Rule 52, Chapter 44: Things often get worse before they get better. But that’s ok. Because things do get better.

We have moved. From our cosy little London flat, to a semi-detached 3 bedroom cottage in the countryside. It’s got a big workshop and a big garden and big fields all around it. The husband, cats and I are in love with country life, and have taken to veg growing and pruning like you wouldn’t believe. We’re in the garden all the time, digging and lopping. In fact we’re never really in the house.

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Gardener’s world….

And that’s because we actually bought a bit of a nightmare. Nine days in and the old oil fired boiler exploded and flooded downstairs. We found out the oil tank was leaking. Then the roof started leaking. There’s damp everywhere. We need new windows. It’s freezing even in summer. The whole place needs decorating. And all I thought we needed to do was pop in a nice new kitchen….

However. We decided to face the problems head on. I did research on boilers and heating and learnt lots of things I didn’t know about pipework and lagging. We made lists of things we needed to do first. We got some chaps round to quote for a new boiler and oil tank for us. We felt positive about the whole thing. Moving house is an adventure, right?

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Be gone, big green evil leaky oil tank!!!

Then the quote dropped through the letter box. The cost was £10,000. Yes. Just for a new boiler and oil tank. That was pretty much our whole decorating and doing budget.

We nearly fell over. I cried. We had an enormous row about the stupid house we’d bought. We both thought divorce was on the cards. I sulked for about a week. I became inert with house buyers regret. But I pulled myself together and  got some more quotes. They were all just as expensive. I cried some more.

Now. There have been a few times in my life where I know I’ve made a massive mistake. Like one which alters the course of you, the very fabric of your being. With this house move, we’d changed everything. Left London and a vibrant city life. Left our friends. Moved to a town where we didn’t know anyone. Given me a 3 hour round commute every day which was tiring and expensive. And, whilst I loved getting home to the countryside, I started wondering if it was all worth it. The money we needed to spend was enormous, and as the sole earner in the relationship, I felt enormous pressure. Which lead to more rows and sleepless nights.

All in all, the house move was not going well.

So, just as I was about to give up on our county life,  I decided to phone one last boiler chap. He came round. We liked him. He also seemed to like us. We agreed that we (the husband) would do the labour and prep for him so that he could just come in and do installing of our shiney new boiler and whizzy new oil tank. He quoted a third of the original cost and the sun started shining again. We booked him there and then.

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Super new concrete area for our super new shiney boiler and oil tank

So we’re now living in a building site. We have lurched from good to bad to good to a right old mess. We have had numerous rows about money and how much everything is costing. But we’re learning all about building stuff. And sorting out our new old cottage from the guts outwards. The kitchen floor’s up. We’re insulating the walls. I might just get a new kitchen after all because I married a fine furniture maker and he’s offered to make me a hand-made bespoke little number out of beautiful wood which we can now kind of afford beause of our excellent boiler chap.

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Not quite the dream kitchen I had in mind…

Yes, there’s dust everywhere. No, you can’t walk on the floor barefoot for fear of splinters and nails.  The cats have been under the floorboards, and I thought we’d lost one of them forever, she seemed to like it under there so much. But things seem to be getting better. We are moving forward. Making inroads. And the boiler and oil tank are finally in.

When my mum visited, she told me that houses on corners have bad ‘chi’, which is why it’s all been a bit of a nightmare so far. I say that our house had just been a bit unloved. And although things might have to get worse before they get better, we’re going to patch her up and going to stick with her. And hopefully, when the dust settles, we’ll have also stuck with each other….

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Here’s to a super home and happy ending

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Rule 356, Chapter 7: Consider everything before having a tattoo

When I was at uni, many moons ago, my bestest buddy Lou bought me a tattoo for my 18th birthday. Wandering into a tattoo shop in the backstreets of Cardiff (classy, I know), I pointed to a star design on the wall, and proceeded to have myself inked. Just below the left hip bone, so that only I knew it was there.  Well, me and Lou. Certainly not my mother.

As the years went on, it became like wall paper; I ceased to notice its existence. When I met my husband, he had a half finished Koi carp on his back – a massive piece, which is not only beautiful, but must have hurt tremendously. A Chinese dragon adorned half of his chest, and more tattoos were scattered on the tops of his arms, each representing a journey for him throughout his life. It was fascinating listening him to talk through why he had each piece done and where and when and how they all linked together.

mart tat

I shyly showed him my little star. He physically baulked when he saw it. ‘You’ve got a pentagram on you. An upside-down one. …? Erm…is there something I should know?!’. Only, my darling, that your future wife is an idiot perhaps? And that a star on the wall of a Welsh tattoo shop isn’t quite what I thought it was.

Of course, I didn’t believe him at first. Then I did some research, and have since then, tried to tell myself that it’s a symbol of pagan fertility. Which is still ironic, as I’m not really a fan of kids…

Anyway. You’d think that this lesson in getting something ridiculous on you would have stuck. But alas, I got another tattoo.

However. This time, I spent ages thinking about what to have and where. I did my research. I decided I wanted text this time, words by an old fave of mine, Sylvia Plath. Part of a phrase that, for many reasons, meant a lot – it says ‘And I listen to the old brag of my heart’ and ends ‘I am, I am, I am’. I just wanted those six words. On the right hand side of me. A heartbeat, echoed.

I got it done.

Although what I forgot to think about this time, was the font. So when I looked in the mirror, expecting a whisper of a tattoo, I got ‘Jam, Jam, Jam’. Wrong script for the capital ‘I’. Foolish girl. The chap I got to do it wasn’t so great at text either. Apparently it ‘wasn’t really his thing’.

jam jam jam

So. I did some more research, on people who could do good cover-ups. And I decided to stop messing about with a little ‘star’ here and some ‘words’ there. I was going to get something proper. And frankly, I needed to to cover up my Jammy mistake. Luckily, Santa Perpetua came to my rescue. She’s simply amazing (see her work here) and I now love my side piece. It’s ink black and scratchy, with type and splodges, and, for someone who has worked in newspapers all her life I now also have some print in my skin to also underline who I am. I am. I am.

new tat

So, what of this lesson, Rule 356 of Chapter 7: Consider everything before getting a tattoo? Well, unlike me, consider the basics, like what and where and what font. Do some research on styles you like, rather than just wandering into a tattoo parlour. Check out who you might like to ink you – and if they’re good at what you want them to do. Ask the big ‘why’ question too. If it really represents you, your journey. If you really, really want one. Because its pretty permanent – apparently removal hurts like billy-o. And, of course, whether you need to hide it somewhere so an incensed parent can’t shout at you, regardless of your age.

That said, I really hope my Mum isn’t reading this post….

Ahhh..life….what’s it all about, eh?

Hello! Thanks for stopping by. My first blog post of a spanking new blog. How very exciting!

So. What’s this one all about then? Well, as you may have guessed from the title of the blog and also from the title of this post, I’m going to try to make sense of life. Well, that’s not strictly true. In my 36 years on the planet, I am under the firm conclusion that life is throughly baffling in every single way. It gets no easier to fathom, and I have no doubt in the years ahead, I will only get more confused by it all. But, with this blog, the small amount of wisdom I have learnt, I will try and share with you, the good people of the world. And if you can help me out with your own thoughts and advice along the way, then all the better. Heaven knows I need all the help I can get.

A little while back, there started a running joke. Not so much of a joke, but general way of categorising things, situations, general happenings and the like. And so the virtual ‘Book of Life’ was born, and within it, multiple chapters, subchapters, sections, lines, verses, all of which help towards a vague way to cope with, deal with, enjoy, celebrate – you name it – different things across the course of well, life. Rules to live by. Things you can store deep within your memory for times to come. Things to loosely adhere to. Or simply things to read, pooh-pooh and ignore. After all who am I to claim to know anything about it?!

However, for want of a better idea, this blog shall duly start to look at random bits of the ‘Book of Life’. Bear with me. In my head it’s better than I’ve made it sound.

And, in conclusion to this first post, a far wiser man than I once said ‘the web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.’ Here’s to all of it. The ups, the downs – and trying to work out how to get through all the bits in-between….

Book of LIfe. Kind of....
Book of Life. Kind of….