Location:United Kingdom

An avid tea-drinker who likes nutmeg in her coffee and warm lavender-scented quilts. She knits, crochets and partakes in random acts of craftiness (and kindness). She likes obscure works of literature, philosophy and the idea that her mind exists separately from her body. She enjoys moving furniture around, literary criticism and baking bread. She writes haiku about nettles, would like to swim with seals and become completely self-sufficient. She writes as if her life depends on it, listens to beautiful music, and loves her darling husband Mr. VP.

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Sunday 22 January 2017

January dark

January is always an odd kind of month. Grey and dreary yet simultaneously promising a new, fresh start. This year has been no different. Days of frosty-white mornings; fern-patterned car windows and slippery pavements and days like today; grey and mizzly with not even the tiniest ray of sun to be seen. The short hours of light making everything feel a little less productive as the world beats a hasty to retreat back into darkness. That being said, January this year is flying by – I cannot believe we’re almost at the end. Almost one-twelfth of the way through this new year of ours.

I’d like to say that I’ve been Very Productive in this hibernation-state I’ve been in recently, but while I have managed to do a good deal of housework (and, even better, house de-cluttering!), my priorities and interests seem to be focused on feeding/entertaining our newest member of the VP family. I mean… who’d rather tidy and clean than play with Duplo?! Exactly. Who’d rather load the dishwasher than make cheesy spinach, carrot and sweetcorn pancakes for lunch!?

As a result my camera doesn’t get used much at all these days, though I know I must dig it out and get going again because I miss cataloguing the smaller, more mundane bits of everyday life (like aforementioned cheesy spinach pancakes, which are not only a supremely easy way to feed a hungry mum a toddler but which also include lots of yummy vegetables! Win!).

So that’s where we’re up to so far in January. I’ll try to dig out my camera to take some photos of my newly-created bullet journal (an addendum to my Filofax, which is also something I have shamefully not blogged about – sorry, I’ll hopefully do a dual-post!) and also some food we’ve been eating recently. I hope everyone’s January is going well :)

Monday 2 January 2017

The Deep of Winter

The deep of winter is pulling me inside, making me want to spend my days in the comfort of central heating and cups of tea (though seldom drunk hot!). We were all floored at the beginning of December by a really nasty bug, which for poor Baby VP (now very much ToddlerVP!) became croup. A single dose of steroids later and she was back on the road to health but I know it made me feel rough and it was scary to see her unwell.

December is gone, as is 2016, in such a blur. We were still wrapping gifts at 11pm on Christmas Eve, as Baby VP slept upstairs. Christmas was lovely, though done at a different pace. There was the opening of gifts; the rapid breakfast-out-of-the-way to do so I could get the kitchen cleared for Operation Turkey. It was lovely, for the most part calm and following our new cadence as a family. Mum came over and played with Baby VP, I cooked, Mr VP hovered between helping and playing as needed. We ate Christmas lunch very early indeed and I was so glad that we had a dishwasher to do the job that was usually relegated to whoever didn’t cook lunch (usually Mr VP!).

I’ve written about it before, but I really do love this in-between time. A time when things sort of close down and go a bit quiet. We have a huge to-do list; an A4 page of things we really need to get done before Mr VP goes back to work. Unfortunately as the end of Mr VP’s holiday time off approaches is here, we are still staring-down a big check-list of things we haven’t done. But that is life! 2017 is here and is so bright and sparkly and full of promise and of things we must do, want to do and will do. Some things we won’t manage, of course, but isn’t it about the adventure rather than the destination? Most important of all is remembering to spend time together, enjoying every moment together as a family. I don’t usually do resolutions as such, but this year my goals are to write in my paper diary more, blog a bit more often and spend every moment being present in the moment. Hopefully three things that are doable! As for the list of to-dos… they can wait a little longer.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

An acorn in the yard (and other moments)

The jays that otherwise-invisibly inhabit the woods behind the house have been more active in the last few weeks. I sometimes see a magpie-shaped bird flying out of the trees, with a pinky, buff-coloured chest and know it is not a magpie or a wood pigeon but one of their majestic blue-flecked cousins. Often heard but seldom seen, except now. Coming out of the house the other day, with a well-coated toddler in one arm and a changing bag in the other, I looked down to see an acorn. Quite odd, given that most of the trees around us are ash or Scot’s pine.  I knew who’d left this precious little arboreal offering. It reminded me of reading that jays are responsible for planting more oak trees than squirrels.  A couple of days later, I saw one flying right over our house.  I knew a jay had dropped it, just for us.

Another day I was driving in the tail-end of the afternoon and already it was starting to get dark; to soon, too early.  I was driving to run some errands, baby and husband esconced in the warmth of the house, playing on the floor. I drove a while and noticed that in the valley nearby, the fog was starting to form. It was as yet confined, the sides of the hill keeping it contained. Thick, grey wisps moving slowly, hanging low in the air.

A little further in my errands, I came around a corner and the view was lovely; very wintry, very familiar, very hygge (a new word in our collective lexicon for something I’ve been trying to do for as long as I can remember). A row of old Victorian terrace houses in silhouette, with chimneys peeping out, some of them smoking, the ladders of smoke climbing heavenward. Behind them the sky, almost dark, held the remnants of the day’s sun; lemon-yellow with a teeny bit of blue, edged with grey clouds. The church in the distance with its castellated tower watched regally from its promontory, back-lit by the same lemon sky.

A different day, this time grey and wet, with the first really cold chill on the breeze. Driving down into a little valley with a river at the bottom – it sounds like we live somewhere hilly, but we don’t, just a few river valleys – we pass under a canopy of trees. High enough so that the branches just skirt tall double-decker buses and thick enough so that it’s quite dark at the bottom. As it was windy, the trees were blowing and it looked for all the world like we were driving into a snowstorm, except these were yellow and brown ash leaves fluttering down before us. I called to Baby VP in the back of the car and told her to look at the leaves falling. I watched BabyVP in the mirror looking around her with a smile, before going back to the song we were singing.

I found a new classical piece, or rather, new to me thanks to ClassicFM. The piece is Kol Nidrei by Max Bruch. The ending, the last two minutes, is something quite magical.

Today we went for a walk around our local town. After a coffee with granny and sorting a few necessities, we all headed off for a walk in the park. Most of the trees are now bare, the leaves thick and yellow-green, red and brown at our feet. Soon to become soggy and slippery. We stopped by the swings so that Baby VP could get her fill of laughter and we could revel for a moment in her joy. A robin came to sit on a nearby hedge, watching us intently. He flitted from branch to branch, eager to see if we would drop something or reveal a tasty grub in the leaflitter. As we moved around the park, he followed too; his bright red chest and quiet, subdued tweets mingling with the human giggles and goosanders and ducks nearby.  A cormorant swooped through the trees above. I’m always surprised to see a cormorant so close to trees and town, but he has become a bit of a regular face. No rough seas or isolated lakes for him! Sensible bird.

It never fails to surprise me that so quickly the nights can get so long and the days so short. You’d think that by now, in my 31st year, I would have learnt the seasonal changes, but each year I am stumped at how quickly November becomes dark, December darker, and January icy-cold and grey and dark. And equally, how February starts to bring the first hints at the longer days to come. How quickly it all comes and goes; how quickly now, with a baby, life is flying and time is not an endless stretch any more, but sand that slips away before I can catch it. Breathe and appreciate every single moment.

Friday 11 November 2016

One year (and a bit) later

It has been a while (the longest blogging hiatus in my 11 years of blogging!) but I am not really sorry for my absence.  Even though I said I’d be back in March, I found that as my world had shifted so completely when I had Baby VP, I felt I needed to rearrange my life and priorities and spend time just enjoying the first year of her life. We’ve had all the ups and downs you expect but I just felt the need to take a step back, cancel all of the extraneous stuff and enjoy the time we have together, because this time will only come once. Not just in Baby VP’s life but in our life. And this last year has been the most emotional, tiring but also wonderful, amazing and rewarding year of our lives. It is amazing, that I suddenly have a one year old who is independent; wanting to do her own things and discover the world around her in her own way. I am in awe of her every single day.

They say a baby changes your life and I laugh to think of it now, because that’s like saying that childbirth is a bit painful or jumping out of a plane is a little daunting: it’s the world’s biggest understatement ever. It took me until Baby VP turned one to realise that I have to start taking care of myself again (not least because a mummy who looks like she’s been dragged backwards through a hedge just isn’t de rigeur). I ventured out to get my hair cut the day before Baby VP turned one and went for a brilliant sleek bob with a new hairdresser. My hairdresser said he’d never seen such a transformation. I agreed.  In the maelstrom of having a baby I think I forgot that I probably need to sort myself out at times, too. Lest I end up walking out of the house looking like a family of starlings has taken up residence in my hair. I want to feel a bit more together and I am now to the point where I do (though not every day and certainly not all the time!).

We even went on holiday, to lovely Scotland, where I feel equally at home with my even-more-northern kinsmen. It was wonderful.

So I would like to take a pause here and apologise to everyone for not replying to emails/texts etc. It’s not you, it really was me! But I’m trying to carve out a little time to get back into blogging (and photography – my poor camera had barely been used in the last few months!). Emails will be responded to (definitely yours Marie) and I will make more of an effort. I hate being a ‘bad friend’ and so I will pull up my socks!

Anyway, that’s what’s been going on. In the last year we’ve gone from a gorgeous but immobile little baby to a full-on, mobile, giggling and talking toddler. How that happened, I have no idea. There’s a saying going round: ‘the days are long but the years are short’ and never has a truer word been spoken. And truthfully, it’s been the best year of our lives.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Waking Up

I started writing a blog post in November, believe it or not, but somehow November morphed into December and we were without internet for a good chunk of December and the first bit of January too (thanks BT Openreach…).  But here I am and I have every intention of getting back into the blogging groove once more.  I must apologise for my cryptic absence – which some of you correctly guessed – Mr VP and I did indeed have a visit from a stork in the summer.  I say stork as a euphemism for the ideal birth experience, which in no way reflects how the whole birth thing actually went down (because that was fairly traumatic in and of itself) but hey ho, we survived!  Just.

Now here I am resurfacing.  Gosh, it feels weird.  I wonder all the time ‘what did I DO with myself before this?!’ as ‘free time’ is now an odd and confounding concept – and one that I am happy to surrender to the whims of my own tiny human.  And really, motherhood? It’s pretty amazing.  But it has been the sort of all-consuming task that has required every inch of my being and so blogging, and many other things, have been put onto the back burner.  It hasn’t been helped by my thyroid finally – finally! Going since 2012! – giving up the ghost and meaning that I was winning prizes for falling asleep all.  The.  Time.  Thankfully now I’m on thyroxine, and am working on increasing my dosage, I fall asleep less often and feel ever-so-slightly more with-it (a distinct improvement, let me tell you!)

Merry Christmas – I think I should get that in there, and a very Happy New Year too.  Christmas was a whirlwind of unwrapped presents and twinkling lights; a bit of a weird day, with a kitchen role reversal and a fourth person to cater for and a living room that looked like ToysRUs had set up a franchise.  I had made Delia’s Christmas cake some weeks earlier, and I hummed a lot of this, while we pacified and entertained a Christmas first-timer.

I was planning to give NaBloPoMo a go (hahaha) when I first started the bare-bones of this post in… November, but realised that the chance of me actually finishing were slim to nil, so I might as well dibble a toe rather than leap from the diving board.  So, that’s a (tiny) fraction of what’s been going on over here.  It feels so alien to sit here and hover over the ‘publish’ button that it’s taking me a while to get my head around doing it!  Anyway, enough about me, how are you all doing?

Saturday 26 September 2015

Three Months Later

Ahh, where has time gone?  Last time I blogged it was the start (or the height) of summer and I was enjoying the scent of roses and warm sea breezes on the air and now we have been catapulted into autumn with its long, dark nights and chilly days.  In the ten years (!) that VintagePretty has been running (I managed to spectacularly miss my own blog’s tenth birthday!) , I haven’t ever taken a break of such a length.  So what precipitated the break?  Well, quite a lot.  Things I won’t necessarily share on her immediately as I don’t feel quite ready yet to holler everything from the rooftops, but it is a Very Good Thing indeed and one that has been by turns anxiety-inducing, time-disappearing and life-changing all at once. Things are good, just unbelievably busy and my days are now full in a way that I didn’t know was possible until recently.

So a big thanks to all who have emailed and commented asking whether I am still alive – I am indeed, even though some days I can’t remember the month or the day of the week (so don’t rely on me for punctuality or ability to remember my own name half the time!).

Wednesday 24 June 2015

In the garden, the day before Midsummer

Oxalis that open and close with the sun.

Lobelia cheek-by-jowl with geraniums and fuschias.

A rose I’d forgotten all about until the other day; her name is Felicite Parmentier and she is an alba (old rose) x damask hybrid from the 1830s.  She smells divine and flowers at midsummer.

This is Rosemoor, never a health rose in my recollection, but it seems to be doing quite well, though it needs a jolly good prune.

Fox and cubs growing on what used to be one of the vegetable beds in the bottom of the garden…

…Which has sadly become overgrown with brambles and goose grass.  This is on next year’s to-do list, though I am looking forward to the blackberries!

Nippewort growing amongst the fox and cubs.

Finally, some of the proto-apples on our Katy apple tree that we bought home from our trip to Scotland.  With any luck, we’ll see fruit this year!

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