The English Mother

Moments in an English Mother's Life


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Books In The Loo

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There is one small shelf in the downstairs loo. There is room for a few books.
‘Dreams’ by Sybil Leek.
I am not sure how I acquired this book. Published in 1976 it is unlikely to be the latest analyses of the world we inhabit when we are asleep. I do look at it sometimes. I especially like the dictionary of dreams at the back of the book. That tells you what it means to have dreamt of such and such. It is preferable to have dreamt about something which means you will “live a wonderful life’ rather than ” you will live a sad and lonely life. ” If I see that I look up a different word which I can associate with the same dream!
‘ The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole’ by Sue Townsend.
I got this when I was a teenager and I put it in the loo for my older children to look at, it might amuse them. I don’t think that they have.
‘ The Art of Conversation’ by Catherine Blyth.
Conversation is so important, good conversation being the centre of a fun time with other people. In case any one who comes round forgets that, there are a few useful tips in the downstairs loo.
‘ Teach your Baby to Read’ by Glenn Doman.
Again this is not a new book; it is published in 1965. But the title on its bright red cover inspires me. Perhaps my fourth baby will benefit from what lies on its pages!
‘ Up The Garden Path’ by Laura Stoddart.
This was a thoughtful Christmas present- a charming book of quotations about houses and gardens.
‘ 1000 Places To See Before You Die.’ An ideal book for a loo.
‘ Everything I’ve Ever Done That Worked’ by Lesley Garner.
There are lots of simple things in this book that are helpful to living a calm and harmonious life. I should spend more time in the loo reading it.
‘Fantasy Girl’ by Carole Mortimer.
I absolutely do not know who spent the 10p asked for on a sticker on this book to buy it and why it ended up in my house. Is Mills and Boon really the style of book an independent woman like me would enjoy.


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Nesting

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Is it obligatory at the end of a pregnancy to climb a ladder to sort some curtains or some other, otherwise, out of reach thing? Or am I dreaming of a photograph of my mother in the seventies in a painting smock up a ladder and heavily pregnant.. Either way the end of a pregnancy is an busy time, like preparing for a long trip to another country. Affairs should be in order and the house in shape.
I met a woman at a party recently who had, as I will have, four children. She always knew the birth was imminent when she found herself on all fours cleaning the floors with unusual vigour and determination. This instinctual pull to getting these boring jobs done may as well be made use of. The floors, cupboards and curtains could well never be sorted again with quite so much enthusiasm once the baby arrives and life goes on. The lavender tied in ribbons in the linen cupboard, the novels arranged by genre and the carefully arranged scrapbook of meaningful notes from the children will be reminders of those quiet, special moments full of hope and excitement for a magical new arrival!


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Seasonal Jobs in a House

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This morning I took down the heavy curtains from the kitchen doors. It is a seasonal job- in the Summer we don’t use the curtains. I am a light lover- the more I get, the better I feel. The removal of the curtains gives more light to the room. Dusky daylight remains outside past our usual bedtime and the panes don’t become stark sheets of blackness as they do in Winter. There is not such an issue of keeping warm in the Summer and we like looking out at the garden during supper.
I try to keep ‘ seasonal jobs’ to a minimum, preferring to believe that no such long term commitment is needed because all household jobs are soon to be finished and other more interesting things pursued.
Gardens, though, do need changing care through the different weathers of the year. The fire that we have and love in the sitting room needs sweeping out on Winter mornings. Luckily my tree surgeon boyfriend takes care of the wood pile. Bedcovers, blankets, big jumpers and coats take up unnecessary space in the Summer. You are lucky if you have the space to store them and the energy to do it, knowing how quickly the months will pass when they will need dragging out again, hopefully not moth- eaten.
The job of being ‘Lady of the House’ goes relatively unnoticed by the other members of the house. The trick that I am hoping to master is a house and garden in such order that maintenance is minimal. The essential jobs will be pleasurable, or mostly anyway.


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Art Project Part 5

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I did it! My big painting is on the wall.
Dominic said it would take a month to paint it. ” What do you think I am- some sort of Renaissance painter!” I said.
I began in the morning, after dropping the children at school, by drawing the picture from the photograph onto the big board. I painted my drawing with acrylic paints that were in the house and finished before the school run.
I am very pleased, not because it is so terribly good but because I had an idea and I completed it.
The picture fills the space as desired and it represents my pregnancy with Hector, Maud, Nancy and the next little one to come!
Thank you to Dominic for the lovely yellow roses that look so pretty in the room.
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Yellow Flowers

Mostly, I thought that yellow flowers were garish and for municipal gardens.
But recently I have been so taken with the vibrant colour yellow that it feels like a symptom of my pregnancy. It is its brightness like the heat of a hot beach, its no nonsense freshness and sunlike simplicity that beguile me. Perhaps this bright yellow lovin’ is a seasonal thing- with the piecing sunshine then rain and daffodils of Springtime preceding the long- awaited Summer.
The picture of the radiant Duchess showing the new princess to the world was perfectly styled. It wasn’t the hair or the diamond, it was the dress covered in yellow flowers that did it for me. She’s thinking like I think, I thought, and into my garden came the yellow primroses..DSC_0011
And onto the window sill of the downstairs orange room with its otherwise dreary view. Here yellow, afternoon sunshine illuminates the room with mood changing powers.
I hope those yellow flowers will be happy there and grow bigger and bushier and yellower.
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Art Project Part 4

The large piece of board, bought for my big painting, has been leaning unattractively against the wall in the hall for a bit too long now. The disruption to quiet time during the Easter holidays did not help the progression of my art project. Though, whilst on holiday in Norfolk I did buy an inspiringly expensive piece of charcoal in the form of a pencil from a snazzy art shop along the parade in Wells on Sea.
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A few weeks ago I asked Dominic to take a photograph of me to be used as inspiration. The day the children returned to school I cycled, in the bright but chilly weather, to snappy snaps to get it printed.
In the photograph I am wearing a swimsuit that I may adapt into a bright bikini, accessorised with my favourite earrings by Claire Fouche and uber- cool heels by Malone Souliers. My hair is deliberately unbrushed to attempt a playfully curly style ( good to draw) and the pregnant belly is a bonus, I think, maybe!
Next step- use new pencil to draw inspired image on large board, paint it and get annoying board out of hallway…
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Art Project Part 3

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I used my acrylic primer to paint my big piece of board on which I am going to do a painting. I hoisted the big piece of board onto the kitchen table to do the job. Yea, for the uses of the kitchen table.
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With the big piece of board on the kitchen table I was inspired and relieved to think that if this art project doesn’t work out, my big piece of board makes the kitchen table bigger and, with with some daffodils on it, would be lovely for a nice spring lunch party, and all will not have been wasted!