So there was November and then…

…and then the last thing I remember of November is sitting on a bus, not feeling At All Well, dear reader. Because that’s what happens when you try and go out to work on a chronic illness that includes joint pain and fatigue. Whoops. Four months later, I collapsed (double whoops) and now I work from home, as a private tutor (not at all whoops, I love it). You can check out my website for tutoring here, and the associate Facebook page here.

I’m trying not to cross the streams, though – this blog is mainly for recipes, chatting about interesting things and occasional mentions of writing-type stuff I’ve been getting up to. Check out the interesting links to see me as an Actual Professional, then come back here to squee about Doctor Who and lemon cake.

Speaking of cake – I had my thirtieth birthday! It was excellent: I made an enormous lemon cake and the pub I had my party in played a Wurlitzer organ rendering of ‘Happy Birthday’. The latter was horrifying, but funny. I’ve settled into my flat and south-south-west London very well, albeit with a lot of bumps along the way.

One major bump which I don’t want to leave unmentioned was Barney. My smallest friend started to lose sense of who he was and where he lived around the end of March – he went missing once, was found, then a month later went AWOL again. Both times, posters worked – he ended up getting confused and visiting neighbours, who then took him in and fed him (which wasn’t great news for his pancreatitis, although I know it was well-meant). The second time he went missing, I rushed round with the cage and collected a cat who didn’t seem to know me at all. He picked at his food and cried to leave the flat – I’d blocked off the cat flap as I didn’t want him going missing again. I gave him the night to think it all over – I’d made him a vet appointment for the morning – and he slept in the corridor, away from me. In the morning, he hid under the bed and swiped at me when it was time for us to leave. In the end, I had to get him out with oven gloves – my little mate, who’d only scratched my hand gently, or lightly bit my wrist, if I wasn’t fussing him. A friend came to help carry him – because even with some weight loss, he was still a hefty old lion – and they noted that although it was definitely Barney physically, it wasn’t really him in the cage; not any more. Even his bloody meow had changed.

The real kicker was when the vet agreed with me. I’ve always been a bit of a hypochondriac on behalf of the animals I’ve loved – I was convinced that with every new diagnosis Barney had (heart murmur, hyperthryroidism, pancreatitis, some truly epic constipation), he was about to pop his clogs, But after talking to the vet about his quality of life, how he’d changed, how old he was, how worried I was… she said it was, indeed, the kindest thing to say goodbye to him. We did it that morning. Part of me wanted to take him home, feed him smoked salmon, cuddle and breathe him in so I’d never forget how his fur smelled. But it was so very obvious he’d gone, or was flickering out as it was.

It was quick. My friend looked after me. And Barney now, bless him, has the Ultimate Box to be in, watching, I hope, over my desk. Admittedly it’s not quite the same – there’s no tail to suddenly dangle over my laptop screen and I don’t still scroll through Spotify, wondering if there’s any music he’d particularly like to listen to. But I can look up, and remember, and be so glad and grateful that he was there when I needed him. Love, pure and unconditional.

On that hopefully-not-too-sentimental note, I’ll end this blog for today. I have some shiny stuff to promote in the next blog, but for now, I’ll leave you, dear reader, with quite a few photos of Mr B, because he was a photogenic wee chap. My friend, my companion, my eternal little silly.

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With not one, but two cosy reading spots

Dear reader,

Like Manny to Bernard, like Harry to Godric’s Hollow, like the Doctor to the TARDIS, I have returned to London! Well, Greater London, but it’s got cracking connections to Victoria and St Pancras. The rest of August was a tad hellish, but I survived, failed my fourth driving test, exchanged contracts, packed, held a house-cooling party where everyone turned up at six on the dot (Normal for Norfolk…), packed, watched a lot of Gilmore Girls, packed and eventually headed down to London to stay with friends a couple of days before moving day. And then I became a homeowner, which is a very lucky and mildly unnerving situation to be in. If I want to, dear reader, I can do things to the place. I can take my time to work out what colour I want to paint the kitchen. I can fill the patios with pots of garlic and gro-bags of potatoes and a few token geraniums. It’s all rather marvellous, really, and couldn’t come too soon.

Currently I’m still in the process of sorting things out. The front room is unpacked, liveable and I’m even writing this sat at my desk, which is no longer covered in boxes. Still, there are more boxes that need unpacking and some things that won’t be dealt with until the end of this month. But that’s ok. I’m settling in and it’s started to feel like home, especially after I’ve baked several cakes and had some excellent people over.

Barney has settled in nicely, too – he was brought down from Norfolk a week after I’d moved in, so I had time to make it as nice and homely for him as possible. I had intended to keep him indoors until tomorrow, to make it two weeks, but after eleven days, an unfortunate incident with a cat harness and hours of increasingly mournful meowing, I decided to let him out in the afternoon, after I got back from registering with the local GP. He decided to clamber out of a window and sit outside for a bit, before wandering back in, telling me about the things he’d seen, then wandering out again, only nip back and tell me that the back patio smells very strongly of squirrel. I’m still a bit nervous about letting him out, given the difference between here and rural Norfolk, so every time he comes back after exploring I quote Brief Encounter at him.

Not much else is happening at the moment – unpacking, catching up with friends and general settling in have been taking up much of my time – but stay tuned for exciting developments, also known as ‘things relating to that writing lark what that I do’. Join me in some cake, dear reader (the one below is orange and cardamom), and lift your favourite beverage to the fact that I am back in London, I am happy, and my life has restarted after almost two years in the wilderness.

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When one is tired of boxes, one is tired of life

Dear reader,

I’m not quite sure what the last few weeks have been up to. I know they’re around somewhere, possibly inside the sofa as it does have a tendency to eat things, but I swear I took my eye off them for one minute and suddenly it was the end of May. I dealt with some bad anniversaries. I didn’t do very much baking at all. I’ve seen friends when I’ve been able and kept myself busy where possible.

The good news is that I appear to have written nearly eight thousand words of a Thing. It’s a nice Thing. I mentioned it briefly in the last entry and it seems to have grown up enough to have its own capital letters. The Thing may never see the light of day, or at least be read outside of a small, highly-trusted group of friends, but it’s the first Thing that I’ve really felt might actually be a… thing. So there’s that. It’s got vampires and tea and the Thames skyline viewed from Greenwich in it and I’m going to give the Thing as good a chance as I possibly can.

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I’ve been packing and sorting through my books in the last few weeks and that’s going surprisingly well – for the first time in five years my books are once again all in the same place and it’s a nice feeling, even if it does turn out that thanks to college and an English degree I’ve accumulated a small library and may need to choose between buying food and bookcases in the near future. Barney is very interested in so many boxes being around and has helpfully investigated each one, to prove to me that it is indeed a box and is up to standard as a box. He’s taking his pills, getting into the occasional scrape such as belly-planting against the conservatory window and generally being his usual excellent self.

 

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If this entry sounds a bit down, it’s because I’m tired and my back is twinging. I’m not sure when I’ll be moving down to London properly, but things are coming along and I live with the general idea of ‘SOON’.

In the next entry, which will be soon, I’ll be having a go at Chuck Wendig’s flashfiction challenge, which will be mildly terrifying, hopefully in a good way. Thank you for reading and, if you happen to swing by on Friday to have a look at what I’ve written, extra thanks.

Failures and successes

Dear reader… whoops. To paraphrase a French penpal I once had, I fell in a puddle and off the blogosphere for a bit. Stuff, Bad Things, Pernickety Bits and Pieces, plus three weeks of home-hunting which felt more like three years. It’s aged me, dear reader. Anyway! I’m still alive and still have matching socks on (a sure sign of sanity).

Continue reading Failures and successes

DH Lawrence in Mexico

Dear reader, it’s been a good week. It’s been a week for reflection and motivation and healing of the soul, as well as the body, and waking up to a small whistling noise and the realisation that the cat had farted directly into my ear. This post has a little seriousness in it, because today is Mother’s Day in the UK and I wanted to share my thoughts on that. Don’t worry, though – there are also some delightful Barney photos to prevent us all falling into the brown bin of introspection.

Continue reading DH Lawrence in Mexico

An argument of socks

Dear reader, I’m alive! The surgery went very well and I’ve spent the week recuperating with my best friend, so while it’s been a zero on anything productive (alas, poor deadlines, I see you whoosh), it’s been an excellent week for self-care, investigations into toast and having more painkillers in my bloodstream than I’ve probably had in the last eight years. Good times.

Continue reading An argument of socks