As I sit here, I have Adele singing ‘set fire to the rain’ on loop in my ear phones. This is the summer of 2017, and I am having a rest. I’m not very good at having a rest; school and counselling training form a big chunk of my life, then there is the allotment, writing and occasionally I go on adventures. So when school ended about two weeks ago, I took the conscious decision to not fill my diary. This is time for a full stop.
From August 2016 until now, there has been a lot going on. Work has been busy, there have been lots of students; I have spent my working days, prepping, marking, teaching; doing my day job to the best of my ability. Alongside that, I have also been at night school and undertaking a two-year level 4 Diploma in Therapeutic counselling. That’s two fairly big plates and spinning all the time. I had forgotten just how demanding a degree-level course was, and it has been ten years since I got my Psychology degree from Aston University. Training to be a counsellor and a being a Psychology teacher are at two different ends of a spectrum
Anyway. The first year of the diploma ended in July, but school continued for a bit. When it did, I wasn’t going to go around spinning plates this summer. I was and am, going to try and have some down time.
Whilst the plot hasn’t had the best year, it has had some therapeutic value over the summer.
For example, the growing stash of homebrew. I didn’t think that I would do much homebrewing or any other preserving for that matter. Only for blackberries to catch me by surprise and appear abundantly on the allotment. I have made blackberry wine before, I made some last year and added plums and currants. This year’s experiment is purely blackberries with some cinnamon and star anise thrown in. I had been given some plums by a plot neighbour, and only today the must made from them has been transferred into a demi-john.
blackberry wine prep
blackberries in the bucket
blackberry (left) with Plum on the right
I have seen lots of fellow allotmenteers start to worry about blight warnings. This can be awfully demoralising, and when you have been working hard to maintain a crop, it’s awful to see it decimated. There are less than half a dozen plants on my plot, but I have harvested lots of green of tomatoes. I think that we currently have all of one red marmande tomato! I wasn’t too convinced by the crop of Roma tomatoes. I do believe however, that there was just something not right about this year’s growing season, least f all because of my own reduced productivity. The tomatoes that have been harvested have been used alongside apples and fenugreek to make a green tomato chutney. There has been less playing with the preserving pan, and to return to that was actually really nice. I have yet to make jam, though Mama F and her sister did borrow my kit to make some blackberry jam. Making Jams, jellies and chutneys is actually really nice; it is a form of mindfulness, I guess, but more on that later! The batch of chutney now needs some time to mature and mellow; hopefully, it will find loving homes.
A bit delayed, but better than never; we have glads! Appearing a lot like Roman candles, they have burst into bloom all over the plot in a riot of colour. I don’t dig them out, and let them be. May be, once I have cleared the plot, I might consider sinking some more next year. It never ceases to amaze me, how colourful or abundant they are. They also attract a lot of fuzzy bottomed bumbles, so having them on the plot for them is doubly useful.
All that any would be suitor needs to worry about, is investing in Diamonds; I can grow my own beautiful flowers, and petrol station flowers are never crossing my palms. So may be just by my bulbs and things, that would work yes? You’ll have do your own weeding, mind.
I started off, saying that I was having a rest; that there were no adventures planned. In some part, that is true. I am very fortunate to be within a stone’s throw of Sarehole Mill. Something of a landmark and a beauty spot, the mill is said to have inspired J.R.R.Tolkien. Whilst I am not a real hobbit-the last that I checked-taking a walk down to the mill was something of an adventure. I’m glad that I did, that I wandered around by the Mill Pool-the mill still works-and even sat in the tearoom with a cuppa and tea cake. There was something magnetic about the place, and no wonder that Tolkien was inspired by it.
I had taken my notebook with me, thinking that I might sit there and write. I ended up taking pictures so that I could write about it later; I could imagine a protagonist stood musing his existence whilst looking at the mill pool. I made a note on the ‘to write’ list, and have plans to write when my brain feels like it. You can’t see it very well in the photo sadly, but there is actually a veggie patch outside mill. I remember seeing raspberry canes and rhubarb; there is all an apple espalier that overhangs a door. I’m not the only would be ‘obbit, that likes gardening.
Having a rest, will hopefully give both my brain and my soul a rest. There are no concrete plans per se as to what I shall do over the summer.
I have re-discovered my colouring books, I had forgotten just how much I enjoy this. I must have sat there for hours, with my pencils, fineliners and fibre tips just not thinking, but just colouring. I cannot describe the sensation, but it does feel as though you are floating away as you feel your attention span loosen out and become aware of your breathing, your heart rate; all occurs whilst your mind empties.
As a well as colouring, there are books to write and to read.
In terms of writing, there are three, no wait, four separate notebooks/folders waiting to be looked at. But no mojo. Whilst colouring completely empties the mind, writing requires that it is full and with all sorts; for me, the day dreams have to be in full techi-colour and able to flow through my inky pens. It is only when my pens have a mind of their own, that I am able to write, commit things to paper. I don’t type and write. I write it all out in notebooks, it feels a more soulful in analogue rather than doing it via digital.
Having nothing to write, makes trying to rest a little difficult. You, I know that I, feel as though I should be doing something. Trouble is, the impetus, the drive is not there. Waiting for it to come back, the ideas to come back, is a trifle disarming. It is also unpredictable, and I have no idea when it will come back. I don’t want to call this a ‘writer’s block’, not in the least. There is no congestion-as it were-no back up, that needs a wiggle, or a flick to let it pour. Just no material to set a spark to, that oxygen might then fuel.
lost ocean and magical jungle
that next book?
I can’t write anything at the moment, that doesn’t mean that I won’t in the future. In the last two years, I have written three books, and have another scheduled for release in Spring 2018. Whatever happens next, is the next phase, the next chapter; what will be, will be. I don’t want to force it; I am great believer in things-creative things-happening organically, spontaneously, to make your soul zing and may even a smile appearing on your face. I am going to sit on those four books, and let them appear when they are ready. Trust, me, when they turn up, make themselves known, I will tell you.
I’m not writing anything, so I will read. I am currently two thirds of the way through the Malbry Cycle by Joanne Harris. Alongside that, I have the Hannibal Quadrology, written by another Harris. I have only made a small dent in ‘Red Dragon’. Now both of the Harrises have written anthems for my doomed youth. I read ‘Blackberry Wine’ and three out of the four Hannibal novels during my A-levels. At 33, I am having a literary renaissance by making my way through Ms.Harris’s back catalogue and taking on Hannibal once again. Then I have lots of other random stuff-George Eliot, Virgina Woolf, Gustave Flaubert and lots and lots of historical fiction-on the ereader to also look at. There is no shortage of works to read.
I need to read, I want to read; as with colouring, with gardening, it’s time to submerge my soul into what makes it zing.
Last but not least, my thanks to waltons! They very kindly sent my Spike and Drusilla the scarecrows. There was never any doubt in my mind as to what they would be named.
Right, colouring, reading, watching Bones, Angel, Buffy or Star trek….all options on doing nothing…..