A Love Affair…

In a not entirely unexpected turn of events, Alfie our seven month old Cockapoo, now lives in my house after choosing me to be his person. Oh yes: I am without doubt, the chosen one. The one whose ears he most prefers to nibble. Probably because I am the only one who will let him.

Alfieflowerstoo

Having had a series of kittens and cats has in no way prepared me for the inconvenience and joie de vivre that is a puppy. Alfie is bonkers with love for absolutely everything.  Ancient old man on the street? Alfie wants to lick him! Bra wrapped around his head? Cause for celebration! My return home after I have popped to the shops? Like Christmas every time! The window cleaner calling for his money? Reason to do an excited little wee in the porch while simultaneously trying to jump into his lovely arms! Heckity pie this is one happy dog.

People I know are divided in their opinion about this new development at Chez Brocante.  Some friends have looked at me absolutely aghast as Alfie romps around my little house carrying whatever little piece of treasure he can snaffle. Mark washes his hands every time this enthusiastic little puppy touches him and my neighbour saw fit to convince another neighbour to insist that he could not sleep during the day because Alfie barks with worry whenever I leave the house: a plan soon scuppered when said neighbour came to my house to state that he couldn’t live with such a lie and didn’t even know I had a dog!

One friend looks at me as if only I could have got such a mad dog. A dog who is, in terms of spirit and joy and bouncing off the walls busyness, Finley’s doppellganger. Shaking her head as if to say, haven’t you got enough on your plate you mad cow?? Another worries about the troublesome business that is my doggy’s erm… business. Worrying about the effort required to take him for walks and to keep the house clean and tidy when Alfie is determined to be my domestic undoing, by eating everything from the waistband of my new trousers to a block of cheese and everything in-between.

And yet the pleasure that is being Alfie’s person is unsurpassed. This morning I had a little cry and he climbed on to my knee and tried to lick away my tears. When Alice looks set to jump out of the window, Alfie whimpers and barks in fright and runs over to tell me his little feline friend is trying to make her escape. On the school playground, Alfie behaves as if he has wandered into heaven and all the kids crowd around him while they take it in turns to worship his silly face. And when the phone rings on the tele, Alfie barks to let the world know that someone needs to answer it…

This is a love affair if ever there was one.

How To Start Again

Sometimes life deals you unfair blows. Sometimes you wake up and realise that this just isn’t good enough for you. Sometimes you bang your head against a brick wall and realisation does not strike until blood fills your eyes. Sometimes my lovelies, you have to take a long, hard look at the life you have created and start again.

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Heaven knows extracting yourself from the life you have squeezed yourself so determinedly into is horribly hard. One must not underestimate the strength and the guts it takes to say this isn’t enough. This isn’t the life I choose to have. Only the very brave, in fact, can dig up courage enough to do it, so if you are halfway to acknowledging that you need more, then give yourself the gentlest of pats on the back, because you are one of the few willing to admit that sometimes we make mistakes, sometimes the best laid plans fail and sometimes we have to look at ourselves square in the mirror and say this stops now.

This stops now.

So today is the day we start again. It doesn’t matter that it is Wednesday not Monday. The middle of the month and not the end of it. It doesn’t matter that there hasn’t been time enough to make preparations for this new start. To buy supplies for all the things we imagine we will need. It doesn’t matter if we ate half of the pantry for breakfast again or haven’t yet made a to-do list. It doesn’t matter if we are too old or not old enough. None of it matters because deciding to start again is a decision. A decision we can make in a split second.

We can decide to start again in the moment we step out of the shower. As we close the door behind us on our way to a job we hate. As we are bending over to load the dishwasher. When we take the cakes out of the oven, or lean over to kiss our babies goodnight. It’s just a thought, a thought you can choose to have. I am going to start again. And once that thought exists we cannot resist it’s faint, shrill call. We must acknowledge and decide right then and there to do whatever it takes to begin all over again. To shake off what is left of bad choices and desperate experiences and to move into a future created by careful, authentic design.

But oh where to begin? Begin my darling in the fridge. Under the bed. Or in the closet. Begin by writing this isn’t what I want in huge lipstick letters over a broad sheet, or by running until you can hear your heart banging in your ears. Take a few days off. A few days out of your life to say goodbye to what went before and to work out what comes next. Light a candle and light up possibility. Play music so loud the neighbours complain. Take to your bed. Take to the shops. Don’t talk of it. Don’t make it a big deal, just allow the fire to start to rage inside you and do whatever it takes to move forward. Even if it means you are starved of calories or love or  respect or clothes or money in the short term.

Tell yourself I need more ten thousand times a day. Think it more often often than men are reported to think of sex. Every six seconds.  Say it as you open your eyes in the morning and before you close them at night. study every aspect of your life and ask yourself, will it really do? Am I happy making do? Am I happy at all?

Let the fire rage sweetie. Then start again. If I can do it, then you can too.

P.S: it’s ok to be scared.

BrocanteHome on Etsy

survivallessons

Survival Lessons (Algonquin Books, 2013)

I have always said that books find you when you most need them haven’t I? And it was never so true as last night, when after a long three days of playing Nurse Mummy to a child with a peculiar bug he was kind enough to share with me, I switched on my Kindle Fire to find that it was recommending I read Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman – a book that turned out to be a short, sweet masterclass in life affirmation.

So being the kind of lady who likes to do as she is told, I duly downloaded it for free with my Kindle Unlimited subscription (so very much worth signing up for if you have a Kindle!) and soon find myself in the company of this delightful writer, navigating her way through breast cancer by reminding herself of all the teeny tiny things that truly do make life worth living.

This is a Brocante book if ever there was one, resplendant with puttery treats, recipes and little to-do’s woven through a narrative that speaks at once of both joy and sorrow. Don’t miss this one. Especially on the days when life seem exhausting or unfair. Or the need to be brave seems all-encompassing.

I Bought A Bucket

Tell me this, and tell me no more: what is it with men and buckets?

bucket

It is you see a truth universally acknowledged, that if you buy a bucket, a passing human of the masculine kind will do one of two things:

Either

a) Fill it with something obnoxious

Or

b) Make it disappear never to be seen again. 

Hell yes. I do believe that somewhere out yonder there is a place men go to show off all the buckets they have snaffled off women who want to do no more than fill their lovingly chosen pail with hot soapy water and a squirt of something pine-scented. Men love buckets: a fact not often discussed in polite society.

And so my lovelies in an unprecedented act of independence I have bought another bucket (and a very tasteful bucket it is too) and I intend to guard it with all the screechy lunacy I usually reserve for those who help themselves to MY violet cremes.

Be warned men in the vicinity: I take no prisoners.

The Summer That Wasn’t

In Summer there are usually peonies in vases and barbecues in the garden. There are usually evenings spent sipping wine in a twinkle lit garden and mornings spent dead-heading roses, and trawling around car boot sales across the area.

the summer that wasnt

But not this summer. This Summer I have not finished a single book. Nor written a single word. My skin isn’t glowing from dalliances with the late afternoon sun and there hasn’t been meal after meal of pomegranate sprinkled salads. No. This is the Summer that wasn’t.

This is the Summer that Finley turned eleven. It is the Summer in which I failed to protect him from something neither of us could have predicted and it is the Summer in which I had to give August to my child: to bolster and boost him. To make him as certain of me as he could possibly be and to provide not just emotional support on demand but be there for him in both body and spirit.

It has meant spending every last penny I had on days out and cosy meals for just the two of us. It has meant a birthday resplendent with everything a little boy could wish for and it has meant letting him sleep next to me when he needed to and taking him to all the theme parks and for all the walks in the park with a mad puppy, that his little heart desired.

He has been indulged and I have been exhausted. My laptop grew dusty after Alfie chewed through the wire and I struggled to order a replacement and all manner of life and obligation was left hanging in the internet while the house became static, less looked after than it has ever been before, though filled with the noise of visiting children and an ongoing war between puppy and cat.

I am not myself. I have missed words, and books and writing in a way that is almost palpable. A hole you could almost poke your hand into. I have spent evenings staring into space and trying not to be terrified by tomorrow. And I have jeopardised friendships and business commitments because I couldn’t think straight.  But I have done it because it is what Finley needed. He needed me to be available to lounge with, laugh with and eat pizza from boxes with. He needed to be heard, reassured and have his world feel safe again. And in order to do that, for just a short spell, I had to give him my all.

Today he is back in school, and I can have my Monday back again. I can write to you and ask you to understand, and I can stare at my screen for as long as is necessary without him dissolving into tears. I can pick up the pieces of my life, and try to put them back together while carving out a new normal for both of us. I can cook and  laugh, and putter myself silly for I have so very much missed flowers and candlelight, all the routines and rituals that have always sustained me.

Parenting is hard. All to often we try to fit it into a life filled with personal desire and unbridled ambition. Our days are filled with the must be done’s and the I can’t live without’s and our children are expected to muddle along side all our dreams and mistakes without asking questions, or having their little hearts acknowledged to the necessary degree. Which is why I had to stop. And listen. And hear him. I had to make the most of his tenth Summer for it will never be gifted to us again and I had to make sure that joy took precedent over grown up responsibility.

Sacrifice then, your name is Summer. And because of you we are in a better place. Business as usual will commence immediately.

There Were Three In the Bed…

When I am trying to sleep, there is nothing I hate more than having someone touch me. I simply cannot bear the warmth of someone’s arm across me. The weight of a leg draped across mine. The sound of someone’s breath in my ear. In fact many an unsuspecting bed companion has felt the heat of my wrath when they have dared to lean as much as a little toe on me. It makes me feel, you see, like stabbing said person in the night and clearly that is the kind of impulse that very definitely must be contained.

boy and dog

Especially when you find yourself sharing your cosy, beautiful, lavender scented bed with a ten year old boy and his puppy. Oh yes. stabbing either one of them for needing the warmth of she who is clearly the leader of the pack would simply never do.

Last night Alfie came to holiday at our house. Alfie, the puppy Mum bought for Finn. Alfie the puppy who is growing faster than Japanese knotweed and has already reached a size none of us were expecting. Finn was delirious with excitement and I was worrying about picking up poo. And whether Alfie would eat Alice the cat, or Alice the cat would hide, never to be found again, after encountering our shaggy little enthusiastic maniac of a puppy.

All went swimmingly well. Alice clung to me like a teeny chimpanzee and Alfie shot around the house carrying, variously, a doillie, a tin of Coty talc, and at one point, my black bra and looking for all the world, like he was having the absolute time of his life. And then it was bed time. Ordinarily Alfie sleeps in a puppy cage too big for my house and so it was decided that he would sleep upstairs, with Finn, at a safe distance away from little Alice’s room, and with his own snuggly blanket for company.

Bad idea. You see Alfie worships me in a way I have never before been worshipped.  As soon as he realised I was both behind two doors and across the hall, he started to whimper. Finn came and fetched the camisole I had been wearing that day to try to settle him down but when half an hour had passed, and the whimper looked set to turn into a full doggy howl, I knew I had no choice in the matter but to call both child and dog into my room.

Readers I am not the kind of person who believes it sensible to share her bedroom with a canine, but needs must and very soon I was huddled on one side of my bed, while Finley spread himself as wide as possible across me and the darn dog settled himself down to sleep across my legs, heavy breathing like an amorous octogenarian. I was struggling. I was holding in my urge to stab the pair of them with the Kindle I was trying to read in the dark, when all of a sudden it was seven o’clock in the morning and said dog was curled up between me and Finn, who was holding a snoring Alfie as if he was a rather large, curly haired teddy instead of the mad cockapoo that he really is.

How the heck did that happen? How in the name of Pedigree Chum did I have the best nights sleep of my life sharing my bed with a boy (all long limbs and curly hair) and a puppy?

I thought I was way beyond my comfort zone and it turns out I simply have no idea where my comfort zone begins and ends. Bless my silly heart.

The Little Things

Ah the little things. These my darlings are the little somethings that shore us up in monotonous or aggravating times. The little somethings that bring a spark of possibility, inspiration, joy, or sheer luxury to your day.

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This then is a list of three of the little things currently brightening my world…

AromaWeek Candles

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One of things I both love and hate about T.K.Maxx is that when you buy something, you can be pretty certain that you won’t be buying it again for T.K.Maxx is where lovely things go to die. And so it is with this box of AromaWeek Candles I am currently using on my new desk. With one deep tea-light for each day, each with a different scent, I am thoroughly enjoying experiencing the different mood each scent creates and I rather feel as though I am dabbling in establishing scents for every mood. Tuesdays candle is peppermint, just what I need today when my energy is slipping and I need to feel refreshed and clear-headed…

The Let’s Bring Back Journal

letsbringback

This was a treat to myself when I was shopping in Liberty, London and it is quite the most darling of old-fashioned journals celebrating all manner of graceful puttery treats and ways of living we modern gal’s simply no longer make time for…

Examples? This…

~Spend the morning lounging in a dressing gown, eating bonbons, and watching Jean Harlowe films. Bonbons used to be the symbol of glamorous indolence, the vice of the lady of leisure.

And this…

~ Use oversize  cutlery – it will give your guests the sensation of dining with the Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Fabulous, mais oui? I am using this lovely journal to write down my puttery treats as and when I enjoy them so that I can share them with you at a later date…

The Kenwood Smoothie To Go

smoothie to go

I’m juicing. Juicing. Hope you like juicing too! Though green (and red and purple) juices have long been a part of my daily diet, I was getting entirely fed up with dragging out my giant blender and decanting vast amounts of juice into jugs, only for it to go to waste because I was unable to judge how much I was likely to drink. Enter then the Kenwood Smoothie to Go, as recommended by my friend Kath, my go to girl for good advice. I just unscrew the little jug, fill it with fresh veg and a tiny bit of fruit and whizzzzzzz… and there it is, one Alison sized juice I can drink straight from the jug it was blended in. Inspired!

P.S: My current favorite juice? Spinach, cucumber and pear. Green, good-for-you bliss.