Monday, February 25, 2013

All change

I heard something profound yesterday. Just a comment, in passing, from an ordinary guy on the TV who was talking about how lucky he was in his job as Liaison Officer at St Michael's Mount in Cornwall, England.

His name is Pete Hamilton and the words he used were; "I wouldn't change a thing about my life." He then seemed a bit taken aback by his rather weighty statement and said " hang on a minute, let me just think about that... No, it's true; I wouldn't change a thing about my life." Then we saw a shot of him with (I think) his baby daughter in his arms.

St Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Cornwall England
Photo courtesy of

It was such a small moment but it had a huge impact on me. I can't stop thinking about it - imagine being able to honestly say that you wouldn't change ANYTHING about your life? It's kind of a bit mind-blowing.
Of course it started me thinking about what I'd change about my life. Given this blog, it's no surprise that living more simply, free of debt and with time to do more of what makes me happy remain top of the list.

But even if all of those things were in place, would I/could I say that I wouldn't change a thing? So much of what Pete Hamilton said is down to attitude. Sure, he lives and works in a beautiful village, he's recently married and has just started a family, exciting times all round. But I got the sense that he's a content sort of person, that not leaving the area he has grown up in was a conscious choice to be happy with his lot rather than a lack of opportunity or ambition. That financial considerations are way down his list of priorities and that his greatest joy is found in the simplest things.

I mention his having stayed near his childhood home because I wonder if my own desire to live and work abroad (more than once) is indicative of a "grass is greener" mentality and thus a mindset destined to disappoint? Had I stayed in my hometown I'm pretty confident that I'd be living a simpler life; debt-free (or at least without the huge expenses the move necessitated) and with lots of time to do more of what makes me happy. Family support, a career uninterrupted by further study, a home bought earlier and some bad decisions unmade would have made that possible.

It would be disingenuous of me to suggest that I regret moving to Australia (or the Netherlands, an earlier adventure) or any of the travel I have experienced since I was 18 years old. I’m a firm believer in the idea that “the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” (St. Augustine) so staying in my hometown was never a realistic option for me. Not to mention the fact that I would have missed out on some amazing experiences and very special friends and but still... I wonder if my desire for “different” has in some ways limited my ability to enjoy the “everyday”.

So how do I make Mr. Hamilton’s statement true for me here and now? What steps do I take to find contentment in what is, instead of being distracted by what could be or what might have been?

I know I need to keep going with the things I put in motion when I started this blog. But what else? Have you done it? Are you one of the lucky few who wouldn't change a thing about your life? Are you working towards your own state of contentment? Please share your ideas!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Retro Rooms

Last Saturday we threw a little birthday party for our darling girl. Although her birthday isn’t until the end of the month, an early party seemed sensible in view of me being 55 weeks pregnant. Just as I was congratulating myself on being so sensible and organised the weather conspired against us (again!) and our party in the park looked likely to be rained off. And then I discovered that most retro of party venues - the Scout Hall.

With the help of Agatha’s lovely Godparents, we bedecked the old hall in our Valentine theme with bunting I made from heart-shaped paper doilies and heart-shaped helium balloons. We added some wet weather entertainers in the form of a craft table, a bubble machine and a tunnel and play tent combo, as well as much Valentine-inspired food and drink and a homemade cake (by yours truly) in the shape of…guess what? You got it, a heart!

The result was lots of good old-fashioned fun, just the way a kid’s party should be. We even got lucky with the weather and the kids got to run amok in the playground as planned, as well as at the craft table.

Photos by Siobhan, Victoria and me

Happy Birthday darling Agatha and thank you for two years of pure joy. We love you more than words can express. xx

Speaking of retro rooms and all the fun planning, I'm a little bit excited as my all-time favourite decorating job has rolled around again - the nursery!

This time I'm going for a more modern feel, and by modern I mean circa 1969.

I loved the planning and accessorising of Agatha's room (as well as the pointing at walls and floors as Andy got to work with his handy roller). I settled on a concept (red and pale blue with a vintage vibe), chose the fabric for the cot sheet and skirt and took it from there. I had completely free reign, working behind closed doors until I reached the point where I could give Andy "the reveal".
This time there are limitations. We're renting now so painting floors and walls, hanging multiple pictures and putting up shelves is out of the question. The room is small, so a chest of drawers is a no-no, as is a piece like the vintage wardrobe we lovingly restored and painted for Agatha's room. And, Andy keeps his clothes in that room (though not for much longer Sonny Jim!) so even a reveal is off the agenda.

Yet does this faze me? Not one jot! It is merely more of a challenge. I have already decided on a gender-neutral colour scheme of orange and yellow with a "weather" theme (though theme is really too strong of a word). Below is my digital pinboard both with ideas and actual purchases. I won't say which is which as you're going to be the recipients of my "ta da!" moment in lieu of Andy.
So, here is the (conceptual) before:

Clockwise from top left: Zü cloud cushion from French Blossom, Follow the Wind print by Naoko Stoop on Etsy, Kartell storage units from Replica Furniture, Tarika in Blue - Kumari Garden fabric and Orange Riley Blake Dots fabric both from Etsy, Leather pouf  from Moroccan Pouffe and Skojig lamp from IKEA

Stay tuned for the after!!