Monday 27 March 2017

Konmarie - is it for me?

I've heard a lot about Marie Kondo and her seemingly revolutionary Konmarie approach to clearing clutter, something I've always been interested in, so I wondered if her approach was something that could work for me.

Like lots of others, I feel pretty well organised, clear clutter regularly, but can honestly say I have never been in a position where my whole life is free of clutter at any one time.

I have a lot of stuff. Stuff that I don't seem to be able to justify letting go of, as it's cost me a lot of money and just seems so wasteful.

I have also tended to do my clutter clearing by area rather than by item, as suggested by Marie, so it's a bit like painting the fourth bridge and I've never actually been at a point where I could say, that's it, job done.

When following the Konmarie method you clear your clutter by item, rather than by area, gathering all similar items from wherever they may be stored in the house, so you know you've not missed anything.

Marie suggests that you start your clutter clearing with your clothes, as it's likely that your emotional attachment to these is low in comparison to other clutter you will have kicking around.

She breaks it down even further to make it more manageable and I decided to follow the order suggested and started with my tops - shirts, blouses, t-shirts and jumpers.

I had a double wardrobe full of tops for every day, all nicely colour co-ordinated, so I could find stuff easily. There were more tops, for evening wear in another wardrobe, along with a few waiting for repair or to be sold. There was also a work range on a hanging rail in the airing cupboard and a pile of t-shirts and jumpers in drawers and on shelves.

I regularly sort through my wardrobe so was fairly confident everything fit me so I couldn't really imagine I'd find much to let go of.
I collected everything hanging up and laid it on the bed. It looked pretty overwhelming. And that was without the t-shirts or jumpers. I decided this was enough of a category to be going on with.

Tops that were hanging came in at a total count of 93. I couldn't quite believe it.

I have to say at this point I was feeling a bit crappy. All my nicely ordered wardrobes were currently laying on the bed and I didn't really fancy the idea of going through each and every one. After all, I had them all because I loved them ..... Didn't I? Surely my regular sort outs, trying ons and culls meant that I would want to keep them all.

However, for someone who no longer works and doesn't have that much of a getting dressed up and going out social life, in my heart I knew that 93 was a bit crazy.

I gave Martin a shout and asked him how many he thought I had. 30 was his response. When I told him how many I had he asked where are they all? Laying on the bed I said!

I did sit for a while looking them. I knew I was supposed to decide what to keep, rather than what to throw away and I knew I was supposed to handle every one individually and decide whether I loved it or it brought me joy. This was to drive my decision as to what I kept.

I made a decision that I was going to handle each item only once, including any necessary trying on, make my decision and stick to it.

I took a very deep breath, a huge slug of diet pepsi, put a decent bra on, for trying on purposes, and picked up my first top.

From touching it, I knew I loved it, I could remember the times I'd worn it, though I have to say I haven't worn it for the last year. I decided to try it on and looked in the mirror and though I felt like I loved it, I didn't love the way it looked.

I'd like to say that this made for an easy decision, but it didn't. Maybe it would look better if I lost a bit of weight. Should I have a pile for this category? I don't really think that's the idea, so what to do? Another sit down, another look in the mirror. It was no good I couldn't decide.

At the back of my mind I was thinking, what if I decide to chuck it and then regret it? What if I don't have enough tops? Bloody hell, I thought, I have 93, surely I won't miss one!!!!

I decided there and then I needed at least three piles. Definitely keep, definitely chuck and wasn't sure. Then at the end I would review the wasn't sure pile and think again.

God, I hoped it would get easier,

The 2nd one was easier. I'd never really liked it. Just bought it because I was at my heaviest and it was about the only thing that fit. So, not only did I really not like it, it was also far too big. Easy decision, though I have to be honest ... I did have a 'could I alter it?' moment, or 'could I use the fabric for something else?' It went in the dump it

Number 3 was a love it, and it fits great, so back in the wardrobe it went.

Now I don't intend to go through this process with you 93 times, but it was interesting that my first three gave me an item in each pile. One to dump, one to definitely keep and one I wasn't sure about.

When I was at 7 there was a knock on the door, which was a welcome distraction. For a while.

So, just 86 more to go. At this point I felt like just hanging them all back in the wardrobes from hence they'd come.

But I didn't. I cracked on and before long I had a pile of definitely didn't loves on the floor, including a good few never been worns!

I also had a rail of definitely loves, in the wardrobe, divided into ... for the garden, for work, for evening and casual for summer and winter, so I could see exactly what I had.

I also had a rail of 6, yes just 6, that I was not sure about and decided to look at these in conjunction with what I was keeping. So, if I already had a stack of summer casuals that I definitely loved, I didn't really need to keep any of the maybes.

I ended up hanging onto three and losing three.

I also had a small fourth pile of could love if I did something with a for alterations.

So how many were in the wardrobe?

53!!!! So still loads, but I know I love them all, I know they all fit and I know I've got something for every occasion.

More importantly ... I know that, however tempted I may be, I do not need to buy any more tops for a long, long time!!

With the six that need mending, altering or ironing, I am left with 59.

It still feels like far too many, but they fit in the one wardrobe and I kind of feel quite liberated.

I couldn't cope with the way everything was hanging though, even though it would probably be easier to use with clothes hanging by occasion. I couldn't even contemplate The Konmarie way, where they hang in order of length, so it was a quick wiggle around and back to hanging by colour. Now, that feels better.
Next decision is what to do with the pile of 40 on the floor? Part of me thinks I could sell them. Part of me thinks could I use them as fabric. My head tells me to get a black bag and get them to the charity shop quickly.

A black bag it is.

And finally, the pile that needs attention. I have set myself the goal of making any necessary repairs or alterations during the coming week. If I do, they can stay, if not, then they will start their journey to the black bag and onward to hopefully find love elsewhere.

Update ...

I completed this activity about three weeks ago and since then ...
  • I completed the same exercise on my t-shirts and jumpers - that was a lot easier
  • I still have five tops awaiting alteration and I haven't kept to my promise to myself to throw them out
  • It is so easy to find a top to wear now they are all in one place and all loved
  • I am planning to continue with the exercise throughout the house, but am not sure I will get it done in six months

Monday 20 March 2017

In the Garden - March 2017

Hi there everyone

When I first started my blog, back in February 2014 what I got up to in our Garden at Number 27 featured quite heavily. I posted regularly each month, showing what was in flower and what we'd been up to. I did this for a full gardening year, but it tailed off towards the end of 2015, as it felt like it was getting a bit samey.

I mean, what was in flower and what we did in February 2015 was very similar to what we did in February 2014.

Subsequently, its been very quiet here at Life of Pottering on the gardening front for a while, with my last garden related post dating back to August 2015.

It's not just been quiet on the blogging front either. Other than a bit of a leaf clearing session we've not really touched the garden since late autumn.

The annual gardening calendar of activity normally starts in February with the clearing of the strawberry bed, but even that hadn't happened this year, until last week.

Martin wasn't working, we had the first real bit of sunshine and we suddenly have big and exciting garden plans afoot ... which are due to start in earnest in May.

However, before then there is a long old list of garden jobs which need tackling ...
There is loads to do on the top patio ...
  • Firstly, it needs a good old tidy up, with everything that has accumulated over the Winter being put back where it belongs
  • Then, we have to clear it, fully, which will be a lot of work
  • We need to have a good sort out of the pots, emptying what we can, getting rid of what we no longer want and finding temporary storage for them while further work is under way
  • We need to completely overhaul the arbour with a fresh new paint job
  • We need to re-locate the Lilac, which is in the large pot to the left of the arbour
  • We need to dismantle and store the garden furniture
  • We need to source a new gate
  • We need to find temporary storage for the BBQ
  • Then, massive job, we need to have work done on repairing the render all over the house, followed by a full re-paint
On the lower patio there is not quite so much to do ...
  • Another good sort out of bits that have hung around over the Winter months
  • A good pot sort out, with new temporary homes found for all that we decide to keep
  • The removal of the tomato greenhouse, which didn't get put away at the end of last year and
  • The fence down this side of the garden and shed all need painting
Still on the lower patio ...
  • The strawberry bed needs it's annual short, back and sides
  • Both raised beds need painting
And yes, still more work on the lower patio ...
  • The greenhouse needs taking down and
  • A real sort out, wash and store of all the plastic pots that have accumulated over the last year
In the bottom corner ...
  • We need to decide on the layout of a new pergola - exciting!!
  • We need to remove the Plum tree, which is on the left of the picture, as this is where we hope to re-locate the Lilac from the patio to and
  • More fence painting is definitely on the cards

Behind the other shed ...
  • We plan to do away with the compost bin. We have been filling it for about 5 years and have never taken anything out of it and could do with a bit more space in this area for storage
  • We will then move the water but into the corner
  • Oh yes, this shed also needs a coat of paint and
  • There is more fence painting required, until we get round to replacing it

So, yes, plenty to be going on with. We did make a fairly good start this week and managed to get the
shed on the lower patio painted, along with the whole of the fence on that side of the garden.

We also took down both greenhouses, cleared the strawberry bed and took out the plum 😥 so we are on our way.

So, what are our big plans? 

I promise I will tell you more about those over the next couple of weeks, so watch this space 😀😀😀

Monday 13 March 2017

Beautiful Britain - Calke Abbey NT - Derbyshire & Family Fun in the Sun!

Sunday morning and the weather forecast was a bit rubbish, but we hoped for the best and chucked the waterproofs in the back of the car. We have long been of the opinion that it's no good waiting for guaranteed good weather is this county and we headed out regardless.

We were heading for Calke Abbey, described by the National Trust as being 'The un-stately home and country estate'. It's one of the closest NT properties to us and we were visiting with mum and dad.
We were promised the added delights of a Vintage and Handmade Fair and, even more excitingly, we were meeting up with my brother, his girlfriend and my absolutely adorable 4 month old nephew, Bobby, who really is the cutest.

As we arrived It seemed the forecasters may have got it completely wrong, as the skies were clearing and there was even a glimmer of warm spring sunshine. The car park was filling quickly and there was lots going on.

We parked up and headed over to the stable block to start our afternoon off with a wander round the vintage and craft fair, which was absolutely heaving. The first real sunshine of spring had done it's thing and brought everyone out.
We didn't buy anything at the fair but there was lots of lovely stuff to mooch through and some relaxing Sunday morning vintage singing going on in the background to get you in the zone.

We had a wander round the rest of the stable block, where we could catch the sense of days gone by, as we peeked through the doors and windows...
.. and had a quick peek at the deer park, before partaking of the BBQ, where local beef burgers went down an absolute treat.
From there we wandered down past the house.

Sadly, we did not have enough time for a visit today, but we carried on down to the flower garden. It was a bit early to see anything in flower other than Spring bulbs, but everywhere looked just lovely with a backdrop of blue sky and sunshine.
We were all intrigued with the Gardener's Tunnel, created so that the gardeners could arrive and depart from work without being seen by any members of the family taking a stroll in the garden.

And I was particularly taken with the auricula theatre ...
It was soon time to meet up with the rest of the family so we headed back to the courtyard for more refreshments and lots of selfies and very cute Bobby pictures in the sunshine, before running out of time and heading for home.

There is loads to do at Calke, we only scratched the surface today. We will definitely be back, on a nice quiet weekday, with a picnic and plenty of time.
We will also be trying to take in Staunton Harold reservoir and The Ferrers Craft Centre, which are both just down the road, so watch this space.

Monday 6 March 2017

Beautiful Britain - Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire

Last Tuesday, as well as being Shrove Tuesday, was dad's birthday so, for the second Tuesday in a row, we picked up mum and dad and headed out for another day out, oh the joys of
retirement 😉

This time we were heading for the closest National,Trust property that neither of us had visited before, with the promise of a birthday lunch for dad thrown in.

We had decided to visit Moseley Old Hall near Wolverhampton, which is about a half hour drive, so perfect distance for a day's jaunt.

The National Trust book describes it as "an atmospheric farmhouse that saved a king" and we were looking forward to finding out more.

By the time we arrived It was bitterly cold, pretty dull and rain was threatening, which seems to be the norm at the moment, so we wrapped up well and made the short walk through the car park to the main entrance.

The first view of the house is pretty impressive. It's not a big property but it is a really pretty and would look even more inviting topped with a blue sky, but none of that today I'm afraid.

We headed through the entrance and were told to head to the "muster point" to meet Bob and check in for a guided tour.
Bob checked us in and told us that pancakes were being made in the kitchen of the hall today so that was definitely something to look forward to.

The guided tour started about half an hour later which just gave us time to have a short walk around the gardens, visit the facilities and check out the tea room for later.

The gardens are close to the house, fairly small and consist mainly of the knot garden and a small orchard.
There is woodland to be explored at the back of the property, but with some serious tree felling going on and lots of mud we didn't venture this way today.

There wasn't much going on outside today, though the hellebores were in full bloom.
At 12pm we gathered at the main door of the Hall to be greeted by Colin, our guide. Colin told us a little bit about the part the hall played in King Charles II escape, following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, and explained that the tale had been recounted by Charles and documented by the very famous writer Samuel Pepys.

We entered the Hall through the very same door that Charles did, as described in Pepys account.

The tale of Charles' escape, eventually to France, to reunite with his family, is an interesting one. The part that the Hall played is fascinating.

We got to see the actual bed that the King slept in and the priest hole where he hid, possibly with John Huddlestone, the catholic priest who also spent time at the Hall, masquerading as the family tutor, as catholic priests were most definitely persona non grata back then.

We went to the top of the house and explored the attics, where the children of the family kept watch for any raiding party hunting for the King and the hidden chapel where Catholic services took place.
The tour takes about an hour and ends up in the kitchen where pancakes, cooked by a serving wench over the open fire, were on the menu for today and were just enough to wet our appetite for lunch.
We headed back through the cold and rain to the warmth of the tea room, where we were a little disappointed to find there was no lunchtime special available today, but made do very nicely with bowls of pea, lettuce and mint soup and sandwiches, followed by the requisite scone with jam and clotted cream for me.
Warmed and refreshed we headed back out into the cold, though thankfully the rain had eased off, and made our way back hence we'd came.
All in all we spent a good three hours at the Hall, which was just the job. We'd had a bit of a walk, heard a riveting historic tale, had a decent lunch and ticked off another NT property from the list. What more could you ask for on a dull grey Tuesday?