For a while now there's been a noticeable shift in values. Not everywhere, but you can't fail to have spotted it: books, magazines, TV programmes, shops all seem to be jumping on board. Suddenly we're hearing words like 'provenance' and 'local' and 'craftsmanship'. Maybe it's down to the recession, maybe it's a gradual awareness of how a throwaway society doesn't really make you feel fulfilled. Perhaps it's the realisation that 'stuff' - material possessions and endless shopping trips - don't keep you happy for very long.
It's trendy to grow your own, to be a foodie who likes locally-sourced ingredients with minimal food miles attached. And easy as it would be to sneer and cynically dismiss all that as 'middle class' and 'townie' it is, for me, to be celebrated. Even if it has made it that much harder to get your hands on an allotment. And I'm diplomatically ignoring the fact that the Ramsbottom farmer's market - despite selling the same produce as it always has - has been re-named the 'Artisan Market'. Ahem.
Anyway, my point is this: I like old-fashioned and simple. I like the familiar, the comforting and the functional. We grew up eating meals cooked from scratch and toasting bread in front of the fire and sleeping under feather quilts passed down from my grandmother.
For me, pleasure isn't about endless consumption or keeping up with the latest technology. I don't bother with glossy magazines any more. I get the most enjoyment from the garden, from cooking seasonally (the elderflower cordial was a success, hooray), from spending time with loved ones, reading good books, making things, being outdoors, frugality.
Apologies if all this sounds twee. It isn't supposed to. It's just how things are around here.
Anyway, moving on from philosophising... What have we been up to of late? I'm afraid it's another of those 'midweek miscellany' posts as we're gearing up to move house next week (I'm ridiculously excited) and things are a bit this-and-that at the moment. So at the weekend we finally bit the bullet and cleared out the loft.
A whole lot of recycling and charity shop donating ensued. But - to my surprise and delight - I managed to unearth a few treasures. Like one of those very quilts I mentioned earlier. A bit musty but nothing a good old airing outside can't remedy (I've just dashed out into a thunderstorm to bring it in again actually. Crazy weather).
This one's very heavy; pink on one side, yellow on the other. I once had one which was pink and apple green but sadly that disappeared long ago.
Also lurking up there were some of my old books. They're a bit tatty but still treasured, particularly the poetry books: A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson and Hilda Boswell's Treasury of Poetry. The latter illustrated both, and it's a wonderful nostalgia trip flicking through them again.
Speaking of old-fashioned, I'm a geranium lover. Pinks and whites out in the garden, big red ones on the kitchen windowsill. They have to be in terracotta pots. I don't know why. They just do.
We have seedlings coming through (peas, I think)... podding peas is another of those quiet, absorbing, repetitive tasks I love.
And I plan to make some sorrel soup. We used to eat it at my grandma's house - the lemony flavour of it cooked with potatoes, soured cream and stock is a food memory well worth revisiting (speaking of which, I'll be posting about food memories in a future post. It's still at the notebook-jottings stage).
Another simple pleasure: picking the dinky Alpine strawberries. Unfortunately a certain little boy has discovered the joys of this too and has yet to differentiate between ripe and unripe. Basically, they're being picked before they're ready to eat. He'll end up with stomach ache.
The satisfaction of harvesting your own food isn't to be underestimated, even if it's just a few snippings of herbs. Thyme has been added to several dishes of late and the oregano is growing like mad - a liberally-sprinkled tomato salad will accompany tonight's meal.
So, despite things gradually getting busier with the imminent move, we're still managing to find some quiet times for early evening walks, good eating and garden pottering. The things that are keeping us grounded during a notoriously stressful event.
I hope you're having a good June thus far and finding time to do what you enjoy.