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…

Yoga Or The Pub?

Now it has to be said that although I like walking, I am not one of life’s natural fitness fanatics. I did have a brief love affair with rowing when I was at university, but I think it all went pear-shaped when I realised that I’d rather be lazily sculling myself across the river on a hot summer afternoon, than participating in synchronised torture on a near frozen river in December.

So nobody could have been more surprised than me, to discover that I actually like yoga. I think it was my mother, who took up yoga at the age of 72 – and who could still touch her toes two weeks before she died aged 82 – who first suggested I might try it, but of course I ignored her – deliberately.

Then a few years back, I somehow agreed to accompany a friend who wanted to give yoga a go. We went to a class run by what we had better describe as a ‘mildly eccentric’ instructor.

I’m not sure how much yoga I learned, but I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to crystals, tarot, goddesses, aromatherapy, and a myriad of other ‘new-age’ ideas. Well, to be honest I didn’t ask for the introduction, I thought I was going to practise yoga, but there you are, sometimes you don’t get what you expect in life.

Nevertheless, something was stirred inside and when our instructor somewhat mysteriously decided to give up teaching a year later, I discovered that I actually missed going.

Spool forward another year or so and a different friend mentioned that she had heard about a good yoga class and was thinking about going, and so obviously I ended up going along too.

Well this time we’ve hit gold – I’m pretty sure that our current instructor doesn’t sample the pleasures of illicit substances – or at least if she does, it’s not on Wednesdays. No, on Wednesdays, she runs an excellent yoga class at which we do real yoga and at which I manage to feel enormously invigorated, despite the fact that we barely move. (If you do yoga, you’ll probably understand this. I can’t begin to explain why it works, in fact I’m not even sure that I want to know, I’m happy enough to find that it makes me feel good).

But old habits and attitudes die hard, so despite the fact that I know I love yoga, I know that I always come home feeling energised and raving about how good it is, and I always wave off my friend with a cheery ‘see you next week’, for some reason, on Wednesday afternoons, it’s the devil’s own job to get me into the mood to go.

Last night was the first lesson of the new term. My friend was expecting me, my husband was ready to cook the dinner so I could get away nice and early – everything in place. So naturally I came up with a list of reasons why I wasn’t going to go; I have a bad cough, I have to pay for six lessons, but I can only make four, I can’t afford the petrol… In the end, the husband practically pushed me into the car, with the parting words, ‘Go and if you feel ill, go to the pub instead’.

Well, put it like that – what’s a girl to do. Of course I went (to yoga, not the pub), and yes it is fabulous – I feel wonderful, I’m sitting here with substantially better posture than yesterday and even the cough is a bit better. So that’s last night’s demon well and truly bashed on the head.

And next week? Let’s not go there just yet.