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The Simplicity Myth

sanctuary Aug 18, 2020

Continuing on with The Book of Days, this post is designed to encourage you to see the blessings of modern technology for even the most old-fashioned of homemakers and to help you divine which tasks could be simplified and which truly do deserve to be elevated to puttery, domestic art…

This then is homemaking the Brocantehome way.

THE SIMPLICITY MYTH.

In an age of conveniences so modern we can barely keep up with daily advances in technology, it is quite possible to run our homes as if they were machines. Setting all the domestic conveniences a-go-go, having the robo-vacuum hum quietly through the house all by itself, asking Siri or Alexa to find a recipe for us and keeping track of the whole caboodle on our mobile phones...

So when we talk about harking back to a simpler time, it is only ourselves we are kidding: keeping house the old-fashioned way is neither simple, nor easy, but it can be so very rewarding and so today I want to encourage you to find a...

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Home Library

sanctuary May 15, 2020

 

One of the things I’m missing most in the midst of this isolation is the library. I like everything about it. The whole kit and caboodle. From popping the library bag Finn brought me back from Paris into my handbag before I go, to practically running to the NEW IN stand as I arrive, in case some curmudgeonly old man sets his sights on the latest housekeeping tome and whacks me out of the way with his walking stick.

The library I like best is in an arts centre with a shop full of local crafts, a theatre, a gallery and a tiny little cafe that serves the bestest goats cheese and pesto paninis in the land. It is a place alive with eccentric old people. An ancient lady who regularly stops me to tell me about the paintings she once saw in Florence, and a man I have twice seen muttering about the very state of this immaculate library as he rummages through the oversized print books, looking like a geriatric Al Pacino.

I like to make a...

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Home and The Corona Virus

sanctuary Mar 03, 2020

 

When faced with the kind of wolf we may not necessarily be able to keep from the door, it falls to us as Mistress of the house not to panic before it is quite clear that panic is necessary.

While precautionary measures may well be an order, sending oneself into a hurricane of anxiety long before there are Corona Virus addled zombies walking the streets, and rushing out to buy preposterous amounts of loo roll, face masks. Pot Noodles (!) and anti-bacterial hand-wash in a greedy grab rarely seem among the civilised, strikes me as extremely likely to cause more problems than it solves, adding to the kind of hysteria that will render one’s head so noisy there will simply be no room for common sense to prevail. And it is ONLY common sense that stands between us and the panic-fuelled Armageddon we will deeply regret having wished upon ourselves.

Yesterday, somewhere on the interwebs I saw a plea for us all to politicise this virus. To think not about ourselves, nor...

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An Imperfect Christmas

sanctuary Dec 21, 2019

 

Oh December, you really have been the most obstructive of Mistresses! Between the engine going kaput in the car, the miserable black fingers of rising damp crawling through the living room walls, the drama of insisting a reluctant sixteen year old revise for mock GCSE exams unhelpfully stuffed into no time at all just before Christmas, the most preposterous of mean-spirited arguments with a woman who will not re-consider her more greedy and outlandish demands, and finally the unwelcome visitor that is the kind of real feverish, delirious flu that has consumed the whole household, this is a month that has truly been sent to try us. A festive horribilis of sorts!

For it is Christmas! And despite my protestations that this year I am simply not ready, apparently she is going to happen anyway and will not even consider my application for a delay in proceedings. (Rude).

So I sat and stared dear Christmas in the face and she stared right back at me, hard as nails, and said that she...

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Housekeeper’s Diary

sanctuary Nov 13, 2019

There are words in this life no sane woman wants to hear. Namely, “I’m really sorry but I have dripped fish juice all the way from the kitchen to the front door and I haven’t got time to sort it out, sooooooo sorry, byeeeee, mwah!

Fish juice!! At seven forty-five in the morning the very idea of “fish-juice” makes me want to vomit. Actually scrap that, at any time, day or night, the term “fish-juice” makes me want to vomit. So yes. My day started trying to banish the stick of mackerel from the entrance to the house after a certain somebody didn’t quite fasten down the lid of his oh so healthy lunch.

Then the overgrown child started his usual non-uniform day fussing. Apparently convinced that the very idea of non-uniform day was not a raising money for charity scheme, but in fact an elaborate ruse to get him to school in a Batman T-Shirt while the rest of the school arrived in their usual tie and blazer combo. Much ado about...

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Domestic Overwhelm

sanctuary Oct 07, 2019

 

One of the statements I hear most often from the women I coach is that when it comes to creating domestic routines and rituals they simply don't know where to start because the whole house feels overwhelming.

And oh how I sympathise.

For it takes no time at all for me to lose control of routines that usually run like clockwork and when that happens I recognise how very easy it would be to sit back and let it all go to hell. To watch Jeremy Kyle instead. To get back in bed and pretend my bedroom represents the extent of my very existence and that there is no such thing as an overflowing dishwasher and a laundry basket that just will not be tamed. Or to head out of the door and find myself in the most exquisite of hotel lobby's so I can simply deny a life that feels too ordinary in favour of one more rarefied.

But in the end, Jeremy Kyle gets on with his life, I find myself with cause to go downstairs and do battle with the dishes or the hotel receptionist asks me to leave as...

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Making A House A Home

sanctuary Oct 09, 2016

It feels like you wait forever and then all of a sudden the moment both arrives and passes and all that you were dreaming of is now your new reality.

Oh yes, dear, lovely Housekeepers, we have moved in and though there is still one room full of boxes, the rest of the house is more than liveable and best of all, I have broadband and can enjoy your company all over again…

Here is what relief on this scale feels like: the gentle deflation of one who did not realise she was holding her breath. A hot bath after a long, long day. A hug from your Mum. It is all this and of course it is so much more to I who holds the very premise of “home” so dearly to my heart.

I am trying not to rush this new love affair of mine. Trying not to be in a panic about creating picture-worthy rooms or creating a home before I understand the house. For this is what it takes to make a home: familiarity with the peculiar quirks of the bricks and mortar – the door handle that will not...

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Moving Week/ 26 Sep 16

sanctuary Sep 25, 2016

 

Well now the week I have been waiting for is finally upon us: we move on Friday and though I am up to my eyes in boxes and muddling through the packing up process all by myself because Ste is working such long hours, I am giddy with excitement and simply cannot wait to begin the process of making our new house a Brocante Home.

There are of course mixed emotions… some of me feels as though I am abandoning my Mum here in the bungalow. That she will be forever alone once we have packed the final boxes in to the van we have hired and I can’t seem to quite put this plainly silly idea to bed, though the rational me knows I carry her with me wherever I go. Finley is woeful about moving: flinging himself between crying and raging and accusing me of all manner of things from having stupid hands (?) to failing to provide him with the security of a permanent residence over the past three months between selling our little house and moving in to the next one! And Ste...

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Stress And Pot Noodles

sanctuary Aug 10, 2016

Today contracts will be exchanged and the house will no longer be mine. I will eat Meze in a new Turkish restaurant with friends and spend many hours before hand in search of something to wear. I am fat with discontent. Grey under the Summer tan. And I have developed a hole behind my right ear. A hole! 

I have never understood stress before now. I simply didn’t know how physical it is. How your heart booms and your head aches. How shaky you get inside. I have known pain and trauma but stress is different. Stress renders you devoid of emotion but riddled with anxiety. And though you know anxiety isn’t real, though you are more than capable of rationalising every fear your demented mind presents you with, still it has you trembling. Wide awake in the wee small hours. Snappy and strained.

While there are huge things to worry about, it is the little things that have me coming undone.

A wasp in the car that had me screeching at Ste “What part of “I’m...

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On The Brink

sanctuary Jul 18, 2016

 Well heckity pie, just when it seemed life was finally settling in to something lovely, I find myself almost homeless.

No really. Homeless. Not quite on the streets. But one week away from completion on my little house and a few weeks away from eviction here in the bungalow because the landlord has finally confirmed that he wants to move a relative in. And oh how very, very stressful it is to suddenly not have the certainty of home anymore. And the irony of being the very someone who has long preached about why it matters…

My heart is breaking now. My neck hurts. The strain is telling on me and Ste. And finding another house is proving almost impossible while he is between jobs. We need time that we simply don’t have.

I wish I could write eloquently about how it feels to be in such crisis. To succinctly capture the kind of tension unique to it. I wish that I could set aside the angst and bring to BrocanteHome a dispassionate review of how this could have...

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