We returned South this evening after a long weekend spent in the northern countryside with me having felt, despite the lovely weather, decidedly under it. As I topped up my sleep bank with stolen kips, lie-ins and early nights with S following suit, O gleefully revelled in the attention his new words, scooting proficiency and jumping ability were earning him with his grandparents.
Our journey home was, this time, largely devoid of nursery rhymes with O having become as particular about his audio entertainment as he is with his literary preferences. Despite encouragement from me, “ooo, I love this one….” songs were given short shrift with most receiving a Cowell-esque “No!” seconds into the opening stanza. Having circled the CD twice, my finger permanently on fast forward in anticipation of the dismissive cry, S thumped the ‘off’ button. ‘Chocolate Mousse for a Greedy Goose’ (still a favourite read) or his Leaptop were suggested as less irritating alternatives but both were dismissed with a bat of his hand in favour of peering out of the window at his acutely angled view of the A1, pointing out objects of significant interest.
Back home as O’s energy levels remained intact ….a couple of scooted laps around the island before dinner, his deftly manoeuvred corners provoking proud cheers from his Daddy….mine appeared not to have been replenished. We have come back following a break a number of times during this project and each time I seem to return not with the expected renewed sense of vigour but rather with a sigh of resignation, daunted still by the amount left to do. There is something about being in someone else’s comfortable, clean, welcoming house that magnifies the fact that ours is, for the time being, none of those things. The contentment I felt on Friday as I sat with O eating ice lollies in the garden whilst admiring the view into our new kitchen evaporated on approach as we were met instead by the sight of broken slabs where the skip had been dropped on the driveway and the A framed ladder standing menacingly in the un-curtained lounge window, a reminder of fruitless work last week. Opening the door we were greeted by an unfinished hallway, bare plastered walls and kitchen paraphernalia piled high on both table and sofa where it had been cleared for the worktop fitters. Would mice, I wondered, be here to greet us too?
On the journey home I had tortured myself with visions of clustered mouse droppings scarring the glittering cream expanse of our beautiful new worktops. Scanning the room on entry I found nothing nearly so traumatic though many a brown fragment was duly examined. Marks on the wood floor, soil trodden in from Fridays garden picnic and linseeds, the result of living with a bread-baking vegetarian, were each analysed and dismissed until only one suspicious looking article remained. The evidence suggests one of two things. We still have a mouse in the house or I haven’t cleaned properly. The sheer existence of soil and linseeds coupled with the absence of nocturnal scratching points accusingly at my lackadaisical housewifery.
My low mood, particularly considering the progress we’ve made, felt self indulgent so I attempted to pull myself out of it by doing the only thing I know how in these situations….making an action plan. Rather than focus on the enormity of the remaining task I have come to realise that if I concentrate instead on what I can actually do in the short term I feel more positive. Im less good, however, at making targets achievable and I repeated the habit of a lifetime as I mentally prepared this weeks objectives. With the paint on order and due Tuesday, finishing the lounge was first up. A bonus, I decided, would be to finish the banisters – some fine sanding, a raiding of S’s new tools to find something tiny enough to pick the last bits of paint out of the turned detail and a few cleverly applied ….there being a number of different coloured woods currently making up the ensemble….coatings of stained hardwax oil would bring that ongoing project to completion. Both tasks, however, will need to take place in the evenings as other non-house related engagements will occupy both Tuesday and Wednesday.
S was in a similarly driven mood.
“Order the paint for the hallway” he said “and I’ll crack on when I get back from work. Lets get this finished.”
Energy we may not have brought home. Over-ambitious enthusiasm we have in abundance.
As per tradition, we also came home laden with goodies. A set of vintage tea cups unearthed at a flea market by my mother in law and bought with our kitchen in mind. A candlestick transformed into a lamp stand by S’s late and much loved Unc. An heirloom vintage mirror which has adorned the walls of several generations. A box of my father in laws home baked shortbread and a pretty glass vase bought (for me) at a junk shop in Osmotherly after an experimental outing to a newly discovered restaurant based on the (dubious) recommendation of a magazine review.
“What did you think of the pub?” asked S on the way home.
“Disappointing. Nothing too different from anywhere else” I said “though it did mean I found that lovely vase”
“Now that” said S, eyes on the road, “is debatable”.
Simons birthday clock