Rituals, celebrations and every day.

 

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We will soon be moving into our new home. The three of us together. These last few months have been a funny time ~ packing up, throwing out, sorting, discovering, discarding and making. Moving home is such a strange and unsettling thing. I have moved house more times than I care to mention. Some have been so unremarkable in their happening that I hardly remember them at all. Others have involved long distances and new countries. Leaving one home tore my heart open and took me a very long time to get over, so much so that I still dream of it. A kind of childhood Manderlay, unchanged and welcoming.

Having experienced moving so many times, it seems from experience and reflection, that the reason it unsettles and bothers us, is because in the packing of our things, it is as if we are literally dissembling our carefully built world we have spent so long spinning and gathering around ourselves. Now it is time we transfer and transform our new worlds into our new homes, and we do so knowing that we cannot help but be changed in the process of it. It is that change which is both unsettling and exciting, New beginnings, but which one? And who will we become because of it?

This move is different in many ways. I am now a home owner, swapping the fluctuating, precariously fragile world of house renting for something more responsible, more stable but daunting nonetheless. Gone are the days of gathering friends, and sometimes strangers to share with, making little families out of people you don’t really know. I know, with a deep sigh, that I will be able to find that sense of rootedness, which I have wanted for so long. To know that I won’t need to be on the move, unless it is of our choosing.

So, with all that in mind, I have been thinking about what kind of family life we will have in the house. what kind of family we will be. How we will we mark our days, how we will carve out the celebrations, occasions and the everyday of our family home. I think it will be about building our identities and weaving our memories. it will be the story of becoming us.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Days

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This Spring has been lovely. We have just had some wonderfully hot days, where the three of us have been out beneath the sun, walking with the dogs, or busy down at the allotment, fretting over the courgette plants Grandad grew for us from seed in his greenhouse.

With the house move still not completed, and with building work still to be finished, I find that at the moment I feel very in-between with homes, and it very much feels like a waiting game. So to banish those feelings of rootlessness and restlessness, which always leave me feeling a little twitchy and unsettled, I find I am spending more time outdoors to find some balance and patience.

We are enjoying the warmth. I am enjoying watching the girls playing on the grass, discovering soil and getting their hands and feet dirty. (Why is that the sight of my daughters’ dirty toes at the end of the day fills me with an inexplicable sense of love and pride?) We have all caught the sun on our faces and feet.

 I have a lot of new things to be doing this summer after taking on the allotment. There has been extra work, clearing the plots and turning the soil. I have planted potatoes (the first shoots have just popped up), two rows of kale, some courgette plants and runner beans. I find it actually to be very soothing to be at the allotment. It is usually just the three of us, and Pip running around near the compost looking for the rabbits.

This is our last summer here are Bent Corner. It is a home which will always mean a great amount to me. It is where I became myself in so many ways, the first time I was able to have a home of my own and to live by myself. This is the place where my daughters were born, where I was pregnant. I have so much to be grateful and thankful for, having lived beneath this very kind and friendly roof.

Meanwhile our new home is slowly being uncovered from layers and years of strange make-overs and modernisations. In place of pine, there is the original stone fireplaces and oak beams. It has been quite scary, seeing the house being peeled and stripped and knocked and chiselled, but slowly it is coming to life and beginning to smile.

I smile with it.

Recipe for Welsh Scones

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If you asked me some of the things I remember most from my childhood, scones would be one of them. It seems a strange thing to remember so well. They seem very different to English scones, especially those summery indulgent cream tea one’s you have down in Devon and Cornwall. Those soft and cloud-like mounds of whipped cream, or scarlet jam on fluffy white scones, ate in a café garden by the sea.

No, these Welsh scones were much smaller, less bouncy, Welsh scones with a lick of butter, accompanied by that scalding hot dry tea. They came from a tin, the lid prised off and the small side plates, fine delicate white china decorated with the smallest of dainty red roses, laid on the table as the kettle boiled, ready for the tea. It was a different sort of eating and I loved it very much.

Everyone seemed to have scones when you went to visit. Often my Dad would take me to the nearby farms when he was helping them out, or returning a favour from having been helped on his farm. Dad would be outside talking to the other farmers, all of them dressed in their blue thick cotton workwear overalls, a narrow wisp of a roll-up, often unlit, just resting at the side of their mouths. I would be invited to go into the farm kitchen to talk in nervous welsh to the Farmer’s wives, who would welcome me in and sit me at their tables.

Perhaps it is because of the homeliness of it all, which makes me rememeber so fondly. For years after I grew up, I have had an almost obsessive love of kitchens and the life I imagined that went on within them. More than any room in the house, this is the space I space I craved to have for my own, and to fill it with the family life I experienced back then. All the conversations, meals, laughter, tears and arguments ebbing and flowing, with the kitchen table centre stage. A place to rest your elbows, your heart and your dreams.

My Step-Grandmother at the age of 80 something, herself a farmers wife, still makes these scones today. Her son and Grandson’s, who work on the family farm, still come to her home to collect their scones. I am not allowed to use her particular recipe on my blog, as it is something of a secret family one – but doing a little reading around, here is a version, close to Elinor’s, but different enough that I am not betraying a family code in any way.

RECIPE

225g self raising flour
A pinch of salt
55g  unsalted butter (some recipes here use half butter half lard)
150ml of milk
30g sugar

In a bowl sieve the flour and add the salt. Add the butter and begin to rub the mixture together with the tips of your fingers. It helps to raise your hands above the bowl when you are doing this, to bring some air in to the mixture. When combined it should resemble damp breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and combine with a knife. Add the milk and lightly mix in the milk into the mixture. Mixing together should be done as quickly and as lightly as possible.

Cover your hands in flour and also flour the surface you will be rolling on. Aim for a mixture just over an inch thick (it won’t rise so it needs to be chunky). Use the cutter quickly and put on a floured baking tray. Brush the tops with milk and bake for 13-15 minutes until golden.

Serve with piping hot tea, preferably drunk from china cups with roses on them, mist beyond the window outside, and a sense of Hiraeth in your soul.

A childhood

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I have been trying to write a new post for over a week now, and a combination of Florence not settling early enough, and me being too tired at the end of the day to write, I have written, deleted, written and deleted to the point of feeling that I really must have nothing to say.

But the truth is I have so much I want to say. I am in a curious stage of in-between at the moment and that is possibly at the heart of why I am faltering every time I try to write. I am getting ready to move but I haven’t moved yet – and the home I am creating isn’t quite ready for us. So it feels like I am waiting, gathering, collecting and sorting, ready for it all to begin.

I am trying to make use of this fallow time, and within it use these moments of transition to let go of certain things; be they emotions, possessions, habits. And in their place begin to imagine instead new ways of being. I want to bring the slow and gentle pace of living into the heart of how we live. Mostly, I am desperate to nest with my children, to cook and bake and make a home.

Our Home.