April A-Z: E is for Eclectic

I seem to have quite an eclectic taste in stuff, a creative mix of old and new, traditional and modern, and I really like it that way. We have a 1930s bungalow that was updated/ extended in the early 1990s and we’ve lived here for two and a half years, doing it up bit by bit. I tend to like to have a reasonably neutral background but love to add bright splashes of colour in an informal mix-and-match hotch-potch of stuff I like that doesn’t necessarily go together in theory, but somehow because each item goes with my taste it all looks surprisingly Ok when put together in practice. No-one would ever accuse me of being a minimalist; I’m quite content with a bit of creative clutter around me when it comes to personal possessions…  🙂

Life events have conspired to pull me away from blogging over the last couple of months, and the idea of taking part in this year’s April Blogging from A-Z Challenge seems like a good way to try to get back into the habit of reading and posting regularly. Originally I thought of just using any old random words to go with the particular letter of the day, but realistically without a clear theme to work towards I’m not sure I’d be able to keep my focus for a full month… So instead I’ve opted for a relatively simple, if slightly self-indulgent work-around: This year I’ll be posting 26 things about me, nothing too taxing to write about yet still fulfilling the brief!

When I’m Sixty-Four…

This week Fandango asks us provocatively:

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Ha, that old chestnut! The favourite career-building interview question that opens up the way for giving some stock smart-ass sound-bite answer that trips off the tongue and tells the prospective employer just how committed you are to meeting their particular needs in the long-term… Well I’m not a career girl, never have been, but when it comes to my personal life maybe I do have long-term plans to think about putting into words?

In five years’ time I definitely see me still living here with my husband, in our lovely little bungalow we bought not quite two and a half years ago. Hopefully we’ll be a lot further along the road in getting both house and garden exactly the way we want it – we’ve done plenty so far, slowly but surely, and have plenty more to do. I find that plans change organically as time passes, imagined ideals are knocked off their perfect pedestals and their more down-to-earth replacements generally turn out to be far more realistic practicalities. And as we like to do the DIY stuff ourselves as far as possible, to date the transformation has not been a quick process, but I’m confident we’ll get there in the end!

In five years’ time I see me still in the pre-retirement stage of my life and still proactively planning for my post-retirement phase – currently I’m on course to receive my UK State Pension at 67, in 2030, so in five years’ time at 64 I’ll still be three years short of that goal. At that point I might still be working part time, health permitting, and I imagine I’ll either have a very crumbly old hip joint or a very shiny new hip joint, depending on the particular level of internal disintegration and current NHS waiting lists. Hopefully my Long Covid symptoms will be a distant memory by then, and surely this God-awful pandemic will have become endemic and managed by annual jabs, much like flu is now?

In five years’ time will I still be blogging? Not sure about that one, I might be, but then again I might not – watch this space, and we’ll find out! 🙂  

Home

Home…

A nineteen thirties bungalow in style

Mock-Tudor boards on double-fronted bays

Old paint-peeled rendered walls that made me smile

And fall in love in oh-so-many ways

Its shabby chic and part-neglected air

Called out to me to make this house my own

Look far beyond its age without a care

Ignore its dated décor overtone

And now we live together in this space

Eclectic symbiosis oft appears  

Where partial changes slowly taking place

Bring modern touches to the faded years

I love the way the blend of old and new

Creates a loving home for me and you… ❤

Weekly Prompts: Old and New

Home Sweet Home

Who won the week for me this week is our lovely house – it’s a year almost to the day since we moved in, and I honestly think I love it more every day, knowing we intend to live here for the rest of our lives.

We finally had our new windows and doors fitted last week (several months behind our initial planned schedule, for obvious reasons – thank you, coronavirus lockdown) and the difference in how the whole internal space feels now is amazing, creating a much warmer and far more welcoming environment for us to live in than their ageing weathered predecessors were ever able to provide.

We’ve still got such a long way to go both inside and out to get the house completely the way we want it, but I know we’ll get there eventually one upgrade, one improvement at a time. And in the meantime this remains the practical, comfortable home we chose together, our secure safe space to be truly ourselves, living our own lives in our own unique way, growing older and hopefully wiser over the years.

Home to me is not supposed to be a sparkly surface-styled showhome, a classy double-spread feature in a glossy celebrity magazine. Instead it’s a private space, a sentimental personal place where we can feel we belong completely along with our private personal belongings, our brightest visions and darkest vulnerabilities, our highest hopes and deepest fears.

Home sweet home for us forever – happy first anniversary house! 🙂

Wanderlust? Not me…

I honestly don’t seem to have a wanderlust bone in my body: I have no real desire to travel far from home. I truly like being at home. Over the course of my fifty-six years on this planet I’ve only visited a handful of countries – France, Belgium, Canada, USA – and am someone who takes the term ‘staycation’ literally, even preferring to stay at home for any holidays from work rather than visiting somewhere else within the UK 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Wanderlust

Window Shopping, Plain and Simple

When we bought our house ten months ago, we knew we would have to replace the ancient double glazing in both the windows and doors to be more energy efficient. As we moved in during the autumn, we’d initially decided to wait until spring and warmer weather before undergoing the upheaval. But of course in March the coronavirus hit and lockdown happened, so here we are already in mid-August only getting the new windows and doors made now.

Window shopping was a surprisingly painless experience – it actually took us very little time to decide what we wanted. The clean, sleek lines of white pvc casement windows, plain and simple, for optimal natural light and minimal long-term maintenance. We need to have two obscured glass windows, so have chosen a very plain satinised finish for these. Our new back door will be half glazed white pvc with solid bottom panelling and with the same plain satin glazing above.

Choosing our new front door took the most thought to get right, but even then we chose the door design (half glazed, solid bottom panelling) and colour (anthracite grey) without needing too much discussion, and our only consideration was the glazing. We wanted some kind of minimal design within the glass panel, but nothing too fancy either. In the end we settled for a particularly understated style of glass panel originally designed for another type of door, to be adapted for our style of door.

So right now our new doors and windows are being custom made, and should be with us sometime in September. I’m really looking forward to having them installed – the current aluminium-and-wood-framed doors and windows may still be wind and watertight (just!) but are seriously energy-inefficient and really don’t suit the property. And once we have our new windows in place, we can get on with decorating our house inside and out… what fun!

It’s inevitably going to take us years to finish everything we want to do in the house, but we’re happy enough just to take our time and do it up bit by bit as we go along. It’s one of those old properties where nothing needs done immediately but everything needs doing eventually. Things are in place but are decidedly outdated, and luckily outdated can always be updated. Hopefully the new windows and doors are going to be a really big change, and I can’t wait to see it once its all done! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Finish

A Toss Up

I found out the other day that I’ll be going back to work very soon, and I feel very much in two minds about it all. On one hand I’m delighted to be beginning the process of creating a new normal to get back to, but on the other hand… the reality of risk is rearing its ugly head along with the fear of the unknown.

Intellectually, I know that the country – the world – cannot go on forever effectively hiding from Covid 19, holed up in hope of a miracle vaccine that can make us feel safe again. At some point in time we all have to face our fears, adapting and making the necessary changes to society that allow us all to live with Covid 19 in the community rather than potentially die from it.

But emotionally I feel decidedly anxious and wary, because however much I’ve found it frustrating at times I’ve got used to feeling snug and safe in my own home and it seems crazily counter-intuitive after months of a very successful ‘Stay at Home, Stay Safe’ campaign to now be told it’s OK, it’s safe out there too even though the virus hasn’t gone yet – basically it has to be OK because the economy is collapsing.

It’s all about finding a precarious balance, isn’t it? We balance the risk of going out into the scary world where a deadly invisible virus awaits by wearing some kind of protection from infection, and because full Hazmat suits are not practical daywear for most of us in our daily lives, we compromise and stick to wearing a simple face mask and using hand sanitiser and keeping our distance from others to keep us safe.

We have to balance the risk of catching a virus that might kill us against the risk of having no future income to live on, which in a very different way also might kill us in the end. So somewhere along the line we have to meet in the middle. It has to be done, and I know it’s almost time for me to get back out there and get on with it. And in a weird way I’m quite looking forward to it, except for when I’m not.

The department store I work in seems to have created a well-managed environment for both staff and customers to move around in, with plenty of safety measures in place to protect everyone as much as possible. So I can’t help but wonder how I’ll be feeling on my first day back, smiley and safe or frowny and fearful? Right now it feels like it could be either, and it’s going to be a toss up as to which actually wins out on the the day… 🙂

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Toss

Not Around the World in Eighty Days

Today is our 80th day of lockdown here in Scotland. For the last two weeks we’ve thankfully had a slight easing of restrictions in that we’re allowed to meet another household out of doors only while maintaining social distancing, but as far as any semblance of ‘back to normal’ goes we’re still a long way off.

And to be honest, as much as I rail against being told I must still stay at home, I can’t imagine choosing to travel anywhere much right now. I muse to myself that eighty days is double quarantine, forty days times two, and I hear myself singing quietly in my head ‘Eighty days around the world, de-da-de-da-de-daaah…’

The original story of Phileas Fogg attempting to travel ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ was written by Jules Verne in the early 1870s, but I’ve got the theme tune in my head from a cartoon series my kids loved to watch back in the 1980s loosely based on the same story. In the cartoon the main characters are all animals, led by lion Willy Fog.

Anyway, the point is, I realised that I’ve not been further than about a mile’s radius from home in any direction for at least the past 80 days. I go out for walks locally, I walk alternately to three different supermarkets all close to home when necessary, and only once in that time I’ve ventured as far as across the bridge into town, to visit the chemist.

Like for so many others, my world for now has become my house and my garden. We don’t have a car, and the thought of getting onto a bus, a train, or a plane unnecessarily most definitely feels like a risk too far. I imagine that even after lockdown is lifted and I can go back to work (also locally) that one mile radius is going to remain for a while.

I’ve learned to feel safe in my own home, protected from outside harm, and the thought of travelling around the world just for fun no longer sounds such fun after all. It sounds reckless, almost – selfishly indulgent in the cautious mood of this current pandemic. After all our modern-day ease of travel is how the virus has spread so far around the world.

I wonder how much life will change after this – will we all go back to winging around the world on a whim without a backward glance, or will some of our current caution remain? Will this become a watershed moment in history, leading to an international paradigm shift in everyone’s psyche? Who knows, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see… 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Risk