In the past fourteen days this poor little house has been pimped and primped to death. From new wallpaper, dado and carpet on the stairs and landing, to a new kitchen ceiling, a fresh coat of paint on the exterior walls, new work-top and tiles half completed in the kitchen and a really, really ugly satellite box stuck to the wall outside my bedroom window, there is barely a surface that hasn’t been sanded, polished or painted, nor a carpet that hasn’t been dragged up, spot cleaned or vacuumed to within an inch of its life by the one-man DIY whirlwind that is Richard.

While all this has been going on I have turned forty, thrown a soiree or two in celebration, had visitors every night for a week, been spirited away to Leamington Spa to stay in a beautiful hotel and watch the wonderfully funny (but oh so very rude!) Fascinating Aida, been for a lovely meal with my family, ate more cake than I have ever ate in my entire life, finally got to the root of Finley’s FatFace problem after all these years  during another emergency visit to the children’s hospital last week, nursed him through another bout of tummy-sickness he was sent home from school with today, finished up the third part  of The Art of Homemaking to a degree I am at last satisfied with, wrote up the outline for a BRAND NEW BrocanteHome project, and skipped a whole lot of all but essential sleep because how else could a person fit all this in without recreational drugs??

Life has been abundant with people and paint. Not to mention gorgeous presents! Oh yes, I have a pile of gifts a mile high. From a yummy little Cath Kidston Sprig Teapot to a red patent leather overnight bag to die for.  A Katy Potts  tea set from Liberty, a darling little Wedgewood sugar and creamer, and a cosy-beautiful, red blanket I have tucked away  to snuggle away my blues. All that and a silly amount of vouchers for Next Home,  a cream carriage clock, candles, chocolates, more flowers than the local florists, and la piece de resistance (oh my!),  a vintage garnet and diamond ring,  from Richard that I will always, always treasure.

I am a lucky middle-aged woman. An exhausted lucky middle-aged woman. One blessed with a pile of new cushions and candles that need distributing. A kitchen that needs to be brought back into culinary life. A bed I long to read and sleep in, (instead of falling into and falling out of in a fuddled mess every morning). Gifts that need tucking away in comfort drawers, books that need shelving, wine bottles that need recycling, laundry that needs folding, skirting boards that need wiping. And on and on and on.

Oh yes my Dears, after the hurly burly whirl wind of the past two weeks my house, my dear, precious little house, is feeling not so much neglected as thoroughly overwhelmed by all the lovely life we have seen fit to throw at it. And so it is time to hug my little cottage. To wipe a soothing hand over ring-stained surfaces, dress the bed with new sheets, burn cleansing incense, clean out the fridge and spend a few of those vouchers on the kind of little pretties that will bring instant freshness to a house in dire need of it.

It is time to retreat into these four walls all over again. To take stock and enjoy what is. To stand still for a short while, just living again. Living and cleaning and cuddling and reading. No people or paint. Just us. Collapsing on to the sofa and watching all those programmes I am jamming up Sky Plus with. Enjoying what we have created and planting up our little back yard for the new season. Hugging the house back to happiness, enjoying the bliss of a day or two of doing nothing and writing a long, long list of heart-felt thank-you’s to all those who have made my fortieth birthday something truly wonderful.

I will be back on-line on Monday and until then I bid you adieu. Adieu, adieu, to you and you and you.x