Friday, 30 August 2013


It's always a good idea to have something to aim for. I've been aiming for the dining room table.

I don't mean THAT sort of aim. I don't mean aim as in squinting along the barrel and taking a potshot while it's grazing because it's open season on dining room tables. In the weeks since we moved in, with half empty boxes and heaps of homeless books everywhere, a lot of stuff ended up in the dining room. The table and chairs were piled up like a bric-a-brac shop. That didn't matter, as Tony and I don't often eat at the dining room table anyway. It's more of Sunday and Special Days thing.

But today was one of those Special Days. The Sunshines arrived today for the weekend, and my aim was that we should all sit round the dining room table together. In between the writing, shopping, washing, and getting to grips with things that needed doing around the house, Tony and I sorted and stuck things in cupboards until we had an island in the middle of the mess. By the time The Sunshines arrived we had a table covered with a gleaming white cloth, four dining chairs and enough room for everyone to get to their places. For the first time in this house we gathered round the table to a family meal.

Daughter and her Chap, meanwhile, are on holiday in Paris, and when she texted she told me where they were having supper tonight. The Eiffel Tower. But what I want to know is, did they have a nice white tablecloth?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

So far...

Thank you for your patience! On 7 August we moved in, helped by daughter and LOS who worked like Trojans on special rates for overtime. On the 9th we were supposed to get the internet sorted, but in fact that didn't happen until last Friday, when we were away at Greenbelt Festival. The e-mail is still a bit wrapped around the cuckoo tree, but we are getting there.

So - the kitchen is nearly sorted and we have a usable living room and - ooh! - a sunny conservatory. Suddenly I feel the need to be conserved. Our bedroom is sorted, I have half a study and the attic is being turned into a place of dreams. Tony has a study (though how everything is going to fit in here is beyond anyone without a sonic screwdriver and a Tardis.) I've just been heaving heaps of books off the spare beds so that the Sunshines will have somewhere to sleep when they next visit.

I didn't want to go to Greenbelt. I mean, I did, because Greenbelt - an annual Christian Arts Festival held at Cheltenham Racecourse - is such a great blend of music, worship, thought-provoking talks, challenges to more simple, eco-friendly and just lifestyles, calls to address the big problems of our time and to stand up to power, and that's before you start on the theatre/comedy/galleries/fair trade stalls/best coffee ever. Especially, this year, it was a chance to meet up with friends I won't see so much now we've moved. Meg Harper and I (we shared a publisher for a while) got together over tea and cake for a chat and talked non-stop for two hours. That should put the world of publishing right. And Christian Aid tackle the problems of poverty and hunger while dishing up delicious fair trade food.

The only reason I didn't want to go this year was that we've only just got our house, the first house that's belonged to us and not to the church! I didn't want to leave it in case it fell down or ran away or blew up or got invaded while we're away. But it's still here, safe and sound. There's much to be done, but we're in.

Monday, 19 August 2013

from here

My first post from the Land of Great Saints. It comes from an internet cafe. We've moved into the New House of Stories but the internet hasn't, so I am sitting here with a laptop and a view of the park. When the Internet Hamster has found the right wheel I will be blogging to you from home, but for now I'm just telling you that I'm alive and well and living in Northumberland again at last.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Twelve Hours

In twelve hours the removal men will be here.

In a little over thirty six hours we will lock the door of this beautiful House of Stories for the last time.

Then on Thursday morning we will wake up in our bright sunny house in lovely Northumberland and start unpacking.

There have been tears and there will be more. Goodbye, and thank you with much love, all you Crossleys and Allisons, Wrathalls and Cansdales and all the rest of you from Auriol to Zack, from tiny Jacob to time-honoured Jim. Goodbye to St Michael's church which has been such a home and family, to Millie's cafe and the ribbon shop. We'll come back and see you. River, Much, I'll miss you. I'll miss the voice of the river and the view of green hills. I can barely think of the garden.

To all of you in the big world, I will soon be writing to you from a happy market town in the land of Great Saints.

Friday, 2 August 2013

bear with...

Bear with me, we are in the middle of sorting everything out before the removal men come on Tuesday and it's all a bit wild here, but today was a day off so that we could spend some time with great friends in the beautiful Harlow Carr Gardens. Sunshine, amazing gardens, good friends and family and Betty's cafe. If that's not a good day, I don't know what is.

Yesterday, though I say it myself, I played a blinder. Within half an hour I'd arranged for some old furniture to go to one charity and surplus bedding to another. I also found an antique dealer who sells pre 1980 records, and I came out of that one twenty pounds up. Hey, I'm good at this. I'm not so good at the 'saying goodbye to people' bit. We've done a lot of moving house over time - this will be our ninth address in thirty five years. We're really good at the practicalities of moving. I could write the manual. But the partings get harder every time.

Much moved, too, yesterday. About ninety degrees. I looked out and saw daughter struggling with him (he's no lightweight) and he can now see across to the river. He looks pleased.