Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Working from home without going crazy

Working from home is for sure not for everyone .It's easy to go completely bonkers.So here are a few of my tips.

What you need is a room where you can close the door.My workroom is the spare bedroom so the big bed is unfortunately a given.

Get the biggest table you can fit in to be able to spread your stuff out on.
Mine is big enough to spread  a child's apron on.

All these shots have been taken on my table.

You need a chair  that does not take up too much space .

Some storage. ( This one keeps all my fabrics .)

Some built-in cupboards if you are lucky. I keep stuff like cushions, filling, sewing machine, iron, sewing basket and whatever else you can think of in there.

Some wall space or cupboard doors to pin up your  sketches , ideas or inspiration.

Surround yourself with images that make you feel empowered, relaxed and happy.

On the top of my storage cupboard I keep a picture of me and my mum when I was little and an antique clock.

This notice board is full of pictures of old and new friends and good times I had with them to remind me life can be good.

And take plenty of breaks to clear your head by going for walks in the fresh air.
Ideally with dogs.Mine are always ready on standby and are happy to help with any job.

So there you have it. Take it or leave.I'm not an expert .
But I haven't gone completely mad yet.

Have a great evening!!



Monday, 30 July 2012

Millionaire's row in the English countryside

I used to teach French conversation lessons to the butler of a very rich family in the next village.
It's a pretty little village as well, but quite different .
" Millionaire's row. " said my neighbour who lives across the road with a frown.

That is sort of true and also not true.
I would drive down this little village road lined with flowers to see the butler for his lessons.

So far, so rural.
Then you drove past couple of gaffes like this one ( and admittedly they don't have them in this size in my village).

Who-ah. .There's always a dog or even two- cute but very barky.
This house is more of a French style place than a really English one.
There's a nice bit of formal gardens at the front which will keep a couple of gardeners pretty busy  say practically all year round , with the clipping and mulching and keeping everything tidy.

That cast iron Victorian garden bench has always been on my list should I ever have a big landscaped garden.
Of course they have two here as the design is symmetrical.

Just a little peek around the corner shows a lovely conservatory -I love the box topiary with the three balls.

You have to imagine the dog barking all the time by the way- just to keep you on your toes.

And here's the front door."Bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark bark".OK - you get the picture.
And a pretty neat arrangement which I am going to steal/ copy  for myself for the papers , the mail and the milk.Genius.

Once you've pootled past this place, you come across another one- maybe a tad smaller.

And then a few more.And then the one where the butler served, but that one was a bit hidden away.

That was more a sort of cottage-ey affair with lovely gardens and tons of greenhouses just so they could have their own cut flowers.In the summer full of sweet peas, and in the autumn full of dahlia's , that sort of thing.

It was their weekend place .These people usually have a few houses.So I suppose you do need a couple of million to keep it all going.

But there are plenty of non-millionaires in this millionaire's row .

They were working very hard around the village hall, watering all the flowers when I walked the dogs there tonight.

They were washing and cleaning their cars..

..and cycling through their cute little street..

 and tending their cute gardens..

And growing perfect blooms .Never had a phlox like this in my life!

And watching tv being their cute little fences.

So most of these people really aren't millionaires.
One thing I learned from the butler who learned some French conversation from me which he probably  can't even remember now.

Never work for someone who is stinking rich when you can't stand it that someone is richer than you.

The butler and his wife, the house keeper, were very kind people and fed me and looked after me often when I was really struggling fiancially , but they were so very bitter that they were surrounded by wealth but weren't rich themselves.
It did not seem fair to them.But life isn't fair.

And what about the real millionaires who have these big places in this cute village ?

Well.They may be more richer but very often are more miserable. Money can't help you if your husband dies, or if you don't get on with your daughter, or if you are depressed about your life.

And people dislike you because you are rich and they are not.

So maybe we should all give them a break - the millionaires and the non millionaires.


Have a great evening everyone!!



Sunday, 29 July 2012

A small English market town and an eccentric earl

I live about ten minutes away from a small English market town.It's the sort of place where they have
blue placques on the walls to tell you Samuel Pepys spent the night there.Imagine living near a place where the writer of one the most famous diaries walked and breathed.Pretty cool.

To get there, I have to drive throught a huge forest owned by an eccentric earl. I kid you not.
I never walk the dogs in this forest if I can help it.

There is a creepyness to it that I find unnerving. This is one of the trees which you have to drive past.

                                                             photocredit here

Do you blame me not getting out of the car with a tree like this ? I'd rather move on and avoid the mad axe man that might be hiding there.

Then the forest is also notorious for the starting place of a horrible massacre by a lone gun man ages ago.

And thirdly it is owned by the eccentric earl.

Poor guy.I reckon if we all got shipped off at the age of six to cry ourselves to sleep without our parents and to warm the loo seat of sadistic posh teenagers we'd all be struggling with what life throws at us.
I hope he will be happy and relaxed one day but I guess at the moment that is not on the cards .I suppose it would make everything very normal and very  boring.

So there is always something going on and it always makes me want to get get through the forest pretty damn quick and get the hell out of there in case I come across him.No offence, Earl! I wish you well!

My favourite place to walk my dogs in this pretty little town is on the common.There is a golfclub there which you can ignore and part of it is used  for rugby .But that is mostly played when when it rains buckets. I don't know why.An English thing.

See.So pretty.It almost makes you want to take up rugby yourself. The views are pretty spectacular and you can see for miles around as though you are on a great big ocean.

Very refreshing .
They build great bonfires on bonfire night in November on this common from which I have rescued a lovely antique-ish side board and a really handy wooden ladder .People sometimes!

Apart from the high street, the little streets around the town are those steep ones you don't want to climb with a bicycle.

And the high street is full of flower baskets the English do so well.

The secret is watering every single morning and every single night.

It just makes it so nice and cheerful.

And they are all along the street.

Yep, I count myself pretty lucky just living round the corner from here.
And maybe one day the earl will chill out and even the forest will be a cool place to hang out.
But I am pretty happy with the rugby field anyway.

Have a great day people!!



Saturday, 28 July 2012

Life in an English village

I count myself very lucky that I live in a lovely English village in the country .And today I would like to take you on a small tour to where I live.

It's one of those villages quietly tucked away, with pretty old cottages covered in roses.

It's a bit like one you read about in an Agatha Christie crime novel. Apart from the high murder count .

Living amongst the English people as a Dutch person I think the trait that stands out most  amongst them is kindness.I have been treated so kindly by so many in this village .

Behind my front-garden you can see a cottage in the distance.The lady who lives there has a very busy life but she walked my dogs every day for me when I was pretty much flat out and would be home late.What a woman! 

There have been many kind acts like this - and others , like finding a huge bag of dried dog food on my door-step left for my dogs when money was tight. Or finding birthday presents on my doorstep.

The love for roses is a real English thing.In June all the cottages around here are covered them.
This shed belongs to an old gentleman.He lives two doors down.He is a fantastic gardener and his roses are the bomb .His delphiniums are about the height of a giraffe and never fall over.His secret  is lots of manure he said .No fertiliser ever.

I know they are know for reserve.But I find that a good thing. You can wear a ridiculous hat and they won't bat an eyelid.
They absolutely love their gardens and have a great sense of beauty and also a great skill in how to create a lovely garden .

And they do their best to make their home and entrance inviting.

This fence with the extra wire is really because they have three dogs by the way and they live near a road.

Which brings me to another thing about the English.They all adore dogs.
The annual dog show is one of the most enjoyable, silly and absolutely not to be missed events of the year.

I think most English people secretly think dogs are better than people.It's not a bad life to be a dog in an English village.
And I like that.

It's way better than in Holland. Dogs are second rate citizens there , a butt of  dog-poo jokes by comedians .There are areas in Amsterdam where the pavements have to be walked on eyes downwards to find a space with no poo.Big dogs are cooped up in tiny high rise appartments and they only get walk on the pavement.

No , it's not a bad life to be a dog in an English village.
And it's not a bad life for a person here either.

OK, it's not perfect.When the weather is fine, and it's weekend, everyone gets the lawnmower out.And instead of mowing all their lawns all at the same time, mower one starts, then after that one is finished, the neighbour with mower two starts.Then when that is finished, mower three starts.brr, brr, brr, brr , vroom, vroom vroom.All day sometimes.

Think, people, think! Coordination !
That is about my only complaint.But for the rest it's pretty groovy .

I'd like to point out I have not been paid by the English Tourist Board or any other Village related thingie.
And I would also like to thank all my neighbours, especially Jo,Alison, Lloyd, Margaret and Judith for being such great neighbours.

Have a great day everyone.