Timing in the countryside of the mind

by Penny M

I set my alarm for 8.15 a.m. before I went to bed last night – after all, my appointment the nextWhat happens if you wait too long day was for 10 a.m. (plenty of time).

Never mind that I had to bath, dress, put on makeup, have breakfast and meds, strip the sheets off the beds (Mondays are washing and cleaning days), pack my handbag with prerequisites for my appointment, and walk up a 45 degree hill to catch the bus.

It was 8.33 a.m.; I was just getting into the bath when it dawned on me I would have to catch the 9 o’clock bus to reach my destination, Boots in Taunton, by 10 a.m.

I dipped in the bath, put moisturiser on my face, a stroke of mascara and discarded the rest of my non-medical routine. Breakfast of porridge, almonds, sunflower seeds and yoghurt became a packet of cheesy oat biscuits for the bus.

It was raining, so on went the boots and raincoat; back upstairs for scarf and gloves.

“Bye, Mum.”

Out the door and up Golden Hill which became an Everest of puffing prayer.  My heart struggled to catch up with the shock.

Countryside living tends to books, screens, social media, and the odd walk.  Popping out for something (without wheels) involves a bit of a time plan.   I miss my car; I could plot my course of action so incredibly well when I had my four-wheeled friend.  I had appointments down to a fine art, knew the quickest routes to avoid rush hours, school turnouts and month ends.

I’ve realised why I don’t walk as much as I should, even in this country where I can safely wander. It’s because I must have a measurable purpose with exercise and fresh air as by-products. Wandering along aimlessly with nobody to talk to except of course my invisible friend just doesn’t do it for me.  But a walk up the road to the village to actually buy something, post a letter, catch the bus – now that’s different.

But I digress.  Buses are amazing spaces for blog writing and provide lots of time for thinking and breathing. If you are reading this then you will know that I made it, but with new resolve to add an extra hour to my alarm clock – the one I always thought was there. There must be a market for 26 hour alarm clocks – now there’s a product for the Dragon’s Den.

How did I make it?  I put it down to the accuser who sat on the shoulder of my common sense and whipped me to succeed or die of shame.  I think my heart has forgiven me and returned the extra seconds I thought I might have lost in the rush.

I love the English countryside and know I need to walk more, so would somebody please lend me a dog?

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Life Lessons

By Michelle Dennison (awa Julianne Alcott)

I have learned several things throughout my life. I was thinking of them the other day, and thought I would share them …

* If your car / electric appliance is making a strange noise, tape it with your cell phone’s voice recorder. It will probably not make the noise when you take it to get repaired, and the shop person will think you are hallucinating. If you can play it for them, you have proof. I have done that with my car brakes.

“No ma’am. New brakes always make a noise when they are wearing in.”

He stopped saying that when I played him the recording!

* Know exactly where your candles, torch and matches are, so if there is a sudden power failure, you can find them in the dark. If you have never smoked, you may need to have cigarette lighter lighting lessons. I did …

* Always greet security guards at shop entrances. That way, when you discover that the chocolate you bought yesterday is still in your handbag (without the cash slip) and you are walking around the shop with it, you can take it to the security guard and explain. If he has already established you as a harmless friendly person, he may not suspect you of being a shoplifter.

* No matter how I try and convince myself that cocoa pods come from a tree, so chocolate must be a fruit, it isn’t true.

* Shoes that hurt in the shop will probably hurt for several months once you take them home. By the time they have had a chance to stretch, they will probably have fallen apart. If they aren’t comfortable in the shop… don’t buy them!

* If you are going to drop an item of laundry in a public place, it will probably be underwear. Keep it contained by stuffing it into a T-shirt and rolling the T-shirt up. Don’t drop the T-shirt.

* Don’t wait until morning before work to put petrol in your car. That is bound to be the morning when you oversleep / lose you car keys / drop your coffee all over your shirt.

* If you grill food often enough, you actually won’t be able to eat the oily fried version anymore.

* Most food tastes better with grilled cheese on top.

* Exercise is more fun when it is dancing.