2009 – Resolutions and a Smack in the Face


Birthday was nice but quiet. We spent the evening over at Mum’s playing trivial pursuit (I forced everyone because I love that game), eating Cadbury’s Roses, followed by a Chinese takeaway. Healthy! Generally though I had a really nice, relaxed evening. I was spoiled rotten by everyone, received lots of excellent presents including new spotty wellies, Cath Kidston mugs (perfect size for cradling between my hands on chilly evenings), a tonne of new makeup, a couple of smart tops, a Harry Potter first edition reprint hardback copy of the Philosopher’s Stone, thick socks, a bag made from vintage fabric, a pruning knife, veggie seeds, a black and silver butterfly neck scarf and vouchers to spend at my leisure. Rich also had the white gold necklace that he bought me for my 18th birthday fixed, so I was thrilled that I could start wearing it again. I am one lucky girl!!!

So, what’s going on with me so far during 2009? It’s been pretty damned cold here. Apparently it’s the coldest December – Jan since 2002. And I specifically remember having to push start our little 899cc Fiat Cinquecento almost every morning during that winter, so can well believe that this year is on par. The hens, as usual, are pretty unimpressed, huddling under the bench where I’ve padded it out with straw so they can warm their toes during the (perma!)frosty days. Last night it snowed, only half an inch or so, but it was still nice to stand out at gone one o’clock in the morning and take pictures of the unblemished snow as it lay down our road (see pic).

The snow is still here so the hens have been resolute in staying in the shed with the straw and food. When the sun is out, it’s not so bad because they tend to stand warming their backs in the sunlight. But the cloudy, dark and cold days are pretty miserable. Needless to say, Maureen is keeping her legs firmly crossed and there’s not been an egg in sight for a few weeks now. Apparently she should come back into lay around Valentine’s Day; we’re in no particular rush for Yoko to come back into ‘lay’ so don’t really mind if it extends beyond then.

I was also hoping that 2009 would be my year that it all turned around from the snowballing crapness of the past 7 years. But no. Two days in a very very very close immediate family member receives a call that she has pre-cancerous cells that need zapping before they do anything (with an emphasis on the PRE- part), and the next day whilst I was visiting a lady turned up at Mum’s door to tell her that Mum’s beloved cat Basil was lying in her front garden. When we rushed over to get him, it was obvious he’d been dead for a few hours. He was only about 8 years old. He used to follow Mum around the house and garden, a real companion cat. That was a hard blow; I carried him home as Rich walked Mum home behind me, Mum crying, shocked and bereft. Basil turned up when I still lived at home (I left not long after I finished my A-Levels), and when no one replied to our ‘missing cat’ posters, I started sneaking him up into my room. But really he became a Mummy’s boy and now she feels she’s almost lost a friend. It’s so sad. She’s still grieving for losing her Mum (Nannie) and then all this.

So 2009 is reigning down it’s crapness upon us already. Seriously, I know things could be 10, 100, 1000 times worse but I’m still sending this one out to the Universe; give my family, and particularly my Mum, a break. Let Lady Luck be on our side for once. I’m trying to stay positive but I’m rapidly losing patience.

So as an antidote to this stream of rubbish that seems to continually come our way,ย  I’ve started thumbing through some seed catalogues, pondering about what to do for the next growing season. For my birthday, I also received two blank, hardbacked notebooks that I’m using as two recipe books – one for Cakes & Bakes and one for Savouries, Soups and Stews etc. I have many pieces of paper floating around, some printouts from the Internet and some scribbled recipes that I’ve held on to for years. One of my evening projects has been to set myself up by the open fire in the chair we’ve christened ‘The Throne’ (a slighly shabby high backed chair, with regal arms and a little bit of ornate carving, reupholstered by Mum over a decade ago), rug over my knees whilst I carefully copy out recipes into my two books.

I’m doing this because one of my New Year Resolutions is to cook and bake more. I need to eat a much more varied diet and experiment more too. I checked a few cooking books out of the library and have been copying in recipes that I like the look of – things like Morrocan Pizzas, Marrakesh Serpent Cake and Tarka Dhal. I’m trying to choose things that I can cook up on a budget, seeing as my workload has dramatically reduced and I am scrambling (and outright failing sometimes) to pay the bills (another source of major stress but let’s not go there). I’m also aiming to cook things that use ingredients that I can grow easily at home. Many of the recipes I’m copying over include a variety of fresh herbs, chillis and peppers – all easily grown in containers so anybody can have a bash. These are all things that I’ve grown in the past with varied success, but am determined to nail this year.

So here I am at the beginning of 2009 – a bit angry, a bit fed up but nevertheless determined to keep going and MAKE things work out for me and my family this year. My first step – getting more work (which may involve some soulless temping work, but hey ho, when needs must), followed by a proper planning session detailing what I want to grow this year. When the temperatures have risen a little I’m going to bribe a couple of people (Rich, you’d better watch out) with food and things to come on a digging session down at the allotment too. Then there’s the plots here at the Smallest Smallholding – they need feeding, weeding and expanding (again, Shhh, don’t tell Rich). And then MAYBE a couple more chooks along the way…

…At least my new spotty wellies look cheerful!!!!


  1. Sorry to hear about Basil, that’s so sad. I hope you and your mum feel better soon and well done for staying positive in the face of all the crap-ness.

  2. Sending many positive vibes your way … you deserve crapness to be eliminated from your life this year ๐Ÿ™‚ Have internet ‘properly’ from the 10th so will reply to your email then. Keep your head up … not down, even though those spotty wellies are enough to divert even the most focused eyes ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Lucy, I really hope 2009 is a better year for you. I have lost parents, a husband and a cat, so I know how your Mum feels, it does improve, finding new interests or taking up old ones refreshes you I find. Ground frozen here, celeriac does not seem to mind that so a good one to grow if we are to have more perma frost winters. A very hot summer has been forecast, so maybe some peppers, aubergines and other exotics should be on your seed list, I am going in for lots of different tomatoes now I have a splendid greenhouse (have to justify the expense!). Just be grateful for each day and you obviously have a lovely supportive family, so good luck for 2009.

  4. I have a weird, ominous feeling about 2009 but I refuse to let it get to me. I’m going to carry on and do my best, set goals for myself and achieve them. Even jobless, I can do that much.

    I hope your family member is on the mend! And I’m sorry about Basil. ๐Ÿ™

    Your wellies are fantastic! I have similar ones but with splatters rather than spots. XD

  5. I swear something was in the water just before Christmas, as you are one of a number of people who Lady Luck has been unkind to at the end of 2008.

    I’m keeping everything crossed that things will get better for you.

  6. Awww, I’m sorry, I hope 2009 decided to get all its crapness out in one big crap splurge, and that the rest of the year will bring only good for you and your family!
    I really recommend all three of the Moro cookbooks by Sam and Sam Clark, the veggie recipes are incredible!

  7. Here’s wishing you & yours a peaceful & prosperous 2009, matie. Having had a similarly, utterly dreadful 2008 after an entire decade of crap, I know just what you mean. I keep telling myself “it can only get better…”

    So sorry about all your bad news; & your poor Mum, losing the lovely Basil after everything else that’s happened.

    2009 will be a better year. You’ll see….. Just keep smiling.

  8. Sorry about all your bad news. Hope 2009 is a good one. I love the spotty wellies.
    Sara from farmingfriends