Making up is getting harder to do…

I have just been checking through my photographic record of our already well-documented two week break in Suffolk, and apart from the fact that I want to go back and take some decent pictures instead of the rather random ones I have ended up with, I have come to the disturbing conclusion that I am wearing the wrong, or too much, or just bad make-up. This horrific discovery has left me wondering whether a do-it yourself face lift using elastic bands and safety pins isn’t such a bad idea after all.

At what age should one decide to stop trying to paper over the cracks? When should you start using putty instead of a light skim? Why don’t they put a ‘Use before 45’ on the side of a black kohl pencil? When does blusher look more like rosacea?

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Bonfires, brown leaves and striped assassins – the seasons they are a-changing…

I am still on holiday here in lovely Suffolk, but it now feels a little less like a summer holiday at all. Combine harvesters are working late into the evening to bring in the fields full of wheat before the next downpour, hedgerows are full of things other people could probably make something delicious out of and paths and lawns are covered with maggoty fallen fruit. Relaxing in a beer garden with a pint has become all but impossible, although Peter is trying very hard to get over his fear of being eaten alive by killer wasps. I have, after all, been defending him bravely by trapping them under empty glasses. We must make an odd sight as we get up to leave. ‘One, two, three RUN!’ I shout to man and dog as  I let all the stripy assassins go free. Chris Packham would be proud of me.

Seriously, something is definitely different this, our second week. Walking around the beautiful town of Lavenham there was the all-pervading smell of wood smoke as the first bonfires of fallen leaves and twigs had been lit. The light has changed too. It seems softer, more golden as it moves across the fields. It still lingers in the evenings, but it is cooler earlier now. Perhaps I am just relaxing as the holiday continues and everything feels more mellow, but the trees look a little tired frankly and there is definitely a brown tinge to the leaves of many of them around these parts. On the wet days the smells of decaying vegetation are unmistakable – the bracken has a wonderful earthy smell that is more redolent of October than August.

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Rendlesham Forest in the rain – well it seemed like a good idea at the time…

Sign-for-UFO-trail-in-Ren-001It was raining when we got up this morning. Really, really raining. Not just tiddling, but hammering, crashing and flooding off the flat roof of the small conservatory on our home for the holidays. The one where my husband Peter and I  are enjoying our first fortnight alone together for millenia. It was a Suffolk deluge. Apparently this is one of drier parts of the UK in summer…

Then it stopped. Properly stopped, not just as if the clouds were taking a breather. The sun came out, a warm breeze was blowing and the natural reaction was to get out of the front door as quickly as possible, with the dog, to have a walk in beautiful Rendlesham Forest, as recommended by Peter’s brother.

Well how was that for an error of judgment? We arrived at the tiny visitor centre (looking back, it is so tiny that only the people working there have any form of shelter from the elements)  soon after twelve and were still able to think about leaving all the waterproofs in the car. I even considered wearing my trainers – the type with that airtex vest type material on the top (you see what a fitness expert I am..) Some small voice convinced me otherwise, thank goodness and the same voice ensured Peter stuffed the anoraks in the rucksack just in case.

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More reflections – why we’re NOT all going on a summer holiday…

My friend Jo of Slummy single mummy fame has recently written a lovely blog entitled ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday‘ about the beginning of the school holidays, finding things to entertain her two girls and the challenges of juggling work and childcare during the long break in her first full year of self-employment. Looking at it last week I was suddenly filled with something a little like envy. Why? Because for the first time since our honeymoon my husband Peter and and I will be holidaying by ourselves this summer, whether we like it or not.

For our two week family holiday in August we organised a free house swap with my brother and sister-in-law who live in a village in Suffolk. They will be bringing our three small nieces and nephew aged between 5 and 10 to stay in our little terraced 3 bed, and Peter and I will, it turns out, be rattling around on our own in their five bedroomed house. Well, not quite on our  own. We are taking the dog.

James is off to University in September and is working, ostensibly (ha ha) to save every penny possible before he leaves, so I appreciate he doesn’t want to come with us. But Evie? She has grown up so quickly that her response to the suggestion that she might like to bring a friend with her took me by surprise. ‘God, what would we do! I’m not coming, I’ll stay with Auntie Jane.’ That was that. No amount of persuasion (and certainly not the Benjamin Britten House and beautiful nature reserves) could change her mind.  When she was invited to go to Dawlish with one friend, and the Beautiful Days Festival with another, there was no competition.

Now like Jo I have never really been into the potato printing or papier-mache but to be honest my two grew out of that a while ago. We did until quite recently still enjoy the odd trip to Crealy Adventure Park, or to various seaside towns, where as teens they gravitated away from buckets and spades to (horrible) amusement arcades and (boring) miniature golf courses. In homage to countless days out in my youth, we would occasionally drag the children round a cathedral or church (inevitably half covered in scaffolding and green tarpaulin) until James said, aged 11, ‘Oh no! Not another religious establishment!’

We did really enjoy doing Treasure Trails, a great idea where you walk around nice tourist towns having a good old nose in bits you wouldn’t generally bother with whilst all the time your children are finding clues to solve a murder or catch a spy (not a real one unfortunately, that would be fun). This year it is quite clear Evie won’t be following signs and crawling around old buildings and monuments trying to find a murder weapon, but I heartily recommend it to anyone with children who aren’t miserable spoilsports. (Can you sense the disappointment coming off the page? Do you think anyone would notice if I went round Sidmouth by myself muttering about Rob with a revolver or Archie with an axe?)

Of course, I will now have lots of time to write, read, draw, drink wine, go for long walks or just mooch about, go in second hand bookshops, museums and art galleries. Peter and I can be as quiet or as noisy as we like (the noisy bit will be good…). We can go in cafes where they don’t sell chips or lean against pub bars and we can sit in coffee shops reading the paper and putting the world to rights. The National Trust may find us walking round one of their country houses and beautiful gardens and catch us for lots of money in the gift shop. Is this beginning to sound really nice? What am I moaning about? Anyone with children under five, and/or a full-time day job is probably fuming by now at the injustice of it all – ‘Shut up woman, just one day to do some of that would be fantastic let alone a fortnight’.

But I feel sad, unprepared, a bit cheated and as I said, a tiny bit envious, tempted to secrete myself somewhere in my own home and go on day trips with my nieces and nephew. All those summers flew by, and life is beginning to feel like autumn.

Photo credit David Barry