Saturday, May 30, 2015

All Change

Afraid of change, afraid of staying the same

- 'What a Good Boy', Barenaked Ladies

I am a very lucky human being.

In a world where so many of us struggle with pain, need, despair, horror; my life is for the most part a millpond of calm and serenity.  While I could easily flip the book of my life back a chapter or three and find some moments which were hard, sad, trying, testing; for the most part my recent and current life is steady, stable, and at the risk of being a blogger cliché, blessed.  The road may have been bumpy but this part of the journey is for the most part smooth and easy.  And enjoyed in fabulous company.

That being said, I've been struggling with some areas of my life and some frustrations, and while I've not really mentioned them here (and nor will I detail them now) I've had to deal with some disappointments, let-downs, and lower moments.  They are not the kind of things I want to blog about or to air in public at all, really, but they have been part of the process which has lead me to where I am here, today.  Which is why I allude to them at all, to help this season of change make more sense.

I'm happy, settled and calm.  And as of July 8th I will no longer be a teacher.

I love teaching.  I love the classroom, the children, the opportunity to build up young people and help them achieve all they can and really realise their potential.  I can guarantee I'll end up in a classroom again soon...maybe in a few months, maybe in a few years.  For now, however, the time is right to leap into the unknown. To try the things I've never dared.  To grow, to change, to shift focus.  Who will I be without 60-90 hours of my week being filled with teaching and commuting?  I'm excited to find out.

I have a notebook in my study, which Matthew and I have taken to calling the 'Ideas Book'.  Business ideas.  First chapters of books.  Codes of courses I'd like to research.  Blog post after blog post after blog post.  It's going to be a season of challenge and change, disruption and evolution...and I'm so ready for it.  They always say a change is as good as a rest...

There are other changes afoot.  Changes in eating habits and exercise habits and how I spend my time and how I spend my money and how I run my home and even the look of this blog.  It's a season of rejigging, rethinking and reimagining. 

For now, however, I'm looking forward to a fun, lovely last half-term, a pretty bow to tie on ten years in the career I adore, for which I can truly say I have a vocation.  Then a gorgeous honeymoon with my amazing, brilliant, oh-so-supportive husband.  And then deciding what on earth I do next.

Terrifying.  Invigorating.  Amazing.  New.

It's going to be a heck of an adventure.  One I know I am incredibly lucky to be able to embark upon.

I hope you'll join me for the ride.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Life Lately, According to Instagram

A busy week of school, a lovely weekend in Leeds, and the start of half-term break.  Awesomeness.


While we were up in Leeds we popped in to see the lovely Emily and Adam and their sweet dogs, Digs and Coops.  I love Coops' expression here!


There's been a lot of box action.  As ever.


Fry has been loving getting so much attention!


So lucky to see these lovelies on their 1st wedding anniversary!  Time flies when you're having fun, for sure.


Lovely dinner with some of my gorgeous colleagues on Friday night.  Always great to catch up away from the whirl of school!


Enjoyed the opportunity to use some of our awesome stationery for thank you notes.


You can buy biscuits.  In a jar.  The spread on toast.

*Mind blown*


A Bank Holiday weekend calls for a stack of magazines.


Our friend Hannah had a brilliant Eurovision party for her birthday - it was fantastic!  We chose to be Sweden because we figured we could raid Ikea for our foodstuffs on the way up from London, and because blue and yellow are our favourite colours.  They ended up winning.


And Ikea beer is pretty decent.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Spare Room Makeover

Earlier this month, one of those lovely moments when life just falls together beautifully happened.  Matthew and I spent the first Bank Holiday weekend in May clearing out lots of stuff from rooms, piling up donations to the charity shop and generally decluttering like mad things.  Once we were done I looked around our front spare room, previously the home to eleventy million boxes o' junk and said "I'd love to makeover this room soon."  I closed the door and toddled off the make a quick spreadsheet to see when I could afford a few bits and bobs.

I love me a spreadsheet.  Almost as much as I love making rooms friendlier and prettier.  I set myself a budget and looked forward to giving the room a wee spruce in a few months.

The next morning I got an email asking me if I'd like some items from Asda, to improve a room in our house.  Either Big Brother really exists or I was just a very lucky badger! The George range has created four looks for the current season (Eden, Desert, Meadow and Shore), and after a very happy half hour looking over the ranges I decided the Shore range was perfect for our spare room!  We've used Asda items in our hosue before so I was very happy to return to a tried and true brand.  Here are a few shots of the finished room - I can't wait to have guests to stay!


Love a good stripe!


The lampshade that had been here was a £2.50 reduced one from a bargain bin.  I like this clean, crisp one so much more!


Always love a good bit of storage!  I'm going to look for something beachy/nautical on honeymoon for the hurricane and the baskets will be great for stowing guest room toiletries.


How chic is this lamp?  I'm trying to be mature and not just snaffle this for my study!


Cute, cute nautical cushions.  Such a fun part of any room!


Plus two of these cable-knit bad boys which are really soft and squidgy.  I can see me curling up with a cat to read in this room....soon.


This blanket is lovely - it's already journeyed out of the spare room on a picnic in Hyde Park!


Decent bath sheets are always a joy to find, and the matching hand towels are great too.  I thought these wicker baskets worked well as a storage place for them.


Love these tealights...


...and these candles!


I think the detailing is so pretty - this would be a fun gift too!


Isn't this little beach hut doorstop grand?


This lantern will be great for candles with the cats around - I love containers where they can't brush near to danger.


This Bristol-blue vase is gorgeuos and goes with so many of my other blue bits and bobs.  The bottles I might use for shampoo, conditioner etc.  I love making guest rooms cosy!


As is often the case with a project, a job is still to be done - I'll be pinning up these pegs next week.  Such a cute motif and great for hanging up a few hangers for clothes which may require doing so.


I'm so pleased - it feels cosy and inviting.  Compared to the chaos that was there it truly is a sea change.  Fnar fnar.

I do love a bad pun!


Looking forward to having visitors soon!

Thank you to Asda for providing me with items from the Shore range to complete this makeover.  Such fun!  All items highlighted can be found on the page linked to.

Linking up with #HomeEtc - inspiration everywhere!
Home Etc


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Poppet and Mousie

Those of you who read here often (or any of you who've spent more than a few minutes in my company...) will know that we are lucky enough to have not one, not two, but three crazy felines in our home.  Our days are a catalogue (CAT-alogue!  Ha! Unintentional wordplay) of head boops, purrs, and finding every item of clothing we own is 'enhanced' with a subtle covering of cat fur.

Thanks, guys.

Little Leela.


 Leela is our littlest, an impetuous tortie through and through.  Whatever Leela does, she does full pelt, whether it's darting up and down the stairs in our tall terraced house (how can a 6-pound cat make as much noise as a rugby player?), gobbling down her dinner or diving into someone's arms for a fuss.

What's for dinner, then?

Beautiful Fry - so dashing!

Fry is our boy cat; jet-black of fur and oh-so-gentle of nature.  He has a squeaky little miaow attempt, but the deepest, loveliest purr.  He loves to give 'kisses' and is the soppiest of our three - he likes his humans and his sister and his mother home and likes nothing more than hanging out in the living room and napping on a person.

He loves to hang out with me when I'm writing!

I don't think Poppet has got the hang of this shopping malarkey.


Poppet, well, Poppet is the boss!  A sweet natured calico girl who we are all well aware rules the roost.  Loving and sweet, she's also delightfully barmy and never fails to make us giggle with her adventures.  One of which is the adventure of Poppet & Mousie...

We live in an area of London where in the late autumn and winter months there are a *lot* of fireworks.  Bonfire Night, Diwali, New Year's all set off a trend for loud bangs and bright fizzes.  We keep the cats in on the nights we can predict (November 5th, NYE, the culmination of Diwali), but sometimes we miss a night and scramble to get the cats in safely.  On those nights, Poppet's mama-bear instincts turn up to eleven.

For the neighbourhood mice.

We're lucky enough not to have a big house mouse problem (see; three cats.  Also, touch wood).  In our garden, however, we do spy the occasional dormouse or field mouse sized critter, which may have wandered over from the nearby open spaces.  They may even be house mice who have given up their establishment gigs for life on the open highway.  Who knows.  I think these little guys live under the decking some of our neighbours have, or that they scurry between the fences of the terraces, where there's often a gap of a few inches.  One mouse, however, Poppet adopted as her own.  On nights where there were fireworks or rainstorms or thunder, we'd hear the clack-clack of the cat flap, one-two-three, and then all too often the high pitched squeak of Mousie would follow.

The first time he was clearly distressed, and Matthew and I managed to separate him from Poppet and let him go safely.  As he scuttled off I noted there was no blood or bite marks, just a rather cross mouse.  We gave him plenty of time to head off safely and wished him well.  A few weeks later, however, Mousie appeared again, and he seemed much more chilled about proceedings.  He and Popps were communicating and sat quite happily next to one another as though this was quite a normal arrangement.  When I got close to Poppet, I saw she wasn't biting him, or even nipping.  Nope, she was carrying him gently by the scruff.  Like a kitten.

Yes, friends.  Our head-of-the-house cat has an adoptive mouse she brings in from rainstorms and loud noises.  It's happened a few times and after that first time Poppet has roundly refused to let Matthew and I have her pet.  Clearly we can't be trusted.  According to my research, mice live between 6 months and 3 years, so I do wonder if we'll see Mousie again this year...  Other cats may be great mousers; Poppet justs wants a chat!

Fearsome she is not.  Unless you're a very small worm, in which case, be afraid....#wusscat #thankheavens #notcutoutforahighkillcount


I was asked to write this post as part of the #PawHumour campaign, which flags up the new partnership between MoreTh>n and the RSPCA.  They've produced a webpage on all the ways you can keep your furry friends safe and well which can be found here.  I was compensated with a voucher for this post, and let's face it, cat posts are certainly nothing new on this blog!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Life Lately, According to Instagram

Instagram is such a fun way to micro-blog.  It's a great way to keep up with things, even when longer posts are harder to get to!



As we worked on our politics focus in school, Poppet formed her own party.  The posters were quite convincing.


Matthew and I headed up to Norfolk to the beautiful wedding of our friends E & M.  It was the most gorgeous day and such fun!  They met at a festival so that was the theme - brilliant.


Warm, sunny weather equals plenty of walking.


We've been doing a lot of nesting (I think it's because we've been here three years and it felt like time for some sprucing!).  I finally got some of the fun photobooth pictures we've collected over years of weddings and events into frames.  Such fun!


There's always time for dinner with a friend!


We got to go and visit my friend Kaz at her awesome new place, so of course, I made a cake.  Matthew decided cake making deserved champagne.


Shona and I went to see the always awesome Striking Matches at Union Chapel, probably my favourite music venue in town.  They were amazing.


The cats are enjoying the sunny weather and are getting plenty of treats!


The election was all consuming...but now feels like a million years ago!


Friday night called for Prosecco and Pitch Perfect 2.  It was such fun, just a great, cheesy, silly film.  Sometimes that's exactly what you need.


Could Poppet be more comfortable here?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Music: What I'm Listening To Now

May's playlist...



Tracks are as follows:

1. I Really Like You - Carly Rae Jepsen

2. The Last Day On Earth - Kate Miller-Heidke (loved seeing her last weekend.  Stupendous songwriter)

3. Little Red Wagon - Miranda Lambert (so help me, I love Miranda's brand of sass!)

4. Coyotes - Modest Mouse

5. Raise Your Glass - P!nk

6. Alone - Selah Sue (I love her voice!)

7. Stitches - Shawn Mendes

8. Make a Liar Out of Me - Striking Matches (these guys were amazing at Union Chapel last weekend.  Every time I see them is a thrill)

9. Fearless - Taylor Swift (I cannot wait to see Taylor rock Hyde Park next month, and am listening to her back cataclogue on repeat as preparation!).

10. What D'You Say? - The Go! Team  (Love this.  Feels a bit Flaming Lips at the start.  In a super way)

11. Make Some Room - The Suffers  (sweet and funky!)

12. How Could You Babe - Tobias Jesso Jr.

13. Push For The Stride - Ward Thomas

14. God and You - Striking Matches (this closes out their album and is just a beautiful, beautiful song).

Hi, I'm Claire...

Hi, I'm Claire...

About Me

I believe in 80s pop, 90s teen movies, and proper thank you notes. I just like smiling...smiling's my favourite.

I write here about London, food, books & travel, and a lot more besides. I'm never happier than when having adventures, cooking for friends, or lost in a good book.

If you'd like to work together, or if you'd just like to say hello, my email is: countrymouseclaire@gmail.com

Please note that on occasion affiliate links may be used in this blog. All items received for review or paid posts will always be disclosed.

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