The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Monday, 4 October 2010

Mulled Wine, Knitting and Bonnets & Bodices

I guess that's IT, then, autumn has now been scheduled.  Strictly is back on our screens, the radiators have been bled, and there's a light on in all the frequently used rooms from Levee to Couchee.

As I have already complained on Facebook "[Goldenoldenlady] wonders what she is going to DO with herself for the next five or six months? Can't afford any Winter Sun elsewhere, so it's candles instead of sandals, gas fire replaces garden umbrella, and knitting rather than gardening. A poor exchange in every case".

Let me look at a few of those things in a little more detail, starting with Strictly.  This household isn't an X-Factory, although I have caught The Lodger catching up on ITV2 re-runs as he works a lot of Saturday evenings in his low-paying, slave-driving gastro-pub.  Now he's got the TV reception to his own room sorted (this entailed much moving of furniture and supportive advice on tweaking from The Husband)  he has a working set-top box and can watch deluded amateur "singers" and Liverpool lose to his heart's content. Leaving us unimpeded access to the Big Telly.

The Husband and I favour the BBC light entertainment offering, having spent almost a year ourselves learning to salsa during our engagement so we could do a proper holding-one-another first dance with choreographed steps, dips and turns.  It's quite strenuous, Latin dancing.  I lost a stone in weight and got an arthritic left knee in the process, so it was win-some lose-some activity for me. But it has given us both an insight into how very much there is to learn when learning to dance, so we appreciate a nice turn around the floor when we see one. The Husband also likes predicting the scores, and he's jolly good at it.

So now to central heating, a vexatious issue when one of the people living in the house already has her own built in.  I decide some gentle background heat would be good, and we seem to achieve it quite well, and then we eat something.  As soon as carbohydrates in particular are ingested I pump out so many calories in body heat I am flinging off cardigans, reaching for window catches and turning off radiators until I feel that I can once again breathe comfortably.  Which makes me cheap to run, in household bill terms, but a difficult companion for anyone apart from a sand lizard or another menopausal woman.  Thankfully The Husband can stand to be on the cool side, being one of nature's hot water bottles, but apologies in advance to anyone with higher-set internal thermostat who may visit us in the months to come.

Where am I up to?  Ah yes.  LIGHTS.  I placed on record last week my intention that this blog be characterised by jollity and levity, but it's so hard to be light-hearted when everywhere else is relentlessly gloomy.  I don't like to blunder around in semi-darkness all day, feeling hemmed in and oppressed by the grey cloud above us, so I use our full range of ambient, mood and task lighting and then even supplement this level of illumination with strategic candles and strings of fairy lights draped around mirrors and pictures.  If I had a crystal chandelier I'd be the happiest woman in blogdom, but I have had to concede it would be really, really silly in an ex-council house with eight foot ceilings.  For a chandelier one needs loftiness, expansive reception rooms with sculpted plaster cornices, picture rails and tall gold-framed mirrors to echo back the sparkle.  A small ballroom in a pretty damned decent Victorian pile comes to mind.  Which in our case we have not got.

I started this blog with the title today, so I'd better expand on that too.  Mulled wine comes on stream in most supermarkets in good time for hallowe'en and bonfire night (being a Lancastrian, you won't catch me calling the Fifth of November Guy Fawkes' Night - we have always the sensibilities of all our recusant neighbours to consider in Lancashire, so the anti-catholic nature of the celebration is gracefully fudge over.  Lewes could listen and learn a thing or two there) and it is comfortingly warming and spicy and equally comfortingly cheap even next to other plonks.  I decant the bottle into a glass jug and microwave for a minute or two.  Serve with mixed nuts and dried fruit and drink curled up on the sofa watching the News and (increasingly bbbrrrrr) Weather Forecast.

Which brings me to knitting.  Last year it was crochet to the tune of an entire granny blanket of enticingly multi-hued squares, and quite a few cushion-covers.  This year I haven't alighted upon a major project yet, although some baby clothes are called for now The Daughter's old school pals are in reproductive mode. And a friend has just asked me to teach her to Stitch and Bitch - her first tuition session starts at 7.00pm this evening.  I am already couple of feet into a zigzag striped scarf made of odds and sods left over from the granny blanket.  I can't just watch TV.  It's not quite good enough, is it?  It burbles away in the corner and I glance up if the dialogue or commentary seems particularly excitable. I find that quite enough, usually.  Some people suggest "why not just listening to the radio, then?" but The Dog prefers the TV. The Husband prefers World of Warcraft over either, and is usually elsewhere killing orks.

Lastly, Bonnets and Bodices aka period drama.  I am persevering with Down-whatever-it-is Abbey, but I think Dame Maggie Smith is sadly under-utilised.  She hasn't anywhere near enough lines and only one facial expression is called for, a kind of bug-eyed sneer,  so I think she's doing it for the Pension Fund, myself.  I caught an old Upstairs Downstairs on ITV3 this afternoon.  Gosh, weren't the sets TINY!  By my rule-of-thumb not even big enough for a decent chandelier and the master of the house supposed to be a titled MP. So seeing Highclere inside and out is a bit more like it, even though the scripts clunk from one predictable scene to another. It's comforting, isn't it, though?  Like mulled wine, knitting and candlelight the first costume drama of the autumn sets the mood for the winter to come.

It’s the televisual equivalent of digging out a favourite winter coat and finding it's not too old-fashioned to do another year. One slips into and sighs with that mixture of regret and relief which comes from not having to change a well-tested formula or make a major wardrobe investment.

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