another challenge, a clothes problem and an old friend – first published 25 April 2013

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Some weeks are just topsy turvy and confusing and the last full week of April 2013 was just that. Because Arabella was in the office for three days I moved my working days around and ended up not knowing what day it was all week. Having my boss in the office like a whirling dervish for three whole days left me worn out and then there was the small problem of my untidy wardrobe.

25 April 2013

This week has been confusing. Working on Monday means I’ve been a day out all week and, for someone who needs no excuse to be scatty and confused, that can only be a bad thing. Still it does mean a nice long weekend and a chance to get things done. Yesterday morning I actually ironed something. I know, wonders will never cease but I couldn’t find anything else to wear suitable for the advertised heat wave. The wardrobe is currently bursting at the seams with winter and summer clothes in some kind of split personality battle of the seasons. Half of it is too big anyway and some is still too small. I think I feel a charity shop and eBay fest coming on. Commando says it’s worse than a teenager’s wardrobe and he’s going to clear it out if I don’t. Oh dear, I can see me going to work in my bra and pants if that happens so I’d better get a wriggle on.

It’s quite hard to think of saying goodbye to some of the clothes I’ve loved even though they’re now way too big. Like getting rid of old friends. I guess I’m a clothes hoarder or maybe I just need one of those big walk in wardrobe affairs like Carrie from Sex in the City. What I actually have is a very small wardrobe and two chests of drawers. Half the items in there are black, what’s that all about? Maybe it’s because black is slimming and I need all the help I can get on that front, or maybe it’s just my black soul coming out. Not sure I really need five black dresses in the same style though even if they do range in size from sixteen to ten. So tomorrow, after some food shopping, the big clear out must start, I could be some time. If I don’t post anything else by Sunday will someone come and dig me out.

As it happens, the heat wave didn’t really materialise. It was slightly chilly and grey for the walk to work, brightened only by the sight of a lonely daffodil, delicate white with a vibrant orange centre, as I walked along by the river. All that ironing for nothing, I would have been better off with a pair of trousers and a jumper, especially as I left the padded coat at home and plumped for the much thinner parka.

Alice was asking me about Race For Life recently, saying she’d quite like to have a go at it. Maybe all my mad walking has inspired her. Coincidentally, I had an email about the Southampton one on Monday night  so I emailed it to myself at work and showed it to her. Of course that got everyone started about how they’d quite like to do it and before I could make an excuse (like a marathon this year) a Silver Helm team had been created for the 10k in July and I was inexplicably on it. Well I could hardly get out of it once Arabella herself signed up. Really, would someone have me committed before I sign up for anything else!

So commenced another mad day with Arabella in the office, more meetings, this time about the ship visits next month. We are planning it like a military operation to get visitors shown round and fed then off the ship before all the passengers start to arrive. By the time she left the office, at about quarter to three, my desk looked like a war zone with papers and fabric samples everywhere. She had a massive pile of paperwork and assorted bits and pieces to take down to her car so I helped her down with it and took the opportunity to have a very late lunch break.

Wandering back, skinny latte in hand, feeling slightly shell shocked from three days of the whirlwind that is Arabella, I was lost in a bit of a dazed dream state. When I spotted Galina, my collegue from Dream Factory days walking towards me I thought I was seeing things. There was a comical moment as we got close where both us us kind of squinted, did a double take and almost walked past each other. I thought she was still in Cyprus. She said she almost didn’t recognise me.
“You’re so skinny!” she squealed hugging me.
“Not really,” I replied. Looking down at myself. I can’t say I feel particularly skinny but, thinking about it, the last time I actually saw her was back in 2009 when I was as big as a house so, for her, it’s a bit of a change.

Galina is back in the UK full time now, after years spent living and working in Cyprus. The economic climate over there has become so unstable she decided to come home and retrain to join the family hairdressing business. What a change from jetting off all over the world working in travel. She misses the sun but doesn’t regret the great times she had. Of course we stood around for quite a while chatting and catching up. It made me quite nostalgic for the good old days, if not the four and a half stone of extra weight I was carrying back then.

Sadly, I didn’t manage to clear the mass of papers on my desk. When Gigi offered me a lift home I swept it all into a carrier bag and bought it home with me. It’s actually easier to sit quietly in the living room sorting everything and updating my to do list without all the interruptions of the office. It took about an hour but left me feeling much more in control, even though I hadn’t actually achieved anything other than order from chaos. Next week is going to be busy for sure.

I can’t believe how tired I was when I got home. Three days of Arabella in the office and a week turned upside down by working all the wrong days actually wore me out. There was chocolate, I found some I’d forgotten about stashed away, with hazelnuts no less, and ate it all. Not the best of plans but I was tired ok. This morning I struggled to drag myself out of a dream about a hairdressers shop I used to go to in my teens, one long gone. I’d set the alarm for normal time but it took me at least ten minutes to focus my eyes and stop drifting in and out of sleep.

The plan was to get lots done today. Go up the Big Hill before the shops got busy and tackle the disaster that is my wardrobe this afternoon. Instead of jumping to action though I sat in a daze for about an hour, checking Facebook and doing nothing productive. I’d have been better off staying in bed. Eventually I crawled off to the shower and had some granola. Of course, by then I’d missed my window of opportunity for crowd free shopping.

In less than a week the changes bought about by the warmer weather are phenomenal. Before I’d even got out the gate I could see the buds on the bluebells in my front garden, spikes of violet blue all curled up but soon they will be spikes of little bells. The grape hyacinth are out in force like masses of tiny puff ball skirts with white lace petticoats peeping from underneath. They’re at their best right now. I cleared out the dead wood from the Kilmarnock willow just in time too because the new leaves are showing their bright green tips now. Along the wall even more flowers have come out on the rosemary. Unless you look really closely you don’t notice how beautiful they are, like miniature orchids.

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After a visit to the butcher and a scoot round Sainsbury’s grabbing some essentials while the shop was nice and empty it was back down the hill. On the corner the beech leaves have just broken free of their buds, all crinkly and new. Further along the road black ash buds are surrounded by the frills of new leaves getting ready to unfurl. They remind me of the lichen I saw in the forest back at the end of winter.

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So I hefted the heavy bags back down the Little Hill, making a circuit back to my house. It’s quicker to go the other way but I wanted to see the magnolia before all the petals fall. The ground is littered with them, a carpet of pale pink the stamens and carpels of the flowers whose petals have fallen or are falling seem like table centrepieces, elaborate arrangements of candles waiting to be lit. Even these seem quite exotic and beautiful to me and, once again, I wish I had room in my garden for one.

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Having said that, my garden is not devoid of new growth. On the way back down the drive I had to put the shopping bags down to get a closer look when I spotted new fern fronds, like little shepherds crooks, beginning to unfurl. I wondered if all the tramping when the tree was cut down might have put paid to those. Looking around there was other new growth, a hairy bud on the welsh poppy and the fat veined globes of peony buds.

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After that I walked down to the parcel office to pick up a parcel not delivered when no one was in yesterday. I’m sure the postman waits until he sees everyone go out because its a rare event for our house to be empty. Still it was a nice walk, especially as the cool grey start had turned into warm sunshine. This really is my favourite time of year, every bit of waste ground or scrubby area is turned into a garden filled with the brilliant yellows, blues and whites of wild flowers and weeds.

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Coming back along the river the sun danced on the water beside me and I could see swans. Now the leaves are coming out though I don’t have such a good view and in a few weeks I suppose I’ll hardly be able to see the water at all. As it was I heard the unmistakable womp, womp, womp of swans taking to the air but I couldn’t see them at all. Still it’s a small price to pay.

Looking out the French window at the beautiful weather while I ate my wrap there was a huge temptation to forget about sorting out the wardrobe and go out in the garden. It really was too nice to be inside but I knew it was now or never so, in the end, I bit the bullet and went up stairs. It really was a mess, stuff jammed in, stuff falling off hangers, screwed up in the bottom. I’m such a slob.

First I took everything out and put it on the bed. Then I was ruthless. Anything I didn’t really wear went in the charity pile, anything I wasn’t sure fit anymore got tried on, if it didn’t fit it went in the charity pile. All the winter stuff went in a pile to go in the boxes under the bed. After that I sorted out the chests of drawers. It took all afternoon and I still have to do the underwear drawer (lots of bras in there that are too big I know) and the boxes under the bed with last year’s summer stuff (now almost certainly too big). Still things are looking much neater and I actually know what I have that fits now so no more getting stuff out for work and finding it’s way too big.

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There are a lot of really nice clothes in the too big pile and it’s tempting to eBay them because I could make a bit of money on them. The trouble is time. With all the walking and work when would I get round to taking photos, listing it all and then packing it up and posting it? I think there are going to be some very well dressed charity shoppers in the village. There are also some things I’m very sad to say goodbye to, a beautiful short sleeved crepe jacket I bought before I put on weight, a peach skin wiggle dress, also from my pre fat days, a long brocade dress jacket, some pretty dresses, all now too big. It’s sad but I’d rather be the size I am now so I guess it’s the price I pay.

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Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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