Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfullness

If I’m honest, after two years studying A level English Literature in sixth form, very few quotes stick in my mind. I remember sobbing down the phone to my friend Mandy at the injustice dished out,(by men of course) to poor Tess D’urberville,  and having King Leah’s ‘How sharper than a serpents tooth it is to have a thankless child’ quoted back at me by my dad, (pretty impressive for a copper from the East End of London) but Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Heart of Midlothian’ with its Scots dialect might as well have been Chinese to a 17 year old in a rural Cotswold comprehensive. If I’m right and I’m probably wrong, I vaguely remember that Jeannie walked from Edinburgh to London in bare feet.  Sadly that’s all I remember, sorry Sir Walter, I’m sure if I read it now, having lived in Scotland for twenty three years, I might now have half a chance. Milton’s Paradise Lost was, at the time equally tedious. The only paradise being lost as far as I was concerned was in my precious teenage socialising time.

But reassuringly there are a few quotes that I do remember. Shakespeare’s King Leah’s ‘Nothing comes of Nothing’ has been thrown out into the ether a few times when I’m on my parental high horse and Jane Austen’s ‘There are certainly not so many men of good fortune in the world as there are pretty women to derserve them.’  and  ‘ A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of’ are also favoritesShallow, I know, but it will always have a special place in mine and my pal Mandy’s heart. If I remember rightly, at the time I also had an unhealthy teenage crush on a portrait of Lord Byron, a bit weird, I know, having a crush on a poet who’d been dead for 150 years but that’s what unruly hormones can do to a woman. Encouragingly though for my ever hopeful English teacher, I was inspired by one quote, a quote that has stayed with me over the years, the first line of John Keats poem Ode to Autumn.

‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun’

And such has been the glory of this Autumn in the Highlands of Scotland, I’ve been inspired  to revisit the poem and in honour ofJohn Keats re read the whole thing. For this Autumn has been mellow in every sense of the word as high pressure, sunshine and stillness, sadly absent from Scotland during the summer months, has settled upon us and soothed away the hurt of daily weather forecasts of grey, wind and 12 degrees. As a child of the rolling Cotswold countryside, I have always loved autumn, a time of harvests, mists, berries and dewy spider webs and if I’m honest I have never felt it to be quite the same living beside the sea in the North of Scotland. This Autumn, however, has proved me wrong and I cannot tell you how many times I have stood  staring out of the window in complete awe of the beauty of our planet. The stillness and low sun has brought out an intensity of colour that is truly magnificent and day after day we’ve been royally treated to morning skies of pink and gentle mists rolling along the Moray Firth. The evening skies have also been spectacular; pinks and blues sometimes tinged with gold as the sun sets over the hills to the west. And as if Mother Nature has felt that she couldn’t  repay us enough for the rubbish summer, she’s thrown in flocks of geese, flocks (or bevy) of low flying swans and jumping dolphins, all merely the warm up acts for her piece de resistance, beautiful starry skies and The Northern Lights. Glorious.

So glorious has it been that I set out for a walk early this morning before the light frost disappeared and as I walked down the road toward the beach, a deer stepped out in front of me, calmly stopped, looked me in the eye and then gracefully disappeared into the bushes. Even the deer was mellow. The beach was deliciously empty apart from the sea birds and instead of walking at my usual pace I decided to follow the lead of the deer and be mellow too. Interestingly, at this point, my phone decided that it too wanted to be mellow and shut itself down for no apparent reason. As a consequence, I was treated to a feast of beauty that I would not usually appreciate. Have you ever looked at a lobster trap close up as it really is a work of art? Even the seagulls, the bane of our wee Highland toon were majestic as they rose in a silvery flock against the intensity of the blue sky.

John Keats wrote his poem Ode to Autumn in September 1819 after being inspired by the glow of the sun on a stubble field. He wrote to his friend  ‘How beautiful the season is now. How fine the air – a temperate sharpness about it. Really, without joking, chaste weather. Dian skies. I never liked stubble fields so much as now..’

Dian translated from the French means divine, and even if you have no faith, this autumnal feast of Dian beauty has inspired many. The Nairn Facebook Page Nairn Rocks has been brimming with photos of sunsets, sunrises, Northern Lights and blue seas, the love it or loathe it modern way of sharing good things with each other and more importantly appreciating what we have on our doorstep. If John Keats were here now, I’m  sure he could have put it all into words. Sadly I am unable to match his poetic prowess. I would like to think, however, that he’s currently looking down and smiling, content in the knowledge that a wee girl of average intelligence in a small town comprehensive, was inspired enough by the beauty of his work  to remember a line from one of his poems and finally learn to appreciate him thirty years on.

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John Keats 1795 -1821

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DO YOU REALLY LIKE IT? WE’RE LOVIN IT, LOVIN IT, LOVIN IT…..

When one of your kids utters those immortal lines, “for God’s sake Mum, you’re so embarrassing, you’re not 15!”,  you just know you’ve had a really good time and as I reflect on the night that the gorgeous Mrs W introduced me to Dubsmash, it still makes me laugh. Quite honestly ladies, this phenomenon should be prescribed on the NHS. It should be a part of every girls night out or even better, a spontaneous girls night in fueled, of course, by a  sip or two of Prosecco.

For those of  you unfortunate enough not to have discovered  it yet, obviously because “you are far too old“, Dubsmash is the app that brings the age old art of  miming with a hairbrush in the bedroom mirror straight into the 21st century. What’s fab about it is you can mime by yourself and annoy your friends,( my little sister thinks I’m funny), or what is much more fun is to gather some pals, then record, trash, re-record, trash, re-record etc etc to your hearts content  until something resembling perfection, or more usually, complete carnage is achieved. Then you can save your efforts and bore your friends senseless with them on facebook. And trust me, it is seriously funny watching them back. I, for example, had no idea I was such a nodding dog and I plead guilty  to complete over-characterisation whereas Vikki was the expert, the glam coordinated one, the Posh Spice of the group assisted by Victoria, who managed to look cool, beautiful and serene despite knowing absolutely none of the words.

Seriously though, if anyone had told me that an app had the capability of entertaining three grown women for five hours and reduce them to tears of giggling hysteria, I would never have believed you, but it did and for that I am eternally grateful. I am also grateful that our creative offerings ranging from DJ Pied Piper, Baccara and The Spice Girls to Doris Day, Tammy Wynette and dodgy lines about beautiful lips from Abigail’s Party, performed prone on the sofa by this point,  can be saved and churned out again and again and again  to make us giggle once more. Luckily for you, dear reader, I can’t seem to upload our productions, which is  mercifully a very, very good thing.

Yes, my child, I do realise that I am, in fact, 52, but for five hilarious hours I was 15 again and back in my bedroom, and as far as I am concerned, there is nothing wrong but absolutely everything right with that.

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TO FREE OR NOT TO FREE, THAT IS THE QUESTION….

On the way back from the cricket last week, I stumbled upon an interesting article in a freebie magazine on the plane, an article which had I read it a couple of weeks ago, may have had an influence on my latest fashion dilemma. Unbelievably, according to the latest French research, going bra less is actually better for your boobies than trying to hinge them up in M & S’s finest and apparently, left unattended, they will naturally learn to support themselves! Well that’s ok then and  if anyone reading this is brave enough to give it a go, please let me know how you get on, for  a  few weeks ago I experienced another fashion dilemma which again was not an easy  one for a woman of a certain age as unlike the shorts issue,  where really, the decision not to purchase was the  obvious one for any woman with an ounce of pride, this one was a little trickier.

In yet another act of rebellion, (woo hoo, I know, get me), I purchased a very nice black jumpsuit from Top Shop which I decided I could wear to a black tie dinner. The dress code was short cocktail dress but I felt I should practice what I’ve been preaching and opt for an outfit that I actually liked and felt comfortable in. If any one complained I reasoned, I would declare that I batted for the other side and see what they had to say about that!

Anyway, that turned out to be the least of my problems, as the very nice jumpsuit actually had a very low back ,which, I concluded, called for some seriously off piste underwear. But, hey, I was in Glasgow, style capital of the North, if Glasgow didn’t have a solution, no one would. And so it was that  I set about the task of finding suitable cladding for my upper regions, a task that frustratingly turned out to be a lot more difficult than anticipated. What actually amazed me was the fact that there really was so little on offer.  To  be honest I don’t really know what I expected but I expected a little more than the  stick on item I was eventually forced to purchase. Don’t get me wrong, the sales assistant was very helpful but I would now like to get her to elaborate on the ceilidh she attended while wearing the aforementioned contraption as I can’t believe she can have moved much or raised her arms above shoulder height. For when I finally hit the dance floor later on that evening, all hell broke loose and trying to dance with your arms clamped to your sides isn’t a great look for the Queen of Ibiza. To be fair to her, she had suggested that the easiest option was for me to just swing free,  as it was obvious I wasn’t built like Jordan and the outfit was black and high necked, but once again the age thing reared it’s head along with the fear of  some of the male members of our party finding out that I had gone commando. Wearing  trousers to a black tie do was one thing, going bra less was probably pushing things too far.

So sadly, I didn’t do much dancing and to be honest I’m a little cross with myself for not being quite the free, liberated spirit after all as by that time of night, even if I had whipped off the offending item, no one would probably have noticed and my wee boobies could  have swung joyously free to the beat in the aptly named Swing Club. ( that’s Swing club by the way, not Swingers…it hasn’t come to that yet!).

So if anyone out there has the answer to my problem, please let me know, as I really cannot believe that the fashion world hasn’t come up with something suitable that doesn’t involve sticking on or strapping up,  unless of course a low backed jump suit isn’t meant for the un-surgically  enhanced older woman ,who if she dares to shop in  Top Shop  has to live with the consequences.

Answers on a postcard please…..

CRICKET……. A BIRD’S EYE VIEW

So here I am at Edgbaston, first day of the third Ashes test, hoping not to feel crippling humiliation once again at the hands of the Aussies. Weather looks hopeful, beer and in my case gin and tonic is already flowing, we have a picnic of pork pies and scotch eggs and my teenage crush David Gower is crooning in my ear from the radio. But sadly it’s all a bit blokey as all the girls bar one have cried off. Why, I ask myself when really, watching cricket is the perfect way for any woman to spend a day

I appreciate that the game can be a little confusing and that Test Matches that go on for five days and still end in a draw can seem a tad pointless, indeed watching your team play cricket, especially if you’re an England fan, can be agonising.  Often its a bit slow and a bit boring but occasionally we’re served up a frenzy of excitement, success and unbridled joy. Unfortunately it’s usually followed by a large helping of disappointment. It’s a bit like the roller coaster of life and the realization that I was never going to marry David Gower.But let’s not dwell on the negatives as positives there are a plenty.

Well  it’s a far cry from Ibiza I hear my friends say, but girls, what could be better than sitting watching 22 athletic young men  fully clad in white, strutting around and throwing themselves into danger on a field all day, occasionally  rubbing their nether regions and getting themselves all grubby. Men who not only do lunch but do afternoon tea as well.

And that’s just for starters . Let me tell you girls, you are seriously missing out if you think a day at the cricket is a day wasted. Ok, the sun doesn’t always shine, but if it does, you can top up your tan, drink, eat  AND talk while play is still going on. You can heckle, verbally abuse and intimidate  the opposition, which is especially enjoyable when a lone Aussie fielder, isolated from the pack , is within earshot. An added bonus if it happens to be Mitchel Johnson. You can dress up, dress down or wear fancy dress , nod off, read a book  or not watch the game at all and still have a really good time.  Fabulously the ratio of women to men (according to my pal Sal’s scientific analysis) is probably about 25 to 1 (admittedly 20 of them will be over 40) and it’s the only event where there is no queue for the ladies but satisfyingly  the mens queue  goes on for miles. And it really doesn’t matter if you have no idea what’s going on or understand the cricket chat because terms such as middle stump, fine leg, a good length,  sticky wicket, full toss, ball tampering, in swinger and hand action will always raise  a  pathetically infantile girlie giggle.

So fair maidens, get thee down to the Cricket  and let yourself be bowled over by this wonderful game for as  I finish writing this at the end of a brilliant day, I am tired, happy, full after a fabulous curry and a little bit tipsy from too many Pimms.  Best of all, England played a blinder and their fans will go to their beds tonight, thanking God and praying that they don’t stuff it up when they return to resume battle tomorrow.  Girls, it was a fine day out.

Whose Crisis Is it Anyway?

It will probably come as no surprise that my recent spate of gallivanting has  raised a few eyebrows and there are, of course, mutterings that I am obviously going through some sort of mid-life crisis. I had, in fact, thought this myself but as the pitying looks and concerned advice seemed to indicate that this was something to be worried about and dealt with sensibly, I began to ponder more deeply on the whole issue.

According to Wikipedia, mid life crisis occurs between forty and sixty as the realisation starts to dawn that you are in fact going to drop dead one day and that the number of years left for enjoying yourself has suddenly dwindled quite significantly. So some awakened individuals start to say, hang on a minute, I have dedicated the last twenty years to bringing up my lovely kids and husband, I may not have another twenty years, I’m still fit and able so lets party! Lets write a list of all those things I’ve wanted to do but never had the time, lets stay up all night in Ibiza, lets play music loud and sing in the car even though its just sooo embarrassing, lets have a few drinks on a school night and stop picking boxer shorts up off the bathroom floor. Lets not care if I forget to put the bin out because I was too tired from watching the sun rise and lets start saying yes again to new adventures rather than no because its too much effort.

And what, may I ask, is wrong with that?

The definitions of the word Crisis are as follows: A time of intense difficulty or danger, a time when a difficult or important decision has to be made or the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place indicating either recovery or death. I particularly like this last definition, for my current  conclusion is that the term should actually be applied to those NOT going through a mid life crisis, as the person supposedly going through the crisis, is actually having a whale of a time and enjoying a complete and full recovery from the relentless uphill battle of child rearing, running down the other side towards freedom with complete and utter abandon.

The real crisis, in my opinion, lies in the fact that those who are the  most critical are usually the ones who are the most afraid, shuffling slowly but surely into their twilight years opting to go out with a whimper rather than a whoop.

So please don’t worry about me darlin’ I’ll take the crisis any day

SUMMERTIME SADNESS

For anyone who has ordered clothes on line, the inevitable barrage of emails offering incentives to buy are now just  part of modern life. At the moment, however, they are slowly pushing me over the edge. Take, for example, this mornings offerings. “The Secrets of Summer Layering…….for chic summer days”  “Things are hotting up for summer….are you ready?”  or “Your sunny day essentials”.  I’m sure if my mailbox could laugh it would  probably have wet itself  as it offered me a range of layering options from vests, to t shirts, through to  little summer dresses, accessories and  scarves that would, of course,  see me effortlessly through  from the beach to the cocktail bar.  Perfect!

Well it would be, if Scotland hadnt morphed into Alaska. Don’t get me wrong, the sun has come out a few times but any time it ,makes a welcome appearance, any warmth is quickly dissipated by the biting, freezing gale that seems to be  on a  permanent  setting from  somewhere in the North. It actually  snowed on the hills today. Snow! It’s bloody June.

So, I’ve done what any sensible girl should do in this situation and booked another holiday to Ibiza. Not until September, but at least it gives me something to look forward to if the sun doesn’t decide to show up in the Highlands, the temperature doesn’t manage to drag itself above 12 degrees C. and my chic, floaty summer layers remain shivering sadly in the wardrobe.

And if the sun does come out, then hopefully I’ll be able to return my order of the above.

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Honey, We Need to Talk About Dylan….

In my last post from Ibiza I forget to mention that we did not, in fact, travel back alone for in our custody was a little friend who has now come to represent something significant. Let me introduce Dylan.

Dylan, (not quite sure how he got his name), in his physical state is nothing more than a piece of dried lime peel but he has eyes and a mouth and of course a name and because he has a name he has a personality and to be honest,  we have all become a little bit attached and because we are a little bit attached, we are all becoming increasingly concerned for his well being. You see Dylan is homesick, pining for the sun, his maker and the place of his birth and basically he needs to be taken home and as Amelia was very cleverly given custody of poor little Dylan, some difficult decisions now have to be made.

The upside, if there is one, to getting older is wisdom, the type of wisdom that comes from experience and if used sensibly, can help us to point ourselves and sometimes others in the right direction. It’s not easy to quantify, often it’s just a gut feeling, a feeling that something just is  the right thing to do.. At the beginning of this blog, I said that life is short and sometimes when we are suddenly  given choices to make that we weren’t expecting, it’s easy to take the safe option even when you have youth well and truly on your side. What we have to remember, however, is if the safe option doesn’t actually make your soul happy, then it really isn’t the safe option at all.