The North, The Wrekin, and The Butterflies

Popped home to see my mama and bro a couple of weekends ago. Ah, cold, crisp, fresh air, it was lovely. Not much happens when I visit home (the two of them are always in relaxation mode after hard work through the week, so we mostly stay in and chill), but so I took some lovely little walks around the villages. Sought out some places that I hadn’t been in the best part of a decade or more. 

There’s a little woodland above the old pit top about a mile from home. These days the main access route is gated and padlocked off, but when I was a teenager we used to canter up that narrow track before turning right into the woodland and weaving our way between and under branches, up to the edge of the trees. Another gate, this time into a field. It was a very very short adventure, but I used to love it. I remembered that there was another route into the trees, a very steep little climb that Fred and I only made once or twice as it was pretty tricky under rider. So I walked up that way on this visit. Almost had to get on my hands and knees at the highest part. But then it meets up with the track, goes quiet and cool, and the sounds of the road fade away. Evidence of deer everywhere, though I didn’t see any on this occasion, just enjoyed walking around and wishing I had a pony in tow, to explore all the “hazards” and learning opportunities of the area. 

The next day featured just a short walk up the former main road and past my old piano teacher’s house. Flaysome, glorious, biting wind and rain, and if I hadn’t promised to be back in time to watch the rugby I’d have carried on walking and joined the Pennine Way, just to see where it went. I don’t think I ever followed it in that direction when I was a youth. But it was Ben’s birthday, so there was junk food, Six Nations rugby, and cups of tea. It rather made me want to play rugby again! Poor lad’s back has recently gotten worse though, chiropractor twice a week to keep him sound enough for work (which is the place where he over exerts himself and damages his back). Am glad he’s getting treatment, hope it has an impact. 

On the last day, I went down to the Tipalt Burn, past Thirlwall Castle, and up onto the roads that look down over Longbyre. Discovered a footpath that I never even knew about, despite living there my whole childhood. Another day of strong prevailing winds, but this time carrying tiny snowflakes. My thighs were stinging cold, it was great. 

Some of the routes Fred and I used to take have been cut off or made harder to access (people becoming more precious about private access, perhaps), but it was lovely to explore. It was suggested that I consider getting a 2017 project pony and keeping it up there, since I’ll be visiting home so much this year, which is an intriguing idea. I can’t see it happening, but it did make me think that I should have a more open view/interpretation of the possibilities there are in the world. Never a bad thing to learn to look for options rather than shut them down. 

Yesterday I went “all around the Wrekin” with a friend. We’d have gone upwards for the view, but there were so many people on their Sunday walks after their Sunday roasts that the main route was a bit overwhelmed with high heels, whinging children, and white trousers. So we went for the longer and less spectacular option, but it was exactly what we wanted in the end. Quiet, bonnie woodland and good conversation.  

Last week Holly was here to crack on with some embellishment on the Mauritius corset, whilst I did some drawing and last writing (glossary) for the corsetmaking book. Ever closer! My glossary seems to be ending up as a “tips and tricks” section as much as it’s a glossary though, so hopefully that will be useful to people. More again this week, but our 4mm spiral steel has finally arrived which should allow us to finish two commissions that have been patiently waiting. That’ll be satisfying. Oh, but I’m meant to get some ribbon lacing today for a corset that needs wrapping tomorrow, will have to endeavour to get to the John Lewis haberdashery… 

Ooh, I paid the final instalment for the educational dissection in April! Am very excited about this, three days of learning, primarily about equine movement, from someone very revered in the industry. In related news, a friend from the stables went to the Horses Inside Out conference this weekend, can’t wait to hear how it was. Had wanted to go myself, but had to choose between one or the other, so dissection it was. I love that there’s so much information to be had though, and not just by spending big chunks money thankfully. I’m really loving this year “off” so far. I do wish there’d been a clearer delineation between things, really didn’t want to have commissions still on the go in February/March, but such is life. Anything big you try to accomplish will take three times a long as planned and cost three times as much. That’s a truism and as such isn’t actually true, of course. But if you start with that expectation, a lot of stress can be avoided. 

The dogs were good at home. Little Poppy is improving all the time. She doesn’t relax into it yet, but she’s started putting herself in positions which get strokes and will carefully watch you whilst you fuss her, as if she’s figuring out if it’s really safe to trust anyone except my mum. Such a sweetheart. Reggie, on the other hand, is as desperate for love as ever. He loves to lick people, but if you giggle whilst trying to tell him to stop he gets overexcited and perceives the giggling as encouragement. Mum told me that Ben once tried to “wait it out”, to see how long it would take for the dog to tire himself out. 15 minutes in my brother had to call the experiment off as he was drenched and the dog was still in enthusiastic licking heaven. 

I have today entirely off and entirely solitary, a nice treat. I can’t quite decide what to do with myself though. Nothing too important, I reckon. Just decompress further, let ideas come slowly. 

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