I woke up the other day with that ‘spring cleaning’ itch I get when I decide I need to pull my life together and be a grown-up for a change.

The problem is that now I’ve got a lovely little cottage with a garden that is about to be fertile again, I can’t solve this problem simply by moving and arranging my things into new rooms. No no, this time  I need to actually clean out my junk and decide what I do and don’t need on a day-to-day basis.

This is where sentimentality becomes a massive burden. I don’t like having things which serve no useful purpose and typically, if something is precious because it belonged to someone who will not have belongings again, said item sits on a shelf being revered and gathering dust. This fear of loss and breakage produces a kind of  loss in itself – if the item is not used and enjoyed, it is forgotten and relinquishes all connection to the person who had it, loved it and above all used it before. After a while, it ceases to be special, and simply becomes clutter that was once precious. And when that has happened, you might as well just put it in a box and take it to a charity shop for someone else to enjoy because all of that special connection to the past which made you keep it in the first place is gone.

So, with this thought firmly in mind, the cull of clutter begins. The CDs and DVDs were easy to get rid of and after a realistic assessment of books, I managed to clear a shelf of those too. Fabric is harder because there could conceivably come a time when I do need the various scraps I’ve been hoarding, however I managed to part with some bits and pieces that I never really liked anyway and am heartened that I could at least make a start. Wool poses a similar problem, but I at least found a new home for my collection in the space the books once occupied. The magazines and paperwork fell easily to recycling, as did anything of my husband’s which I haven’t seen him use in the past year.

Then things grew difficult:

  • The picture’s Great Granddad painted – there are those I want framing, and those I’m not too bothered about hanging. What to do with the later?
  • And the soft toys which have lived in the cupboard for the past five years without a thought – how can I part with childhood friends?
  • And worst – the tea service.

Ah, the beloved tea service. To me, it sums up my Yorkshire heritage. Mass produced and treasured still, bought as seconds because one colour of paint was missing from the pattern then passed reverently down the female line, it is thriftiness, hospitality and family all rolled into one.

And it lives in the cupboard, the cups full of dust and spiders.

The thing is though, it could easily serve a purpose. I have thrown tea-parties in the past, but too big for my six-cup ensemble to handle. In day-to-day life, too, it falls short as my own tea drinking needs require a vessel that is somewhat larger and less prone to being tipped over by the cat.

Then, when emotionally steeling myself to do the most daring spring clean ever and take said service to the charity shop, S- decided to have a winter barbecue party. And I had an idea.

Since when did teacups need to be used for tea and tea alone? I needed some small bowls for dips and pickles and such and when laid out on the table with their pseudo-Indian pattern, my china looked amazing alongside a bowl of poppadoms.

It’s sort of like crafting – when I started sewing, I found myself more willing to give other crafty things a go. A creative floodgate opens, so to speak, and after the teacups were highly praised by guests in their new role I began to look at other things differently. Suddenly, I didn’t want to throw anything out – I just wanted to do more things with the stuff I have.

The problem now, is finding enough time in which to do it…

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