Halloween, Summer Solstice

On Halloween morning last year, I had the wonderful news that at last, at last, a little baby brother or sister was on the way for Jessica.

This week, the week of the summer solstice, I should be awaiting her birth, if not already cradling her in my arms.

Today she was due. I would be wondering if every twinge, every niggle was the start. The clothes would have been washed and dried in the glorious sunshine, ready and waiting.

But instead, my baby girl left me and went to heaven in November. 

And so, here I am. I feel so, so alone today. 

My mother-in-law gave me a beautiful glass butterfly last week, as she knew that this day was coming and would be hard.

But apart from that, silence today. And it makes me feel like my baby didn’t matter and that I don’t count, and that is a miserable way to feel.

I know everyone is different, they feel differently, they need different things…but please, if someone you know is unlucky enough to lose a baby, please remember when they were due, and remember them, let them know you are thinking of them. 

A Window Into Wednesday

I love words. There are so many beautiful words in the world, which help us capture our meanings just so.

But I don’t know the word to capture right now for you. A rainy Wednesday afternoon. The back door open so the rain scented breeze blows in. Radio 4 can just be heard above the bubbling of the dinner on the hob.

Our Victorian cottage has a door to the staircase. The door is open, and I am nestled at the bottom with a cup of tea I belatedly realise I haven’t removed the teabag from.

The scent of chicken stew is carried on the breeze. It is the simplest of dinners, soothing in the making and soothing in the eating, nourishing and sustaining. Later, it will be studded with herb dumplings which will be left to swell into fluffy little clouds.

So the word I need is for a cosy rainy afternoon in May, one where you need a litte comforting, a little bolstering. As many words as there are, there just aren’t enough.

Later, there will be crochet. Soothing ripples up and down on my Moorland blanket. I have moved into the living room now. The cars drive by outside and the rain is slick on their tyres. 

Later still, there will be a feather pillow and Barbara Pym and a candle in the dark.

Wherever you are, I hope your Wednesday holds comfort and if not joy, then peace.

That Night, This Week

So, that very evening, the one where I wrote of feeling sad, I could not sleep. I felt heavy with tiredness, my cold had blossomed and my ears were blocked and painful.

It was almost as if my body had decided it was going to make me slow down for a bit.

And so I have floated through this week snuffling and feeling like everything is muffled. And as far as you can when you have a lively toddler to tend to, I have tended to myself. I have bought raspberries to eat as I fancied them and brewed endless pots of tea. I have slept as much as I can, and slipped between the pages of my book at every snatched opportunity.

I prescribe this to everyone, to sometimes stop and try and give yourself what you need in that moment.

Avoid the news as much as you can, and follow only on instagram people who inspire you or make you feel good. Let that be your news for a little while. That a friend you have never met has baked a cake. That the sunrise was beautiful in Yorkshire this morning. Drink in the goodness and let it water your soul. These are things that patch us back together.

Sweetly Sad Sunday Evening

We’ve had a lovely weekend…..we had a wonderdul impromptu dinner with friends on Friday, Jessica went to a fairy party on Saturday, and stayed for eurovision and a thai takeaway. We’ve had a gentle family day today with lunch out and playing in the garden and afternoon naps.

But sitting in the dark waiting for Jessica to fall asleep I feel sorrow pricking at my eyelids. Somewhere Over The Rainbow came on her new lullaby cd which was played as we left my Aunt’s funeral. I have friends dealing with bereavement, and next month brings joy with Jessica’s birthday, but sadness with my first Father’s Day since Dad died, and the day the baby I lost was due.

And so I feel heart heavy tonight. How instinctive it is to smile and say no, I am fine thanks. But I am trying to teach Jessica about her emotions and in doing so, am teaching myself about mine. So rather than pushing it aside, brushing it off, I am letting the rain fall. I’ll gentle myself with a light supper and an early night. I’ll let myself feel this, and then I will move on.

For there is so much that is good in life. Family and friends, a toddler in fairy wings and eyes shining with pure joy that she had won a packet of sweeties. A pot of tea and a Barbara Pym novel. A double yolked egg. The Persephone Biannually. Clicking knitting needles, radio 4. All the little things, scattered through life like april raindrops. 

In The Bluebell Woods

Every year I love looking forward to the first snowdrops, watching the pinpricks of crocuses appearing and then the sea of cheerful yellow daffodils washing over the gardens and grassy banks.

The last few yeats bluebells have started to edge their way into my awareness too. I have seen friends take photos of their little ones amongst fields of bluebells, and I am lucky enough to have a sprinkling of blue, pink, and white bluebells in my garden.

Not enough for a good photo opportunity though…

So yesterday I packed up a picnic and Carl packed up our little camping stove (so we could have cups of tea!) and we drove a few miles away to Norsey Woods.

We hadn’t been before, but several friends had mentiones them as being particularly lovely so we decided to give it a try…and we weren’t disappointed.

There was a lovely picnic area close to the carpark, but far enough into the woods that it felt like the woods were all that could possibly be in the world. It was large and fenced so children can run and roam and explore but without getting lost. The air was filled with birdsong, and Jessica told me to ‘follow her finger’ and was pointing to a squirrel which was scurrying about.

Our picnic was lovely…there is something so special about eating in the open air, and food from a wicker picnic hamper tastes better somehow.

We had mugs of tea with lunch, and then afterwards Carl made us coffee using those little filters which sit on top of your mug. Fresh coffee and chocolate cake enjoued while walking the perimeter of the picnic area was such a nice treat, and somehow you could imagine the Famous Five doing it in their older years!

Once we had packed up our picnic things, we went in search of bluebells…and we were richly rewarded. There were carpets of them everywhere. I love how they look like a delicate blue mist hovering lightly above the ground. They are really ethereal, and when you pause to look at one individually they have such a graceful line to them and are beautiful on their own.

The early rain had cleared away, the sun was out, the bluebells were abundant…but Jessica was not in the mood to have her photograph taken! Her tongue came out, her eyes closed, her back was turned! She was gigglimg while she was doing it, so we decided to hunt for treasure and try again later.

Jessica just loved treasure hunting. I have her a sandwich bag and she looked for twigs and pebbles, pine cones, leaves, all manner of things which caught her eye.

And then finally I was rewarded with my photograph, the one I really wanted, of my little girl among the bluebells.

That photo makes my heart sing. I love that Jessica’s life will be punctuated by the coming of the bluebells, by our annual snowdrop walk, by the never-ending vases of daffodils in February. Giving a child the love of things like this is one of the best gifts I can imagine (alongside a love of reading and crafts!)

We have been visiting nature reserves which have trails of statues to find (like Wind In The Willows or Brambley Hedge) and wonderful visiter centres with cafes. There was none of this at Norsey, and initially I was a little worried if it would hold Jessica’s attention as well. As it happened she was perfectly happy hunting for benchea rather than statues! 

So if you live near Stock, do go and explore Norsey woods – but just make sure you take your provisions with you!

Death of a Ghost

I love a Hamish MacBeth mystery. In the old days, before Nessica, I could polish one off in an evening or afternoon. It takes me a little longer these days, but they are still quick reads with a good mystery at their heart, and lyrically written so you start to think with a Scottish lilt to your thoughts!

Once or twice there are opinions or thoughts which make you feel like they are a bit of a soapbox for the author, but I can forgive that for being able to sink into the book and lose myself by the banks of Lochdubh for a while. Every time I finish one of these books, I start planning a holiday to Scotland!

In his latest outing, Hamish MacBeth is called in by a retired senior policeman to investigate what seems to be a haunting in his decrepit castle. When MacBeth investigates, he finds more than he bargained for, and is soon on the trail of drug smugglers and finds trouble brewing between colleagues…

A perfect book with a cup of coffee and a square of shortbread, ideal for a chilly April evening.

These Wonderful Rumours

Sometimes I find I come across a book by chance, and having read it, thank heaven for happy bookish serendipity!

Some books have the capacity to change you, and afterwards you cannot imagine not having read it.

These Wonderful  Rumours by May Smith is one such book. They are the wartime diaries of a young school teacher. She has a brilliant voice, and it is fascinating to read about daily life of someone of a similar age to me. However hard you try, you cannot help but look back at the war knowing we won…so having events unfold in the background of these diaries and seeing how people felt is just so interesting.

There is an afterword by her son, and it made me realise what an amazing treasure discovering her diaries must have been to her family.

How wonderful to get to know your mother or sister or wife even more after they have gone, and to have this window into another time.

I have been meaning to write more here for a long time, but time just seems to melt away. I have been so tired in the evenings I can hardly think let alone write.

But having read May’s diaries, I am resolved to mend my ways. 

Even in this past week there have been things that May would have written about were she still here. I found a new pound coin in my change the other day, went shopping for new glasses, and then of course there is the announcement of the snap general election.

I was sad to find that no more of May’s diaries have been published. I am consoling myself with the comfort of Anna and Her Daughters by D E Stevenson.