Thank you and Goodbye, 2020.

Do you have New Year’s resolutions this year?

I don’t.

Well, except to survive. And finish my work before the baby pops out. I am increasingly worried I won’t be able to, as taking care of a toddler who now NEEDS to be challenged…. is, well.. CHALLENGING. Lol.

My husband and I watched Death to 2020 on Netflix last night after baby was in bed. We also shared a pizza. That is now called ‘date night’. The show is basically Charlie Brooker’s Yearly Wipe, but not on the BBC anymore, so the budget is much bigger. It’s a great thing to watch, and makes what has been a taxing year on many seem a little more light hearted. It got a few laughs out of us, and some sighs.

I have come to understand now why Britons spend much of winter in a state of ‘waiting’. See folks, I was born in this country, but brought up in another. A hot country. Where the sun beamed all year around and when a cloud was spotted, even a far away teeny tiny wisp of a thing, one prayed for rain. Where the ground was parched and the dust settled the moment you wiped it off a surface. Rain was a joyous celebration. All I knew of British weather was the summertime. Luscious, plentiful greenery and heady long days, the best of British weather.

Ten years ago my parents returned to their country, and brought me back with them. So it took me ten years to develop a sort of cold disdain towards winter. I used to love winter. Squelchy leaves underfoot, beautiful frosty mornings, warmth of an evening around a kitchen table with a hot drink, snow and ice and perpetual grey. Now I detest it. I think it might have something to do with me having moved to a tiny little ghost town called Crewe, which according to some, does not even exist and this is all a dream.

Some people are very proud of Crewe. It has a nice history of being a railway town, the biggest one up North, where they made the trains.

Now it is bedraggled and in need of some love, but all it gets is… well economic disappointment. Year in year out. And four years living here has really taken its toll on my soul. I wanna get out, folks. I WANNA GET OUT. I hope I do! Some say one never escapes Crewe. If that is true… shiver me timbers.

Anyway, as I said, a lot of Britons spend winter waiting for summer, and that is what I am doing this year. I want summer. I want heat. I want warmth in my heart and soul. I want family. I want the heat of the sun on my cheeks and burning in my hair. I want lots of things.

But I also want to learn how to be grateful for what I have.

That’s a huge lesson that I learnt this year, but one that still needs a lot of practise by me.

Be grateful.

Have a roof over your head? Heating? Food in the fridge? DESSERT? A job!? A family? A little boy who loves life? Lots of family? People who care?

BE GRATEFUL.

So that is my resolution for this year, then. To remember to be grateful and thankful and contented. To stop wanting things that are not meant for me just yet. To remember all the good things I do have, and hold them dear.

Now then. That was a good exercise in thinking about things. It’s also snowing here in Crewe for the first time since November last year. That’s quite nice. I shall enjoy that a bit.

Thank you and goodbye, 2020.

Stone Cold Silent Still

It is different this year.

I can feel it and smell it and taste it.

There are more lights.

Twinkling through the night.

Signalling the happiness that seems to lie beyond reach but… oh hey, hullo, what is that softness I feel in my fingers as they graze the icy air? Could it be…?

Entire streets in my town are lit up. Santas climbing through windows and peering down chimneys and knocking on doors, carrying sacks of what we can only assume is hope. Desperate hope.

And people who never made an effort are making one.

It’s a bit like the American movies.

We take little one out for a small walk before dinner, when it’s pitch black under the heavy drapes of the winter sky at night. And all the houses are decked for conquest. Each competing with the other.

So eerie, if you stand still and let the breath cloud away in front of your face. Stone cold silent still, twinkling lights in the darkness. Sometimes faint bells ring and sometimes a disjointed jingle sears through the thickness of cold.

But then a pair of bright eyes meet yours from down somewhere by your knees, and tiny little fingers grasp your solid warm ones, and little feet stamp stamp stamp excitedly, and it’s not eerie after all. It’s joy. We all need a sprinkling of joy.

I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I am so so scared, but so hopeful too!

What are your plans for the holiday season this year, folks? Can you see and taste and smell it yet?

Dear December (in 2020)

Hello December.

You dawned frosty this year.

Coating the cars in a thin icy layer. Spreading over the grass and roads, hardening the mud that loves little hands and somehow gets into little wellies and smears itself on little socks.

Pretty, pretty frost.

Some say Jack Frost has been.

Others watch the morning clouds scud by, the steam rising from people’s pipes, cars, breath visible in the air.

Life, really.

But the sun has not risen yet.

It’s only dawn.

People still lie dreaming in their beds.

I drink your icy air, December, in the pitch blackness of winter dawn. The sunrise is in 1 hour and 24 minutes, and my fingers will freeze and my toes will fall off, but I will welcome this first sun of December… that’s if the cloud allows me to see her.

The first sun of the last month of a strange, strange year.

Did we think we would get here in one piece?

Did we think we would have our lives tipped over and tumbled out?

Resolutions made in 2019 froze 9 months ago, and now you are helping to usher in a new year. A new dawn. A new …. or not?

I won’t rush you December. I refuse to. I know how hard it feels to be rushed.

You must be feeling it this year. Many people are counting on you. People began decorating their homes and trees months ago in anticipation for you. They think you’re going to be some sort of saviour from the evil that has infiltrated the ranks of humanity.

But don’t worry, December.

You take your sweet old time. It’s not your fault you herald the turn of the year. You just keep on being you, frosty, twinkly, candy cane you. We will manage.

Sad

The clocks went back on Sunday morning at 2am. I feel so down about it to be honest with you.

Usually I welcome this change excitedly. I think about warm coats and hats and scarves and soft streetlamps, cosy bedrooms and dim lighting and warm mugs of sweet deliciousness. Candles. Baths. Hugs. Soup. Mother’s curries. My sister’s apple crumble. My husband’s cold cheeks, his warm hands in which my always cold ones nestle neatly.

This year it feels rather desolate if I am honest. It feels hazy and cloudy and tired and achey. It feels lonely, so lonely. A deep aching loneliness. Family so far away. Life so uncertain. Death knocking at the door. I see him and he is so close this year and I don’t know why.

Anyway I googled ‘why do I feel sad when the clocks go back‘ and it’s a very common ailment that people in the Northern hemisphere suffer from. It’s called SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I don’t think I have SAD but the dark season has made me feel sad this year. I think it’s worse too because I can’t see anybody really, and that is really hurting my heart.

So I decided not to wallow in self pity and do something about it. I have decided to light some candles every evening and tidy up properly once the sun has set, so we have a cosy space to relax in. I have decided to have a hot drink with my son before he goes to bed, just me and him (and maybe his dad if he has finished working on time), have a natter about our day and what books he would like to read before bed. I have decided to keep lamps on in the evening, to wind down. I have decided to take a brisk walk in the morning and a short one in the afternoon while it’s still light out. Get some of that Vitamin D aka happy hormone. Exercise and vitamin D apparently does wonders for the mood. We shall see how these changes help. If they do at all.

Have I missed anything out?

What do you do when you’re feeling low? Has anything you’ve tried helped you get out of a funk?

August’s End

For the first time in ten years, I find myself wistful that the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder.

Winter beckons her long, pointed icy finger, and this time I am loathe to follow her down her icy path of starry skies and crisp, foggy moors.

I don’t know what it is. Is it the fact that social distancing has made me anxious to be indoors around other people? Is it the fact that long, bright, heady evenings are now gradually departing, leaving sudden darkness in their wake?

I don’t want to welcome winter. I want it to be summer all year around.

And how are you?

I have been off work for a month on Saturday, a MONTH, and yet I still cannot help getting onto my work emails to see what is going on in my absence.

I can see that my colleagues are snowed under, and to be honest I would love to lend them a hand. Is that weird? I don’t feel bored at home. I am very busy, I have a lot of things to organise.

But I am also very huge, and my pelvis is slowly being pulled out of place by my increased weight, and also the weight of the huge bump that is growing daily in my front. It is something called pelvic girdle pain, and I have a severe version of it. It has been hell, to be honest. I have cried at nights from the pain. A physiotherapist told me that it should go after birth but honestly I just feel disabled at this point.

I am walking like a .. a huge person that has to drag one leg behind them, and I have to keep taking breaks, and not twist a certain way else I will fall and that is dangerous, and I crawl up the stairs, and cannot get out of bed.

I also have carpal tunnel in both hands because of all the water retention, so getting out of bed with a bad hip and painful hands is … acrobatic to say the least, lol!

My baby was also breech. At a late stage in pregnancy. They did a painful procedure to twist him around but it is just a matter of seeing whether he stays that way. He is displaying signs of stubborn naughtiness. But I shall never cast it up to him what a hard time he has given me. Hopefully he will be healthy and sound and he will be worth all the trouble. It is not his fault, poor thing. He has no idea what is going on, he is just relaxing in the warm comfort of his mother’s womb. I don’t care how much hell I have to go through as long as he is safe and sound.

So I am not complaining at all. I promise. I am just listing my woes, that helps. I am usually a very fit and active person, who likes to run up stairs and do some dancing on a grey rainy morning, but now it takes me six hours to sort out the laundry and tidying and washing dishes is too painful.

So my house is gradually getting messier and messier, and I am finding it harder to take care of the very basics like having a shower.

I won’t complain. I refuse to. I know how blessed I am, and I have failed pregnancies in the past, and that was painful too, so I am so so so so so grateful.

But I am also struggling very much with the pain and feeling very low. You cannot have it all, you really can’t!

So I was just chatting to my friends and my mum and the physiotherapist and I was thinking, you know, I have so much to be grateful for. So so so much. So I shall not complain. But sometimes in the dead of night I will cry, because I am scared and worried and anxious. But I will smile and get on with it, hobbling and dragging my feet, because hopefully this is not going to last, and I know it will all be worth it.

So yes, sometimes I check my work emails, and yes sometimes I want to do some work, just to take my mind off the mountain of chores that I cannot do, and to have something logical to focus on, to stop me spiralling into a net of self pity and pain and hysteria.

Don’t lose control, that is the main thing.

Anyway, how are you?

On Things

I finally have a bit of freedom to read and write things. By things I mean blogs, of course.

My laptop was taken for a fix and for the week and three days it was away from me I anxiously called the fixing centre to enquire about my electronic child and ensure its safety. It’s back safe and sound, thankfully, and I am sitting here in a cafe using it to type these sentences.

In A CAFE?! On a FRIDAY? At 1:23pm?! How is that possible!? Well I booked a couple of days off work you see. I really needed to, I was beginning to go crazy, and growl at people on the street, and froth at the mouth if somebody dared to ask me how my weekend was.

My weekend was the same as every bloody other weekend, Janet, how was yours?

And when I say it, it comes out in a mocking tone, as though I am my brother’s older sister again making fun of what he is saying by adding emphasis to it and jutting my teeth out and crossing my eyeballs.

Anyway so I had two glorious days off and what did I do with them? Did I go hiking? Did I go to the gym, and greedily devour all the books waiting for me on my bedside table? Did I do all the things I daydreamed I would do when I was too busy to do them?

No, of course not. I cleaned my house and watched Harry Potter and had a very long nap.

And those things felt just as good as all the other grand things.

What things do you want to do when you’re too busy to do them?

 

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Painting by SheerJoy, Australia. You can buy personalised paintings here!

Lady Frost

It snowed on Sunday.

It was the most beautiful moment. The flakes floated down softly, yet vastly, and blanketed the world in white silence. It continued this way, muffling the earth and quieting the anxiety.

It settled in mounds, neatly covering surfaces, polite enough not to transgress corners too sharply.

Then the night set in. The skies were clear and bright, deceivingly normal. They told no secrets, and never whispered of the harsh frost that slid down over the snow, beads of icy diamond, crystal hand running smoothly over the world, leaving trails of black ice and hardening the surface of the globe.

Harsh.

Bitter.

Painful.

Treacherous.

Tendrils of bitter cold snaking through the streets, splaying over the pathways, freezing around the condensation on doors, cracking in the locks and stubbornly welding things together.

The world was so beautiful come morning. White and blue, a clear sky in stages of brightening colour, black, bare boughs against soft blues and yellows of a mellow sky.

The snow didn’t melt, it stayed in the same way in which it settled, untouched, with a dangerous glint to its surface.

And pavements were deadly, and cars crackled on the road as they inched oh so slowly around corners.

Frost is the most beautiful and majestic creature, she changes the world so marvellously, but to love her is to prick one’s finger on a flowering rose bush. She is deceiving and devious. She is only good in sips, the rest of the time one spends peering at her through heavy hoods or the cloudy window from the warmth of one’s home.

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Love Letters #41

Dear Hana,

Do you know what a wastrel is? I didn’t either, until Master Jeffman called me one today. A wastrel of a boy, he said, shaking his meaty fist at me. What is a boy to do, when called a wastrel? What did I do? I fed the pigeons with his share of the corn, that’s what I did. I fed the pigeons and thought of new ways to become a worse wastrel than I already am. He missed his corn, at supper, and blamed the cook, who was beside herself. I felt truly a wastrel, then, and owned up to it. Suffice it to say that my revenge was short-lived, and I must be more resourceful in future when I decide to carry out acts of subtle retaliation.

On Saturday Twig and I stole some bread from the kitchen. It was for the ducks by Het’s Pond – they seem a little on the waify side lately. Twig reckons it might be because the pond has frozen over, and they have nowhere to fly to. If you’re really quiet of a frosty dawn, you can hear all the manner of bird calls. Jenny wrens, jack daws, tom tits and robin redbreasts. The ducks are quiet, then. You can see them just about waking up, stretching their wings and giving their feathers a sleepy shake. The world is beautiful at dawn; we swing our legs over the side of the bridge and yearn to fish – only we can’t break that stubborn, thick surface of the water.

Twig reckons they should have called it ‘Het’s Lake’, on account of the pond being 40 acres wide. I told him quite dismissively that the idea had already been put to the Council, but to no avail. Twig reckons he is a visionary. He has started wearing those glasses he’d squirrelled away last year, and introduces himself now to the others, the new ones, as ‘Dr Blackadder’. Never to the Masters, of course, they would whip him to a pulp. A prime fellow is my brother, I say, in utmost sarcasm.

In the morning, sometimes, the folk at the House bring their skates down and have a capital time of it. We watch from the bridge, they shout eloquently at each other and have snowball fights on the ice, twirling about and making quite a show of it, their valets and servants bringing them hot cocoa on silver trays, traipsing down the side of the slope as though summoned by magic, floating over the snow like angels of warmth and luxury.

The dawn is our time, though. Our own time, away from the Masters, away from the drudgery, away from the relentless hours of physical exertion. We fall asleep at night as soon as our heads hit the pillows, but we always wake up just before the first light of dawn, when the stars, bright and twinkling in the winter sky, are just starting to fade. We wake up and drag ourselves down to the side of the lake, we listen to the birdsong and saturate our souls in the still atmosphere of a waking world.

And I think of you, Hana, and how I am not truly a wastrel, unless I have wronged you in some way. I am not a wastrel, if the world welcomes me at dawn, and allows me to live in the miraculous time when the skin kisses our part of the globe, and turns night into day. The air shifts, the songs start, and the day stretches, yawns, and slowly embraces the earth.

Yours, always,

Seb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Yawning of Spring.

Spring stepped delicately into the world today, folks.

Wanna know how I know? The birds are chirping songs that sound mysteriously like summer songs, and the wind is breezy, not biting. The sun popped in a few times to say hello, she is now snuggled behind some grey clouds but the atmosphere she has left behind is promising.

I am wearing a light t-shirt and all the windows in my house are open! I was also taken by a sudden urge to air the house out and do some thorough cleaning – that is a sign of waking from hibernation if any. I truly understand the term ‘spring cleaning’ now. In winter, one wants to bundle up and only cleans after weeks of dust settling, groaning because the water is too cold and getting wet means icy extremities.

In spring, however, one WANTS to clean.

Also, the last sign that spring has fluffed her frills today, is the tinkly, glorious sound of the ice cream van. A jolly summery jingle, flooding the streets and bringing back memories of sunshine and leaves. Oh, LEAVES. I haven’t seen leaves since October!

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Isn’t spring so beautiful?