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Taking it Slow

"Summer time and the living is easy". This is a lovely song and a powerful thought, but it's sometimes hard to do. Whatever stage of adult life you're at: a parent with children, wondering how you're going to fill the next 6 weeks, whilst juggling work commitments and childcare; maybe you've just had a student returned from Uni and are despairing that the house is overtaken by boxes and your sewing room is now back to being a bedroom, so you have no space to play (which let's face it is vital for our well-being); or are you a commuter endeavouring to survive hot tubes and buses? Think of the self-employed worker without a holiday in sight and a slew of deadlines that can't be postponed, even if your brain is muggy; possibly you're working with the general public who are more than a little cranky, because of the hot weather; or maybe you're a pensioner uncomfortable and out of sorts in this heat. For some of us / all of us, sometimes it's not so easy.

A very wise woman (one of my sisters) sent me an article yesterday written by Caitlin Moran in The Times Magazine. I have now read and re-read it several times. It's about being a carer and learning to breathe. To paraphrase and quote from Caitlin's article,

"So we loll our heads, and breathe. We just ... breathe. We are, for the first time in months, in the moment. And there, in less than a minute, is this sudden, deep, black, beautiful rush - black like space, or the sea at night - through the body. ... This is the only thing you want. ... When you breathe this deep, it is impossible to be unhappy or rigid, or fearful any more. Those tiny, automatic shallow breaths we make do with in our day-to-day life? They make us feel slightly deprived; as if we were slowly drowning. They are the panic and the anxiety. But ten breaths like this, and you feel as if you have had an afternoon off. Twenty, and you've returned, tanned, from Corfu."

So my one wish to you all this summer - friends, family, colleagues and customers, is to take time. Be kind and smile at strangers in the street or the elderly neighbour that you don't really know. Don't complain to shop staff and public transport workers about the heat (we do know, we are present too!), seize whatever small moments you can for yourself, dabble with small crafting projects which just keep you this side of sane, and the biggest one of all - just breathe. Take it easy now.




Aaah Bisto.....

I redecorated my office/sewing room last weekend (more on that to follow as the before pictures are hilarious) and walking into the room this morning I was struck again by the sense of "mmm, fresh paint, lovely". It got me thinking on what other smells this week (and memories of scents) had me thinking the same. So here's my top 7:

New paint (especially satinwood as it lingers...!)

Freshly cut grass

Toast and/or cinnamon buns and/or freshly baked bread (I loved having a part-time job way- back-when in Sainsbury's bakery)

Coconut shampoo (it always makes me think of a holiday to Greece years ago with my sister, sitting on the beach and listening to Chris Rea from the beach bar)

The smell of hot air (daily memories of living in the UAE) and also arriving on small planes abroad and that first breath as you step down onto the tarmac

Fig and pear candles for summer and orange and winter spices for the colder months

Hyacinths - sad that they're over for another year - but it's an excuse to go to the flower shop today almost next door to Hometown and find an in-season substitute.

So these are mine, what are yours? Let me know...



A little goes a long way

Saved by second-hand books and sewing skills...

In the winter sale, many Hometown customers donated and/or bought second hand craft books from us. The money raised was donated to several charities and £120 + gift aid found its way to Cambodia. This is what happened next.

Marion's sister, Janet, is a retired teacher who supports a charity called Mission Direct. She's part of a team who recently worked alongside young Cambodian teachers in community schools in Phnom Penh. Janet and the other volunteers were there to team-teach and run training workshops for the local staff who are not formally trained. The Hometown money paid for much needed dual-language books for their school library.

Janet also visited several NGOs in Phnom Penh who retrain women who have previously been sex workers. Two NGOs in particular focus on teaching sewing and administration skills, thus providing women with the ability to run their own businesses. Janet came home laden with beautiful examples of clothing and bags created by "Daughters of Cambodia" and "Women of Worth, Cambodia".

So thanks to everyone for your support ... books and sewing skills really do change lives!


A word in your ear ...

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A word in your ear ...

I love words. Walking home this evening, it dawned on me that I'm always looking and reading - whether it's seeing a graphic in the greengrocers, a sign-written shop name, banners outside the comedy club or the beautifully written pub chalkboard advertising tonight's folk band. And that's not including the signage on this particular pub which I adore reading, 'Style & Winch Fine Ales & Stouts'.

When I used to travel a lot for work, graphics in other countries were always a delight. Sometimes it was the use of words, not as originally intended..., the gaudy hand painted bill boards of India, or simply the place names and style of the road signs. Isn't arondissement simply a lovely word to say? Living in Sweden I learned to appreciate the simplicity of pared-down graphics, plus of course the delight of extra letters to learn and pronounce.

So here in celebration are a few of my favourite photos. This is just the first tranche - there are plenty more, so let's just call this 'chapter 1 - the blue corner'.

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