Saturday, May 7, 2022

Inhale Deeply

Hello! Well, it has been so long since I last blogged that, coming back to it this morning, I couldn’t remember what I’d last written and consequently lost myself for an hour this morning, rereading, following back, plunging into that memory pool, occasionally asking myself if I’d really meant to write that. 

Generally yes. What I mean to write, I write. 

April and the 1st week in May were…bonkers. So much so that I’ve reached 7th May and fallen at its feet, kissing the ground with gratitude. I think I will lie here for a little bit and recover. 

treated myself to some freesias because why not?

Truth is, I did something I’d promised myself not to do since going freelance, and I’d over committed. In order to fit it all in, I worked over the bank holidays and weekends, push-push-pushing words into those coherent sentences that funders like.  

So. Many. Damn. Zoom. Meetings. Daily, twice daily, thrice daily. Finally, at the suggestion “we catch up via a quick Zoom”, I snapped and demanded an old fashioned phone call instead, unable to face another disjointed conversation full of “oh you’re frozen again” or “hang on while I share my screen.”

And I physically zoomed too: one 7 day stretch saw me dash between Birmingham (again), London and Gloucester. I have seen more train interiors this month than I have in the past 2 years. I have driven to Ely. 

But. Now May is here and the deadlines have been met. I have felt the weight of them fall from my shoulders like a heavy overcoat. 

sweet peas planted out in April

N is cantering through his last month of work. In September he starts a Masters in landscape architecture. No one chooses to be made redundant but there is no denying the freedom, once the period of adjustment and mourning has been got through, to go in a completely different direction that it gives you. 

Speaking of which, never have I ever heard so many tone-deaf comments as I did when the news was first announced. Redundancy is up there in the list of the Big Life Stressors (bereavement, moving, illness, divorce, redundancy, etc) and yet his shoulder rang with the metaphorical thumps of people saying “think of all that free time!”, “wish I could be made redundant!” and “it happened to me and I was over the moon!” 

The problem with comments like that, as well meant as they may be, is they diminish how the person actually feels. That period of mourning and adjustment as you realise the future you thought was secure has just been snatched away, that the small work ‘family’ you’d been part of will soon all be moving on without you, is necessary. Trying to cheer someone out of it just makes them feel worse. 

And now he's through that - jubilant to be leaving a work environment that had steadily grown more toxic over the past 2 years, coming out of meetings with deep sighs, shakes of the head and a wondering "I don't have to worry about that any more". There are plans for the future, university in September and then the wedding at the end of the month. We’re in a good place. 

Shelves at the Coffin Works. One of the helter-skelter visits I did. 

My poor allotment. I managed 1 trip up there, nearly 2 weeks ago. To be fair, the ground was so dry, it needed a mattock to break it up (it's a clay soil so when it's dry, it's solid). It needed the recent drenching. Tomorrow, recently nadgered ankle withstanding*, I'm planning a few hours up there, taking my sandwiches and my time over the jobs to do. There are seedlings ready to go in, another brick path to be built and, no doubt, strimming to be done. I love No Mow May but if I went with that at my plot, I'd never recover the ground. 

I have alpines to plant on the tricky dry bed, cornus cuttings that have rooted and need a place to be, a couple of achillea that 'fell' into my basket and a honeyberry (lonicera caerulea) which I also failed to resist. 

May is full of green and so beautiful that, now I have the time, I'm standing to stare. Trips to garden centres that are bursting with lushness. Going to see friends one evening, the lanes were so soft with new growth, bluebells shyly scattering the grass, that I had to stop the car to stare properly. I'm going to do that more, not just now, but this year in general. 

Things I have read and seen:

  • Earthed by Rebecca Schiller, Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym, Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James and South Riding by Winifred Holtby, which stayed with me for days afterwards and I'm recommending all over the shop. 
  • Dinosaurs: the Final Day with David Attenborough. Just mind-blowing. Astonishing finds and research pinpointing the moment of asteroid impact that did for the dinosaurs. And continuing the asteroid theme, Don't Look Up. Funny and poignant, Meryl Streep acting it up a storm. An allegory for our environmentally-stricken times that can also make you laugh. 

There are 3 more weeks of May left before we tilt into the birthday pell-mell of June and July (our families seem to cluster around here and November-December for birthdays) and I can allow myself the luxury of Days Off. Things I will do in May:

  • Eat asparagus in a variety of ways. 
  • Ditto new potatoes
  • Make elderflower cordial
  • Inhale deeply when I'm around flowers
  • Admire the wisteria at the allotments
  • Watch butterflies
  • Quit Twitter because, ugh**
  • Yoga
  • Write
What does May hold for you?

*the arthritis means that when I've been too much on my feet, I get unsteady, leading to Undignified Trips and, in this case, Falls. I've been resting this thing since Wednesday. Lots of ice etc. 
** Done!

PS If I've missed any of your posts and/or comments, I'm sorry. Slowly getting myself back into order. 


  1. Gosh it sounds like your life has been a veritable whirlwind. I do hope the rest of May is a little slower paced. I will be glad when the days of Zoom meetings are over although I can see the attraction if everyone at the meeting lives miles apart. They are easier for the awkward silence when the has anyone got any questions elicits none. I was in one such meeting this week, we were all stunned into silence by an announcement. It also lasted half an hour which if we had all had to drive to would have been a fraction of the time that some of would have had to drive to get to it. I guess it has some benefits.

    I do hope your feet are doing a little better now and the resting is helping. Hope you have a quieter week ahead.

    1. It has been (my own fault for not remembering to say 'no') but May is promising to be a lot slower, which I'm thankful for!
      Zoom enables a lot of good work (and time no longer wasted travelling) but now it's being used where phone calls would suffice and up with it my tired brain could no longer put!
      I hope you have a quiet and calm week ahead of you too.


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On the way home from the train the other day, I took a shortcut through the dripping allotment grounds, the grass and earth squelching under...