Thursday, 21 March 2013

Dorset Tales :: Cerne Abbas

In early March the English countryside and weather can be kind of bleak.  
Spring might be peeking out here and there with a few snowdrops and crocuses and possibly a primrose or two, but often it's grey, bitterly cold and we frequently get flurries of snow right into April.
However, I rather like bleak.  
I blame it on reading too many Bronte sisters and Thomas Hardy novels as an impressionable teenager and not enough Jane Austen!
So, booking Bramble Cottage in Cerne Abbas for the third time felt great.  We love the cottage.  It is cosy, the heating is inclusive of the rental price and the kitchen is well-equipped and big enough for my sister and her family to join us for big family lunches.
However, booking it for the week of my birthday felt a little foolhardy!  It's always cold on my birthday. 
But, we stiff upped lipped Brits laugh in the face of a little freezing weather and have learnt to wear layers and carry everything imaginable in  case of all kinds of weather.  
Four seasons in one day, indeed!
As it turned out we did get all four seasons, but over a week rather than every day.
Cerne Abbas is a truly pretty little place, famous for the chalk figure of a giant on the hill just behind the village.  He is a shocking sight at times and can make many a man feel inadequate, especially on a cold day ... ahem.  If you do click on the link then please do scroll down a bit to see the fantastic folly of a Homer Simpson chalk figure on the hill next to the Cerne Abbas Giant. I loved this!  Talk about green advertising (it was done to promote the Simpsons movie a few years back) and it really suits Homer so well being carved onto a hillside.  He is gone now as the grass grew over him.
The village has three pubs and a tea room.
There is a fantastically well-stocked little shop selling fresh bread, baked goods, dairy, postcards, newspapers (even a Die Welt for passing Germans!) wine, chocolates and flowers.  It's open every day until 6pm.  For a countryside based holiday that makes a huge difference to me as it means I can get the daily shopping there and do not have to go to any supermarkets for a whole week.
I don't even need to go to a town.
I can truly be away from urban living.
Our friends Steve and Beanie joined us for four days of this trip and it really was so good to have them in the cottage with us.
Frank rather loves them (they are indeed almost unnaturally lovable!) and they didn't know Dorset well.
We may well rope them in on future trips as they were such good and easy company.
Steve and Beanie, you have been warned ...

fork in the path at Cerne Abbey

a pretty corner of Cerne Abbas

was there ever such a beautiful-looking pub?!

another lovely inn

mothers' day posy

on a mama/son walk

my birthday ring

steve and beanie amuse the children

my birthday pancake stack cake, courtesy of my sister heather
And my birthday was celebrated in the cottage. 
Due to flurries of snow outside I did not feel like to beach day I had hoped for and instead we lit the log fire and made lunch with leftovers and Heather made me a stack of pancakes for my birthday cake.
Her two daughters, Matilda and Nancy, get on really well with Frank and so there was much fun had and much food eaten.
Turning 46 that week turned out to be just the right age and the right place to be.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Dorset Tales :: Stonehenge

En route to Dorset we passed, and stopped off for lunch and a run aorund at, the awesome Stonehenge, just by the side of the A303.
It is around three and a half hours from home and we were more than ready for a break by then, even though we had already stopped off for coffee an hour or so beforehand.
From the road it looks tiny, really.

And yet, from up close it is stunning.  
Considering that many of the stones that were originally there are no longer in place, it's amazing to be able to get so close to this beautiful monument.
And look at how close it is to the road!  
See that lorry there?  
It feels wrong but that's where it all is.  Right by the road.
It's a small island this island of mine!

And I leave you this time with a promise to post more photos from the trip and a little film I took of Frank enjoying the best bit of Stonehenge!  Forget the ancient monument and what it mght all mean and "Look at that puddle!  Oooh, it's good I have my wellies on!".

Thursday, 7 March 2013

We are all in the gutter (but some of us are looking at the stars)

It's been dawning on me rather slowly that I may well be more than a little exhausted.  
Our nights have improved over the past week but my rhythms are still out of whack and three months of blood glucose testing around two or three times between midnight and seven in the morning has really, and please excuse the crassness of this, kicked the crap out of me.
It's the other D-word: depression.
It's not major, but I feel it. 
 I am walking through treacle.  
Everything is an effort and yesterday evening after one hell of a long homeschooling day in which Frank was full-on needing my time and energy from half six until bedtime and couldn't seem to settle to doing anything independently, I took to the sofa, lay under a quilt and cried.  
Andrew made dinner.  
Frank looked startled and bustled off to make me a heart-shaped card.  
And I cried. And cried. And cried.
And then I got up and had my cheese on toast with salad and chatted a bit to my boys.  
Andrew went out to his poetry group and, once Frank was asleep, I watched a documentary (Forks over Knives, in case anyone was wondering). 
I needed that release.
Living with a chronic condition is deeply unforgiving.
It is extreme.
An extreme way of living.
And, boy, does it take its toll.
~ time at Musa, alone, a few weeks back, with tea and an inspiring book ~

I hadn't intended to post about this as I try hard to be upbeat
But it cannot be denied that I am 45 years old and cream crackered!*
My energy levels are really low at the moment and yet as a D-parent I am running a marathon.
So, this is how I intend to move forwards.
I will not be visiting my doctor as I am not in need of medicine.
I choose, instead to look to the light and to a sense of personal possibility.
I choose to look up at the stars, from my personal gutter!

I will be making some changes in my lifestyle and might even post about them here, although I feel terribly shy about it at the moment.

Some of the ideas in my head at present involve
  • major dietary overhaul with a view to eating a mostly plant-based diet and cutting out the processed foods and caffeine.
  • researching sleep, blessed sleep, and how I can get me more of that magical stuff (I'm thinking naps in the daytime whilst Andrew has Frank)
  • fresh air and movement (not always easy in damp, chilly northern Europe but not impossible either and I can swim at the local pool)
  • less screen time in order to fit other things in (and perhaps a new computer as mine takes an age to do anything!  I can hang the washing out whilst it gets ready for me to send an e.mail!!)
  • writing down my goals and values, a kind of personal manifesto if you will, as I am so fuzzy of head that I barely know the day of the week at the moment
  • more creative space for myself 
  • getting back into reading novels (and this one first)

We go away tomorrow morning to Dorset, Thomas Hardy country, to visit my sister and her lovely family on their dairy farm.
We have rented a cottage in the stunning village of Cerne Abbas.  
Cerne Abbas is well known for this chalk figure carved in the hillside!
(Brace yourselves, anyone clicking on that particular link! )
A cottage we have rented twice before and love.
I am sooooo looking forward to a change of air and to a little time to reflect on my personal manifesto for this spring and summer.
I will be back with the muffinmoon manifesto soon.  
It feels weird to out this all in such a public space but I want to be accountable, even just to myself, but this is as good a place as any to get it all down on virtual paper.

Thus, stay tuned for more and also for pictures of my gorgeous nieces Matilda and Nancy with their cousin Frank!
 Here's a taster form Kersey in Suffolk this Christmas.
~ Matilda & Frank ~

~ Nancy ~

Much love.

*cream crackered is Cockney Rhyming slang for knackered, ie. very tired