something that sparks my curiosity is more important to me than I’d realised before. And of course reading blogs is a potent way to be pointed in the direction of writers who I’d never otherwise have encountered – and I love that.

So for anyone managing to sustain the challenge, I admire you enormously – but now I have confirmed the disappointing extent of my will-power.

Over the last few blogging-free weeks, I’ve been thinking about what I want to spend my energies on for the next few months. This has boiled down to:

Getting back into regular yoga practise (as I get older, maintaining flexibility becomes more and more important – my mother was a tremendous example of what could be done, and I’m determined to follow her example – and I’m lucky enough to have an excellent teacher who integrates the spiritual elements smoothly, which I appreciate even more than the physical exercise).

Getting to grips with the garden: No chance of turning into a Gertrude Jekyll, just the realisation that much needs to be done and finally, after only living in this house for fifteen years, beginning to get a feel for what I actually want in the garden.

flower tub

And finally – don’t laugh, I’m going to teach myself Old English. I’ve been intrigued by the evolution of the English language ever since I studied Chaucer for A Level, but over the summer, the programmes about the Anglo-Saxons, with Michael Wood, sparked a new interest in the early origins. Each programme showed texts written from the time of King Alfred and his immediate successors, and had extracts of the texts being voiced, with subtitles. It was so delicious to listen to, but also I found myself desperate to be able to read the texts. I’ve investigated text books, although not yet decided which one(s) to go for – they seem to vary from strictly academic, deeply grammatical, to the Old English equivalent of Teach Yourself in a Weekend. If any of you wonderful readers have any old books on OE sitting around unloved, or any advice on teachers, courses or text books – please get in touch!

Of course all this will take place against the background of daily life and endless tent stitch – life’s never boring…

Author: Anny

English countryside, old places, making art.

18 thoughts on “Melancholy and excitement…”

  1. Perhaps a few Danish lessons would help? As I remarked to my husband while watching the King Alfred programme ‘this is just like watching The Killing again’.

    I would love to study etymology but am not sure if it’s possible other than by self-directed study.

    1. I feel sure there must be some crusty old academics hidden away in the depths of an Oxford college who could help, but I don’t move in those circles – it will have to be a teach yourself text.

  2. My father every Sunday lunch time would teach us a new Anglo Saxon word….wish I could remember them….but trawling through hundreds of 15th, 16th century wills it is surprising how much you can read, it is only when they start to write them in Latin…..not good at Latin. They use such odd words for normal items and its fun working them out……so good luck with that 🙂

    1. At the moment, most of the Anglo-Saxon words I know accompany moments such as hitting your thumb with a hammer – but I hope to improve!

  3. What a lovely post – you and I are obviously thinking along similar lines although I hadn’t thought of learning Old English but maybe I should add learning something different to my own list. I went to a new yoga class this morning only to discover that the teacher has been told at short notice that the room is no longer available so it’s back to the drawing board! I feel better about the garden now though since we have been here only 5 years and still nothing much achieved!! Love the photo too!

    1. I think I started gardening here with too many expectations – now I’m getting to know the garden and myself a bit better, so fingers crossed for the next season. I have a weird relationship with yoga – I usually have to push myself to go and sometimes even during the session, but afterwards I experience such a high it’s really worth it.

  4. I know what you mean about the back-to-school melancholy – it’s always tempered with a bit of liberation. Good luck with your amazingly admirable plan for improvement! If you achieve even a bit of it, that will be something and I’ll look forward to reading how you get on:-)

  5. Welcome back! Glad to hear you had a good summer break. I know that feeling of melacholy, mixed with relief.. My children went back to school today. A good time to review some goals. Interesting you’re feeling re-newed enthusiasm for the garden. Mine gardening enthusiasm is curretly flagging, like I’m just waiting for the snow to come cover it all up so I can start fresh i nthe spring 😉

    1. Nice to be back! Most of our garden, with the possible exception of the roses, just looks ready to be pulled up. I’m going to temper my expectations and be a bit more considered about what I put back in for the spring. Of course if the weather turns wet and miserable, I won’t go out there at all…

  6. I’ve settled on allowing myself to buy one book for every book from the shelves that I read … so far it’s working, but that may be because I haven’t had as much time for reading as normal this summer.

    1. Sounds like an admirable solution – my problem is that when bloggers mention books, I find myself going on auto-pilot in search of them, and nine times out of ten, I’ll decide I want to read them – bloggers are so much better at book reviewing/recommending than the professionals.

  7. Welcome back, Anny. It’s a good while since I experienced that particular melancholy, as it’s now our grandsons, rather than our children who’ve just gone back to school, the middle one to secondary school. If it’s any consolation, I too have just succumbed and bought two books, mainly because after a summer of rereading in France, I simply forgot when I arrived back within range of an Amazon marketplace delivery. 🙂

    Being without TV in France I missed the series about the Anglo-Saxons, but your mention took me back to when I was learning Old High German (closely related to Anglo-Saxon) during my languages degree. I actually enjoyed it rather a lot and it was fascinating to study Old Saxon documents and realise that here were many of the roots of the language I speak. Good luck with your endeavours.

    1. Thank you – and I hope you’re not missing France too much now the weather seems to have changed.

      I’m very grateful to be in a position of having the time to indulge in learning about OE. The evolution of English has fascinated me for years, but that little series kicked me into action. I may have to pick your brains as I go on – I’m sure you’re right about the language connections. 🙂

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