I am having a bit of writer’s block at the moment and blogging seems to have gone out of the window. I don’t just think it’s blogging, either, as I haven’t picked my camera up in a week. This week has been a difficult one generally as it has been dully, grey and mizzly and I haven’t felt 100%. But as the week is coming to an end (though the grey skies are as grey as they have been all week), I find my energy levels picking up a bit and a desire to at least look at some of the photos on the camera, if not take many photos.
I had been meaning to do a weekly post about what is in the veg box each week and what I plan to do with some of the lovely veg, however that has gone a bit out of the window. I don’t think I’d anticipated just how tiring and stressful the whole renovation would be! I will make sure that I post more about what we get because it has been an exciting challenge to work out what to do with what and to plan our meals accordingly. The potatoes have been used to make delicious salmon fishcakes (that I didn’t photograph – sorry!); the sweetcorn was boiled and eaten alongside some sausages and vegetables; those apples and plums? Eaten in all of their glorious dribbly-juiciness, pretty soon after getting them! The flowers were part of some of the flowers that Mr VP picked up at the end of August to celebrate our 11th year together (time is flying!). I must post more, so I will endeavour to do so.
Hello September! I haven’t properly welcomed you since you arrived. With the blue skies overhead and the gentle weather, it still feels very much like we still have our toes in summer. This morning, after waking pretty early, we headed (on an empty stomach for me as I couldn’t eat before the MRI scan) to the tip to recycle a mountain of glass bottles and jars that had accumulated and squeezed in a brisk walk before our appointment to see the flooring man. Between my daily visits to get quotes, sort out suppliers of one thing and another and trying not to overdo things, I haven’t made much time to get out and about, which is something I’m trying to remedy. Whilst our walk this morning was short, I smelled the thick, vegetal leaflitter smell on the air and noticed the oak, sycamore and birch leaves that had fallen and knew that it wouldn’t be long before I would be coming to this exact spot to revel in the deep, crunchy horse chestnut leaves that will soon cover the paths.
What did we see and hear on our walk? An abundance of green, still lush and vibrant, even after these dry weeks we’ve had. Blackberries, ripe and juicy. The tap-tap-tap of nuthatches hiding their nuts in the rivulets of bark on the tall oak trees (can you see it up there?). Dogs running up to say hello. The sound of a gurgling stream. I realised that nature is very much a necessary type of medicine for me – and I will endeavour to go more often and get my fill of it. A walk a day keeps the doctor away? Absolutely.
What a week! I’d like to thank everyone for their well-wishes, finger-crossing, mojo and prayers – it seems to have helped! According to one of the doctors, he thinks that one of the medications which was given to help the symptoms of my surgery was in fact making things worse (the doctors didn’t read the small print!) and so stopping that has, hopefully, helped. However what they’re not sure about is what it had actually done, so I am due another MRI scan to get a firm diagnosis and then go from there. I’m still not feeling quite myself, but I’m working on it, and trying to find non-medical things I can do in the meanwhile.
On the upside, quotes are still coming in for the house and new windows and doors have been arranged (eeep!). This is the exciting bit, when things begin to happen. So as not to jinx myself, I won’t say that this weekend we’re hoping to rip out the kitchen and remove plaster off the chimney breast – because you never know what will actually happen! But today the sky was blue and the sun was shining and the air outside our house was thick with the sound of leaves – dried and crispy – swirling around on the pavement in the breeze, just as the cherry blossom was doing when we moved in. And I felt, watching those leaves swirling, deeply grateful for a pause in the day to enjoy it.
Oh dear – so much for our weekend of heavy graft at the house! I’ve been having a recurrence of the problems that sent me into hospital and surgery last year, even though having surgery was supposed to have sorted it all out. Anyway, it turns out that taking one organ out is not as simple as that and other problems, which may or may not lead to more trips to hospital, are possible side-effects. It goes without saying that one’s internal system is a very complex thing, and one that, more importantly, the medical profession don’t have all of the answers for.
After having spoken to my GP on Friday, when I woke up on Saturday morning in pain, I knew a visit to A&E was imminent. So at 8am, we tromped off to hospital. The nurse who triaged me also seemed to think I was fairly urgent as I only waited a record 10 minutes before being whipped into a proper bed and having my work-up. Thankfully after last year, I am now more accepting and calm in the hospital environment, but when the (really nice and chirpy) A&E doctor said that I might need surgery once more, my heart rate did leap a bit. Eventually, after painkillers, blood-draws, IV fluids, antibiotics (as well as an x-ray) and a spell on the surgical ward, I was told that I was a bit of a mystery. The consultant agreed that there wasn’t need for any immediate surgery, however he did say that it was probable that I could end up back in hospital if my condition deteriorates or I need pain management. Thus I am in a kind of painful limbo, neither sure of the cause or course of the pain. We had to cancel one of the contractors coming to visit and also the skip we’d booked to put the carpets and kitchen units into. The house has had to take a bit of a back seat for a while.
On Sunday, I was more accepting of the pain and not feeling quite as dire as Saturday, though still obviously uncomfortable. We didn’t do much, just pottered around the house (Mr VP has been an absolute star through all of it) and visited an organic farm for a walk in the afternoon. Unfortunately, I spent most of the early hours of this morning (the worst time to be awake), awake and in pain, wondering what I should do about it. The most worrying thing for me, I think, is not knowing the reason behind it or what will happen next. I am coming to realise that in the great scheme of things doing the house isn’t as important as one’s health, it picked one heck of a time to flare up! If you could send good mojo and/or prayers our way, it’d be gratefully received.
Oh where to begin, dear readers? It is September all of a sudden, which means that the Big House Renovation can begin. You see, our lovely little almost-Victorian (but technically Edwardian) terraced house, which we love with all our might, has been rented out for the last four years and it is in a bit of a sorry state. Whilst we have lived in rented accommodation and have always left it tidier and nicer than when we found it, it appears that we are in the minority and the house is now looking very much like it needs a (complete and utter) good going-over. We got the keys back the other day, and almost immediately calls to and from workmen, decorators, builders and window fitters has been constant. My day yesterday was full to the brim, so full in fact, that I fell asleep as soon as my rear end fell onto the sofa. It is only a few days in and already I feel bushed and a little overwhelmed by the whole thing, as well as having to deal with day-to-day things around the house.
So this is my project for the next three months and it is quite a project indeed. Having watched an inordinate amount of Homes Under the Hammer (compulsive viewing!), I know what we want to do is absolutely possible, but it just seems very overwhelming, particularly as I make big decisions about the fabric of our house (what exterior doors do we want? what kind of window fittings? will I really hire someone to knock a load-bearing wall out?). Obviously, there are some wildly fun parts, like ripping out the old kitchen (this weekend?), stripping plaster off a hidden chimney breast (we’re going for an ‘English Cottage’ look and hopefully the brick will be in good enough condition to make a feature wall) as well as ripping up the carpets and having a look at the original floorboards for the first time. We’re trying to do as much of it ourselves (mostly just minimal DIY stuff, like hanging doors and clearing jobs), to keep costs down.
I will get around to posting photos of progress eventually, once we begin work. This blog will be a place for me to document all of this for posterity, so I’m going to try to keep up to date with the whole renovation. Here goes!
Just as I was getting excited at the thought of the cooler weather of September, and those lovely dewy-frosty mornings we had at the end of August, we are now having a bit of an Indian summer. Those cooler days and the smell of autumn seems to have returned a lot of my lost kitchen Mojo and I suddenly had a renewed interest in the kitchen again. This move towards autumn always puts me into a kind of soups-and-stews-and-cakes mood, just as it makes me long to pick up knitting needles (as the lovely Marie put so wonderfully – ‘circadian knitting’), a cup of hot chocolate, apples and woolly bed socks (there are a LOT of things I clearly love about autumn!).
So what has been going on in the kitchen? Easy food. Things have started to get a bit hectic here, so meals are having to be made as and when time allows and the less hassle, the better. The veg box certainly helped me to plan my meals around what needed using up first. Some of the lovely veg went into a one-pot roast sausage and veg dish that was so delicious we almost inhaled it. I made a batch of vanilla and sea-buckthorn (a slight tart apple flavour) cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese icing – delicious. Blueberry and Bramley apple (just before I put the crumble topping on) crumble. And, as we are about 80% vegetarian, mushrooms stuffed with Lincolnshire sausage-style mix, cheese and local tomatoes (really sweet and flavoursome).