Our Stairs Are Evil – Fact

After a week of moving boxes, furniture, an unhappy Cat and the remaining tat we’ve accumulated that hasn’t fallen victim to the life laundry (yet) by the 30th March we were finally ready to spend the first night in our new home. We still have tenancy of the rental until the end of April so we had the luxury of being able to move at a slightly less panicked pace than normal. We’ve settled in quickly, it feels like home already. We were still surrounded by boxes and chaos but we were in and ready to sit back, put our feet up, pour a glass of something cold, French and fizzy and celebrate being homeowners. (I’m still not sure about the armchair – but it can stay – for the moment).

The ineviatble pain that goes with keeping an outdoor cat in for as long as you can bear after moving house began.

The boxes that we still needed to unpack came in really handy as a makeshift wall to stop him from climbing the chimney as a possible escape route.

We had our first guest on Saturday. Garrett came over for a pub crawl, meal out and house warming. We had a lovely evening in Chippy and a delicious meal at Cafe Le Raj then headed home for a couple of drinks and a chill out with a movie.

I changed into my comfy clothes pre-movie and as I headed back down the aforementioned narrow, winding stairs I slipped down the bottom two steps. One leg went one way and the other leg stayed where it was. After a very bad night and a lot of pain we headed to The John Radcliffe on Sunday morning (which I am very happy to say is still our nearest A&E, it’s a great hospital and if it’s good enough for Harrison Ford it’s good enough for me) I wasn’t planing on crutches and a knee brace being my fashion accessories for my return to work on Monday! Luckily it was just a bad sprain and no ligament damage but damn – it hurt (and still does)

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Adventures in Chippy – The Beginning

Well, that was a busy few months.

Sorry I’ve been absent for a while, there’s been a lot going on. For a start we seem to have bought a house!

On the 10th of March we became the happy owners (ok, mortgage payers) of a little bit of Chipping Norton.

After years of renting we’ve escaped the tyranny of landlords (and landladies) and can bang a nail into any wall we want happy in the knowledge that we don’t need to worry about filling the hole in again unless we want to.

We would have loved to buy a house in Oxford but with the house prices there at the moment we would have been lucky to get a shed within our budget so we looked at areas that were close enough to still be able to get in and out of Oxford easily on public transport. We wanted somewhere that was lively and interesting with a hint of countryside but not the full on village lifestyle. Chippy ticked the boxes.

We’ve got a lovely two bedroom cottage that’s been refurbished recently so we don’t need to do anything major inside (yet). There are a couple of negatives, storage space is very limited which means that I need to have a serious life laundry (more about that in another post) and the stairs are narrow, winding and evil (more about that in another post as well). There’s also no garden, just a small courtyard but we’ll figure out something to sort that (I’m going to apply for an allotment but Matt has no faith in me ever doing anything with it – watch this space). We have two parking spaces, which is a major bonus, and it’s a private road so not only are there only a few houses along the road (and the neighbours are all lovely and very friendly) but there are no cars rushing past so it’s safe for the boy.

We have a solution to the space/storage issue in a longer term project as we also own a little bit of land across from the house which we can build on. The plan is to build an outbuilding which will eventually become a man den/photography studio/general storage space. It has to be built in the same style and the same size as the existing garages/outbuildings and can’t be residential but other than that it can be everything we need.

So far we’re both loving life in Chippy and looking forward to exploring and getting to know the area and getting involved in the community. All change – again.

Some Thoughts On The New Year.

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The general consensus of opinion seems to be that 2016 was a crap year. It seemed that every day the media announced the death of another icon of film, music or the arts. The UK voted to leave the EU and America put a lunatic in the Whitehouse. So we rushed towards 2017 like it would be some sort of cure for everything bad that had happened last year.

For a long time I’ve found myself looking forward to New Years eve with much more enthusiasm than Christmas, neither Matt nor I have a big family and a lot of the people who matter to us are scattered across the world so we don’t get the chance to see them as often as we would want. We made the choice not to have children so Christmas has tended to be a quiet day enjoying time with friends and family where we can and unwinding after what is always a stressful month at work for me.  Once the festivities are over then come the inevitable end of year lists and media round ups and the promise of better times as soon as we’ve got rid of the old year and drunk in the new.

Wherever I am and no matter how the New Year is seen in 12.01 still ends up looking a lot like 11.59. It’s great to feel the excitement of a new start and the chance to move forward and leave bad experiences and harder times behind if you can but things don’t magically change at the stroke of midnight. It’s important to remember that it’s ok to sit in the messiness of process and continue to let life be a work in progress. If we’re lucky we spend our lives changing and evolving and that in itself is a magnificent thing even if our plans don’t always work out how we want them to.

I’m looking forward to the months ahead and moving some of the plans that I’ve been working on forward and embracing whatever happens in our lives over the next year.

Happy New Year

Cathy

R & R

I’m back again after a slight (cough) blogging break.

There never seems enough hours in the day/week/life to do all the things I set myself to do (which is a whole different blog post waiting to be written) and one of the things that I’ve let slip is getting lost in a good book. I read all the time, news, blog posts, (I love Pocket for saving things to read later, Flipboard and Freshly Pressed are great sources for interesting reads) but I never seem to find the time anymore to finish a book. I’ve got a pile gathering dust on the bedside table so it’s not for a lack of wanting to read, just making the time to. I intend to do something about that, starting today.

Whilst on the subject of reading this article in the Guardian caught my eye. There are lots of lists of ‘books you must read’ and I’m not going to set myself the goal of reading them all because that will never happen (I’ve tried Ulysses and I just can’t – I admit defeat). There are a few on the list that I’ve read when I was younger but would like to revisit and there are a few that I’ve got copies of but have never read and I need to put that right.

In case you’re in need of some literary inspiration here’s the article.

After two years of careful consideration, Robert McCrum has reached a verdict on his selection of the 100 greatest novels written in English. Take a look at his list (source – The Guardian.com)

2014 – A Review.

It’s probably about time (see what I did there?) I wrote something about last year. It seems to be the done thing to try to sum up the last 365 days at the start of a new year and who am I to buck the trend?

As years go 2014 was ok. Not brilliant but far from bad. I realise that’s not much in the way of in-depth summaries so lets go into a little more detail…

2014 – Part 1.

It rained in January! A Lot!

All rights reserved © Cathy Griffiths

Parts of England had their wettest January since records began more than 100 years ago (source BBC News – read more) and large parts of Oxford were flooded. thankfully we live on a hill so we didn’t flood at home but there was misery for thousands of people across the country, many of whom are still recovering a year later.

On a Dark and stormy night (yes, I stole that line) I ended up with a Ford KA parked in the boot of my Audi A4 somewhere around Coventry. The first accident of the year (yes there was another – later). Thankfully no one was hurt and I was able to drive away and get home – not the case for the poor man driving the KA. He was fine but his car wasn’t! Audi 1 – Ford 0.

Two of my best friends got married and I took the photographs. Happy Day.

Mr And Mrs Scott

February marked the start of my full blown mid-life crisis as I finally reached 50. 50! I can’t be 50! I don’t feel like I’m 50, although I’m not entirely sure what a 50 year old is supposed to feel like. I was lucky enough to spend the extended Birthday celebrations with some amazing friends who pampered, treated, spoiled and poured wine. Life didn’t quite ‘begin’ the way I would have liked at 40 but this decade is looking good so far.

We had a lovely long weekend in Marrakech in March (Holiday Blog post here). It was a much needed break. the last few years have been tough on us financially. I’ve been recovering from a failed business venture and then being made redundant from three different jobs over the space of three years (I think I’ve had my share of bad career Karma now thank you!) so we haven’t been able to afford a holiday out of the UK until now, apart from a lovely short break in Ireland, but things are changing at last. It’s been hard work but it’s paid off.

Jan To june 2014

2014 – Part 2

We decided to go camping later in the year and hired a Gypsy Caravan on the edge of Lake Windermere. We enjoyed it but I think it’s safe to say that it’s probably the last time we’ll go camping. We both enjoy the comfort of a real bed and hot and cold running water and a toilet without a ten minute walk too much, if we ever camp again it will have to be a luxury version.

July to Dec 2014

There have been gig’s nights out, movies, weekends away, friends, (maybe a little too much) wine and a generally good end to the year. I’ve been making plans for the future and really want to get things moving forward in 2015 so here’s looking forward to a very happy and prosperous New Year.

Marrakech

After what seems like an eternity we finally booked a holiday. We haven’t left the country (together) for years and it was well overdue. We thought about a City break, Brussels seemed like a good idea. Nice, clean, safe, English speaking, EU and a bit like home with stronger beer so we settled on Marrakech!

We only went for four days but loved every minute. It’s an assault on every sense, sight, smell, sound and bank balance – I could spend a week just shopping in the Souks. It’s hard to describe the chaos and the fascination that is Marrakech. There was a part of me that was a little nervous every time I stepped out of the hotel. My British reserve hated the onslaught of people selling everything and anything and pushing you to come into their shops, try their food, buy this, buy that but it didn’t take long to realise that a polite ‘No’ was all it took and it’s just business, no one takes rejection personally.

The Main Square – Jemaa el-Fna

 

There are lots of websites and blogs that give advice on the do’s and don’ts of visiting Marrakech and it’s useful to remember a few things if you’re going to visit.

  • If you don’t want to buy or to visit a shop then just say No – don’t engage in conversation, just a polite, raised hand to show you don’t want to, if possible avoid saying anything just smile and keep walking.
  • Get a guide. Unless you speak Arabic or very good French it’s worth getting a guide to show you around the Souks and any other parts of the City you particularly want to visit. It’s easier to avoid the areas that may be a problem, you’ll find out far more that you ever will from a guide book and if you want to shop they can aim you to the best stalls/shops. Most will have their ‘favourites’ and probably get a commission of sorts for bringing you there if you buy but the haggling is down to you and if you don’t want to buy just say no.
  • Haggle!
  • Don’t drink tap water.
  • If you want to take photographs of people ask first (unless you really can be sure not to be seen doing it) some people, especially women are very sensitive about being photographed, you may have to offer some payment to people like the Water Sellers and Fortune Tellers and expect to have to pay if you get anywhere near a Snake Charmer or the men with the Monkeys, and be warned no matter how sneaky you think you are with a camera they will see you, they have spotters in the crowd so if you aim a camera at a Snake or a Monkey be prepared to be holding it before you know it and to pay for the photograph before you can give it back.
  • Visit the Atlas Mountains while you’re there, they are beautiful and full of lovely riverside cafes if you want to lunch. We had a guide organised by our hotel to drive us up there and we thought he would also be the guide when we arrived but had to pay for a local guide when we got there. Be sure to make sure you understand what you get for the money you pay for the trip. It was still worth it and not very expensive (about £20 for the local guide once we got to the mountains.

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