Thursday, 6 September 2012

Thoughts from the Washing Line: Now it is September...

[Source] - Don't you wish this was your back garden?
Well, today is September 6th, but it kind of feels like the 1st - because it is today that James returned to school.

He is in Year 10 this year, starting his GCSE Courses (well, in fact he started many of them last year and has already done some of the assessments for Science). 

This morning he set off for his bus, looking very smart in his black trousers, blazer and new shoes (from the men's department!).  He had his schoolbag on his shoulder, sports kit on his back, sports shoes in a boot bag, sketch book under his arm.

I will admit to a few tearful moments, after he had kissed me goodbye and strolled off along the road, to meet his friends... Sniff... He is growing up so fast...
James, with his cousin...

So, where did the Summer go? 
As always, it seems to have whizzed by in a whirl - in fact, more so than ever before.  I am so conscious that my little boy is no longer little and will soon be busy with his own things - he won't want my company or attention any more - in fact, he often doesn't now. 

The summer was so busy, I feel I saw so little of him, which makes me a bit sad.  At least, this past couple of weeks, we have managed some enjoyable time together, going out and doing things that interest us both.  And there were a few nice days, dotted about, between the chaos that has been my life this summer.  I hope that James feels he had enough of my time, that I was there if he needed me; but I must admit that I feel I wasn't always...

I am sure that many (most?) mothers have the same problems, balancing "life" and "family".  In theory, I have plenty of spare time, to spend with James. 
In practice, it doesn't work out like that.  I have spent a great deal of time at my mum's, helping her with her own needs - sometimes with James, but often without.  There's also my business to run - I had a lot of commission orders this June and July, which spilled over a bit into August, plus a teaching commitment. And somewhere in between, there is a home to run...

She was not very well at the beginning of the school holidays - she picked up a cold (the one that James kindly shared, after picking up "foreign germs" on a weekend trip to Essex!) - which settled into a chest infection, needing antibiotics. 
We spent a fair bit of time traipsing back and forth to the doctors, getting a wound on her leg dressed, seeing about the chest infection etc.  And in between all that, I was busy writing the course notes for a one week bookbinding workshop in August...

Then we had a week at the seaside, with my niece, her husband and babies and my nephew.  It was a good week - very busy and lively, good fun. 

Poor James spent the last day in bed ill - we think he had food poisoning.  He was a lot better by the middle of the morning, so he and I had a nice, relaxed day at the cottage, chatting, playing computer games, reading etc.  Just as well, since it was chaos on our return home.
James, on his mattress in our bedroom. He's on the mend, but trying to "look ill" for the camera!

We got home at 5pm on the Saturday. At 5:15pm, the phone rang. It was my mum's friend, telling me that she had been taken to hospital that afternoon, with a suspected stroke.
The following week was another whirl.  Running back and forth between home, my mum's house, the hospital, making phone calls, running errands, doing laundry (being in hospital generates loads of washing!), organising things, looking after the cat... Preparing the materials for each day's tuition of the Workshop, in between all the chaos.

My mother was told she'd spend another week in hospital, as it had been a minor stroke, so we made plans accordingly.  Someone to feed the cat, friends to visit her in hospital, my sister to come on her day off, all laundry up to date and clean clothes ready for the week...  Then, quite unexpectedly, the consultant announced, on the Friday morning, that she could go home.  So I brought her home and spent the weekend looking after her, packing my course into boxes, running about...

On the Saturday, we ended up back at the hospital, seeing the out-of-hours doctor service; mum had told the hospital staff that she had cystitis - they even agreed that she had an infection, yet she was discharged from hospital, with an infection and no treatment for it. She hardly slept on the Friday night and was in great pain! Not impressed with the hospital! Luckily, a nurse from her own doctors' surgery was on duty - someone who knows her well - so she was able to give her a prescription for appropriate tablets.

The workshop week was busy and fun, but exhausting.  The children were great, I had a really wonderful student to help me, everyone enjoyed themselves.  I had no time to do much else that week, other than urgent jobs. Luckily, Dave was off work for the week, so he and James did stuff together and looked after the housekeeping side of life too. 
Some of my students, with their work (I hope to post about the workshop week very soon)

I could not be a full time teacher - never in a million years.  The more teaching I do, the more I admire those who do this for a career. It truly is a vocation and teachers absolutely do not deserve the rude, unappreciative treatment they often get and the poor pay, relative to the hard work and necessary knowledge and skill of their job. By the end of that week, I was absolutely flat out exhausted.  Just a week...

The week after the workshop was a blur too... I had an urgent commission item, that had to be despatched by the end of that week.  Busy, busy... It went in the post on Friday morning!  And, of course, there was my mum to look after as well. 

Aaaaand breathe....  That was four weeks of total whirlwind...

The past two-and-a-half weeks have been slightly less busy.  James and I have been out a few times - we had a lovely day in Cambridge, visiting the Sedgewick Museum, to view their collection of minerology, having nice food, wandering about looking at things... 
We also went into Bedford on day, ate lunch at Nando's, then had a good long walk along the riverside, chatting and relaxing together. 

Yesterday I took James and a friend to Milton Keynes.  We ate breakfast at Frankie and Benny's (teenaged boys are always ready for breakfast!).  The intention was to go bowling. I did my research and located the bowling alley, at the "Xscape" centre.. which turned out to be closed (building work, maybe refurbishment... don't know...).  There is another bowling alley, near the rail station, so we went there.  It was closed...  So, we came home and the boys had fun setting up a new game on their computers and competing to see who did the best at it.  Not quite what was intended, but they had a good time! 

And today, they are back at school. The familiar morning routine... and I am sitting on my bed, with my laptop, writing a blog post, planning my day - which will be busy as always, taking stock...

During all the chaos, with Dave's encouragement, I found a nice lady to help with my cleaning jobs.  It was just one thing too much and I was getting so discouraged, to see our dirty and untidy house.  At least now, once a week, Jan comes in and gives some of it a good scrub and tidy up!  One less weight on my shoulders - well worth the extra expense, I think.  So, she will be here at 1pm today, to restore order in my kitchen and bathrooms...

It is now September. The summer is over, though the weather is still lovely and warm.  I have closed my custom order book, for the foreseeable future, with only a couple of items still to make.  I've been working on some things I wanted to make, experimenting with a new project, trying to relax and unwind a bit... 

So, I'll finish this rather waffly diary-post, with a little photo gallery, of my most recent work:
Golden yellow, "Emily Bowyer" Liberty Print Guest book, with silk edge trim.
Coptic style binding, in matching linen thread.

"Strawberry Thief" Liberty print Guest Book, with shot silk edge trim. 
Japanese style stab stitch binding in deep maroon linen thread.

The covers and pages for both these books, were all cut out and waiting to be assembled.  I just had no time, but last week, I got on with them and listed them for sale in my shop!

"The Lake" and "The Forest"
Two felt-covered journals. They are decorated with fabric and leather pieces, hand embroidery, buttons and semi-precious stones.

The books have hand-applied embellishments, button fastenings and embroidery. They are lined with suede leather, rather luxurious!
They have hand made paper inside, with natural deckle edges.


They have a Longstitch binding, with bead decorations.
Silver button, semi-precious stones, leather and silk, decorative embroidery...

* * *

Meanwhile, it's time to log off my computer and go to see how my mum is. I made her some lamb stew yesterday, which we will freeze in single-meal batches, along with the beef and chicken that we did last week. She has less to do then, to make herself a nice lunch. Just heating it up in the microwave, then finding something nice for her dessert. One less weight on her shoulders too... Still, there is always plenty for me to do, so it's time I went to do it!


  1. Oh, Lizzie! I shall say no more a bout how hectic my life has been. Not one word.
    I do think of you;should say so. and all that.
    Go well, my friend.

  2. Hi Lizzie! I can relate to so much of this. I have felt like I've neglected my youngest this summer, just because there has been so much going on with my older three, and then my mom needs lot of help, and then there are the billion little surprises that just pop up. I have spent most of the summer being tired! I just want to say you are a wonderful mom and a fabulous daughter and you should never worry about that. :)) Hope you get to put your feet up and have a cup of tea today! xox

  3. Oh my - what a hectic summer you have had. Hope things settle down soon.

  4. We never know what's round the next corner do we? I've got lots of similar thoughts going round in my head at the minute - TTO has started his last year at school and yesterday he passed his driving test, so independence beckons. And my Mum needs more and more care - funny you should mention meals, that's the one we are having trouble with here at the minute. It's hard!

    Your felt covered journals are absolutely beautiful.

  5. What a busy summer! We decided long ago that weekly cleaners were key to our sanity and a healthy marriage! I love you washing line - where is it from?

  6. Good grief what a busy summer you have had and not all of it good. I hope your Mum is recovering well - having an ill parent on their own is a real worry. I batch cook and freeze stuff for my Dad too and he loves it. Your felt journals are just wonderful, those covers are amazing!

  7. Oh Lizzie, what a time you've had, you poor thing! I hope you're in for a calmer, more restful autumn xx

    My boy is in men's shoes now too, and yes, needs me much less. It's a slightly strange, bittersweet time - feeling proud of the young man he's becoming, yet wistful for the boy he was!

    PS Oh, my - felt journals? Stunning :) I totally adore the blue in particular!

  8. Wow, what a busy summer. It sounds like you had the best balance you possibly could between work, caring, and fun. I'm sure your son appreciates the time you spend with him, and you are being a very good role model for him!

    Love the forest green journal, gorgeous! x

  9. Oh Lizzie you have been so busy! Hoping things settle down a bit for you . Thinking of you and your Mum.

  10. Oh what a busy summer. We've had a similar but differently busy time - isn't astonishing what getting some help can do? In my case it was asking the 'youth' to step up and do more, 'so we didn't have to pay a cleaner' and accepting that meals were a bit more scanty than I'd like.

    Hope things have calmed down and things stay that way.

    Gorgeous journals - love that green one. Need to make up some samples for a course I'm teaching and think I'm going to dig out and play with felt/fabric for at least one now.... thanks for the inspiration :)


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