My birthday present to myself was the 99 Bottles of Gin on the Wall poster. This, a genius idea of Emma Stokes aka Gin Monkey, is a scratch off poster featuring 99 bottles of gin, the gins should be easy to get online if you can’t pick them up in a supermarket.
Ma and I scratched off the ones we’ve had but there are 63 gins, we haven’t tried. So guess what we’re going to do for 2021?
I’ve been living in the same place 11 years, the only place I’ve lived as long is the flat in Fulham as a kid (16 years from ages 4 to 20!).
I moved here after a long period of sadness and uncertainty, I was absolutely ready to live on my own again after 7 years of sharing with others. When I moved here, I approached living in this house in a completely different way, than I had done before, in that I decided to take my time about furnishing it and wait for the right things, instead of buying stuff that would do. Which meant I didn’t have a sofa for six months!
Even when I’d just moved in, everyone commented on how much the flat ‘felt’ like me and it still does but it has changed quite a bit without appearing to change much at all because it happens so slowly but this year has been the biggest year for changing since I moved in.
That’s because I’ve been in the house more this year AND I’ve had extra money to spend on the house thanks to not paying to commute for the last 9 months! Here’s what I’ve done this year;
Sorted out the Cupboard of Doom with new uniform shelving
re-arranged the living room to accomodate a new desk
moved the chest of drawers in the living room to the bedroom
finally installed curtains in the bedroom
framed some ‘art’ and hung it in the bedroom, kitchen and living room
I when I put it like that, it doesn’t seem like a lot but this week, the flat feels different.
There’s still more to do, there’s always something to do. At some point, I’ll sort out an actual wardrobe that fits my space but I’m in no hurry!
Traditionally, I’m always pleased to see the back of November, so that’s it’s the last day of November is good, that we’re also in Advent is also good and tomorrow, I open my advent calendars.
Less good news is that I seem to have a visiting mouse, clearly, the poison traps aren’t working so I’ve ordered some traps, the kitchen is getting bleached every morning, I’m beginning to think they like the smell!
I have also finally got all the work post out of my house, which is delightful and although work was pretty manic last week (it always more busy June/July and Nov/Dec as people suddenly realise that everyone is going on leave!), I’m feeling more in control of it.
We did not allotment this week, instead Ma supervised my DIY and other chores and we ate tomatoes from the Isle of Wight and drank wine. When I’m asked about having an allotment, I compare it to having a child. Its needs are nowhere near as demanding as an actual baby but if you’re doing it properly, it takes all your time and most of your money as you’re setting it up. Which is why so many people stop in winter. We do need to work on the plot this winter, but I needed to some things to the flat and Ma would like a Saturday off some point soon.
This week, lockdown ends and we go into Tier Two, which means I can meet more than one person at a time for walks, I could also go out to eat with 5 other people but I can’t have them come for dinner in my house! I have a four day work week because Ma’s birthday is on Friday, there will probably be shenanigans – yes she is in her 70’s and a Grandma but that’s not stopped her yet!
With the rules changing for Christmas, Ma and I will be going to Ben and Laura’s for Christmas, we’ll be three households and six people including the nephews. So within the rules set. Ma and I live alone and are pretty cautious, we are also in a support bubble and see each other weekly. We’re more at risk from the boys than they are from us. As usual we’ll go on Christmas Day, come back on Boxing Day and because we both live alone, if the boys infect us, we’re unlikely to spread it to others. We won’t see my aunt and uncle this year. I understand people making different decisions these are ours and I’m satisfied that we’re as safe as we can be. Obviously, that’ll change if we anyone catches anything or the nephews have to isolate but that’s our plan for the moment. I do have a back up meat in the freezer just in case anything changes. If this year has taught me one thing, it’s prepare for the unexpected!
On Monday, Boris Johnson gave a press conference, in which he compared the vaccines to the cavalry coming to save us. All I could think of was the Duke of Wellington’s comments about cavalry galloping at everything and never thinking. I know vaccination is on the horizon but please don’t think we’re done with COVID, because in order to for the vaccine to be of any use, it needs to be used with thought and used globally…
I’m beginning to think that the compost bins are cursed. First, the screws were lost, then it rained and rained, this week the screw bit for drill vanished.
Instead of building the compost bins, we weeded the rose garden and pond area. I dug up the two rose bushes that weren’t growing this year and planted the 3 lavender plants, that were in pots and needed to be in the ground, in that area, I re-sited a verbena to the corner and also planted some bulbs. The other thing we did was move all the stones around the pond, weeded and laid some weed fabric around it, then replaced the stones, we need to collect more stones for that area but this way will be slightly less weedy.
We moved the bricks at the front of that bed to the side and put some more woodchip on that side path. The plan is to have a patio that runs the length of the rose garden and pond and I’m hopeful that the plants will spread and cover more of the ground. It’s a work in progress but it’s a much tidier work in progress now.
We planted the shallot sets and most of the onion sets.
I feel like we have 101 things to do right now and I keep having new ideas! Priority for next week, are the compost bins and sowing the broad beans. I really need to paint the shed and then I think the rest of the month is about weeding and if there is anymore woodchip, more of it on the paths.
Other building work that it would be nice to do before Christmas, is building the third bed next to the two new ones, and dividing the remaining big squash bed but that requires some weeding at the side of the plot.
All of that but especially the weeding should take us to Christmas. In January, we’ll need to start thinking about a massive compost delivery, a patio and I have some plans for the beds on the old half that will make growing cabbages and cauliflowers easier.
One day, I’ll have done all I want to do and I’ll just grow stuff…honest..
I’ve missed the last few weeks, I saw someone describe themselves as ‘feeling like a phone who’s battery is never above 10%’ and it was the best description of how I’ve felt this month, but I’m rallying…
3rd – A walk with a friend
Sue and I went for a lunchtime walk and it’s lovely, when it’s not raining
4th – Ted Lasso
I spent Wednesday reminding myself that not all things that come out of the US are terrible. This is one of them
5th – The joy of working at a desk
It was a pretty dull day but the joy of not having to work in my kitchen because I have a desk in the living room is great!
6th – Wine
We ordered some wine, it makes me happy
7th – President Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris
Ok, so at the time of writing, the Orange one hasn’t conceded but Biden/Harris feels like the promise of a return to sanity.
8th – Minter Wonderland is back this Christmas.
I’d like to thank Ben, Jerry and the tiny baby Jesus..
9th – Pancakes for breakfast
Do I have to explain why pancakes make me happy?
10th – Puppy Photos
B sends us photos of Barney, he’s very cute
11th – I caught a mouse
I’m not happy about the mouse, but I am happy that it seems to have been dealt with and I did it, with only minor freaking out
12th – A realisation of how far we’ve come
I’ve been feeling a bit down about the state of the plot recently, but then a picture came up of the plot last year and it looks so much better now than it did last year. We have done a lot, even if it’s not perfect, it’s in ok shape and it’s been really productive.
13th – A conversation with Jo
Cote d’Ivoire has had elections in November and they’ve not gone brilliantly, so it was good to catch up and find out what she and Ms T are up to.
14th – Allotment in the rain
It was a bit of a blowout but we did get to the plot and we did harvest produce and we had a lovely cosy afternoon indoors…
15th – A slow day
I had a very lazy day. I finished another book, watched some of Season 4 of The Crown, it was a nice rest.
16th – Monday rolls around
If I won the lottery, I would give up work, but I haven’t yet. So I work. I’m grateful to have a job at the moment but I’m really happy, really happy in this role, with this colleagues and at this company. Having had work but hating it for years, this feels like a blessing..
17th – Post Office
I’ve been at the Post Office a lot recently, today the guy at the counter recognised me!
18th – Food prep
I got my act together and made hot stew and kale and mushroom pasta, it’s all portioned up and in the freezer and that and a kitchen tidy, made me feel more in control of my life. I’m also extremely aware of how lucky I am to have enough food that I can have an evening of making food for the future!
19th – Nearly done with parcels
I’ve finished sending out work advent calendars and I’ve started the Christmas boxes, it’s going to be so great when they’re done
20th – Work Quiz
I did not win the quiz, but I did come second!
21st – Manhattans with Mother
22nd – Oli turns 11
How did that happen? He was such a tiny, little thing…
23rd – Tidy up
I started Monday on a mission. I had a conversation on Sunday that made me remember that when I take action, I fix myself. So I started the week with some action!
It’s no secret that I struggle in winter but especially in November, so while my mental health is pretty ok right now (you know with it being November and 2020!) I have been lacking in mojo. My get up and go, got up and went and I need it back at least from now until Christmas.
The struggle is real but I know what works best for me and that it an almighty kick up the backside and starting to take control. There is a balance between rest and activity, the problem with too much activity is that you get tired. But I’ve gone the other way, I’ve had too much rest and in resting, haven’t done the things that give me mental respite, like having a tidy house. Don’t knock it, if the house is tidy, it’s restful to my eyes and brain.
So this morning, after doing a thorough anti mouse clean of the kitchen, I started to gently sort things out. All my work Christmas boxes are wrapped and ready for the post office because I need them gone! I’m going to spend this week getting properly on top of the house, so that next week I can finally put up my new bedroom curtains and start making sure that the flat is in good shape for Ma’s birthday and Christmas.
I’ve also been slipping on Golden Hour activities and it’s time to get back to them. It’s really easy at the moment to slip into feeling down and feeling that we can’t change things that aren’t right in our life or how we feel, sometimes that’s true but not always. I know that a bit of SAD and being at home all the bloody time is the least of what some people are going through at the moment. I can’t change much about a global pandemic, but I can order my environment, I can call a friend and go for a walk. Those things help.
I would like to encourage you, if you are in a similar place, to find one thing you can do, that might help you feel that you’ve positively helped yourself. That could be a walk, or a phone call to a friend. It could be committing for this week, to making your bed in the morning, or doing all the washing up in the sink once a day, it could be making sure that you brush your hair every day. Find the thing, do it regularly, when it’s habit, find the next thing. Better mental health is possible for most of us, with tiny little steps.
It’s a bit hokey, but my depression tells me that I’m useless and unloveable. I can look at the concrete things I’ve done in my day (the tidy kitchen or made bed, the friend I spoke to today, the dinner I cooked) I see that it’s not true. These things are not going to fix you overnight but they will help.
So clearly my plan for the week is to be active and engaged in managing myself, my time, my work and my flat!
This year, I’ve been working towards eating less but better quality meat. Last month I ordered the introductory box from Dorset Meats.
It came in an insulated box and was in really good condition and the meat is really good, I haven’t tried the sausages or the minced beef yet but Ma and I ate the beef joint and the pork chops, I’ve made lamb stew and had a steak, all of it was really good.
I’m going to order the meat for Christmas and Ma’s birthday next week too. I was really impressed.
I was never guaranteed a victory in 2018, and I wasn’t owed a victory, but I am owed a system — as voters, we are owed a system — that actually works the right way. And as we headed into 2020, we were able to use the lessons of ’18 to help fix that system, much to the chagrin of Donald Trump, who thinks that the consent decree cost him the election. Well, yeah! When people get to participate, it may have consequences that are not what you seek.