The sound of Silence

I perfected the art of sliding across the floors at home, like a skater, rather than walking and bought a small, soft toothbrush as the idea of using an electric one was too horrific. It was nearly two weeks before I ate toast and the sound of my own voice reverberating round my head was, at best, uncomfortable so that was kept to a minimum. I got used to waking up with dried blood round the side of my head and down my neck and the occasional dripping liquid feeling in my ear made me shiver involuntarily. Raising my eyebrows hurt as the stitches all round the back of my ear tightened and generally, for the first week it felt like I’d been smacked round the side of my head with a baseball bat.

I’ve been here before, three times in fact, but I don’t remember feeling this delicate nor there being as much blood which felt as though something was really wrong in there. It was twenty-odd years ago though, so time may have dulled my memory but I recall each time the astonishing amount of packing being removed from my ear canal after four weeks, the sorry sigh and confirmation that no, it hadn’t worked. In all cases, I don’t think it was even there any more.

“You have a badly perforated eardrum” said the quietly-spoken ear, nose and throat consultant more than six months ago, likely unsure if I was aware of this fact as many people aren’t but I was only too well aware. That wasn’t even the reason I’d gone to see him and the reason I had has improved.  An ear infection in my 20’s during a holiday, probably picked up from a dirty swimming pool judging by how many other people had wads of cotton wool stuck in their ears as they tanned and swam, followed by a ‘plane trip back to Blighty with an ear so inflamed I couldn’t brush my ear lobe without crying out, saw fit to split a tiny piece of tissue, the ramifications of which spanned the next three decades. I have a few photos of that holiday and it’s not the images of a younger me, nor a friend I’m no longer in touch with, that I look at but the vague images of people in the background that have caught my attention whenever I’ve looked at them, wondering if they too were at the doctor’s surgery shortly after touching down, did they have two courses of antibiotics and were told it had healed when, in fact, it hadn’t. A burst of lunchtime swimming some years later at the pool where I worked resulted in water in my ear that wouldn’t go away and after a few days, the realisation that my left ear was constantly ringing. A short while later, the world turned upside down on occasion, lasting no more than a few seconds and I went to my new, different doctor. Medication ceased the occasional vertigo and although the muffled sound abated, the hissing in my ear, like an untuned radio, continued. The hearing loss was minimal but frustrating; I frequently couldn’t work out where sounds were coming from, machinery or other noise made it difficult to hear people unless I was looking at them but it was the constant hissing in my ear which I despaired of and the realisation that I couldn’t hear silence any more would cause a sharp intake of unbelieving breath at the enormity of this, not only when it was made apparent but just by the thought that this was so. It was for that reason and not the hearing loss that I went ahead with surgery three times, just on the basis that it may, just may make the tinnitus go away – a small piece of tissue taken from somewhere round my ear and fashioned into a new eardrum. The tinnitus did not go away and each time the graft failed and over the years I’ve suspected my hearing was getting worse. Being spoken to from another room or as I was leaving it often entailed retracing my steps so I could see the person speaking and I hated being accompanied in chilled food departments as the sound of the refrigerators rendered my hearing useless. There were many, many times I either wanted to smack the back of someone’s head in supermarkets and shout “Please look at me when you’re talking to me” or weep as I yet again caught the slight roll of their eyes as they yet again had to turn around and repeat what they’d just said.

“Three times twenty years ago” I said six months ago, “Seriously, would you?”

I initially said no, I would not, despite his gentle highlight of my remark that it was twenty years ago and that was then and this was now. His words “and this is me” hung unspoken but ironically not unheard. It was not the fact that it may fail again that bothered me but that it may make my hearing loss worse and the hissing in my left ear more loud. A month or so later, I was back in his office and made him hold out his hands to see how steady they were on the grounds that it’s all very small in there, quizzed him on how much coffee he drank (not much, I like tea, like you British) and blatantly admitted I’d like to hold him up against the wall and snarl all sorts of threats if he messed up.

“If it were my ear, I would feel the same” he responded. “All I can say is, I will do my best”.

I put it off for a while given I wouldn’t be able to do anything “of effort” for at least six weeks or anything to change the pressure in my ear so no yoga, gardening, flying or going through the channel tunnel. Winter would therefore be a good time.

Seemingly it was a tricky job, the remark “It was like clearing after a battle” was made, followed by the confirmation that my ossicles, the three teeny, tiny bones were “still there and intact so I didn’t have to replace them” before he left my hospital room the evening after surgery. Two weeks later and two weeks before previous occasions, the packing was all removed and I was sent home with ear drops and further instructions that I was to do nothing “of effort” and continue to avoid people as much as possible as that last thing I needed was a cold as nose-blowing was forbidden. “Cotton wool in ear when outside as it is cold” he said and I came home and skated round the house some more. The ringing in my ear continued, at times more loud, unless I sat in silence for hours reading but outside sound at times was alarming, to say the least. I backed away from the coffee machine as it ground the beans and covered my ear when I flushed the toilet and was genuinely taken aback how loud toast is when you butter it.  A couple of trips to the city were exhausting due to the onslaught of sounds which loomed up like crazed zombies in my head, my brain initially seeming to not be able to compute them. I was shocked when I realised that I could hear the people at the table to my left during lunch in a busy restaurant. The sometimes soporific sound of our dishwasher I now realise carries all manner of assorted sloshes and whooshes, previously unheard. Over the years, I’ve occasionally switched sides when using the phone, just to see how bad the difference in my hearing really is and in the last couple of weeks, I’ve deliberately not held anything of sound up to each ear, for fear of being disappointed but, caught unawares at an indoor market a week or so after the packing was removed from my ear, I couldn’t resist turning my head this way and that as the man behind the stall held up a Tibetan singing bowl and made it do its thing.

“It’s the same in both ears.” I said to Joe Brown.

“Don’t be anxious” coaxed the surgeon last week as he approached my left ear with instruments and I involuntarily moved further away.

“Good,” he said as he leaned back a moment later, “It is all looking as I would expect”.

“You mean it’s there?” I asked. He raised his eyebrows a little.

“You seem surprised,” was his response and I once again heard his unspoken “and this is me”.

Twenty minutes later, having sat in a sound booth with ear phones clamped on both ears, he perused the graph handed to him and smiled.

“You have perfect hearing”.

The world can still take me by surprise how loud it is, there is a depth of sound that, for the last thirty years, I’d been unaware of, music I’ve only listened to previously with impaired hearing is stronger, heartier, better. My brain has, I think, learned to comprehend the more I hear and sort, recognise and filter. The tinnitus? Still there but no worse and strangely, it doesn’t bother me as much and, in a way, I’ve now tried to see, or rather, hear it as my own singing bowl.

Four

Merc

The lowering late summer sun causes a shadow from the Tangerine House to seep across the small back garden. By the end of September, it will have reached the fence line and the garden will not see sunshine, other than a thin sliver in the morning and late evening, til next March. For now, the Verbena bonariensis, Gaura linheimeri and Persicaria flower in sun, with daily visits by hummingbird hawk moths. The Rudbeckia I brought with me from the Little House by the Big Wood flowers profusely although not as tall as usual – even they, robust and cheerful in heavy clay soil, need some help occasionally in the form of manure. I need to seek out the farmer again and practice my French.

I’m in the last throes of handing over a voluntary role to two women that I’ve done on my own for the last eighteen months. I’m glad I did it, focus-giving and new software-learning that it was, but it was taking up the equivalent of half a working week and for a voluntary role that largely consists of sitting in front of a laptop, enough’s enough. It has not gone unnoticed that blogging fell by the wayside as a result and much else seems to have been lain aside too, not least my weekly visit from the lovely lady who screams “I’m French, I’m French!”, purely by the way she dresses just so.

By the 7th September it will have been four years since I first pitched up in the Small Country and I have done much and undoubtedly changed somewhat. Joe Brown has commented on how my taste in cheese has developed from basic cheddar to all manner of cheese I eat, rind an’all which would not have happened before. Apparently, I also speak more with my hands than I used to, with the occasional request received to put at least one hand on the steering wheel when I’m driving. I have, with cheese a likely contender at least in part, increased in size. Other reasons for basic weight gain is lack of physical exercise; indeed, there have been periods of weeks when I haven’t picked up a garden tool, my nails have remained earth-free and pristine and much as I don’t mind being on my own, I dislike walking on my own in the middle of nowhere to get a bit of exercise and there is much nowhere to be had here.

I have, however, recently acquired a garden project. It’s across the border in the land of gummi handschuhe and polizei and owned by friends who, for one reason or another, have neglected their large garden which is now an overgrown tangle of brambles and seeded Hornbeams, some of which are taller than I. It is, essentially, a paid gardening job but I have made it clear that if I choose to turn up for more than three hours a week, this is my choice and therefore not chargeable, my reasons being I’ve missed having a veritable ongoing gardening task and, larger of belly and derriere I may be, but thinner of arms and untoned thighs I also am. “Trust me”, I wrote in an email, “you’d be doing me a favour by letting me loose in your garden for all sorts of reasons”. I miss my biceps and firm abs and I’m sure Joe Brown does too, purely because their presence indicates I’m regularly outside and doing physical work and am therefore happier. I think it’s fair to say that if I’m happy, Joe Brown usually is too.

Joe Brown’s health was rubbish for a fair while in the last eighteen months or so, requiring stints in hospital owing to alarming weight loss which startled me every time I saw him first thing in the morning but I’m glad to say, he’s much improved. The surgery he had on his back improved things too but he’s of the opinion this is more to do with the regular sessions of physio he had afterwards, the cost of which was almost negligible given it’s heavily subsidised by the health care system (living in one of the top three richest countries in the world has its benefits, trust me). His parents are ageing, (a ridiculous statement as, aren’t we all?), with Mrs Brown becoming alarmingly stick-thin in the last year and has now been given a terminal diagnosis. We hold our breaths and brace on that one but Joe Brown has just organised for a bouquet of flowers to be delivered to The Browns’ hotel room where they’re celebrating their 63rd wedding anniversary for the weekend. She’s feeling better than she was as, six months ago, she wouldn’t have wanted to leave the house.

Chat Roux has grown into a healthy, robust cat which is something of a surprise given his runty start after being abandoned in a cardboard box outside the door of a dog refuge across the border. I’m sure half the village knows the orange cat, frequently to be seen hunting in the field and, of late, he seems to be The Only Cat in the Village due to house-moves, age and a weasel attack. There are, I know, other cats around but these are farm cats – shady creatures across the way who Chat Roux wisely avoids. We often cite him as a bit stupid but actually this is isn’t wholly fair – steering clear of shady cats aside, he’s certainly sharp enough to know within an hour or so when we’ve gone away rather than just out and will go and whinge at our neighbours who’ll have a key to let him in and fill his bowl.

By the 7th September, we’ll be theoretically half way through this stint in the Small Country and I’m acutely aware how fast the time is going and how much I have not done. “I don’t want to get in the car as we leave and feel I’ve wasted the opportunity of being here” I’ve said to Joe Brown on many occasions and I certainly feel that’s the case at the moment. I spent an evening having dinner with friends in the city a few weeks ago and realised it was the first time I’d been in the city of an eve. In four years. This is nothing short of pitiful and embarrassing. There is much to learn, see and do and I don’t think learning a software package and developing an appreciation for three year-old comté quite cuts it.

Via the voluntary organisation I am/was involved in, I’m putting together a stack of school supplies for Those Less Fortunate (richest country it may be but this carries the assumption that all parents are financially able to provide their children with all equipment for school, ranging from pens and pencils to paintbrushes, exercise and set books). This stack of unused and unopened ventures, nay, adventures, highlights the fact that it’s the start of the new school year even more so than usual and, as always, this brings an element of a new start. It’s four years on since I whispered “Are we here?” and, to a large degree, I have a clean slate for the new school year. Half the working week has been freed up, I have a new garden to find amongst the wilderness and even the study has been streamlined of overflowing shelves which makes me anxious (it just does). My French books are in a tidy line, new paper to conjugate verbs is in hand and I plan to work my way through the travel books we have of the Small Country and all three neighbouring countries and make a list of where I’d like to go, taking my new camera with me. All I need to do now is sharpen my pencils and polish my shoes.

50

meSometimes, a 5lb 3oz baby, conceived by accident, becomes a 5’9″ woman and turns 50.

 

Really?

 

We’d turned off the motorway just in to the border after hours of a long, hard drive, pitiful mewing coming from the back every time we’d bumped over a pothole on the way.  Belgian motorways are pretty crap, it must be said.  The car seemed to crawl through the smooth, even streets after hours of whistle and whiz and I remember the butterflies, the short breaths and wide-eyed need to take it all in.  The houses looked vaguely familiar after months of daily trawling through a louer websites in an effort to find a new home, their style, however, unfamiliar and strange to my British eyes.  There were snapshots of oh-so-continental French mixed with dashes of German and modern boxes dotted amongst them looked like enlarged models on a table in an architect’s studio.  Staring through the floor to ceiling windows, I half-expected to see life-size plastic models going about their business, showing how life could be in these tile floored, triple glazed, class B energy-efficient abodes.  Le chat quietened in the back.  Village after village passed until we wound our way upwards and a scene I’d envisaged hundreds of time in weeks previously unfolded as the car finally slowed to a halt.  This was really happening.  This was it.  I was really here.

I sometimes drive through those first villages I saw, my first real glimpse of the Small Country that was to be my home for the foreseeable future three months ago and, every time I do, I still get butterflies and stare at the houses, the memory of that day having been etched in my head.  The open land between the villages look very different now, trees are mostly bereft of leaves, twisted branches pointing upwards to an often wild sky or looming out of a foggy gloom.  The slightly raised beds in the centre of the roads as I approach the small roundabouts have had their shrubbery neatly pruned now and salt grit bins have appeared, complete with handy shovel standing to attention next to them.  The Gaura lindheimeri and Verbena bonariensis which waved in the autumn breeze amongst the central bed through one village has been cut down for the winter but I recall the delight and almost relief at seeing such treasures were here.

A few days after we arrived, I heaved my old deckchair out of the small barn at the side of the house and spent a couple of hours sitting in the warm afternoon sun reading a glossy magazine, a scene which caused Joe Brown to smile widely.  It’s not often that I just sit in a garden but, that afternoon, time stretched out before me a’plenty. I’d tackle the dull garden later.  The warmth didn’t last and I can’t remember the last time I walked up the steps outside the back door to even look at the back garden which can’t be seen from any window in the house.  Later, another time, really.

We slept on an airbed the first night we were here, our furniture thundering across crap Belgian roads on its way.  The morning sun pressed against the curtains, the light slowly seeping out their sides and spreading across the bed.  I didn’t hear the 7 am church bells that morning.  I hear them most weekday mornings now although, for the most part, the first sound I hear is a slight click of a cup being put down on the chest of drawers.  Joe Brown is unfailing in his daily task of bringing me a cup of tea in bed.  Occasionally I wake earlier, sometimes stirring as he leaves the bed when it’s still dark, the skin on his back and shoulders looking momentarily patterned as though covered in a huge intricate tattoo until my eyes adjust.  We are a one-car family of two now and if I want the car for the day whilst Joe Brown’s at work, I have to leave the warmth of our bed and drive him to the bus stop, full beam headlights snaking round the hairypin bends and over the top of the next hill, the narrow road cutting through fields with dark silhouettes of cows and horses, their shapes filtered by the heavy fog often hanging in the not quite dawn.  We drive past the donkeys who seem to have finally been taken in for the winter.  There were three when we first arrived but now there are two.  Joe Brown tried to placate my worries by suggesting perhaps one was in training for forthcoming manger duty but I’m not convinced and fear the worst.  I confess I’ve sometimes returned to bed once home again, not to sleep, but to contemplate my day and make decisions as to what to do with it.  My work trousers have remained in the drawer since arriving and I’m shocked that this is the case, cold weather and not really looking for work aside.  The one gardening job I did two weeks ago in a garden a few kilometres away resulted in a swollen thumb which is still far from right.

I have driven a lot, my fear at driving on the other side of the road slowly abating as I swing round corners and across junctions with sometimes nary a thought in my husband’s ridiculously fast car.  Sally satnav has become a jolly good friend although I confess I sometimes snicker at her appallingly bad pronunciations of French-named roads.  I can occasionally be found trailing round a supermarche or two undoubtedly wearing a look of some bemusement and vaguely confused.  I find it strange, nay rather bizarre, that I am doing something as basic as food shopping when I cannot understand many of the signs and tannoyed announcements which can be in any one of three languages.    Clementines can be bought still with leaves on and I buy oranges individually wrapped in twists of paper.  Cherry tomatoes taste as though I grew them in the garden.  I scrabble in my bag for the now tatty list of translations for different fish whilst waiting in vague line at the poissonerie, watching a madame next to me choose two crabs which are held up for inspection before being put in a plastic bag, their claws and legs still flailing at their forthcoming fate.  Shopping malls are awash with the scent of freshly brewed coffee from the plethora of cafes and eateries, trolleys full of bought provisions parked near tables as shoppers rest with espressos or glasses of wine.  A young mother, her long blonde hair pulled in to a ponytail, rocks a pushchair with one foot whilst eating a plate of moules mariniere on her own.  Triangles of pre-packed sandwiches are here but they are not easy to find.  Piles of baguettes, stuffed with ham, cheese and salads are everywhere.  I have found a lingerie shop full of pretty frillies, with bras three times the cost of the pair of Levi’s acquired today.  The cup size of bras in French is bonnet which made me chortle at its sweetness and apt suggestion of ribbon and lace.

A lady who at 30 paces is so obviously French has started to come to the house once a week.  I make coffee in proper cups with saucers and ensure I am wearing lipstick.  We speak French the whole time although I am very stilted and slow, often trailing off as I either cannot remember or simply do not know the word.  Despite this, we press on, sometimes lapsing in to conversations about shoes and the oft square shape of German clothes and she leaves workbooks and papers with me to study before the next lesson.  She strokes le chat as she leaves, referring to him as le minou.  I sometimes have to stifle a laugh as I stand in warrior pose with three other women in an apartment in front of a lady whose serenity dribbles all over her yoga mat because this, all of this life that I have, the place where I’m at, seems rather unreal.

As I lay in bed sipping tea this morning, I asked myself if I wanted to go back, go back to The Little House by the Big Wood and the life that we had there.  My answer was no.  I’ve been slow to start here for sure, picking my way round this tiny country rather timidly and by no means have I hurled myself in to a social whirl but I’ll find my way.  Still, surprisingly, my answer was no.

“Really?” I queried my self

“Really”.

The House on the Hill

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The village is perched on a hill, reached by roads that wind through evergreen and deciduous forestry, late summer sun flashing and sparkling through the foliage.  There are sometimes alarming drops one side but sturdy trunks should prevent any serious careening down long banks too far.  The church bells cling-clang continentally for a few minutes three times a day; seven in the morning, noon and seven in the evening with an extra set of cling-clangs at three on Friday afternoons.  There is no shop but a bread van toot-toots through the village at any time between late morning and early afternoon most days.

Like some of the houses in the village, ours is spilling over the edge of the hill, facing the morning sun and the valley beyond which is soaked in the green of tall pines and tinges of Autumnal golds although our view is mostly obscured by the equally old house on the other side of the narrow road.  We’ve lamented this lack of wide view but I suspect the house opposite will take most of the flack of cold easterly winds during the winter.  Our windows are old and there are gaps in doors which I suspect will whistle with wind in the coming months.  Even during the unseasonally warm weather over the last week or so, the downstairs of the house remains resolutely cool and once the sun falls out of view from the back garden drops to cold.  The butter in the butter dish is just about spreadable despite being left out of the fridge.  The heating, of slight bizarre system involving a trip in to the attic, has been on during evenings.  The warmest room in the house is the large living room on the first floor.

Outside the back door is a terrace which spans the width of the house, to the right is an outbuilding and to the left leads to a covered area awash with flattened packing boxes and round to the small barn.  The barn door key for the door to the front of the house is huge.  Facing the back of the house  beyond the terrace is a retaining stone wall which is taller than I.  Steps lead up to the garden which slopes upward and is ringed with waist-height wire fencing.  A variety of other back gardens are beyond and two sheep graze in a small patch at the far end of the garden.  Their owner talks to them gently in what I believe to be a German equivalent of kootchie-koo fashion.  Beyond the sheep there ‘s a clump of trees and on the other side of the shadows these cast are geese, chickens and a loud cockerel.  Occasionally I can see a slinky black cat.  To the right is a strip of land owned by an unnamed man “who lives North” which is dotted with a number of fruit trees – apple, cherry, damson and apricot.  Some of the apples fall on our side of the fence and the apricots fall and roll down the roof of our outbuilding in to the gutter.  These can be collected by walking across the flowerbed, bending down and picking them out of the gutter.   Hateful conifers, mercifully only knee-height, have been planted along the left and back perimeter of the garden, in front of which are rows of newish box plants.  Flowerbeds are mostly awash with numerous lavender plants and a few short shrub roses and attempts at vegetable-growing have been made in wooden box-like raised beds.  All the beds are barkchipped, with evidence of weed control fabric.  It took me two days before I saw the reason why.  Mare’s tail.  Overall, the garden looks dull but, due to vile pernicious weed, challenging.  I have done nothing to rise to this challenge as yet.

At the front of the house is a narrow flowerbed which, until last weekend, was full of old, tatty lavender which I dug out, leaving only three.  There is another tiresome row of small box, planted in a regimental row and now only visible as the lavender’s gone.  The family next door but one are southern mediterranean, numerous in number and loud.  We are told we won’t hear a peep from them over winter as they huddle inside against the cold.  The couple in the old house opposite are smiley, helpful and generous – Joe Brown was given a small pot of homemade jam before I arrived and I was the recipient of a huge hunk of pumpkin and a bag of locally picked apples last week.  Their garden slopes to the point of needing climbing gear.  My garden challenge is nothing in comparison.

“Come, come see” said the man last week.  He’s worked hard and is slowly terracing, differing levels containing vegetable beds, shrubby areas and a host of herbs including one which is more usually grown in people’s attics.  His garden has the constant sound of rushing water from the run-off from the hill which goes under the orchard area next to our garden, under the road and cascades down in to the valley.  There are steps down the side which go a considerable way down with, apparently, evidence of where local women washed their laundry in times gone by.

“They must have been strong women to carry wet washing up all those steps” I mused to the Herb Grower as I stood and looked over the wall.  I haven’t ventured down then back up them yet, my venturing has been concentrated on being in control of a vehicle on the other side of the road.  So far, I seem to have managed it.

I picked Joe Brown up from the airport on Friday afternoon after his week away on business and we picked the cat up from the vets on Saturday after stint two on a drip.  Ultimately, his kidneys are failing but, for now, all three of us are at home.

Sunday

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I’ve been looking forward to today for weeks, with visions of a lazy Sunday breakfast at the dining table with my husband in our new home in our new country, morning sun streaming through the window, house with some sort of semblance of order given we’ve been here since Wednesday evening.

Instead, large vital furniture are in the wrong rooms as they either won’t go up the stairs and/or through the living room door which is upstairs, boxes are still packed full of crockery as the small kitchen really does have a storage issue and it’s lashing with rain, with rumbles of thunder.  Joe Brown and I are full of colds – he having driven us here for seven hours with a fever, a fever I caught up with on Friday.  The cat, albeit not happy at spending so much time in the car, coped remarkably well and seemed reasonably happy the day after we arrived, has now not eaten since Thursday afternoon.  Weepy session on my part resulted in trip to gentle-voiced vet yesterday morning and we came home with a veritable meze of different foods, in line with his known kidney issues, to try and tempt him.  Desperation has halted all major unpacking and moving around of furniture in the hope that calmness will ensue the consumption of more than the occasional laps of water.  Light pottering is the order of the next couple of days – Joe Brown is changing plugs and I plan to clean the bathroom.  Coaxing doesn’t work, smearing his paws with food just pisses him off.  In the meantime, he displays moments of acute alertness and feline deftness but mostly curls up or crouches sphinx-like on the chair, occasionally padding slowly and carefully out in to the garden where he sits on the edge of the border, end of tail swishing slowly back and forth, back and forth.

Thirty first: Timescale

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It feels as though I should upload a meaningful picture and write a profound, end of month post to mark the end of the August Break but, frankly, I’m too tired.  That says it all about this month really.  Joe Brown moved in to our new house at the beginning of this month and it seems a long, long time ago.

Scales were acquired from the tip local to me when I lived in the ‘Set. Sadly, no room in the kitchen here so they’ve lived in the garage, as has my much-loved wonky cupboard.  Unlikely to be room in the new kitchen, which is tiny, for the scales but the wonky cupboard will be in the house.

Twenty eighth: Sad Sarah

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My eldest sister bought Sarah for me, in typical thoughtful, generous style out of money from her first wage packet when she starting working aged sixteen.  I must have been ten and rather growing out of dolls but I adored her as my sister knew I would.  As was my wont whenever I was bought a doll, I would ask whoever gave her to me what her name was.

“Sarah” was the reply.

Her middle name, which I chose, is Anne after Anne of Green Gables because she’s wearing a dress with puffed sleeves and it is, of course, Anne with an ‘e’.  Her wardrobe increased to three dresses over time, acquired from the same toy shop that Sarah came from but unfortunately two dresses have disappeared in the midst of moves over the years.  Regrettably, in an endeavour to spruce her up a bit some years ago I washed the dress she’s wearing and the colours ran.  She’s also lost her mop cap and is looking a bit grubby.

In recent years, partly in an effort to reduce dust and grime damage, she’s lived wrapped in a bin bag in an old leather suitcase but I’ve been increasingly conscious of her rather sad state and thought about getting her cleaned up and having a new dress and hat made, something my sewing skills really, really don’t run to.  I got as far as running my hands along bolts of pretty sprigged cloth in a material shop some weeks ago with a view to asking the lady who altered my wedding dress if she’d be willing to give her a bit of a makeover with a new frock or two but I didn’t get round to it and now it’s too late.

I’ll just have to find someone once I get there who doesn’t look at me as though I’m a Barking Brit because I’m anxious to get a new frock made for my rag doll.

Twenty Seven: All good things

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Champagne afternoon tea, with fondant fancies and my sisters this afternoon.

Twenty sixth: Stuff

6083516324_3396f84a46For insurance purposes, we have to provide the packers with an inventory of pretty much everything we own with cost to replace “in the country to where you are going”.  I have therefore spent much of the day taking pictures of stuff, list-making and picking random figures of worth with the help of Google.  The removers are right – we do have too much.  Salt and pepper mills clearly breed in the back of cupboards and I really don’t think we need 25 mugs.

Tomorrow I start upstairs.