First of all, I’d like to thank all those who have wished me a happy birthday! I had a lovely day even though much of it was spent cleaning bookshelves! But that was my choice, and I’m not complaining. The shelves needed attention, they’d not been cleaned for a couple of years (or more!) and we were also looking after Barry …
for the weekend while his mummy and daddy were away. He went to bed quite happily in his own little bed, but when we awoke during the night, he had very quietly climbed onto our bed and made a nest for himself between us, but more on my side than my husband’s! I swear he gets larger and heavier in the night, too (Barry, I mean!) Anyway, when I came back into the bedroom from having had a shower yesterday morning, Barry had decided he wanted to rest against my pillows … I allowed him to remain there just long enough to take this photo and then it was “Off the bed, Barry!”
As you can see in the photo at the top, I had some nice presents. Husband and I don’t always give each other presents, we don’t feel the need. Some people might think this strange, some might think we’re being mean with each other, some people might even feel hard-done-by if they don’t have a present, but we don’t feel this way. We are not mean with each other; far from it, and we can have more-or-less what we want during the year (within reason, we’re not zillionaires) and we know that we don’t think any less of each other by not giving each other presents. From younger son and his lovely partner, I had a new garden pot, gardening gloves and alium bulbs; from elder son and his lovely wife, L’Occitane bath crème and a hybrid tea rose for the garden (not on the photo, it’s in a pot outside); and from grandson, a box of chocolates and a dear little pot which he had painted for me, complete with a dianthus plant in it (below).
From various friends: new bamboo socks (they are so soft!) in a pretty box; hand wash and lovely scented soap; notelets and very pretty paper table napkins; and a beautiful scarf (National Trust) which I think will look good with my navy blue winter coat or my navy blue raincoat.
Our elder son and daughter in law invited us for a meal at tea time (so that little grandson could still be up and able to enjoy it with us) and she cooked a traditional roast chicken dinner, which was delicious, and she and our grandson baked me a birthday cake, complete with candles I had to blow out! Thank goodness they didn’t put the full complement of candles on the top!
I have received lovely cards, too, and these are on the bookcase in the sitting/dining room …
Indeed, this is the bookcase which kick-started my book cleaning this weekend. This is where the paperback A-Z fiction is housed (hardback A-Z fiction is in the bed sitting room, with overflow in the guest bedroom), and I ‘weeded’ the shelves as I went, so that I now have about 30 paperbacks for the charity shop from this section above. However, although about 30 books were removed, there was only a small gap left once the shelves and books had been dusted and returned in alphabetical order, so how those 30 books fitted in, I do not know! Perhaps there’s a law of physics that I haven’t yet comprehended, but it seems strange that the pile which has been removed would certainly not fit into the space that is left. ( I put an overflow or CDs into the small space that was left.)
In the photo above, you can see my birthday cards, and below, the shelves after I’d finished cleaning and ‘weeding’. We still have an old stereo sound system and vinyl records (we didn’t get rid of them when CDs became popular in the 1980s) and when husband constructed these shelves many years ago, he made a space for the LPs as well as for the stereo and speakers.
At the far end of our sitting/dining room, adjacent to the main window, there is another bookcase, and this is what I spent my time cleaning for much of yesterday. Every book was removed, all the shelves were dusted, and all were replaced.
In the photo above I had reached the shelves where I keep my Mary Wesley and Joanna Trollope novels (as collections – I have all their books – these are not with my hardback fiction elsewhere), plus some books by the 1940s/1950s writer, Richard Church (I wonder if any of you reading this have heard of him, or Cecil Roberts, come to that, two writers I was introduced to when I helped out in a friends’ antiquarian/2nd hand bookshop several years ago). Both writers were very popular in their day, but have now sunk almost without trace. Also Bernard Levin’s journalism collections, Dirk Bogarde’s autobiographical writings, collections of letters, the travel books of Chiang Yee (known as The Silent Traveller), and some country books, such as The Worm Forgives the Plough (John Stewart Collis – I have a lovely illustrated edition; illustrated country books were very popular in the 1970s and 1980s) and Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady (Edith Holden).
And (above) the job done, but not one single book found it’s way to the charity shop pile, but a few DVDs have been now been removed. There are some I was a bit iffy about keeping – will I ever watch Green Card or My Old Lady again? Or the whole of Pride & Prejudice (the Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle version)? Or Iris (not Murdoch but Apfel)? But those have had a stay of execution, for this time anyway. One good thing about cleaning the bookshelves – apart from that they are now clean! – was that I renewed my acquaintance with books I’d forgotten I had and I now intend to read some of them! (I hope that will nip in the bud the question so many people ask of me, one which drives me mad I might add: “Have you read them all?”)
Which brings me to the novels of Alan Titchmarsh. I had been sniffy about them, I admit. I had heard – although I can’t now think where I heard or read this – that they weren’t all that good, but then a friend (whose recommendations I value and trust) said she had enjoyed Mr Gandy’s Grand Tour. And so I bought it, read it and agreed with her: I loved it!
Indeed, there is nothing to be sniffy about, it’s just that I find it hard to associate the nation’s 2nd favourite gardener (for doesn’t Monty Don currently hold that spot?) with romantic novels, for that is what they are. Lovely, gentle reads. And so I’ve bought, inexpensively, two more and I’m looking forward to them; they will be nice to read between reading around more erudite subjects, and I don’t mean that as a put-down to Alan. Indeed, I have changed my mind and should’ve known better than to be sniffy about his books without having even sampled one of hem.
I thought it was time for an autumn fragrance. Yes, I bought the Arran fragrance, After the Rain, last week, and it is pleasant, but it’s a citrus fragrance. I adore Mitsouko, but only wear it in the autumn and winter, and this arrived this morning. I thought I’d ordered eau de toilette so was delighted when I realized that I’d ordered eau de parfum! It’s so glamorous, created in 1919, so almost 100 years old. I wonder if that original fragrance bears any resemblance to how it smells today?
I have been looking at the description on the Guerlain website and Mitsouko is described thus:
Jacques Guerlain named his creation “Mitsouko” after the name of the heroine in the bestselling novel of that time called La Bataille. Mitsouko, a beautiful married Japanese woman, secretly loves a British officer. In 1905, the Russo-Japanese war breaks out. Mitsouko awaits with dignity the outcome of the battle, nobly dominating her feelings. Jacques Guerlain had the incredible and daring idea of combining a chypre with a very fruity peach note, giving this fragrance all of its modernity.
Designed by Georges Chevalier, its bottle is underscored with graceful scrolls typical of Art Nouveau. Its avant-garde stopper, in the form of a hollowed heart, represented a real technical feat at the time.
(Although Mitsouko was named after a Japanese woman, I have chosen to use a postcard showing Chinese wallpaper in Saltram house in Plymouth, it just seems suitably Oriental.)
And finally, just because they’re pretty, these are in the sitting room right now …
Soon, these high summer colours of cerise and purple will give way to chrysanthemums and other autumn flowers in shades of gold, flame and russet and autumn will truly be here.
Until next time.