Friday, March 5, 2010

Time for a treat

I overslept this morning - I awoke at 7.30 - late for me - and lay listening to the birdsong, and looking at the sun peering under the blind at the wondow. Yesterday I made up the bed with crisp, clean sheets, and as I lay there with an arm round each dog, it smelt of heaven.

When I got up and drew up the blind, it was another lovely clear, bright morning, the frost twinkling on the grass, the sky a very pale blue, no clouds, and a faint yellow haze on the horizon. England is a glorious country, so many contrasts in the weather, and such a joy on a morning like today.

It is very peaceful, the only sound the birdsong and the dogs munching their breakfast.

My mood for the day ahead was a little uncertain when I came downstairs, but I then opened up my laptop, and saw the most wonderful messages that had been left on my 'blog' overnight. I have tears in my eyes, because they were the most kind and delightful comments to find, and thank you, you have already set the tone for my day.

I actually have a treat today. I was given a voucher for a facial as a Christmas present so - in two hours I am off to enjoy! I am a nightmare beauty client, because I usually fall asleep the moment I lie down on the couch, and settle under the blanket. And then - oh mortification, I begin to snore!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Another glorious day

The end of another glorious day - I cannot believe this weather. The cerulean blue of the sky, the billows of white clouds, the bright sun, the crisp air - it is such a tonic and really, so unexpected.

I opened my bedroom window wide this morning, and the fresh air filled the room. After many months of snow, icy conditions and then pouring rain, the house felt stale and being able to fling the window open was just wonderful.

It has been a good day. The dogs and I had a long walk, the ground is now beginning to dry out so the tracks are less swamped by huge puddles and a sea of mud. Two good frosts in succession have crisped up the earth and walking is beginning to be more of a pleasure. The dogs had such a good time - Maud has recovered well from her illness, and indeed, is a changed dog. I think she must have been unwell for quite some time. She scurried about, in and out of the hedgerows, chasing after Billy, her little tan ears flapping with excitement when she discovered something interesting. It is hard to believe that she is now 14.

I suddenly noticed something in the distance just sitting in the middle of the track - a large fox, the afternoon sun glinting on his beautiful deep orange-gold coat. Then Billy spotted it - and off he went, I have never seen him move so fast. Needless to say, Monsieur Reynard turned slowly to watch Billy hurtling towards him, glided silently into the bottom of the hedgerow, his thick brush held horizontally behind him, and across the field and away to safety. Poor old Bill was brought up short by the hedge. It was an amazing sight, but I knew full well that Reynard had been up to no good. The surrounding fields are now full of young lambs, and the foxes have had a bad winter, and are very hungry. The balance of nature.

We continued up the track. It opens out to a wider area, and the view down into the small dip and up the other side, on the far side of the village, makes you feel as if you are going back centuries in time. There is nothing much to show that it is the 21st century.

The trees and hedges are actually not managed (should I say manicured) and are twisted and gnarled and untidy, with large branches lying in the fields, and huge overhanging ones over the track. Over the other side you can see the tower of the old abbey church on the outskirts, and the old monks' fishponds below. There were ravens who used to circle overhead, making their strange cawing noise, but they have recently disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. I love it - it is peaceful and wayward, and I shall miss it.

On our way back, watching how much the two dogs enjoyed their explorations, it made me realise that, to me, dogs and city life are incompatible. A dog does not enjoy being walked on a lead - they need the freedom to explore. They were in and out of the hedgerows, sniffing and picking up scents of rabbits and small rodent life. Billy loves to race off in short bursts, and then race back to me, which is how whippets like to exercise. We rarely meet anyone on our walks, and I love the solitude and just the company of the dogs. I even talk to them - I am a mad old Englishwoman!

When we arrived back home, I put their big soft bed outside on the terrace, and they flopped down, tongues lolling, then, after a few minutes, curled up together and fell asleep in the sun, Maud's head resting on Billy's flank.

Simple pleasures are therapeutic, and I do value them. Many of you lovely people who have written such supportive comments, and a few trenchant ones, have been so good for my well-being. I read, mark, learn and inwardly digest and so appreciate your interest. I suppose I am a little alarmed at the prospect of starting out on my own again in my mid-sixties. But - I will succeed.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Blue skies and gentle sun on one's back

So - the sun shone, and two sets of tennis were energising and fun. The four of us have played together for quite some time, and are very evenly matched. It was incredible, the change in the temperature and the weather. The sky was so blue and the weak sun on our backs spread a mild warmth that was a harbinger for Spring.

My sheep grazed quietly, something they hsve been unable to do for months. The dogs sat in their bed, which I placed on the grass outside the court - every so often, they got up, and ran around on the grass, Billy racing up and down in great spurts of speed, he was so happy at last to be out freely in the fresh air.

Afterwards we drank tea, and ate the Moroccan Orange cake, which was delicious, citrusy, almondy, and thickly dusted with icing sugar. We sat round the kitchen table and gossiped - and suddenly, life was looking better.

Later, I lit a fire as the temperature suddenly dropped, and the dogs and I settled down for a cosy evening. Billy draped himself round my shoulders, his head under my chin, Maud snuggled up beside me. I drank a glass of red wine, the senior daughter cooked a comforting supper, pasta with a leek and mushroom sauce which we ate in front of the fire, whilst we watched University Challenge, shouting out the answers. Tonight - the questions were particularly cerebral, but we held our ends up rather well, I thought.

Now it is late - outside it is very cold, a frost beckons, the sky clear, stars twinkling. The contrast in temperature noticeable after such a sunny day - I am going to bed with my pile of new books, and of course, the dogs. Two warm, loving, sweet-smelling beings to whom I am utterly devoted. I will prop myself up on a great pile of pillows, angle the bedside light for maximum effect, draw the dogs to me and
open my book.

When I eventually turn out the light, I will lie for a while, gently stroking a soft velvety ear on each side of me, trying to make sense of the maelstrom swirling through my life.