The sound of rain, dogs snoring, cats purring

It’s raining. This is the first week it’s rained properly since August – and that was the first time it had rained properly since March. There is the sound of the occasional car passing, and the tyres cutting through puddles outside. This is rush-hour, La Rochette style. Six cars in a minute. Total Gridlock. The sky outside is a strange blend of grey clouds and dark orange.

In between the occasional car and the sound of my fingers on keys, frantic as always as my fingers try desperately to keep up with my brain, the fire spits. Soft orange flames and bright orange embers. It’s warm in here. The cat is sleeping on the back of the sofa; Steve is asleep. His toes wiggle from time to time. Maybe he’s thinking of getting up. Maybe the fire keeps him locked in a dream world. Winter afternoons are made for naps in front of log fires. Molly is snoring in his chair. Tilly is asleep at his feet. Jake’s quiet – and the house is strangely silent, but for my typing. No television, no music, no adverts, no radio, no talking. Just purring and snoring.

Towards the end of winter, cabin fever sets in. We’ve all been enclosed in a small space for far too long. With only three rooms warm enough to live in, we can’t get away from each other. Maybe naps are a good thing. Six creatures contained in 30 square metres, enjoying the sound of falling rain, of spitting logs. Right now, there’s no cabin fever. It’s still warm enough for long walks and time outside. Yesterday, I went to Angouleme for the first time in ages. I spent hours pottering around a fabric shop in search of something fabulous to stop the aching Winter cold from sticking his fingers through the holes in my window pane. I looked at wools and fabrics and thought about all kinds of creative things. It’s important to get that when you’re out in the sticks. It returns a little sanity to know you can go into town. It all feels new and exciting still. I bet I’ve only been to Angouleme a handful of times, and I rarely go on my own. I used to love wandering around the Trafford Centre after work on Friday evenings, all by myself, a coffee in Starbucks, a rummage through John Lewis. This world I’ve got now is still the same in many ways, but new enough to be still intriguing.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the sound of snoozing creatures, of nothing but snores and flames. I love the fact I’ve got a huge knitting project on the go (I’m working a three-ball system now. Say nothing. Just bow to my talents) and lots of bits and pieces of writing projects to finish. But I loved my little afternoon excursion. Plus, I got some great cream/fern green toile de Jouy fabric (think rustic scenes in pale colours, a bit like paintings on old-fashioned tea services) for my curtains at a bargain price. Now I can’t decide what to do first.

Do I strip the ancient wallpaper?

Do I paper over it?

Do I go with cream?

What the hell do I do with my ceiling that I can’t even describe what the ceiling is like and will have to take a picture of the dreadfulness of it. Do I go with wood panelling? Answers on a postcard, please…

And I really, really wanted the room to be turquoise, because I have an amazing yukata that I bought in Japan in turquoise with white cranes in flight. I kind of wanted to make a feature of that, but if I go with the toile de jouy, it doesn’t go at all! I had a thought I might hang it on a curtain rail and pin it behind my bed, or preserve the fabric in some way, because I love Love LOVE it so much I don’t ever want it to get ruined. Plus, there was some lovely padded fabric (at a delightful 34€ a metre – which is about six times more than the toile de jouy I bought!) in turquoise which was just SO gorgeous.

These wintertime concerns are perhaps of no consequence to you but are of every importance to me.

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