Sunday, 10 May 2015

After the election


I think the general election left a lot of people feeling a bit flat. I felt that way. I have always voted either Labour or Lib Dem (this year, fruitlessly, Lib Dem), but despite this I've been feeling disconcerted by so many people who vote on the left or middle-ground assuming a moral superiority that gives them the right to publicly attack anyone who votes differently from them, labelling them heartless, uncaring bastards. Usually with more swear words, vitriol and character assassination than that. 

In my own life, I know a Conservative who dedicates much of their time to charity work and helping others, and a life-long Labour supporter who is so mean-spirited that he leaves me feeling chilled every time I come into contact with him. I've found myself feeling disbelief at the mass over-simplification that would suggest that the way these two people live their day-to-day lives could be considered so insignificant that after making their voting choices, Mr Lovely-Pants is to be branded a villain who should go and eat coal in a corner and Mr Bad-Crumble patted on the back and sent straight to heaven in a post-voting glow of worthiness. I don't think these two people are voter-profile anomalies - I genuinely believe you'll find an equal amount of caring people on both sides, who just happen to have varying views on the country can best be run to preserve our benefits system and NHS in the long-term.  

The smog of abuse that's being thrown around on social media platforms seems like an opportunity to vent and bolster one's own status as 'one of the good ones', rather than a genuine defence of the poor and disadvantaged (which is always more persuasive when not calling someone a wanker). Minds can only be changed by discussion and the blanket abuse that's being hurled halts the prospect of any intelligent, lively conversation at a peer level for future elections - simply because most people on the right will not bother to voice their true opinions, but take them quietly off to the polling station with them. And who would blame them? 

I don't know whether I'm alone in this, but I feel like it's been a hideous week of stereotyping that's made my toes curl and my head feel noisy with how much hatred and negativity has been flying around online (when I say online, I mean newspapers, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram - I've never heard this kind of abuse being bandied about by people face-to-face. When I realised this delineation, I avoided looking at any of these things, but by then my headspace already felt polluted).

When I sat down today, I'd intended to write about something sewing-related, but that's not quite what's appeared on the page. So, in an attempt to re-balance, I thought I'd share a list of totally random things that I'm really enjoying at the moment. 
  • Let's start with the slippers at the top of this post. My husband bought them for me from Christmas. They're made by Ugg and are the comfiest, cosiest things I've ever worn and have allowed us to have our heating turned down a few degrees lower than usual this winter. I'm still wearing them now even in May - my feet feel naked (in a way that's more naked than usual foot nakedness) without them. (If you're planning to put them on your own happy wish list, it's worth noting that I'm usually an UK size 3, but that with sheepy Ugg slippers I take a UK 4.5.


  • A friend bought me The Year of Living Danishly for my birthday, as she'd read and enjoyed it herself. I found it completely fascinating and inspiring reading about how Danish society operates. Did you know that their quest for a socially equal society runs so deep that when you buy a second hand car, the law dictates that the number plates must be swapped for new ones to avoid there being any social stigma around the newness of car one can afford?

    The book also introduced me to the term 'hygge'. You know when you have 'a thing' that doesn't have a name in your own language and then you discover that someone else's does and you feel so happy that a whole nation sees this 'thing' as deserving of a name? That was discovering 'hygge' for me. It's the cosiness of everyone gathering in, turning their backs on the outside world and nestling down to make merry with their family and friends for days on end. It's the lighting of candles; the warmth of big, home-cooked meals; time spent chatting around a table; and copious amounts of alcohol being drunk. As a homebody, I have a vast appreciation for hygge. I think that we have it to different extents throughout the year, and like the Danish, more so in the Winter than summer. The long Christmas holiday is the height of our hygge, where we play board games for hours on end, drink more than we do for the rest of the year put together, cook enormous meals and spend extended time with a lovely family friend, who comes over most days over the holiday and is so hygge (because apparently hygge can be a verb or an adjective) that there is no need to actually get dressed to enjoy his company. 
  • The same friend made this fudge recently. I'm not sure there's anything more joyful than someone randomly arriving at the door with a tin of fudge. I didn't think I liked fruit or rum in my confectionery - I would have said I disliked both, in fact - but I am now ruined for eating any other type of fudge. This was the best thing I've ever tasted. I have no recipe to point you towards, so I feel slightly mean posting this. Sorry. But my reason for posting was more to comment on how special I found handmade food feels when given as a gift. I really loved it and I'm determined to bake random bits of sweetness up for others more often myself in future. 


  • I recently bought a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, by Marie Kondo, purely because I find tidying so comforting that I thought it would be a really enjoyable read. It sparked an absolutely massive decluttering session. Marie Kondo said two things that really resonated with me and I realised had previously stopped my tidying being truly effective. The first was that you should tidy by type rather than location. When she elaborated on this I realised how true this is - we had shoes in our understairs cupboard; in the cupboard in the hall; under our bed and a few other places around the house. When you get everything out in one place, you're suddenly able to view duplicates clearly and then tidy them away so much more effectively when you give them a home all in one place - you wouldn't believe how many places this left empty in our house - in fact, we got rid of the hall cupboard entirely, because we no longer had anything to put in it. Tidying by this method will also reveal some startling neuroses that you may not have been aware of having: I clearly have a real fear of running out of dental floss as 12 packs of dental floss were unearthed from various drawers and handbags over the course of one weekend.  


  • The other thing that Marie Kondo said, which I initially thought was madness, was that you should store your clothes vertically, rather than horizontally. This is not madness at all; getting dressed each day is now a joy and done in two minutes as I can see everything immediately. I'm also able to see that I dress mainly in stripes or in shades of blue and grey. My clothes rarely need re-ironing before I wear them now either. The really colourful scarf at the front of this photo is one my mother bought me when I was 21. It's a very lovely Missoni one that I couldn't afford myself at the time, but loved with all my heart. I no longer wear it on the grounds of it feeling too colourful, but it gives me joy every time I see it and Marie Kondo says that that kind of hoarding is fine. 
  • I absolutely love wearing eye make-up and mascara, but am less enamoured by dragging a cotton wool pad over my eyelids each evening to remove it before bed. But a few weeks ago, Natalie Fergie (aka The Yarn Yard) posted on Twitter asking if anyone had used Clinique's Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm. I hadn't, but I looked at the reviews on Boots.com and decided that I wanted to try it. This stuff is amazing. You put on the balm, massage it gently over your face and eyes for a few seconds while it emulsifies into something slightly oily and weird-feeling. You then rinse it off and your face is left completely spotless, with no horrid dragging around 'the delicate eye area' (I love that when reading about anything beauty-related it's never just an eye area - always 'the delicate eye area'). I have very sensitive eyes and am allergic to several brands, but happily this doesn't give me watery eyes. I love it. 
  • We've watched some fantastic films recently: The Imitation Game, about the life of Alan Turing and the attempts to crack the Enigma code during the second world war; If I Stay, which my daughter and I wept our way through; The Greatest Game Ever Played, which was incredible, even though no one in our family has even the slightest interest in golf.


  • Finally, Nell's desire for you to sit and hold her paw in your hand. It is the most delicious, simple thing. That her life-long quest to elicit displays of your love for her AT ALL TIMES can be quelled for the duration of some very human hand-holding always make my heart ache a little. In a good way. 
Right, I'll stop now as I feel I may be in danger of overloading you with the things I'm enjoying - this list could go on for a very long time as I feel like I've read so many interesting things lately! Please feel free to add any of your own joyful discoveries in the comments. 

With all good wishes, irrespective of how you voted, 
Florence x

43 comments:

  1. Yes - the election. It felt a bit like 1992 when we all expected something but got something else that it turns out quite a lot of us didn't want. But you're right that we shouldn't take things personally - in Scotland there is a lot of bad feeling between the SNP and people/parties that voted no in the referendum. Unfortunately.

    Sigh.

    Fudge though. Looks delicious - Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's has a good recipe in his 'everyday' book.

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    1. Yes, I was a student for that one and I remember waking up the morning the result was announced and having such a sense of it being the most wonderful fresh start. But yes, that didn't end up being quite what we expected!

      I will look that recipe up - thank you! x

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  2. Politics, arggg, how to feel terrible in one online reading session. I'm sorry it didn't turn out so well (although presumably, if they won, it should have turned out for the best for someone??). I think you should definitely turn off the telly when it comes on and indulge in some more of that hygge!
    You are the second person who's said Ms Kondo's book is very good. I'm planning to read it in the next month, just before we move house, so that I can implement it as we are filling boxes (and hopefully not taking about a quarter of them with us, instead sending them to goodwill). My sewing room, in particular, needs a good weed out. A lot of guilt and regret inducing things need to find a new home where they will be loved instead.
    I hope you can forget all the election malarky and have a good week - I'm sure that fudge will help! x

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    1. I think it’s a very popular book - I mentioned it to a friend and she immediately broke into delighted conversation about it and had been as enthused by it as I had. It's a very eccentric read, but I found that endearing. I think often people's writing makes it easy for you to conjure up an image of the person (however close or far that may actually be from the reality), but with Marie Kondo I really struggled to place her voice, so eventually googled a photo of her and once I knew who it was that was talking to me, I found that I could start absorbing the information more and embracing some of her more curious ideas. There’s a YouTube video where she teaches you her folding methods too! In answer to your question about it surely being good for someone? Despite it being a clear win, I think the people who voted the Conservatives into power have felt so cowed by others’ judgements of them that there hasn’t been much sign of outward celebration - certainly not anywhere that I’ve noticed anyway. x

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  3. I've watched the UK election from the other side of the world in NZ. It did occur to me in the middle of my afternoon as the results came in, that it was well past midnight in UK. As for the riots etc after the result - we just look on in wonder. I don't think anyone would get that upset in NZ to organise a march to protest. We had the election, everyone had a chance to vote, the majority won. That's democracy, and thank heavens we live in countries where we have the right to vote. I guess we only have to wait 3 years to have another election, where you have to wait 5 so that must make it seem worse if your party didn't win.

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    1. That's interesting how it's viewed from elsewhere in the world. I think as well as the actual result, possibly some of the protest came about over disillusionment with the actual voting system as we don't have proportional representation (I don't know if you do in NZ?) which can leave people feeling they don't have a voice if they live in an area that consistently votes for a particular party.

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  4. It's too bad politics always ends up in an us versus them nonsense. Over here each side thinks the other simply lacks education or smarts. It's quite aggravating to see people post jabs that make such generalizations and it has been shown to make folks dig their heels in even deeper so not only is it ungracious, it's counterproductive.

    I think I should make some treats soon to give out as gifts. Thank you for the wonderful idea. I've recently bought my husband new slippers so I enjoyed seeing that you enjoy yours. Finally, everyone should enjoy some unconditional love like that of a dog before posting online and maybe it would be a warmer place with more hygge.

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    1. Yes, more hygge. Of which baking has to be the best form. Enjoy! x

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  5. Love your post, so so lovely all the things you find to be blessed over, politics seem to ruin people for each other. It is too bad, I am sure many involved in it have very good hearts.

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  6. I love that last photo. What a darling.

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  7. thank you Florence, for writing down what I was thinking about the election. It seems to have brought out the worst in some people. and your list of nice things was perfectly cheering x

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    1. So pleased you found it cheering, as I found it so cheering writing it, that by the time I came to the end I felt much better! x

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  8. I did try and avoide newpapers, tv and any form of politics on social media, this election was truely dreadful. I love Nell's hand holding, she really is a lovely companion!

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    1. Yes, it has seemed worse than others! The first time we met Nell's mum, we noticed that the puppy that had been kept to live with her from her first litter also wanted to hold hands all the time. I love that they have this as a family trait!

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  9. How refreshing Florence - I absolutely agree with your view on politics - I am one of the "Shy" Conservatives (there - I said it - a bit like an alcoholic at an AA meeting - My name's Stephanie and I've been a Conservative for 550 days!) - it seems like a dirty word and, as you say, if you tell people you feel in danger of being lambasted. Clearly there were a lot of people who felt the same last week. However, I do feel terribly sorry for the Lib Dems (apart from Vince Cable - sorry!) as they did a lot of good in pulling the more extreme Right Wing into line during the coalition - they were punished by the public for things they couldn't help - that's the way it works when you are the minority in a coalition which a lot of people don't seem to understand. Anyway, thank goodness it's all over and I can return to watching House of Cards without interruption ! Lovely list of lovely things to read on a Monday morning - thank you - Love the tidying book - may have to read it ! Have a happy week. Stephanie x

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    1. I know, I feel fairly devastated for Nick Clegg too - he seems like such a good man who has sacrificed so much. I hope life brings him good things in return for how selflessly he's acted over the last five years.

      Do read the tidying book - I realised once doing all my cupboards and drawers how oppressive it is on a day-to-day level to be surrounded by clutter. I know this, because when I'm in most of the house I now feel much more relaxed and happy...but when I go into the kitchen and utility room where I'm yet to find the time to declutter, I just want to run away!

      Wishing you a lovely week, Florence x

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  10. That's very interesting as I have not noticed this sort of post election abuse at all and I think that is for a few reasons - I don't read newspapers as they are all politically biased and therefore untrustworthy (and I don't have the time!), getting all my news from Radio 4 (while I am doing other things like sewing or cooking!) or Channel 4. I totally ignore twitter and only follow lovely crafty people on IG. If any Facebook friends were abusive like this I would un-friend them immediatly, therefore I can exist in a pleasant 'troll-free' universe.

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    1. I like your take on it, Jo, and it's making me rethink the places I want to spend time. And yes, I agree, Radio 4 does seem a thankfully antagonism-free zone to gather information. x

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  11. Thanks for the round up Florence. Yeah, election... ugh...a horrible situation and I have avoided getting caught up in any online comments about it so far, so I won't change that now. But I do think that Clinque balm sounds great, I always think that scrubbing away at your eyes to remove make up probably negates any of the creams we are supposed to use on the 'delicate eye area' :-)

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    1. That's what I was finding - often my eyes just felt a bit too scrubbed at and tired with cotton wool pads. I hope you like it if you decide to try it. x

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  12. The election has been a filthy one. I don't vote simply because none of the parties represent what I want adequately. I despair of the conservatives but find labour unelectable. I want to vote but I will not tick the box of those I find so despicable and I am afraid I do. I would be acting against my integrity were I to vote for any of them. And no I don't want Labour to be more central and even more for those who already have - there are plenty of politicians already supporting them. I want further left - much further. They will soon be choosing another leader, the candidates are already showing me that they haven't got a clue. And listen to Tony Blair at your peril. But they will and they will choose themselves another unelectable leader, with policies to match, because they actually don't have a clue.

    That being said, I agree with how rude you find some left wing supporters. I despair of the guardian and its incredibly rude readers - who firstly attack the journalist, and then each other in the comments. The daily mail readers attack the poor and downtrodden viciously while the guardian readers say they support them, yet show in fact show little but patronage and contempt in reality. I cannot bear champagne socialism and that is generally the only kind we have today. Well educated, well off people deciding how 'the poor' need to be treated without actually asking them and then actually treating them like something on the bottom of their shoe, should they deign to meet one.

    It's one of those weird things, but I have done quite a lot of voluntary work and most people who do so are either church or conservative or both. Some are what you might expect - judgy, preachy and a little bit contemptuous. Many however are very kind and caring and empathetic. In fact I think it is one of those weird things, that on a personal level the conservative is a kinder person - once they know the individual concerned, but they tend to condemn whole groups without knowing them, which makes them seem a bit silly at times.

    You would think that politics define the person and their characteristics but it really isn't always so. Many a left wing person is callous and uncaring in reality, they just choose to ride under that banner. It's funny how many friendships in parliament seem to be inter-party ones, where actually those who are meant to think the same seem to despise one another and see each other as competition.

    I am looking forward to a left wing party that is actually supporting the poor and unfairly treated, not one who people thinks is for their cause, but actually just goes ahead with endorsing conservative policies. A party that is not filled with hypocrites! And Clegg, well oh dear. Nothing more needs to be said.

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    1. The comments section of the Guardian is always fairly shocking, I agree and I do wonder if this in part is what makes journalists less bothered about offending people over time?

      I found it really interesting reading about your experiences of how different people are when you've got to know them - that sounds like a mostly positive thing.

      I feel hopeful that after such a catastrophic fail, Labour are likely to be really thoughtful about who they pick as a new leader this time and fingers crossed there may feel like there are more viable options in the next election.

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  13. Thankyou Florence, you captured what many were feeling. I feared the Magic Art... and went for Banish Clutter Forever but with mixed success so I may have to succumb. Think I have to try Clinique balm too, even Ceptaphil irritates my eyes. Deep sadness at the election on so many levels and at some social media but it is by its nature a very mixed bag. I have been throughly enjoying Peter Kay/Sian Gibson's Car Share on iplayer, it delights in the everyday, takes me back to times in the NW and makes me laugh.

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    1. That's such a shame that you find Cetaphil disappointing - I have really sensitive eyes and find that is one of the few that never causes problems. Poor you - I hope you've found something that doesn't irritate them. I haven't seen the Peter Kay - I'll have to look into it - thank you for the recommendation, Kerry. x

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  14. Great post, thank you. There seems to be a lot of hate out there. Short lived, I hope. The Clinique balm is fantastic, I'm just finishing my first pot and my skin is looking pretty good! Love, love the story about Nell, she is a sweet girl.

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  15. Ah Florence, I fully appreciate your point about hatred getting us nowhere, but I think there are some (many...) who have legitimate reasons for feeling genuine rage about what has happened in the last 5 years and will now continue apace in the next 5. It's impossible for people not to take politics personally when policy changes force them from their homes and neigbourhoods, push them below the breadline, or deprive them of the very minimal assistance they had to make their lives livable. That has been the reality for a lot of people, and it's quite understandable that it's unbearable to see another half-decade of it looming - not only for those people themselves but also for anyone directly involved in helping them who sees their resources diminished again and again. I don't doubt that a lot of people on the right do truly care and believe they're doing the best thing, but that belief isn't based in any real experience of life on the sharp end (or on the evidence from charities etc. about the consequences of the cuts).

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    1. I could understand rage and frustration completely if it was coming directly from someone who was affected or even someone working directly with those people affected, but I don't think it's helping for middle-class liberals to fight that corner with aggression and vitriol. Surely to truly be of help to the people they claim to want to help, anyone could see they will be more persuasive using calm reasoning to change minds than abuse? The fact that they don't makes me feel it's more about chest-beating superiority.

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    2. Probably true - I'm not sure I saw any nastiness like that myself, it was more social workers despairing and nurses fearing for the future of the NHS on my Facebook feed... And I do agree, calm reasoning is the ideal, but I'm always a little wary of criticising angry reactions when real harm is being done - no amount of name-calling on the internet is even comparable to the damage being done by the govt... Mind you, if those people would direct their anger better, it could be useful instead of just unpleasant! x

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  16. I have to say, I haven't come across any of the vitriolic backlash following the election, although I was very disappointed in the result.
    But by the end of your post of lovely things, I'd forgotten all about politics, so thank you. The Year of Living Danishly sounds like an interesting read.
    Teresa x

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  17. Fantastic post. I was feeling so despondent after the election. Sewing seemed so futile and pointless. I couldn't even read blog posts for a while. Eventually, I chatted with a friend who voted Tory proudly, (I am Labour) and actually it made me really proud that we live in a democracy and have the chance to vote for who governs us. They are not my choice of government but they have been fairly elected, and I am heartened that so many people took the time and consideration to vote even if it doesn't chime with my politics. Anyway it cheered me up and back to sewing soon.

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    1. Yes, it really is wonderful to live somewhere where we have choice, isn't it. So pleased your chat with a friend cheered you. x

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  18. Really enjoyed reading this, you sum up perfectly how I felt too. Thanks for am uplifting post.

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  19. I totally agree how awful people become on stereotyping people based on what they vote, it was awful and hateful and I avoided all social media!
    I looked up Living Danishly - it sounds fascinating, it was on sale for 99p on the kindle store on Amazon so I snapped it up!
    We got as far as Kondo-ing our wardrobe which was very successful but life has got in the way of more tidying which frustrates me daily!
    Something heart warming for me last week was watching "Stranger on a Bridge" on BBC2, about the #findmike campaign, what a story and so many examples of amazing, spontaneous human kindness. Well worth a watch xx

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    1. Loved the programme - thank you for the recommendation, Kate. Hope you enjoy the book. x

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  20. I love the magic of tidying up, too. Love my drawers arranged this way and it stays tidier!

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  21. Well said, Florence! All of it!

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  22. Recently discovered Marie Kondo's sock folding method - spent a happy half hour folding all my socks into little rectangles and stacking them vertically in a little Ikea box - I find it very calming and Zen, but would be embarrassed to admit this in public - do I need to come out of my closet?

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    1. I would wear your freshly unfolded socks with pride!

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  23. I love the sound of 'Living Danishly' as I have a fascination with Scandinavia and love to read about the daily lives of people who live there (I think I'd be quite happy living there but as I'm a homebody who likes living where at least three generations of family have always lived, there's no chance of me ever finding out!) so I'm off to see if I can afford to buy it. I also love a good tidy up/sort out so may look at the tidying book, too. Things I have enjoyed recently are a good chat with a friend over a teapot and a spot of alpine pot planting - there's something very soothing about mixing compost and grit, tucking a plant in and then covering the soil with a fine layer of grit before watering and putting with the other pots and it makes my heart sing! I've missed all of the SM nastiness about the election result (and I don't read papers because they're so biased) and I'm glad that's the case!

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  24. That's such a lovely description of the planting! Can I send you my copy of Living Danishly, Helen? It's not in the best condition (I took it to a swimming lesson with me and it ended up sitting under my son's damp swimming bag on the journey home. I'm making it sound like a tempting prospect, I know!), but perfectly readable if you haven't bought it straight away and can cope with a less than pristine copy! Let me know. x

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  25. Fab post Florence & I think you have captured what so many of us feel about political commentary at the moment. It's just shockingly poor that people are so happy to indulge in backbiting and no wonder the younger generation have struggled to become engaged.

    Things bringing me joy? Two gorgeous rabbits (Bella's birthday present) nibbling away at the clover and looking very Peter Rabbit-ish; re-discovering some blogs & eating more healthily!

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  26. What a lovely post.
    I was at a sewing group as the final results came in. All the ladies got very excited so I could no longer stay silent. I just quietly said "I am a socialist" You could have heard the proverbial pin drop. I think I am being "black balled" next week ;0)
    I must order the book, it sounds like a fab read.
    Hugs

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  27. A thought provoking post Florence! I too am usually a lib dem voter, but I knew that this time around it would sadly be a wasted vote as I live in a Tory heartland.

    As a parent of a disabled child I'm disillusioned and saddened by the government and how certain media portray the disabled and people in the welfare system. It is a worrying time with the threat looming of the £12 billion cuts in welfare and without the lib dems to keep the right wing element in check. As Ghandi once said “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”.
    So what does this say about the UK right now?

    So I voted labour, as Ed Milliband seemed compassionate and despite of or because of his faux pas it made him seem a little more human. I love an underdog!

    All the vitriol, nastiness and fallout after an election is always quite disturbing and with social media it is now on the increase which I find quite upsetting, so thank you for the uplifting end to your post with your list of enjoyable things. Nell looks such a contented and kindly dog. We sadly lost our Cavalier KC Dylan in January this year he was the ripe old age of 14 yrs and our first dog. He has certainly left a big hole in our hearts and the longing for another tail wagging companion.

    So now I will go and bury myself and seek solace in my ever increasing mountain of fabric and quilting deliciousness. Another quote I love is "Sewing mends the soul"

    XX

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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