Autumn.

I wrote this in September!  Just hadn’t had a chance to post it.  Thought I’d better get a move on because it’s feeling less autumnal and more wintry…

Apple and cinnamon porridge, in my childhood Beatrix Potter bowl. Love.

I love autumn.  Being me, of course, I love every season – they all have certain bewitching qualities unique to whatever time of year they’re in. There’s something special about the beginning of autumn, though, in the same way as spring, that signals endings and beginnings in a slightly different way.  Summer and winter are extremes and sometimes the ending of an excess into something more manageable can bring a sense of relief.  The intense heat and bright light of summer (if you’re lucky) changes into something more mellow.  A good starting off point to ease you into the freezing depths of winter.

Winter reminds me of how people tend to talk about and reflect upon experiences of a traditional birth (I specifically use the word traditional because I’m well aware of how differently, and in some cases badly things can go and therefore how people’s experiences of labour and birth might be very different from the ‘norm’).  When winter’s here and we’re right in it, we moan and get tired of it, often hate it (even if we enjoy it a bit too, with snow and hot toddies and Christmas carols and – more importantly – a reason to wear ear muffs), because it’s horrible getting out of a snuggly bed in the dark to go to work, and then finishing work when it’s dark again, so that everything seems dark, all the time. That feeling of it never ending, never getting better. The relentless drudgery of a routine enveloped in icy darkness. But when it’s over we usually forget exactly how horrible it was, forget how shockingly cold the toilet seat felt on your toasty bum at 6am, after which you had to walk miles to work because a bit of frozen water ceased all other modes of transportation and caused general chaos.  Spring and summer, to me, are like the seasonal equivalent of the motherload of oxytocin you get after birth and when you’re breastfeeding, that usually makes you forget exactly how painful it was and stops you focusing on the fact that you just pushed an actual human being with an actual head out of your actual vagina.  Because now you’ve got a beautiful baby (spring, with crisp air, blossom and baby animals, and summer, with sun, frolics and festivals) and it’s all ok again and there are no more mucus plugs, contractions or worries about pooing during labour and whether your baby will be healthy.  Hurrah!  Anyway.  That’s how I feel about it.  I am guessing many other people don’t, partly because they’re probably not as interested in pregnancy and birth as I am to make that comparison, and partly because they probably don’t think about all this stuff as much as me.  I LOVE the transitioning of seasons, and seeing things change.  It’s like magic, and too often we take no notice of it or just grumble it away as yet another inconvenience.  It’s beautiful.

This summer wasn’t all that summery though, which was a tad disappointing. Sometimes it was glorious – blazing hot with clear blue skies and that shimmering in the distance – but there was no consistency, other than it seemed to rain an awful lot. On my birthday (in July) I usually have a beach barbecue, but this year I watched a thunderstorm from the safety of my seat while I chewed my bacon at brunch.  It’s raining now as I am typing this. And as much as I don’t enjoy the daylight fading any sooner than it has to (goodbye Vitamin D, I miss you already), I love the sense of excitement and anticipation that the colder, darker air brings. I love smelling it, pointing my nose towards the sky and giving it a really good sniff.  Seriously, it’s fun!  That smell is so evocative and reminiscent of many lovely things. Cosy jumpers and crunchy leaves. Curling up in a hoodie with a hot water bottle and a really good book.  Apple and cinnamon porridge, eaten out of pure want and joy, not just because it’s cheap and “I need to save money”. Candles and fairylights strewn about the place, creating that fuzzy glow both to look at and inside you. Jeff Buckley’s Grace and Sigur Ros’s Agaetis Byrjun. Lone afternoon walks in Stanmer Park, with a hugging pilgrimage to the beautiful, awe-inspiring tree.  Air that makes your cheeks slightly smart and your eyes slightly water and your nose slightly cold. Sheep wearing their own cosy jumpers in preparation for the winter ahead. Sipping amaretto hot chocolate by an open fire in a pub, watching people come in from the cold. Thick, meaty stews and using-up-veg soups with crusty bread. Long talks over long walks or a lingering bottle of wine.  Crumble with lashings of cream, straight out of an Enid Blyton book.  Sparklers. Fireworks. Applefest at Middle Farm. Moving house (more times than I care to count…).  Endings.  New beginnings.   The promise of things to come, uncertain but thrilling.  The feeling of change and reflection, followed by reflection and change.  It gives us so much, and I need to remind myself of that when it all feels a bit too dark for me to cope with, because I love it.

And just to finish off, one of my favourite autumnal songs.  Gorgeous. (Take no notice of the subtitles, it doesn’t need them at all.)

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One of those brain splurges.

I am currently sitting in my kitchen with my flatmate Tom, eating porridge while my beef stew sloooooow cooks (I think it’s ruined, Tom thinks that it’s just not been cooked long enough.  We shall see).  [Wrote this about 3 hours ago, it’s ok, in fact it’s delicious, and I have had a lovely, lovely evening.]  We’re listening to music and watching random Youtube videos and it’s fab.  It’s really, really good.  After feeling so shitty for so long it’s lovely to be feeling relatively normal again.

Things that are making me happy and/or have got me through the last few weeks:

1) My friends.  I have amazing friends.  I don’t see them enough, but I have been seeing them more recently and this is a good thing because they are fantastic people.  They are beautiful, kind, supportive hunks of love.  Just over a week ago, three of us we were supposed to be going to Applefest to eat hog roast, drink cider and listen to bands, and we’d been planning it since MAY.  It was going to be a little nostalgic throwback to the summer, with its glittery, beautiful, blurry festival ways. It was cancelled due to bad weather though and we were all gutted.  But instead we had a film-watching, BBQ shack-eating (pulled pork! YAYYYY), amaretto hot chocolate-drinking evening and it was still brilliant.  Topics of conversation ranged from dignity in dying, Garrett Hedlund’s (perfect, perfect) arse, whether long eyelashes on a man means he’s gay, Great British Bake Off and how Paul Hollywood is strangely attractive (I think I said something along the lines of “He looks like he’d just throw you onto the bed and fuck your brains out”), eating your placenta after birth, and merino wool, specifically merino wool thongs.  We laughed and laughed and laughed for so long.  I know the best people.  And I love them.  They appear to love me too!  I am very, very lucky.

2) Great British Bake Off.  Ok so I know that I’m not the only one obsessed with it.  But.  It’s AMAZING.  Why is it so amazing?  Well, I don’t tend to watch television.  I watch Holby, and that’s it, really…all my shows are ones that are a few years old, at least, or ones that I watch online.  So I generally don’t have that thing with other people where you all watch the same thing at (roughly) the same time and discuss it and wait eagerly for the next episode.  And it’s a journey, watching these people bake, and get better, and fuck up, and form friendships along the way, and you’re following them through it all and it’s exciting.  Genuinely.  (Don’t tell me to get out more because that’s all I’ve been doing recently, social butterfly that I am.)  It’s exciting to be caught up in the frenzy of it all, to text friends about it and discuss it to death.  And now it’s over…however I do have the best text ever from my friend Nina (who agreed with me about the sexiness of Paul) to keep me sniggering until the next series: “Watching Paul spank his dough while I scoff giant chocolate buttons. Does life get any better than this?”  No, darling, it doesn’t.  His hands…

3) Work.  As much as I hate my job sometimes and the fact that some of my colleagues drive me completely bonkers, it does actually bring me a great deal of satisfaction and in the main I enjoy it.  I have brilliant colleagues too.  Some of them would go in the friends category now.  I was on nights on Monday and one of my closest colleagues had bought me a sheep mug as a housewarming present.  She’s funny and sweet and kind and sarcastic…like most of my other friends.  It’s nice to be surrounded by people you love in both of your lives.  You spend so long at work that it’s so draining being with people that you don’t get along with.  So when you really get along with them, that’s special.

4)  Teachers (Channel 4 programme).  This has been on in the background for the last two months, pretty much.  If you’ve never watched it, it’s a great series about, well, teachers.  It was made in 2001 so the soundtrack gives me a major nostalgic fuzzy; it’s *my* music, the music that I was listening to when I was growing up.  It’s funny with surreal elements (usually a sheep somewhere) and juvenile humour, and also stars Raquel Cassidy, who is basically my perfect woman.  I have been in love with her since Teachers and show no signs of stopping, she’s my longest running crush.  I’m so besotted that I have even watched Do I Love You?, a truly awful film that my best friend got me just because RC was in it.  We lost the will to live during it.  Never watch it, ever. But Teachers is easy to watch, funny, and has major eye candy (for me).  Here is one of my favourite scenes:

5) Carrying out my own life.  I don’t know how to explain this…but being single has made me feel much more secure, which is weird in a way because there are some bits that make me more insecure but overall I feel better being alone, despite the crushing sadness I feel on and off when I think about what’s happened.  I exist only for me, I make decisions based on what I want and what I feel is right and don’t have to compromise.  I don’t have to worry about upsetting someone, about feeling controlled, about feeling tied down.  It’s a new feeling and a really good one.  This was a massively important step for me to take.

6) My room.  My room is my sanctuary, I’ll probably talk about this way more at some point but it’s become a place of safety and refuge.  In the same way as above it’s been freeing to be able to do whatever I want, however I want, with my own space.  I love it so much.  It’s so nice to have somewhere that I can just shut the door and feel safe.  I guess you don’t really understand that if you’ve always had it, but I’ve never really had it.  Not like this.

7)  Autumn.  I wrote a whole post about this but haven’t put it up yet, so I won’t ramble on about it now (much).  Love it, even with all the dark and the rain and the cold. (I also just have to add, because it is an autumnal thing, that my stew just finished, almost 6 hours later, and it is AMAZING.  Oh my god.  Local free range beef, local bacon (all from the butcher), shallots, chantenay carrots, garlic, mushrooms, thyme, parsley and homemade chicken stock.  If I could marry myself, I would.  I am so chuffed right now.)

8)  Autumnal music.  There are certain albums I listen to around this time of year: Grace by Jeff Buckley, 5:55 by Charlotte Gainsbourg, Eingya by Helios, Agaetis Byrjun by Sigur Ros, and now The Suburbs by Arcade Fire.  Cannot stop listening to that album.  It’s eclipsed Funeral for me and I never thought that that would happen.  The pace, the instrumentation…it’s all so perfect and fitting for now.

I will write more another day because I am so tired and I have another long day ahead of me at work…but it’s good to be writing again, even if it is brainsplurge.