Monday, 22 October 2012

Making an effort

I've been wondering - no, more like worrying - about why I don't blog much any more. I am still deeply in love with blogs and blogging, but somehow I haven't found much to write about for months. And I miss it.

Lying in bed this morning, listening to the dismal weather being wet yet again, I thought about this some more. I realised that when I lived in Newcastle, my life was full of bloggable ups and downs, delights and anxieties, Flossie's innards, house-doing-up/selling/buying/moving, with a rich (and occasionally eccentric) variety of friends and neighbours, who didn't mind being blogged about, to enliven the quieter moments. 

Here, I haven't written about my neighbours or my new friends, and no one knows that I have a blog. And might look at me in a sideways Somerset-y sort of way were I to tell them.....

Anyhow.... as no one knows, and in any case, probably looks at me sideways more often than I care to notice, why shouldn't I write about the little community in which I now live? Or about what I do to keep myself amused, other than plodding up and down muddy lanes with a filthy dog, shouting at her to leave the fallen apples alone?


So.... this is an update on life in the slow lane. It's busy, in a laid-back, lazy sort of way. There's the Women's Institute, the WI skittles morning, the volunteer attendance on behalf of MIND at the weekly Seniors' Lunch, and the regular room guide session at Dunster Castle. Not to mention life with The Gardener (also occasionally eccentric) and the furry tribe, as well as Flossie's innards and the too-familiar consequences of not preventing her from eating the fallen apples.


I'll start with the Castle. I have been volunteering once a week* since early summer, having scraped together enough decent (ie non-dog-walking) clothes to look semi-respectable. I've been a room guide, the person who, in the past, would stand silently in a corner watching in case some bold and impudent visitor should talk in more than a timid whisper; now we are allowed to be friendly, to encourage and respond to talk and questions, and to try to make visitors feel welcome. Timid whispering is not expected, although some visitors will still creep around like frightened mice. 

*Actually, I have paused the volunteering in recent weeks, when the everlasting shingles really began to take its toll, but I'll go back to it when I'm properly fit and well again, because it is very enjoyable, the visitors are mostly very nice people, and the other volunteers feel like a peculiar sort of family - not quite Downstairs, certainly not Upstairs, but comfortably proprietorial. 

We volunteers are a decidedly mixed and cheerful bunch; some are immensely knowledgeable and remember facts and dates, while others among us (ahem) Do Our Best. We have our favourite rooms - time can go rather slowly if you're allocated a room that doesn't interest you. Some are gloomy; some have ghosts; many have breakable things that an enthusiastic toddler will home in on like an exocet missile; one has a beautiful silk patchwork bedspread that had to be repaired after two small boys leapt enthusiastically onto it with their outdoor shoes....


Volunteers also have favourite stories of things visitors have said or asked; mine is from one woman who was - as happens occasionally - touring the place with the seeming sole aim of disapproving of how the wealthy lived. Coming into the billiards room, with its huge Edwardian - not Viking - table, she remarked sourly, "I suppose they had to have somethin' to do when they weren't rapin' an' lootin' an' pillagin'..."


(Looting and pillaging does take place, however; the hand-cut wooden jigsaw depicting the Drawing Room has to be replaced on a regular basis when several pieces go mysteriously missing.)

Tea breaks last for 15 minutes, time that can be taken up simply getting to and from the staff room, with its urn and biscuit tins; you have to be adept at drinking your tea very hot indeed and scooting back to your post in time.

I hope to learn the A&B (Attics and Basement) Tour next season. Thank goodness the National Trust doesn't expect its volunteers to dress up; I wouldn't at all mind the housemaid's apron, but the cap? Perhaps not.

More in due course. Tomorrow I'm leaving the slow lane and going off to Exeter (on the train from Taunton, 40 minutes away; nowhere is that easy to get to here!) to shop. A branch of John Lewis has just opened there, and excitement in our little town is running high, so high, indeed, that the local WI have booked seats on a coach for the sole purpose of visiting this icon of modern consumerism. Me, I'm the Lone Shopper, too easily distracted to go in a group, and I need some ideas for Christmas presents.

Don't go away; you know you want to know about the skittles, and the Seniors' Lunch, now, don't you.....

Back soon!

21 comments:

carolD said...

I do .. i do want to know! Sounds like a very interesting job, would love to hear the ghost stories!

Lucille said...

And more about the ghosts please.

knutty knitter said...

I did this sort of thing at a local castle here. The worst problem I had was not speaking Chinese. Same goes for when I ran the shop. We get a heap of tour bus traffic round here and nearly all of it is Chinese, Korean, Taiwanese or Japanese with the odd smattering of Australian and, a long way behind, every other nationality.

Same tea urn, same biscuit tins :)

viv in nz

dinahmow said...

Ah, yes...the blogging malaise. It seems to be a seasonal affliction.I came close to giving it all away, but here I am, celebrating 6 years of it today!
I'm glad you have picked up your pen again.
Enjoy your Exeter jaunt;I'll be here when you get back.

Mary Ann said...

Oh do tell us about the ghosties:)

Noelle the dreamer said...

Did you mention Ghosts? Oh Rachel, we cannot wait to hear the 'rest of the story,! Don't give up on blogging please, we'd miss you (and Flossie!).
Thinking of you on your train jaunt!
All the best,
(P.S. Rain here too...we cannot complain though, we had none for over 10 weeks, unheard of so near the rainforest!)

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

What a wonderful thought ! Lord Whatsit's hobbies as listed in Debrett's : "Raping , looting , pillaging and billiards " .
(Actually reading your entry has quite exhausted me . Life in the Somerset slow lane sounds hectic and you're managing to cram more into a week than most people in a month .)

colleen said...

"It's busy in a laid back, lazy sort of way": I know just what you mean - I think. In many ways I have much more to write about now that I don't have a job, but less urgency to do so. Little and often is the way forward perhaps. Anyway, I am sure the WI and volunteering is full of richness, as Barbara Pym might have said.

Toffeeapple said...

I am on tenterhooks now, will you spill the beans on your neighbours? I bet you have some very quirky ones.

Frances said...

It is good to have you back sounding enthusiastic about blogging. I have stuck with you, kept looking at your blog every day in the hopes that you will get back to your old chatty self. ( I blame the gardener for distracting you ! ) sorry to hear you have not been so well. Your shift at the castle sounds more interesting that mine at the Oxfam bookshop!

Jan said...

I'm ready to read more about the neighbors, the ghosts, and life in the slow lane!

pandchintz said...

Loved this post!! Thank you for all that wonderful information. (Hope the shingles get better very quickly). Have a great time in Exeter (my Gran worked there as a young woman in The Chemists Shop, around the time of WW1, before venturing out to Australia with an Aussie Digger.)

Bow Street Flowers said...

I love reading about your life in the lovely countryside. Many riches to share with us and I anticipate each of them.
Flossie and the apples!! Blossom, and Daisy ate all the green, bitter pears that fall each summer. Luckily, no gurgling tummies!

Gwen Buchanan said...

I think it is Fall that is causing the hesitation in blogging.. it is making us all want to go into hibernation. and maybe your life is getting filled up with all kinds of good things and it feels just right... and that's OK.

Linens and Royals said...

I want to hear more about the Castle and the Seniors and the Skittles and don't forget the cats and the big dog. I will even stop lurking and comment especially if you talk about the Castle.
We are very short of Castles where I live: in fact they are non existant so more please.

Rose H (UK) said...

Aw please fill us in on the locals and what you get up to. This has been a lovely post - I'd like to do the 'guide' thing too. Some years ago I applied as a guide at Izzac Walton's cottage, but didn't even get an interview :o(
Have fun at John Lewis...
Rose H

judy in ky said...

I do want to hear about it all! This is all fascinating to me. The castle looks intriguing... nothing remotely like that around here! About the two boys jumping on the bed; horrors! Where were their parents?
I am a Lone Shopper too. I never accomplish much in a group. I look forward to more of your adventures. I love hearing about the furry creatures, too,

The Weaver of Grass said...

Once you get really embroiled into country life you won't know what has hit you. Try going to John's blog (Going Gently on my side bar) - he lives in a Welsh village and never seems to have a spare minute.
Incidentally that wonderful ginger cay as your header is so cuddleable.

frayedattheedge said...

Welcome back - I have missed your ramblings (that's meant as a compliment!) I haven't really missed the tales of emergency carpet cleaning resulting from Flossie's internal troubles!! I'm sorry to read that the dreaded shingles is (or is it are?) still bothering you.

Mise said...

I love the idea of the WI going to John Lewis on a special coach trip. I can just imagine its luggage compartment heaped with branded bags on the return trip. And you were saying about the skittles?

Sarah said...

I do...I enjoying reading about everything in the slow lane life!

Related Posts with Thumbnails