Saturday, 2 June 2007

Inbetween days


My father-in-law came out of hospital yesterday, which was fabulous news and lightened us up no end. It meant we fairly flounced off to Barnstaple, eschewing the link road and wending our way over the top of the moor via Brayford – a gorgeous route. Adrian headed off to buy provisions (he adores Butchers’ Row – a narrow street of food shops) and to browse leisurely in the music shop while James and I took ourselves off to have a coffee. Somehow I ended up buying stuff for everyone except myself (how common is that?) but didn’t mind remotely. We stopped off for lunch on the way back at the Poltimore Arms – a good old-fashioned pub.

Murphy, the grey, is back with us for his summer holidays – and I’m trying to work out how to persuade our horrible buyers that they should do the decent thing and let him stay on. James and I took him some of his favourite extra-strong mints and gave him a big hug (I’ll miss him something rotten). Then we set up a target by the stable and practiced our air rifle shooting (James went on a young shots day on Friday and was keen to show us how well he can shoot).


I’d forgotten how much fun it is – it plugged me straight back to my teenage years when (having joined the Venture Scouts because I fancied one of the boys) we used to shoot air pistols and rifles in the rather odd environs of the scout hut. It was a skill that came in handy when I went to university in Manchester and found myself living in a vast monster of a house in Whalley Range. The back yard was overrun with rats and we’d hang out of the first floor window shooting them with an air pistol. Barbaric teenagers.


There were six of us students living in the house but one room housed an entire family of two adults, two (horribly malnourished) children, a morose cat called Blue and three ferrets (Dracula, Fang and one whose name escapes me). The eldest boy, who was about twelve but looked six, used to go rabbiting in Alexandra Park – and I think the family lived off rabbits and potato cakes.

I digress. I tried to buy our reading group book in Waterstones – but no joy. The book was there (according to their computer) but not in its rightful place and therefore nowhere to be found. I wandered around aimlessly, rather hoping it might just jump out at me and ended up buying instead a couple of books for my nephew – David Green’s Black Swan Green and The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson. I am saving David for my holiday treat but I have just finished reading Gideon Mack and loved it. The tale of an agnostic Church of Scotland minister who meets the Devil (and finds him a goodly companion) was strangely moving and made me think a lot about the nature of belief, faith, love, death, settling for second-best and reality. I’m now knee-deep in Prince of the Clouds by Gianni Riotta, a book which on paper I would never have read in a million years (it’s about a military strategist!) but in reality is a total joy.

I have calmed down about our buyer. Yes, he is a greedy unpleasant man – but that’s his problem. I just want to move on. Leaving will be hard but there is much to look forward to. I think my only real sadness is that we haven’t had the time/money/expertise to use the land properly. I had planned to have horses and get back to riding. Adrian had wanted to do a bit of a smallholding and have a small brewery. But it didn’t happen. We have planted trees and held back the bracken and coppiced the woodland. It has made me realise - in very real terms - that we never own land. We look after it – that’s all.


In many ways, it will be a relief not to have to keep it all going. James will no longer go on thistle patrol. Adrian can hang up his strimmer. I can stop my battle with ferns and bracken (though I fear I will exchange one patch of ground elder for another). Already the house feels like it’s slipping away from us, removing its attention. That gives a wonderful lightening in my soul. I thought this would be an easy house (after our last one which was a right prima donna) but it’s been insidious and clinging.

Sorry, this is long and disjointed. Thoughts are tumbling out of me at the moment and I think that’s why I don’t feel like blogging – I’m not sure it’s fair to subject you to such confusion. This really is the liminal time – we’re leaving but not quite left; we’re going but not quite arrived. The hallway is filled with detritus, flotsam and jetsam on the beach (that ultimately liminal place). Enough, enough……

Pic is a small herd of red deer, in our big field, a few evenings ago....

21 comments:

Faith said...

Its just a time of passing through Jane. Let me pick you an angel card ..... 11.34 am and its 'Expectancy' - how very very apt! Full explanationis 'our attitude toward the present builds yor experience of the future. Hold a positive outlook. Stay miracle minded and open to surprises'.

I like Barnstaple town. If I ever come to see my sister (Landkey) can I come and see you, or meet you in Barnstaple?

toady said...

I know just what you mean about detatching yourself from the house. When we left our lovely French farmhouse last year I found myself gradually cutting myself off from it. I do miss the acre garden though but not cutting the grass and strimming. Nex time your coming to Barnstaple drop us an email and I'll try to meet you, if I can get on the bus without having a hissy fit. ToadyXX

The Country Craft Angel said...

I think you have a good philosophy with your buyer. Just get on with it and get out. Remember Jane, I always say "what goes around, comes around..." So he may have some commupance for being so difficult and greedy! I hate people like that. But he is not worth the aggravation.


We miss our Old Station House glorious gardens-nearly an acre, but not the maintenance-it was constant, backgreaking work and neither of us miss that it eventually became a chore.

Good news about the father-in-law btw. And hope you get on OK packing.

Sure your words will soon be flowing more easily once you are settled. But if it's any consolation, they always sound pretty good to me!

warmest wishes
xx

PS-Thanks for your kind comments-Orange Man has turned into an autobiography-but the prolific blogging which I seem compelled to do is very cathartic. And I feel sure I will be much more 'free' once it is all out...Can't believe writing it, just how much baggage there is-any wonders I feel like a 'headcase' sometimes!!

Dxx

Himalayan Blue said...

Think you brave to go to Barnstaple at all! I always get completely lost and can never find a parking place! Good luck with the horrible buyer, hope the sale goes through quickly now so you can begin your new life!

Cait O'Connor said...

Good to catch up with your news. I am so pleased for you. Where are you moving to? I must have missed that in an earlier blog.
I read out your airgun piece to M as he is an enthusiast. He longs for someone else who shares a love of airguns!
Try your library for the 'Diary'. If they haven't got it in your county they should get it from elsewhere.
We lived in a smallholding deep in the hills and did all the self-sufficiency type things but although the setting was idyllic, I don't miss it at all, the vibes were very bad, I realise that now. I feel you have a new adventure awaiting...
Caitx

ChrisH said...

Congratulations on exchanging - you've got all the good thoughts of the Purplecoos with you so whatever happens with the move you have friends thinking of you. Aging parents - yes, a real worry. Air pistol - I used to shoot at university too, it's strange how satisfying it is!

Pondside said...

It sounds as though your day away was just what you needed - there's nothing like a little distraction at those in-between times. I hope you're able stop thinking about the horrible person who has bought the house. In some ways it makes it easier to walk away - no bottle of wine and nice note and no looking back and wondering "Does he appreciate the way we did X,Y and Z on the land?". You can just mutter %&*#$ him and leave without looking back

CAMILLA said...

Dearest Jane,
You will for sure put your "stamp" on the next house, a whole new beginning, and I look forward to hearing aboutlots of wonderful events there. What a shame about the Horseriding, I have always loved it, but it has been a while since I have ridden. I am reading Jeremy Paxman - The Royals at present. What lovely red deer in the picture Jane.
Camilla.xxx

ChrisH said...

Jane, thank you. CX

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Venture Scouts and Rangers were marvellous weren't they! All those camping trips and "not sure how to put ya tents up" saga's for the scouts benefit. I remember them well. Great picture of the deer - my most favourite wild animal.

LittleBrownDog said...

So right about never owning land. I think it's a bit the same with old houses, too. Good luck with your move.

Suffolkmum said...

Little Brown Dog's right, I think, about old houses, as well as land. It's such a weird time for you, heavy with expectation I would think - a bit like being pregnant!! Loved hearing about your student house in Manchester - I was at Southampton and lived ina huge old gothic clum of a house that sounds quite similar.

Suffolkmum said...

Meant to type 'slum in case you're wondering what a clum is.

Milla said...

I quite liked Clum (reminds me of Clun...!!) Anyway, yes, with vile buyers you have to think, as we tried, that the stain is on their soul and puck 'em. Not being tied to the drudgery of outdoor housework, meaning that you can just Live, is fab. Or will be when Squalor towers here is done. xxx

Frances said...

Good morning, Jane.
The photo with the deer is another beauty from you. You have always shared meaningful pictures with us, along with your wondrous way with words. (Double, double w!)

Hope that your father in law continues to strengthen.

Airgun memories of my own involve a heartbreaker boyfriend. The airgun memories and many others involving that man are still warm ones.

That's my segue into remembering good bits. That greedy buyer will have to look after his own karma.

xo

countrymousie said...

You will distanced more from the house once the pictures comes off the wall I find - it isnt home anymore and its just a house. Then when you put them back up, this will be home again. A house isnt a home - its you, the family and your bits and bobs!.
You just feel unsettled so its natural to sort of jot things down rather than a good old blog flow!
The deers in our garden have just nibbled their ways through 20 new David Austin roses - the flowers are still there but they are all bald - no leaves whatsoever. Boo hoo!!

Iota said...

The Poltimore Arms. The Poltimore Arms. Do you know how homesick those three words can make someone feel? I live in Kansas. They don't have pubs in Kansas. The Poltimore Arms is the ultimate pub. I love it. I am already making a mental note to pay a visit on our next trip home.

I have no words of wisdom on moving house, having just done it trans-atlantic. You just have to get through it and then in retrospect you can say "I have no words of wisdom on moving house".

DevonLife said...

glad to hear the old boy is out of the woods. What a funny term. We don;t really venture to Barnstaple, it seems too 'bright lights, big city' to us these days.

On another matter. Why did you never use your bore hole?

J x

@themill said...

You will hit it off with the youngest son, who when not playing cricket or rugby, spends his time with Roger, his ferret.

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

Do post the recipe for the chocolate cheesecake you mentioned at Angels coffee morning please!

Woozle1967 said...

Dear Jane, so great to hear your news! Finally!! A new chapter is starting for you and it WILL be brilliant. Sounds like your buyer is a right pleb and I will cross my fingers that the day after he moves in, the AGA will give up the ghost and need new burners/jets and rope thingy round the hot plates and the thermostat breaks!! And you are so right about the land - we always wanted more land than we have but it is a tie and a huge responsibility. xx