Archive for July, 2010


A photographic update

I hadn’t posted any pictures from the garden recently, so thought I’d share a few which best sum up current activity at home.

First weaving

My first attempt at tartan weaving since primary school

So about three weeks ago, a whole lot of trouble kicked off between some of our neighbours, resulting in the clearance of the big barn at the top of the field. During this clear out, S- and his dad found four carrier bags full of fabric and tapestry yarn. I’m having enough trouble with my William Morris cross stitch at present, so tapestry is totally out of the question, but I knew I had to use all the beautiful wool that was salvaged for something. So I decided to give weaving a go. I’m going to build myself a slightly large frame next time, but I managed to produce this dinner-mat sized piece of chaotic tartan, which was promptly given a home by S-‘s mum.

My first lavender

The first crop of lavender, drying in the window

Walnuts

Walnuts growing on the tree behind the house

The alpine strawberry plant that just keeps cropping!

The herbs which S-'s dad planted in my veggie patch

The first ripe tomato

Potato flowers - I'd never seen them before so thought I'd share in case there were others in the same boat

Our lovely new washing line

Kitten's latest catch

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A Novel Idea

So a while ago, I worked for a publisher. Whilst I didn’t agree with a lot of the things said publisher did, I was lucky enough to meet a number of incredibly talented, incredibly lovely authors.

One of said authors has just released a new book on Amazon’s kindle, and if it’s anything like the last one, it’ll be well worth reading. I thought those interested in Ancient Egypt might fancy a look…

The Hathor Holocaust, by Roy Lester Pond

Stuck

If you, like me, are the child of a man who is impossible to buy gifts for, I highly recommend booking a tour round the Morgan Motor Company factory if you get stuck for a gift.

We went round this afternoon and the whole experience has given me some new priorities. Like the fact I need a Morgan. Like, now.

I have never seen a car that looks that good before, and that’s so incredibly well made. What I really loved about the factory, is that no one was overly precious about the vehicles. Finished models were lined up in the car park, visitors were invited to take photographs and ask questions, and customers whose cars were still on the production line were introduced to their vehicles.

So, yeah… New life ambition. Own a hand-built sports car, drive it fast and far, and learn to like the sun.

Cars

Cars have always been something of a magical, too-good-to-be-true sort of thing to me. That I own a car and have a full driving licence is nothing short of miraculous.

And yet, there’s a comical side to them too. Imagine, if you will, four lads. They’re all around 17 years old, and have piled haphazardly into a tinny Ford Fiesta from the late 90s. They’re playing Eminem far too loudly for ten o’clock on a school night.

With its 1 litre engine struggling under the weight of these strapping boys, the Fiesta pulls up beside me at a set of lights. I am listening to a CD I burned called ‘Summer Cheese’ – Counting Crows have just finished being accidentally in love and there is a brief quiet in my car. Through my open windows, the noise of their straining engine and blaring speakers drifts through Charlie Micra. I try not to laugh, but then comes the kicker,

“She’s laufin’ at us!” cries one of them, in a broad Norfolk accent. These boys are further from home than I thought. It makes me smile a little more. I do not look at them, and fight the urge to nod.

“She is! She just nodded!” The driver revs his already struggling engine and I can not hold my giggle any longer.

The lights turn green and I pull away as I always do, calm and controlled. By this point, The Killers are Human and I keep my speed low until that perfect point in the song when my right foot somehow seems to find the floor and Charlie flies forward. I glance to my left as I turn right, to the Fiesta that’s going straight on.

Despite the driver’s revving and my creeping pace, I’m still miles ahead of them. Without even trying, I’ve won a drag race.

Home

Home, for me at least, has always been something of a baffling concept. At 18, I left the safety of my Aberdeenshire village for the bright lights of Norwich city – it’s ok, you can laugh – and discovered what it is to be rootless.

Whilst at university, I would talk to friends about ‘going home’ to Scotland, and even look forward to that ever-arduous trip up the road. When I finally reached this much longed-for destination though, and when conversation turned in that direction, I would always stress that I would, in fact, be ‘going home’ to Norwich any day.

Home, for me then, appears to be wherever I am not.

Perhaps the distance I put between myself and my family when I left Aberdeenshire forced me to create two parallel lives  – one as a very appreciative daughter, and one as the girl on Onley Street who could feed thirty people at the drop of a hat. Perhaps it’s just the drifter in me, constantly looking for something other, something more. Either way, this duality, this need to reach a home that doesn’t actually exist in any context other than the journey, continues to pull me from place to place and I find myself now not only longing for Scotland, but also for the life I once lived in Norwich.

And yet, as I’m drawn towards both the north and the east, I find myself increasingly comfortable where I am. Surrounded by the things I’ve gathered – the inherited furniture, the well-read books, S-‘s collection of cables and speakers – I’m coming to feel that part of these places are with me regardless. I know it’s ridiculous to put so much stock in things, but everything I own and keep is tied to a certain person, a certain part of my life. Is this home? The small cocoon of memories which I build around myself*?

And if this is true, it explains a lot. I’ve been working with people who have Dementia over the last few days and the one thing they all seem to have a very good idea of is that fact that they are not home. Their things are not in the hospital, the markers of their lives are not scattered around and things given to them by people they love who are no longer there can not offer solace. When the word home is said anywhere on the ward, people who wouldn’t even respond to their own name perk up. It is an incredibly powerful concept.

I haven’t decided yet where my home is, or if it’s even something you can decide. Whether I move my things to the north, to the east or to the next village over is something for future-frankiesoup to decide. For now though, I am content to let the journey be my home. I know that ‘may you have an interesting life’ is a curse in some cultures, but it’s certainly a blessing to me. Roots are all well and good, but for now I’m perfectly content without them.

And perhaps I have it all wrong. Perhaps home isn’t even a place. Afterall, I have never been so content as when all of my friends and family were crammed into my parents’ house for my wedding. Perhaps it’s that feeling of total love, of kinship and of peace which makes a home exactly that. And with all the people I love scattered through not only this, but many other countries, I think the journey may be my home for a long, long time to come.

My Scotland home, from the top of Bennachie

My Suffolk home, from the drive.

A view to Onley Street, my Norwich home

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*I realise I’m getting a bit overtly poetic here – I don’t mean to. Worryingly though, this is how I think… all the time.