Unclutter my life. Day Seven. The Bearwood Jumble Trail.

It an attempt to sell some of the things I am unearthing during this unclutter my life process I am taking part in the Bearwood summer Jumble Trail. Think yard sale with lots of people all holding one on the same day in the same neighbourhood.

I am hoping to offload some of the cookery books I sorted through, and have been going throught the last few things that I still have from Mom after sorting through her stuff. The amount of stuff she had was staggering for just one room. And I am sorting through my stuff so my kids don’t have to.

At the moment this is what is going into the jumble.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBrownie badges circa 1989.


Including the sash.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESEnamel souvenir charms.


Soft toys.

And a selection of Bionicles, donated by my son. He too has the declutter bug. He has a vested interest in this declutter exercise as when he saw how much stuff Mom had, he realised that one day he may have to go through my stuff. And as a person who is not a hoarder, has enough clothes to last a week and only one pair of shoes, this one collection of stuff was a blip.

Let us hope the sun shines and the people of Bearwood want some decent cookbooks, Bionicles and Brownie Badges.




Nostalgia, Cake and a Poem in The Cotswolds

Charlie aka Forages and Finds invited me and my family for a day out in the Cotswolds.

While I was looking forward to seeing her, I was really looking forward to seeing these.


All 8 of us plus Truffle the doglet piled in and the adventure began.

When I was learning to drive in 1977 the two cars I had the pleasure of driving were a Mini Cooper and a Morris Traveller. This was a real nostalgia trip for me.


Memories of when I was 17 flooded back. The smell of the car, the noise of the engine, the bouncy seats, no seat belts in the back, when motoring was about having fun, not about commuting, traffic jams and boy racers. When 50p filled up the petrol tank and 17 year olds could afford to insure a car. No air con, just wide open windows and the wind through your hair.


Then, like today, a large group of us would set off  to Clent or the Lickey Hills in a collection of Morris Travellers, Minis, Jeeps and Beach Buggies. It was the 70’s, we were into Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and The Eagles. We had long hair, flared jeans and tie die t shirts. We didn’t have California but we did have Clent.

Back to 2014. Charlie and Dom drove us first to Whichford for lunch at The Straw Kitchen. We had a mooch around Whichford Pottery too. I can thoroughly recommend a visit here. The gardens are lovely, the ceramics on sale are beautifully crafted and the selection of quality gifts is very good.


The main reason we were here was for the food in this quirky cafe.


The tea here is English in the true sense of the word as it is grown on the Tregothan Estate in Cornwall.


The ingredients are seasonal and locally sourced. The menu has an Eastern Mediterranean influence, think Yotam Ottolenghi, with a Cotswold twist. The food is very good.


And then Charlie announced that we were off to Adelstrop for a walk and some foraging.


Adelstrop. Just a couple of weeks ago I had read the poem I Remember Adelstrop at Make Friends with a Book, the shared reading group I go to. I had mentioned then that I would love to visit the village. And now I was.


Later after a walk and some trespassing and foraging we stopped here.


For cake, of course. There is always cake when you are with Charlie and co.


And we listened as Dom read aloud ‘I remember Adelstrop’. The people on the next table also stopped to listen. Such is the power of shared reading and good poetry.

Go and make some tea, cut a slice of cake and listen to Richard Burton reading the poem by playing the film below.


Unclutter My Life. Selling the Burberry, another persons closet to clear.

I haven’t actually got rid of anything today. I have however acted on a specific task from my life coaching session with Lisa Beaumont Cherry.  It also relates to my first post in this series, Unclutter My Life. Day One. However it is not my closet I am clearing. It is my mothers.

I have written before about my late mother and her clutter, and the hard process I have gone, and am still going through, slowly letting go of her stuff.

I identified during the life coaching session that it was realistic to advertise the four Burberry Trench coats, which were among the mountain of clothes that Mom hoarded, within a week. It has in fact been four weeks, but hey, it is done now. They have been in a spare wardrobe for over a year now. It is a step forward.

Today I photographed them.

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They have now been uploaded to Vestaire, and once I have negotiated the prices, they will be for sale.

And actually, I remember, I have got rid of some things today. I sold four of my cookbooks I sorted on Day Two.

Baby steps in the right direction.


James Martin – Home Comforts

I have been watching a lot of telly this week as I have been laid up with a cold.

Thanks to modern technology I can watch what I want and when I want – and having recorded Home Comforts, Saturday Kitchen and Operation Hospital Food, I have been able to see a lot of James Martin. And that is not a bad thing.

Feeling better today, I actually cooked for the first time in five days. Inspired by James, this was breakfast in bed.  DSCN0668

And this was Sunday supper.DSCN0671 DSCN0672

The Best Crackling EVER.

The recipes can be found here. Yes, even for the bacon buttie. 🙂

And don’t you just love my vintage plates?

And if you are a regular reader you will know that I have cooked with James Martin.

Have you ever cooked with a TV chef?

The 9 to 5 is a con to get you on the work, watch, spend, treadmill

It is what normal people do. I don’t. I rather like people who are not. Who do things differently. I believe that Life begins after normal.

Do you want to be normal?

Do you want to be normal?

It all starts here.

It all starts here

The work, watch, spend treadmill is all about buying stuff to make us feel better about ourselves. Stuff we have been told we need to make us fit in with, well normal people.

Most of us have to go to work so we have the money to buy stuff. Stuff we probably don’t need. Got an iPhone 3, really that is so last year? Now you need an iPhone 4G and in five months that will be so out of date, we will bring out a new version.

The end of the world

The end of the world

And people will queue all night to get their hands on the new version of Windows, trainers or the iPhone to replace the shiny ones they bought less than a year ago. Why?

I have an iPad. It is a ‘first generation’ iPad. Recently, because I hadn’t been ridiculed by a teenager for a while, I took it to the Apple Store for some advice. The child who helped me was amazed that I still had one, described it as vintage. It is less than 5 years old. It does what I need it to do and it will not be replaced until it completely breaks.

Which of course it will. All stuff now is made with a limited shelf life.

I have thought for a while that things don’t last as long as they used to. I have a Kenwood Chef that is 37 years old. I still use it every week. I guess you could call that vintage. Built to last. Now things are no longer built to last. The are built to break.

This is all due to Planned Obsolescence.

If it is not designed to break after a few years then the corporations will design a new version and advertise it as the new must have.

I waste

I waste

And consumers will dump the old style one in order to have the newest and most fashionable so that they don’t look different. They need to fit in and be normal. This is Perceived Obsolescence.

I am not nearly clever enough to have thought all this up by myself.images (4)

The credit for this cleverness has to go to The Story of Stuff. I came across this series of films a while back when writing  De Clutter please for your kids but today was the first time I really listened to it. And truly this needs to be shown at prime time every day for a week. It won’t of course because the governments and corporations will be exposed for their greed and lies.

Wait, haven’t they been exposed for their greed and lies already? And we are still buying into all this crap?

I bought into all this, I was building my career during The Thatcher Years, I didn’t really have a choice know I could have a choice. I got married, had a baby and bought my first home all in the matter of two years in the mid 80’s. I was fed a diet of Dynasty and Dallas and Thirty Something.  I wanted the house, the family, the lifestyle. I wanted to be Hope Steadman.

I was in a managerial role and sending my daughter to day care (even when she had chickenpox). No one at work knew I was a mom. No photos on the desk, I was suited and booted, so career driven so that I, with my husband, could buy a bigger house. And fill it with stuff.

The chance to jump off that treadmill came along when the first redundancy hit us. Do we sell the house and go travelling of look for another job?

Or move nearer family so that when the children were ill we didn’t have to take time off work, a relative could care for them. Really, that was what the conversation was like. And we chose the latter. We bought a five bed house for three of us. Did it up.Rag rolled and sponged everywhere. Had another child five years later (I had been made redundant so it seemed a good time to do so, no time off work). Moved to a six bedroomed house that was ‘in need of modernisation’ and lived on a building site for six months.

Seven redundancies and 30 years of paying off debt in the form of credit cards and mortgages because we chose the lie.

Be Happy

Be Happy

Now, when I read blogs by Ytravelblog and World Travel Family, who educate their children on the road, I regret not doing it. I made excuses, and still do. There was no Google when our children were young we would have had to haul books with us was the excuse I used for not taking my 3 year old travelling. Now of course we happily haul a heavy laptop with us everywhere. And at 3, did she need loads of books?

I wish we had not wondered what we would do when we came back. If we came back. Yet life is not for what ifs. I cannot change the past.

Which is why when we got a second bite at the cherry we ate the whole bunch. Took the money and went on a journey.

Travel Often

Travel Often

If you think you cannot go, ask yourself, what is stopping you?

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Lord of the Rings

Many of my friends said to me that I was lucky to be able to go off for 5 months around the world. No I wasn’t. I made it happen, it wasn’t luck it was planning. I saw the opportunity and made it happen. If I had waited longer it may not have happened as my mom had been diagnosed with an untreatable condition, yet she still encouraged me to make the trip. And stayed alive long enough to hear about what we did and who we met and where we went. I wrote about this in the post Go Travelling While You Can.

Take the leap

Take the leap

When Mom died I was sure of the poem I wanted read at her funeral.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

She too was a traveller, and took the road less travelled by, often.

So what are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring


California Dreaming – The Big Sur

Harley rider and dog

Harley rider and dog

The bus cafe
The bus cafe

Stunning views every inch of the way

Stunning views every inch of the way

Did I mention the view?

Did I mention the view?

Vintage camper

Vintage camper

On the road

On the road

Problem at Pollensa Bay (aka another holiday disaster)

Earlier this week I was reminded of one of our many holiday disasters, see 9 Reasons Not to Travel, when there was a cruise ship on the telly box.  We were eventually shipped off Majorca by the Thomson Nightmare Dream, which is another post for another day, but this captures the last few hours of tranquillity before our epic journey home.  I wrote the following a few years ago after a creative writing workshop, led by Brendan Hawthorne at Bleakhouse Library in Sandwell

It was the only plane in the sky that day

Waves were lapping against the wall and I was lulled into a day dream by the soft murmur of voices in the cafe behind me. The clatter of plates, the clink of glasses, the smell of warm dough, made my stomach rumble as it baked in the pizza ovens. The sunlight sparkling on the sea, but all was not right with the world.

The sea plane broke this spell, its engines roaring as it took off over the bay, swooping birdlike across the landscape. It was the only plane in the sky that day.


All other flights were grounded worldwide because of the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

I had been told that these planes regularly took off for practice flights. They would scoop up the sea then letting it tumble out, high on the hills, rehearsing for the regular summer fires they dampened down.

This was my first sighting and I grabbed for my camera trying to focus on the yellow dot in the glare of the sun. I had seen seaplanes in movies, the golden age of travel, ladies in their furs carrying hat boxes, men with trilby’s and neat moustaches. That must have been how this bay was when Agatha Christie set a short story here. Now I too was experiencing my own problems in Pollensa Bay.

Uncertainty had dominated the last three days. Sky TV updating us of the situation. Tears and tantrums from some, disbelief from all as the reality unfolded. No one could tell when or how we would be going home. Schoolchildren were delighted to have an extended break. Parents worried about their jobs, the car parking, goldfish and house plants. The lobby reverberated with the tap, tap, tap of fingers spelling out messages on their laptops, Blackberries and Apples, sending out an SOS to the world.

I had come down to the sea to get away from the buzz of anxiety, the speculation and constant information underload. Pine Walk was an escape from all this. Children searched for treasure with nets in rock pools, oblivious to the crisis that was unfurling, while parents huddled behind windbreakers wearing sweaters with shorts on the beach. In a few months they would be doing much the same in Rock or St Ives.  Meanwhile for Easter, families rented stucco villas as older couples wallowed in step back in time luxury at an Art Deco hotel, all taking early evening strolls after their siestas, to build up their appetite. Just as well heeled travellers just arrived by steamer from Barcelona may have done, in the halcyon days between the wars.

Similar journeys to those intrepid travellers of the thirties were now to be experienced by the world weary tourist. By land and sea from Spain to England, almost nonstop through France, with glimpses of cathedral spires in Barcelona, rush hour ring roads of Lyon and the well ordered allotments of Calais. No flights home for us this year. Departure lounges lay vast in their emptiness, floor polishers echoing around the shuttered mall. The baggage carousals, silently still, no lone suitcase revolving, unclaimed. Planes grounded in their hundreds on the runways, stretching out as far as the eye could see, white crosses marking casualties not of war, but of nature.