Strange Things on the Shelf

Twas the night before Glastonbury, and all through the house… people are gone.  The cat lies mournfully with an entire bedroom to herself and my phone is alive with stressed messages from family, friends and colleagues. They are all preparing to dance in the fields of excess, with crowds, heatstroke, mud fever, cocktails, and far too much fun. It’s quiet and sensible here. What to do with all that ‘not going to Glastonbury’ free time?  Step out and admire the flowers? No, better than that. Let’s clean the cupboard under the sink.

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When Hoarding is Not a Bad Thing

Dear ancestors, Why did you hoard all this stuff? Bunch of sneaks. How did you squirrel it away upstairs? The letters, diaries, and tiny brown photos of strangers whimper when you open a drawer. ‘Don’t throw us out, we made it this far, we might be special’. The scrapbook at the back is silent. Who put it there? What’s in it?

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How to Ask the Right Questions about Decluttering

Snowdrops symbolise innocence, the quality that lets you declare a grand plan that will never happen. Announcing you will Feng Shui one corner a week for example. One year later you will discover that you didn’t do it. Now what? Have a word with the clutter, ask the right questions, and work out why it is still here. 

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Jobs to do in the Garden in Winter

The relentless grey skies are lighter this week. Time to step outside and watch the cat get stuck up a tree, maybe waste hours trying to get her down with ladders and treats. Or, leave her up there, and follow this list of exciting things to do.

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When Babies are Born. What Happens Next?

Lily of the valley, the birth flower for anybody born in May. We celebrated my son’s milestone birthday this week, with a beach walk, chips in the rain, and a bit of baby nostalgia from me. Meanwhile, my phone was filling up with other babies. Two friends have become first-time parents and are about to discover what a game-changer they are.

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A Drawer Full of Nonsense

The patch of creeping thyme is struggling. It wants to spread a soft carpet across the rocks but bigger plants have turned up, and everyone is jostling for position. It is too complicated to control, so I leave them to fight it out and look for something else to organise. I trot indoors to play Feng Shui and find the drawer from hell.

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When Cupboards get Out of Control

The dreaded Blackthorn Winter. The one that ancient farmers warned us about. When the blackthorn bushes flower, spring flips back to winter with east winds, snow, wind and hail. You must scuttle back indoors, clutching your seedlings, and take up an indoor hobby like Sorting Out. There are bad scenes in the kitchen.

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March Jobs in the Garden.

Einstein suggested that time is not constant. He probably started thinking about this after a tough slow winter. One day he was glad that February was done, the next he was staring at his Camelia bush wondering where the hell March went. I know how he felt.

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A Year in the Life of a Spare Room

In the olden days, people passed through this room for fun, or work, and often stayed for weeks. We kept it tidy, some people got fresh flowers, and everything worked fine. A year ago today that stopped, and a new word was born. ‘Stickitinthespareroom’ became a thing. It is going to take a lot more than a bunch of daffodils to sort this lot out.

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Discovering Links to the Past

In Aboriginal culture, the eucalyptus is a reminder of our interconnection with nature and the importance of links to past and future generations. This tree was planted to provide gentle shade, with a hint of rain forest. All we got was a spindly stick that thrashes about in gales. It became a reminder of ‘potential damage to a roof’. So we chopped it in half.

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February Jobs in The Garden

The east winds are biting and the crocuses bite back, stubbornly forcing their way up through frozen earth. Crocuses symbolize a Brighter Tomorrow, which means planning. Time to think about February jobs in the garden.

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Sweet Peas, Nasturtiums and the art of Feng Shui

Sweet Peas are easy to grow and fill the air with scent. We have a new flower to distribute around the house, in case visitors come and don’t like our smell. Except we don’t have visitors any more. I picked them anyway, filled the house with heavy stinking bunches and immediately triggered an asthma attack. I do this every year. It generally takes 45 minutes to remember they cause potentially deadly wheezing.

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