Friday, 24 July 2015

Things I didn't know about living in the country

Things I didn't know about living in the country

It’s been two months and one day since I swapped my heels for a pair of Converse and moved to the sticks. The countryside met me with its relaxed way of life, sunshine and quietness. It sent the birds to wake me up in the morning, lit the stars for me to admire in the middle of the night and enveloped me in its serenity, shedding stress and tension like an outfit that no longer fits.
And as with any great relationship, ours has gone past ‘Dating’ and arrived in the region of ‘Familiar’. As a result I started seeing the country for what it really is:
There are flies everywhere. It’s not just the noise - they getting in your eyes, up your nose and under your clothes. It’s like all the flies have been banished from the cities and into the country. My Google history is full of search words like ‘fly deterrent’, ‘insectocutor’ and ‘how to get rid of flies’. So far I’ve spent two months’ worth of my shoe budget on various fly killers and nothing has worked.
Living in the middle of nowhere means everything is far. My nearest pint of milk is six miles away, let alone the emergency bar of chocolate, Chinese take away or a decent bottle of wine. I had to bribe the man from Dominos to deliver pizza this far away from civilisation.
You have to get up REALLY early to catch a train into London. My alarm clock forgot what 6am looks like as it’s no good here. Unless you get up before 5.30am, you are already late.
Cats eat birds. I know this is a common knowledge but until you see your cat casually eating a pigeon he had just dragged in - with feathers flying everywhere and other unsightly things deposited on your freshly mopped, still wet floor - then you have no idea what it really means.
I have developed a desire to kill. Sometimes I lie in bed at night and scheme various ways of murdering the cat, as the visions of that pigeon all over my kitchen floor haunt my dreams.
When I look back at the London life I used to treasure so much, I realise the value of everything I have left behind is indeed in comparison.
I thoroughly enjoyed living next door to an M&S garage and satisfying my midnight cravings by walking less than five minutes; loved rolling out of bed at 7am to catch my train to London and still being the first in the office; and didn’t even realise how great it was to live in cat and insect free environment.
But as I sit in my lovingly-constructed writer’s cabin, wallowing in the sunshine, listening to music and sipping tea (while Mr Chateauneuf is cooking something delicious in the kitchen), I realise that the country life isn’t that bad either.
After all, getting up at the crack of dawn is actually satisfying (once you get used to it); some of the fly traps do work – I just need to find them; and a cat’s life span is on average 15 years, so I only have 14 to go.

Friday, 17 July 2015

What men really think

What men really think

It is a truth universally acknowledged that women never stop thinking. We can accommodate thousands of thoughts at one time, create much ado about nothing and successfully have a full blown argument over ‘what we thought someone might’ve said’.

However, if that someone happens to be our beloved, it gets a lot worse. The misunderstanding begins as a spark and gets fuelled by an unending supply of thoughts that we regenerate prodigiously on a daily basis. Until eventually it explodes into an inferno.
If Mr Chateauneuf and I kept diaries, this would’ve been an account of events for last weekend.
‘Dear Diary
It was a glorious Saturday morning. I jumped out of the bed and hit the gym while Mr Chateauneuf was getting ready to go for a bike ride.
I was ten minutes into my cross trainer session when he came to kiss me good bye. We briefly discussed our plans for the day and off he went – all happy and cheerful.
A couple of hours later he came back home and I noticed he was a little subdued. I thought he was simply exhausted after his bike ride so I drew him a bath with oils and salts, got a fresh towel out and while he was soaking, I went downstairs and cooked him an omelette.
After bath and lunch he settled in front of the TV for his usual sport-something-or-other-match which inevitably turned into a couple of hours nap.
But even after his bath, lunch and nap he was still distant. While cooking dinner he barely said a word to me. I asked him if everything was ok or if I had upset him, but he only smiled and said everything was fine. Over dinner the boys did all the talking, completely oblivious to how quiet their daddy was.  
When we got to bed, I snuggled up to him and whispered ‘I love you’. He mechanically smiled ‘I love you too’. He then reached for his phone and remained glued to it for the rest of the night.
As I rolled over to my side of the bed, I couldn’t help but wonder, is this it? Is this how the most beautiful romance in my life ends? I am losing him and I don’t even know why, is it possible to stop loving somebody in one day?
That night I cried myself to sleep, he didn’t even notice. There was a massive wall between us.’
Mr Chateauneuf:
‘Dear diary
There is something wrong with my bike brakes; I wonder what it is…’

Friday, 10 July 2015

If the shoe fits....

If the shoe fits...

Sometimes the only thing standing between a girl and that perfect outfit is the last item that is being delivered hours before the event. And suddenly everything depends on whether or not it will fit.

A few weeks ago I was attending a garden party and had spent months researching and planning the outfit. I bought three dresses (all returnable), a bucket of jewellery pieces to go with all of the dresses and at the very last moment I found the perfect pair of shoes.

They were due to arrive the day before the party and I didn’t have a plan B. Those shoes suddenly became my universe and they had to fit, there was no other option. 

I always took my relationship with shoes very seriously but this was a different level altogether. So when I got that email notification that my order had arrived at the store, I leapt out of my chair and flew to the shop. The deadline I was working on became so insignificant compared to this.

As I was approaching the store my stomach got tied up in the knots. I timidly pushed the door open, ''What if they don’t fit?'' – was all I could think.

The sales assistant was very helpful and produced my order in the matter of minutes. She then helpfully released my order from careful packaging and opened the box…

I released the breath I didn’t realise I was holding – the shoes looked perfect. In fact they were better than the picture. And I knew it would break my heart even more if I had to send them back – I was already in love.

''They have to fit'' – I nervously laughed. ''I have a garden party tomorrow and no plan B. But I’m a bit concerned that they might be a little too big.''

''Oh don’t you worry'', - she said and disappeared into the back room. Seconds later she came back holding a pair of insoles.

''Here'', - she said. ''These will give you that half a size you might need.''

She slotted the insoles into the shoes and put them on the floor in front of an oversized antique mirror. I nervously moved forward and stepped into the shoes. It was like a fairy tale and I was Cinderella. The shoes made me feel like I had just stepped out of a magazine cover, and they fitted perfectly.

I thanked my fairy god mother sales assistant and she just laughed it off: ''Comes with experience of working in a shoe shop. That, and years of making the wrong size shoe fit.''

With the shoes and a new pair of insoles safely tucked away into a big signature bag, I left the shop. But as her last words kept ringing in my ears, I couldn’t help but wonder, in the world of anything-is-possible, are we too used to quick little fixes? If we worked out how to make the wrong shoe fit, then does it mean we are settling for less?

That weekend as I got dressed for the party and slid into the shoes, I studied my reflection in the mirror. It was well thought through – the colours worked, the jewellery complemented the outfit and the shoes were just perfect.

I couldn’t resist a twirl and as caught the reflection of the shoes in the mirror I had a thought. Maybe I saw it all wrong, maybe it wasn’t about the settling for the wrong size at all. Sometimes life surprises us with something so amazing and rare that if all we have to do is apply a little fix to make it work, we would be crazy not to.

That weekend I knew I didn’t settle for less, I made something fabulous work.