The joy list

As I write there’s a man upstairs deep-cleaning my carpets with chemicals, hot water and an unfeasibly loud vacuum. In a grown-up version of Craig David’s 7 days, I found out about The Carpet Cleaner on Wednesday (having admired my neighbours spotless rugs), texted him on Friday, he came to quote on Sunday and by Monday his brushes were in action (I intend to chill on Tuesday).

I like to take this week after the alleged-holidays for a bit of cleaning, in all senses. Christmas with a two year old in no way is a break; it took me 7 hours this week just to get through The Sound of Music due to interruptions for Hey Duggee!, nap time, snack time, etc. Plus there’s all the visiting, carting toys around, tantrums, cooking, entertaining…every year I feel mental. So to take a bit of time from 6th January for scrubbing and reflection has come to be a useful aid to my health and happiness.

The climate of 2019 was difficult: the suicidal state of UK politics, ecological crisis, Trump, the daily grind of running two small business, feeling skint because childcare is the same as a mortgage. Watching a bit of vintage Nigella on the Food Network yesterday, Matt and I reflected that 20 years ago food TV was deeply aspirational – all about having a lovely time, doing fun things with beautiful people and maybe picnics on the beach with Toploader playing in the background. Now it’s all about survival: you need to make your dinner in 15 minutes and on the cheap because you’re back from work late and you’re short on cash.

So in the spirit of fighting back against the gloom, I have started a Joy List for 2020. Anything can go on provided that it will actually be achieved, and any visitors to the house are welcome to add things to it. Whether your idea of joy is growing your own food, eating ice cream in January, brewing beer, jumping into a freezing cold lake because you can or finally visiting that posh restaurant you’ve had your eye on since you were a teenager, perhaps this is the year to actually make it happen?

Some items from the Joy List might include…

More cut flowers for the home and for gifting. The allotment has now been covered in plastic to keep the weeds down until spring.
Admiring beautiful art and architecture, such as this ornate ceiling in Tewkesbury Abbey
Ice cream in the park is a TOP joy for Harry, even if it’s January and he’s dripping snot into his Mr Whippy
Fire pits and farm visits with old friends
Planning sunnier retreats to the beach / Cornwall
The joy list as it currently stands

Also this week:
Cooking and eating: All the usual Christmas stuff including a memorable turkey chilli from Jamie Oliver’s Christmas cookbook. Matt’s toasted sandwiches with chicken, cheese and chutney. Home-made clementine jelly.

Plus: Reading Grampy’s 1930s copy of Robinson Crusoe and not quite sure what to make of it. It flits from being a work of great philosophical depth to a boy scout manual; do I really need several pages describing fisticuffs between groups of grown men? Plus making full use of our National Trust membership so that Harry gets some fresh air.

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