Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Pockets of Lovely

That's the best way I can describe the last few weeks: 90% nose to the grindstone, but with pockets of loveliness that make everything okay. Better than okay. 

The two weeks leading up to the end of term were exhausting: full days, busy evenings and weekends, while fighting off (and eventually succumbing to) a horrible head cold. The Mother's Day weekend was a little ray of actual sunshine in the middle of it all and we spent most of it gardening and doing jobs outside.

The first gardening weekend of the the year is always a big one, so quite a few hours were spent cutting, weeding, tidying, sweeping, planting, moving things around. There was a trip to the tip, an afternoon spent washing two cars during which the vacuum mysteriously stopped working (it's since started - a protest, perhaps?) and a huge washing mountain. 

But then there was also a lingering lunch outside in the warm sun, time spent sat in the garden on the bench with a cup of tea and a magazine.

I have two of these magnificent shrubs, above, in the garden. They are absolutely weighed down by tiny, frothy white blossoms at the moment, they look like they are covered in snow. Does anyone happen to know what they are called?

On Mother's day Bella and Angus made me breakfast in bed. I don't particularly like breakfast in bed, but I kept that thought to myself and pretended I hadn't smelled the burning downstairs or heard them come clattering up the stairs with a tray, shushing each other. There were sweet cards and gifts, a bunch of tulips and a lovely dinner at my parents. You see? Pockets of loveliness.

And now we are here in the Easter holidays. It's just been the children and I these last few days while John works, and we've fallen into a routine of mornings at home, afternoons out with the dog. There's been a fair amount of spring cleaning here. During term time I only manage to keep on top of housework in the most superficial way, so I rely on the school holidays to have a bit of a sort out and do things properly. I've cleaned not just the oven but the whole kitchen too, emptied out cupboards, washed and packed away winter things, taken bags to the charity shop, cleaned windows and under furniture not just around it. The weather has been nice so I've also done a huge amount of washing and ironing too. While completing these tasks does bring a sense of satisfaction, I'm a bit fed up with the housework now, and looking forward to getting out and about over the rest of the Easter holidays. 

But in amongst the scrubbing and sorting, you find little moments of happiness, like finding a copy of Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries III in near perfect condition in the charity shop for £2.50.

Like picking flowers from the garden and putting them in a vase on my bedside table. The droopy tulip was a result of Angus kicking his football right at my planter full of blooming, fragile flowers and beheading half of them.

Like taking Bella and Angus to the library and watching them choose books, and then pick out things they think the other will like too. We use our local library a lot, it has a well stocked children and teen section and the kids pester me to go every couple of weeks. 

Like making salted caramel cupcakes with Angus. Without any prompting or interference from me, he pulled a baking book off the shelf (Hummingbird Bakery: Home Sweet Home) and spent an hour going through it with a pack of post-it notes, highlighting things he wanted us to bake together over the holidays. Everything contains either chocolate or buttercream and involves every pan in the kitchen, and quite a lot of time, but bless him.

Like watching signs of spring emerge in the woods on our dog walks and seeing the first bluebells of the year.

Like crocheting my shawl, and delighting in the colour changes as it grows.

 And best of all, coming downstairs on Sunday afternoon to this sight in the garden.

You've got to look for these moments, haven't you? Enjoy the small stuff, be thankful for the moments of happiness, when they occur. I've been feeling very flat lately - a combination of tiredness, worry about so many things (Brexit mainly, and money) and an uncharacteristic lack of energy and enthusiasm - but I think you just have to keep on putting one foot in front of the other, looking for the positives, being thankful for what you have and looking upwards. 


  1. Looks like a bridal spirea shrub.

    1. Yes, I'm pretty sure that is Spirea Bridal Veil, we have one in our garden, they are lovely.
      Margaret P

  2. I like your posts so much, I read them with so much pleasure and they bring me the feeling of calm and inspiring me to be creative!I also practice my English :-D Anyway I would like to thank you!

  3. Hi I love your blog and read each post with a sense of knowing what part of your life is like as I also work in a school as a T/A. How I long for the holidays. I think the plant is possibly a Spirea Arguta - Bridal Wreath. I have just purchased one for my white border, that is a present going through a transformation that will see it enlarged by 100%. Looking forward to your nrext post already.

  4. I know the shrub as bridal bouquet but the actual name is a spirea. I am a bit flat too from over work and household organisation (that's with two houses!) and our dog had to be put down. We have a lot of broken things in the house at the moment and that is making me feel useless. But you are of course right, there have been some good moments too. I saw them with my own eyes and I was there. Great post Gillian. Jo xxx

  5. That's definitely a Spiraea arguta. I absolutely love your quilt, Gillian, and the last photo of your two kiddies is gorgeous. Life is all about savouring the pockets of loveliness and plodding on with the rest, isn't it?! Hope you have a lovely Easter holidays. Sam x

  6. Second the spiraea. I have few. Just about the most forgiving shrub I have. I chop it back and it bounces back with a smile!

  7. Absolutely right. Brexit in particular is doing my head in at the moment, and it seems to go on and on with new layers of awfulness revealing themselves at every turn. And then suddenly there’s one of those lovely moments and you just have to grab hold of it with both hands and enjoy it.
    And yes, I know that spirea as Bridal Wreath, and it looks gorgeous. I’ve moved mine twice and still it thrives.

  8. I've been feeling a bit flat here too, so I can relate. But as you say, onwards etc. My youngest is a big fan of buttercream too - those cakes look just up his street. And very nicely done. My tulips are bracing themselves for the footballs, which will surely strike before too long. Glad you had a good mother's day. I am also not a fan of breakfast in bed, but well done for powering through. I often wake up to the smell of burning - eldest boy is an early rising toast maker. I hope you feel brighter about things soon. Sending a cyber hug. CJ xx

  9. OK, lovely post Gillian & where to start. Jo, above is right about the shrub being a spiraea & your garden is certainly looking lovely. I enjoyed seeing your two still doing things together & "loved" the photo of them reading. So many children spend all their times on DEVICES these days, they are a breath of fresh air, taking time to read, bake, dog walk with you & doing things together. I'm thinking "world news" is making a lot of us feel flat these days & hopefully happier & peaceful times are soon to be. Keep your chin up, take care & huggles.

  10. You are certainly to be commended for fostering a love of reading in your children! What a blessing to have children who ask to go to the library. And that last photo of your 3 "babies" in the garden, with 2 of them reading, is precious. I hope you enjoy the rest of the break. I hear that lots of buttercream helps with that flat feeling!

  11. Lovely photos, I remember when my boys were younger and loved visiting the library each week. They both rarely read now, which is sad. Xbox and phones are all consuming to 16 & 19 yr olds. Hope you enjoy the rest of your hols Cathy x

  12. How can anyone give away Nigel???? What a find! Your deep spring clean made me feel guilty for a moment, but then I remembered that I'm not doing one because the whole house is going to be taken apart for renovation in a few months' time. So I'm spring cleaning the garden instead...
    Brexit gets ever more depressing. To keep up my French (my degrees were in French) I read and watch French news. Latest is that the French and Europe are fed up with Brexit to the extent that people who at the start hoped we wouldn't leave are are all saying 'just get on with it and leave'. I'm afraid we're coming across as a laughing stock in Europe. Time to escape to the garden!

  13. That beautiful white shrub is Bridal Veil Spirea, and your is simply marvelous!!!! I so love it. So love it. Used to have one, but no longer. Got a pink one, but it never looked the same. -sigh-

    Sorry for the cold, but you have loads of loveliness around you, to make up for it. :-)

    Gentle hugs...


  14. Oooops, my little "growing sprouts" clip art, did not "travel well." In some blogs, it does. In some it doesn't. In yours, it just shows up a little question marks. -sigh-

  15. I treasure the moments when on the half terms especially the extra time easter hols bring and being able to sit out side finally...The blossoms looks beautiful in your garden. I'm still awaiting for the delight of my apple tree's when they bud...not quite ready yet. But in our local park lands the blossoms have been so pretty such a beautiful time of year. Its so nice just to be off the tread mill and take days slow and gentle...we have been baking cookies having our lunch outside~ My daughter so enjoys being able to have lay ins as well ( and ME too~!!) Enjoy your time together ;)

  16. Such a lovely post and your photos are always so stunning and tell their own story! How lovely to see your children in the garden reading when most kids would probably be on their video games. We've been getting a bit of work done in the garden this week and enjoying sitting out there eating out lunch too. Best, Jane :)

  17. This is a very lovely post indeed, Gillian! Your garden is looking lovely. It sounds like you had a nice Mother's day and your tulips are gorgeous. It's amazing how much Bella and Angus have grown this year. I'm noticing the same thing with Charlotte over the past few months. We haven't been to the library in a while, and I think it's time we go soon - thanks for the reminder! Stay positive and keep looking upwards, my friend.

  18. I've felt a bit similar... maybe the result of a horrible cold and a rather long term. Just waiting for the energy and enthusiasm to return! Your pockets of lovely do indeed look oh so lovely

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