Not burning the candle at both ends…..
Happy New Year to you dear Reader! Rather unlike the whizz bang kaleidoscope of colour that was the spectacular fireworks display in London, 2013 limped in with a little whimper for dear Jerry and I. Our New Year jaunt to Tom and Barbara’s ended with illness and midnight arrived with all of us (plus 3 small babes) in bed asleep with various ailments. Sadly, on this occasion, I can’t even blame the sloe gin fizzes for my lack of stamina! Jerry agreed that maybe with 2 children in tow, we were just getting too old to ring in the New Year with the same alacrity as seen in previous years. I spent the wee small hours of 2013 trying to console a snotty and very teary Poppy before lying awake thinking of how much I had to get on with this year! Find job, sell house, up sticks and move to rural idyll……..
In true Margot style, I thought that the only way to prepare myself for all this change was to write a list. A list of things to do in 2013…resolutions of sorts. I found the perfect starting point for the forthcoming year. Thank you dear Country Life! Yet again, you saved my bacon, so to speak! Originally published as Country Life’s pick of essential skills for our nation’s youth, the full list of Country Life’s 39 steps to a Better Life can be found here. Indeed, I was very surprised to see that I had accomplished a few already! Although, I am not sure I would call my completion of no.24 a 10 shot rally…more Margot struggling to keep a volley going! Here are some of the rejects which didn’t make it onto my list of 2013 to-dos!
1. Cook three different dinner party menus (Margot’s weekly kitchen rituals are all about dinner parties – so this one is too easy peasy to add to the list)
3. Play a musical instrument, even if it’s just the tom-toms or a mouth organ (I can strike this one off as I can tinkle the ivories in a passable fashion and I did once play the cello reasonably well)
6. Talk about five classics of English literature with authority and passion (I could bore you to death, dear Reader, with my love of Milton’s Paradise Lost, Forster’s Howards End, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and of course, almost anything by Jilly Cooper…)
12. Taste the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay and know how to mix a mojito or margarita (This formed part of Margot’s basic training years ago)
17. Sail a boat across the Solent (Accomplished with several layers of sailing gear and the help of Jerry’s family)
19. Tell the difference between Gothic, Baroque and Palladian architecture (Thank you National Trust. Without you, I might have had to delve into Architecture for Dummies)
24. Sustain a 10-shot rally at tennis (as I said more terror at missing a shot than rally)
26. Perform three good card tricks (I’m not sure cheating at Gin Rummy should count for this)
30. Uncork and pour a bottle of Champagne (Oh dear Reader, if one hasn’t managed this one by 32, then one hasn’t lived)!
32. Amuse small children for at least an hour with magic tricks and storytelling (That is precisely what I went into teaching to do)
After much debating, some help from Jerry and taking into account the splendid advice from Country Life, here is Margot’s top 20 list of things to do in 2013:
One of Margot’s top views for 2013!
- Ride a horse
- Grow my own vegetables from seed and dig a vegetable garden from scratch
- Identify a hawthorn from a hazel and try not to poison the family when selecting edible flowers/plants using my new River Cottage Hedgerow book
- Learn how to handle a shotgun, shoot a clay, skin a rabbit and go hunting with hawks
- Cycle 5 miles along a river, repair a bicycle puncture and fix the chain (might help to learn how to ride a bicycle FIRST! Yes, I really can’t ride a bicycle…)
- Attempt basic DIY skills such as putting up a shelf and changing a plug
- Learn how to light an AGA and cook on it
- Build a bonfire
- Use sewing machine to make a dress
- Go glamping with Poppy and Primrose
- Walk MY OWN dog
- Attend a henkeeping course
- Make my own cheese
- Brew a pint of homemade beer with Jerry (Jerry’s secret desire is to run his own micro brewery)
- Meet a real farmer
- Catch a fish
- Bake a decent loaf of bread (I am now armed with a very good recipe from dear Mr Blackbird of Blackbird Bread)
- Knit a tea cosy
- Procure a stylish country hat
- FINALLY move into my own farmhouse complete with Aga, log fires, beams (and prerequisite spiders), HUGE garden and views of open fields.
Jerry wouldn’t let me add: ’21. Rear pigs and make my own bacon’. Disappointing. I thought that I might be quite good at keeping livestock. I had also mentioned chickens and ducks – both of which were given the big veto by Jerry. Spoilsport. In the meantime, I have already made a start on the list….dear Mamma bought me a knitting kit for children aged 8 years and up. Well dear Reader, I had to start somewhere……
Tea cosy anyone?