Winning and losing

Set off yesterday in search of Sale Bargains in effort to extend summer wardrobe (existing three pieces proving no match for surprisingly extended period of properly hot weather). Soon discover that everyone else has already had exactly the same idea, and spend some time rifling through sparse and untempting clothes rails in shop after shop with increasing despondency until finally arrive, hot, red and flustered, in small boutique down side street, where I ask kind owner if she has anything which will make me look like a carefree and effortlessly stylish Italian signora out on an evening stroll. Am so delighted by the outfit which she eventually manages to create that I decide to overlook fact that it does not actually  contain a single Sale item.

Wear new outfit to cricket field in evening. Hopes that village under-15s might repeat their unexpected (and quite possibly unprecedented) victory last week soon fade at sight of opposing team, all uniformly twice the height of Our Boys and accompanied by very expensive equipment and serious-looking fathers. After scoring more runs than seems quite decent, they proceed to bowl with a determined ruthlessness that quickly reduces home team to its final two batsmen. Support from the pavilion now becomes increasingly vociferous, and when batsman number 10 (previous career best 1) somehow manages to hit a four, home supporters erupt in a frenzy of applause and cheering that clearly leaves opposition completely bemused; even though the inevitable defeat follows shortly afterwards, and we hear one opposition father remarking to his friend that Well, That Wasn’t Too Difficult, boys walk home with their Heads Held High and a happy sense of Team Spirit.

Catch end of Wimbledon highlights at home, and are soon completely gripped by match between Serena Williams and Heather Watson; disappointment at final result softened by noticeable graciousness of victor. Agree that That is how real winners behave.

Summertime

Temperatures are rising and Tuesday walking group heads to beach for swimming, sunbathing or (in my case) fully-clothed paddling at water’s edge.  Generous and capable friend arrives with freshly-baked muffins and cafetière of coffee for us all, and we discuss Greek economic situation, summer dressing, and the many advantages of being middle-aged – though rather suspect that we have more advantages than most.

Village Garden Safari at weekend generally adjudged A Success;  slightly nervous before arrival of first visitors on Saturday, but soon get into the swing of boasting about the roses,  apologising for the vegetable patch, and trying to explain why we generally call tortoise Tortoise (visitors are not impressed by this).  Everyone very friendly and kind, and full of helpful suggestions for Slug Control.

Much talk about Heatwave tomorrow. Daughter is attending university open day and will have to battle with London Underground, and sons as usual seem to have several demanding sporting events apiece. I plan to do very little indeed.

A flowery tale

Organiser of forthcoming village Garden Safari rings to congratulate me on prominent photo of self, husband and garden in this week’s local paper, apparently appearing above photo of local MP who will also be opening garden to public. Am forced to point out that standards of local journalism are perhaps not all that they could be, as no press photographer has visited us since previous Safari two years ago;  though am of course greatly relieved that we have not had to repeat our awkward pose with trowels and rictus smiles among the peonies.

Preparations for Safari pleasantly interrupted yesterday by visit from nephew who has finished first year at university and is leaving bike with us over summer. Slightly disconcerted to discover that actual teaching for year stopped some time in March, and spend some time discussing Value For Money,  as well as Roman Britain, music festivals in Czech Republic, and interesting perspectives on our local cathedral city afforded by his part-time job in its McDonald’s. Wave goodbye to him at bus stop as primary school disgorges excited children and exhausted parents from annual PFTA Summer Fayre and am struck by how distant my many years of Children’s Tombola or Hook-A-Teddy duties now seem.

Enjoyed reading my lovely friend’s post on inspirations for gardening, and spend some time thinking about influences on own garden; narrow it down to all the books, magazines and blogs I’ve ever read, and all the beautiful places I’ve ever visited, and realise that I might have been slightly over-ambitious trying to encapsulate all of this in a small plot regularly trampled by dog, tortoise and ball-playing children;  though still hope that one day it will magically combine the best of Sissinghurst,  Christian Dior’s Garden and my late mother’s lovingly-tended Herbaceous Border.

Days of wine and roses

Spend happy few days staying with sister and family. Have offered to Make Myself Useful while sister Juggles children, work, mother-in-law, imminent house move and organising the Church Fête,  and hope that my talking to her incessantly while she continues to do all the above will have made All The Difference.

House sale proceeding rather faster than anticipated, and sister’s family will be renting for some time until new house is found; this does not stop us making forays into surrounding villages and towns in hope that Perfect House will somehow magically appear, but   succeed only in realising how beautiful everywhere looks on a sunny June day.

Leave sister making prototypes of jungle animals for monthly Children’s Activity Morning in village library, and return home in time for lunch party organised by friend in honour of her son’s 21st. Relieved on his behalf to confirm that this forms only part of his birthday celebrations and have merry time sitting in rose-filled garden, talking about Network Rail,  children’s names and cat cafés, and trying to ignore his rather Loud second cousin at next table explaining at length to his companion why the bottle of wine I brought was Not Great.

Weather continues to be sunny and bright, poppies are blooming in garden, and daughter’s exams finish at lunchtime.  Feel that housework today may be rather Cursory.

Home and Away

New week, new month and better than expected weather lead to surprisingly positive Monday mood; go for long walk with friend and determine to Clean The House From Top To Bottom.  Get as far as first child’s bedroom before all enthusiasm evaporates, but carry on in spirit of Dogged Determination, thinking about roses, menopausal rock stars and Rear Window.

Afternoon spent cooking and discussing Themes of Hospitality and Homecoming in The Odyssey with daughter who has AS exam tomorrow; any remaining brain capacity quite exhausted as a result, and am secretly quite relieved when son later rejects offer of Help With His Spanish Revision in favour of cricket nets and Test Match Highlights.

Will be spending rest of week staying with sister while husband takes Sole Charge of household; feel excited for all sorts of reasons, and only concern is What To Pack for week which will apparently include cold rain, strong winds, warm or Very Warm sunshine, and thunderstorms.

Unconsidered trifles

London friend e-mails with nine pages of colleague’s annual Eurovision predictions and says that she is All Agog for next diary instalment.   Delighted by image of busy urban professionals eagerly awaiting news of Pensioners’ Lunch Club, Horticultural Association Coffee Morning and Almshouses Opening Ceremony, and am happy to report that they All Went Very Well. Friend’s performance in The Winter’s Tale was also A Triumph, though cannot help thinking that Players may have rather overestimated village’s enthusiasm for Shakespeare’s late Problem Plays; lady next to me says she preferred their production of  ‘Allo ‘Allo.

Am very grateful for everyone’s reading suggestions after last diary entry. Cannot sadly find any of the recommended books in village library, and current reading consists of Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature (pure pleasure) and Facebook (general bewilderment); younger son particularly horrified that I have joined latter and spends some time trying to find and then Block me, in spite of my repeated assurances that I have joined only in order to ease administration of Tuesday walking group and have not the slightest desire to be his Friend on Facebook or indeed anywhere else.

Feel like spending all my time now looking at images of Chelsea Flower Show or pottering around own garden.  Will freely admit that it is not really a spring garden or a late summer garden, and that it does not look particularly impressive in the autumn or winter either;  but for a few weeks in May and June find that there is no place I would rather be.

Suggestions box

Election Day dawns bright and sunny; despatch children, walk dog and head with undeniable excitement to Village Hall where am pleased to find a) Queues and b) Very Clear Instructions on what to do with ballot papers; confirm over-anxiously with Helpful Young Man that am indeed putting correct papers in correct ballot boxes, then set off to town with pleasing sense of having Played My Part.

Have added Address Book and Reading Diary to blog; realise that latter gives all too accurate picture of self as Grumpy Old Woman, and resolve to find new book that might actually like. Any suggestions very welcome.

 

 

Chorus of Women

Sunny spring weather for yesterday’s walk with friends; discuss election posters (lack of), asparagus (glut of), and flirtation (joys of). Arrive at half-way point to find selected pub still closed, but landlady fortunately recognises us from Cricket Club Bingo and opens up specially. One friend remarks that she had taught landlady’s husband at school; another that she used to babysit for him and his elder brother. All stare rather contemplatively at our drinks.

Conversation turns to imminent village production of The Winter’s Tale, which we reassure friend will All Come Right In The End despite some doubt over whether all roles have actually been cast, and a total current running time of about five hours; are all rather relieved that Players appear to have abandoned romantic visions of Shakespeare In The Garden after particularly ill-fated production of Twelfth Night  in the downpours of 2012 – though someone suggests that The Chairs In the Village Hall remain the greatest barrier to audience enjoyment.

Theatrical theme continues today with daughter’s school trip to see Lysistrata. Struggle to think of less suitable play for teenage girl to see in company of Headteacher, but it will no doubt prove very Educational all round.

Let’s Make Things Happen

Start reading through rather daunting pile of Prospectuses brought home by daughter after recent University Admissions Information Day. Pleased to note that every single university in United Kingdom is a) World-Class b) Cutting-Edge c) held in particular regard by prospective employers and d) situated in or near the best city in the country for students. (Though only one apparently Provides You With Everything That Allows You To Be All That You Can Be, rather in style of Bleu de Chanel advertisement that has unreasonably infuriated me for last few Christmases.)

Weather warm, sunny and spring-like (though all forecast to change in time for sons’ first cricket match of new season tomorrow);  hang out washing in happy consciousness of its great literary tradition, admire emerging tulips,  think about making a birthday cake, and vow to be much more diligent Diarist from now on.

Landscape and memory

Deeply-ingrained habit of starting weekdays with Today programme rarely has positive impact on mood or outlook, but am intrigued amongst all the sadness this morning to hear about survey linking personalities to geographical regions, and decide to try out Personality Quiz myself. Am awarded lowest score on Agreeableness and highest on Neuroticism, and advised that I might be suited to living in Oxford; forced to conclude that a) online quizzes are harder to manipulate than magazine versions of youth, in which I always emerged as Ideal Friend or Perfect Partner and b) I should  probably not apply for any jobs which involve Psychometric Testing.

Am however ideally qualified for unpaid village roles by combination of availability and guilt, and find myself yesterday as new trustee at Board Meeting of local Almshouses charity.  The Vicar chairs with the crisp efficiency of someone who a) attends lots of meetings and b) wants to get home and see her baby granddaughter; other trustees talk knowledgeably about charity rules, social need and accessible stopcocks; while  own contribution is limited to excusing myself from Grand Opening of new almshouses as it clashes with  Horticultural Association coffee morning.

Have mounting piles of Deskwork so spend morning cleaning kitchen and thinking about Twitter, cooking, E Nesbit, and why it doesn’t at all feel as though it will be Easter next week.