WinterFest (c)

Right I’m going to say it, Ladyloafer hates Christmas.

*But wait Ladyloafer, if you hate Christmas why are you even thinking about it in October?*

Hmm, indeed. Well ‘Christmas’ is well and truly all over the shops already. And also I work in one, a shop. And it’s everywhere.

Hence the hate. Its not Christmas as such, more the relentless 4 month build up to what? Nothing much. Great if you’re a child and the excitement of presents. Not so much if you’re a grown adult who’s spent weeks and weeks surrounded by tubs of sweets, red sparkly jumpers, a thousand ‘onesies’ with penguins on and piles of useless tat made of excess packaging. This is another thing I hate about Christmas, the mountain of waste, from excess packaging to wrapping paper, to far too much food.

And I don’t even like all the Christmas food much. Christmas dinner is ok *she says rather half-heartedly* but I don’t like mince pies or Christmas cake or Christmas pudding.

Then if you also throw in the fact I get maybe 2 days off work, if I’m lucky, and secret Santa gifts, and writing cards for people you haven’t seen in years and never stay in touch with, or at the opposite end, writing cards for people you see every day. Invites to Christmas get togethers I can’t attend because I have to work over Christmas and New Year…

Well, my bug is well and truly hummed. And bah-ed. *Bah humbug*

In ancient times people celebrated midwinter. There were bonfires and decorating with evergreen plants. No doubt there was feasting and-a drinking. Those same ancient peoples had several celebrations a year. What is now called Halloween was Samhain, and was the end of the year with more bonfires and feasting. In February there was Imbolc, celebrating the first twitchings of spring and the ever lengthening days. And at the spring equinox a celebration of new life, long days and light.

So Ladyloafer proposes we should just do away with Christmas and New Year.

In honour of our ancient ancestors and to make the whole season less tedious we’ll have

‘Winter Welcome Festival’ around bonfire night and ‘Winter Thank God It’s Over’ around March 1st.

WinterFest ©

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We can have bonfires, and fireworks at the beginning, and apples bobbing and toffee apples, and put up fairy lights in town centres and everyone exchanges small gifts to prepare for winter; new gloves and thermal vests and lip balm and hand cream.

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Then the lights stay up and everyone settles in for winter, but Christmas and New Year is banned. That way people can afford their heating and food because they haven’t had to pay out hundreds of pounds on shit. Maybe around midwinter there can be more bonfires and a bit of outside foliage decoration. When the calendar changes to another year everyone celebrates by feeding the birds and eating satsumas. A month later, some more bonfires and some winter ice cream. Then on March first, take down the fairy lights, and exchange small ‘welcome spring’ gifts like leg razors and daffodils.

That is what Ladyloafer would like this year. Less hype, more bonfires.

Mini-hibernation

Things I’ve learnt.

Some exciting stuff I’ve seen on the interwebs this week!

1. There is a desert in the UK!
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Dungeness in Kent is the largest stretch of shingle in Europe and is classified as a desert.

More info and pics at http://www.messynessychic.com/2014/10/15/lost-in-the-british-desert-yup-england-has-a-desert/

2. http://cabinporn.com/

Because Cute Cabins!

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3.A cornershop made entirely of felt.
http://thecornershopblog.com/

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4. This composite photo of nighttime light of Europe and North Africa
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From http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/14/-sp-satellite-eye-on-earth-september-2014

Scrapbook

Back in the day LadyLoafer used to keep scrapbooks. Funny pictures from newspapers, interesting articles from magazines, postcards, comic strips; whatever took my fancy.

They’ve long gone now, offered up to the declutter and recycling gods, and I don’t miss them.

But it turns out I still do keep a scrapbook, on my computer. And it’s getting a bit cluttered. It’s not the volume, because unlike actual physical books, it makes no difference whether I have one picture or 1000 on the computer. However, it’s got to a point where I can’t find anything when I want it and its time for a Clear Out.

Some stuff is migrating to LadyLoafer’s Pinterest board, but most will just be deleted. There really is only so many cat pictures, amusing eecards and cute cartoons one person needs.

So before they are lost to the ether I present here a random selection of Pictures From My Files.

NONE of them are my pictures, and some I copy’n’pasted so long ago I’ve no chance of finding out who to credit. If anyone sees one of their pics and wants it removed or credited, please let me know.

Otherwise please enjoy the tedious inner working of LadyLoafers mind.

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Too Many Clothes and Project 333

Ladyloafer’s first post on this blog was about decluttering, and while I have minimalised a massive amount of things, my downfall is clothes.

It’s not like I’m a fashionista or anything! Some people look naturally stylish, others look distinctively, individually cool. Me? Mostly I look like a dog’s dinner. A dog’s dinner on laundry day.

While I very much like the idea of having a classic capsule wardrobe, of good quality, well made, long lasting pieces, supplemented with a few seasonal statement items (see, I know all the special words!), the reality is, mostly I buy what I like the look of from mid to low priced high street shops, supplemented by the odd splurge from Debenhams. I never buy ‘an outfit’, I buy items with the intent of mixing and matching with things I already own.capsule

And I own a lot of things. I do clear out, I really do. The local charity shops has donations of goods from me several times a year, and yet I keep replacing them! (Often with ‘bargains’ from those same charity shops).

A few years ago I counted up all the items of clothes I had; coats, shoes, nightwear, daywear and work clothes, it came to 145 items. *cue, shocked and embarrassed face*

A year or so later I recounted; 143 (I’d got rid of more than 2 things, but obviously acquired more).

Hmm, still shameful. Now while that did include many things that are seasonal, such as winter coats and boots, or summer shorts and vest tops, (and 13 items are work provided clothes), even so that’s a hundred or so different items of clothing.

What. The. Hell??!

Really? Who needs this many things? I don’t even have space for them. Extreme seasonal items sit in the vacuum storage bags under my bed, and less worn things sit in boxes. This is pointless, because if you can’t see them, you forget about them. And you don’t miss them, until…you open a box and then think, oh, I might wear it one day…

No, no, no. I won’t. But I might? And so on.

Terrible!

This is where Project 333 comes in.

http://theproject333.com/ is a blog run by Courtney Carver who also does http://bemorewithless.com/

Just to state, I am not involved in either of these in any way, I just enjoy them.

The aim of Project 333 is to minimise the amount of clothing you have available to you for a 3 month period.

From the website;

The Basics
When: Every three months (It’s never too late to start so join in anytime!)
What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewellery, outerwear and shoes.
What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring   or another sentimental piece of jewellery that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of sight.
What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.

While this doesn’t solve the ‘things in boxes you’ve forgotten about’ dilemma, it is a useful way to think about what you wear, and how often. By rotating your wardrobe seasonally, you become more aware of what you are actually wearing and what you’re not.

Or at least that’s what worked for me. I’m going into a third ‘season’ of Project 333 soon and picking out my items and thinking about what works together is a little bit like shopping for new stuff! A little bit…

Looking at the 34 items I picked out for summer- I wasn’t too fussed about the exact number and that didn’t include work wear, shoes and outerwear, I worked out I’d actually regularly worn only 22 items. And, that include 7, yes 7! items I bought new. Including those, and the shoes and jackets I regularly wore it came to…33 items.

Woohoo. And whoa! Because that meant I’d picked out 12 things that I never or almost never wore. This is just embarrassing.

Because good grief I’ve so much stuff.

Those total numbers at the top….Well a new count has come up with a much, much higher number. Not including shoes etc.

Some highlights;

I own 5 ‘smart’ jackets. I rarely wear a jacket.

*excuse time*But, they are all lovely, and different, what would look good with these trousers, would look terrible with those.

I own 20 pairs of trousers and leggings.

*but some are winter, some are summer*

27, yes 27!!! Items of nightwear.

*ah, but this is tops and bottoms counted separately, and dressing gowns too, and summer and winter. Besides, as a committed Loafer I stand by the need for much loungewear, so there*

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The socks of shame

But by far the biggest embarrassment is the

51

Pairs of socks and tights.

Yes, that says 51.

Yes, yes again, some seasonal stuff, but I have 5 pairs of knee high socks! And 10 pairs of tights and hold-ups. I never wear tights!! 5 pairs of boot socks!

It goes on and on. Worse still is these have all been worn enough to not be really acceptable for a charity shop- would you pay for worn out socks? – but are not really ‘worn out’.

In theory, I shouldn’t need to buy any more socks, clothes or anything to wear for the next, well, forever probably.

But I’m going to buy more. I know I am. I already have in fact, in the last few days. I’ve filled one, not very big bag for a charity shop, nice stuff they can sell, and a few socks have gone in the bin (I really don’t like the idea of throwing textiles away if they could be recycled).

But it’s just embarrassing.

Ideas like Project 333 are helping me see what I wear regularly and making me stop and think hard when I buy something. I never considered I spend a lot on clothes, I’m happy for a bargain or second-hand, and many of the things I do own I’ve had for years, but it is still far Too Much Stuff.

It’s not good for my wardrobe, or bank account, or the planet or for me.

LadyLoafer xx

Summertime

Summertime

LadyLoafer likes the summer. There’s sunshine and warmth and you can walk around in your bare feet and not be cold.

There’s strawberries and raspberries to eat and ice-cream too. Yum!

And daylight! So much daylight.

Yep, summer. Much better than winter.

A Day By The River

This weekend I paid a visit to my sister, down London way. The two of us left her kids home alone (not really, gawd…) and took a day out to walk part of the Thames Path from Richmond to Teddington lock.

We started at her local station in South London. I’d brought with me two books for the take-one-leave-one book exchange (previously having taken a couple) in the waiting room. Within a couple of minutes I saw a woman leaving the waiting room with one of the books!

While waiting for the train I then saw a green parakeet in one of the big trees opposite the tracks. These exotic birds went ‘native’ some time ago in London. I’ve often heard them squawking but never seen one. They are bright green and at this time of year, so are the trees, so hard to see.

Having changed tube trains at Victoria it was a nice little ride to Richmond. Over ground, even though it’s the underground. Confusing? Oh yes.

Richmond is one of those places that’s ‘in London’ but isn’t. Like a little country town. A right posh country town, full of shops that usually I only see as concessions in big department stores. We headed for the river only to be distracted by the ‘farmers market’. Clearly there aren’t many farmers in Richmond because it was basically about half a dozen stalls- mostly cakes. This isn’t a bad thing. As it was munchy-o-clock we bought a couple of large flatbreads with spinach and feta cheese fillings and progressed down to the riverside.

Very pretty it was too. RichmondBridge to one side, boats, and ducks and a handy picnic seat. As we were eating two nice young men from the adjacent ‘Nandos’ chicken shop came by with a sample tray of chicken for would be punters. I greedily accepted a freebie, but when my sister said ‘no thanks, I don’t like chicken’ the poor boy went pale, and backed away in incomprehension!

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Fully sustained now by bread and ice cream from the handy ice cream van (with flakes, obviously) we headed off upstream. The river path ran alongside a few cafes and backs of nice houses. There was a couple of sheds being used as an open art gallery. As we progressed, along with half the neighbourhood it seemed, we came across a couple of gazebos and people in matching blazers. There was, it turned out some kind of rowing competition that day. Possibly every school in the country that has rowing clubs (and who knew they’d be so many?) was attending, because at this point the path became endlessly cluttered with teenagers in lycra, boats, bits of boats, cars and mini buses.

The path was now more of a gravel track like you’d expect in the countryside. Although still in London there was much more of a country feel. Trees all around, the path ran alongside grassy meadows. Really the only thing taking away the rural-ness were the planes coming in on low descent to Heathrow airport!

Further along we took a turning off the riverside, over a tiny footbridge into the meadow. Just along from here was Ham House. A regency era mansion now run by the national trust. And I have learned that ‘ham’ is an old English word for ‘home’, hence the abundance of places in the UK with the name Ham in them.

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Passing Ham House there were more meadows, full of long grass, wild flowers and many, many rooks. I think it may have been ‘rooks got talent’ day judging by the incessant crowing.  Back alongside the river, it was now much quieter, and very beautiful. Dappled shade, which was lovely as the day was much sunnier and hotter than expected (I ended up with sunburn).  We stopped for a rest by some trees that looked like they’d been in a pillow fight and lost. Piles and piles of white fluff, which were seeds. The interwebs tell me this may have been a willow tree. Or a poplar. I’m not really sure, but it was impressive.

A bit further along we came to Teddington lock. This is several locks and a weir and some bridges. At this point the river ‘changes colour’ and the lock is where the river stops being tidal. Downstream will lead you (eventually) to the city, the Thames estuary and the sea. It was somewhat bizarre to see ‘rabies warning’ signs attached to the locks, but I suppose one could have sailed up from the open sea to this point!

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A cute little brick lock keepers house is perched between a divide in the river, looking more like a rural railway station than a boathouse. The lock, although not long was pretty deep. We saw the lockkeeper, in his life jacket and jaunty hat come out to attend the lock. Not for him some slow hand cranking. Nope, insert a key, turn a wheel, and whoosh, the lock filled in less than two minutes.

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By now it was time for further sustenance from a café van which was like a tiny silver airstream trailer. Surreally, along with coke, crisps and cookies they had a small basket of hand knitted Barbie dolls clothes for sale!

We returned the same way we’d come, through the leafy woods, beautiful houses on the rivers edge on the opposite bank. Part way along we then diverted off the river path into the meadows. The grass was so long you couldn’t see which way you would need to go, but helpfully a few paths had been cut through. By one ditch we saw a children’s rope swing over a boggy puddle. The river does overflow into the meadows, at high tide from time to time, so there were moments of stickiness, but mostly it was peace and quiet, birds shouting (those rooks again), wildflowers and butterflies. Towards the edge of town there was a couple of rare breed cattle under the trees; the meadows are attended to by the local wildlife trust, which put the cows there to graze.

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It wasn’t until this point we realised how high up the town is. Up on the hill the magnificent Star and Garter House overlooking it all. Back in the town we stopped for a cuppa and the café was playing the music of my college days. The return train was an actual over ground train and took about half the time too. I’m not sure how many miles we walked. There was a bit of meandering. It felt a lot. Probably wasn’t!

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Ethical and Sustainable Shopping.

Clothes, furniture, gifts, books, cars; anything you might conceivably desire or need to acquire.  There’s a lot of shopping out there. So should we be shopping ethically and sustainably? And if so, why?

The more I think about this, the harder it is. But what does ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ even mean? Ethical usually refers to the treatment of producers; the growers, makers, factory workers, sellers and the community in which those people live. Sustainable usually refers to the environmental impact of production; the harm to the earth. But the two are interconnected and interdependent on each other.

Different people will have different criteria. Animal cruelty free, organic, handmade, made in the UK, fairly traded, natural, chemical free, independent and so on.

Not everything can have, or needs to fit all of these criteria, but the main problem is; how do we know?

Take leather goods. Leather is used in lots of things, clothes, baggage, furniture and boots, just to name some. Most people reasonably think that leather is a by-product of the meat industry, rather than having animals raised just to be slaughtered for their skins. Which by and large it is, so it’s ‘natural’ right? But the tanning process- which is what turns an animal skin into a useable fabric- involves tonnes and tonnes of highly toxic chemicals. And where does this lovely process take place? Well, not round here of course. That sort of dirty work is farmed out to some poor place. India for example, where poor people are exposed day after day to these chemicals, all of which run off from the processing plants into nearby water courses, onto land used to grow food. Just so some people overseas can buy some new boots.

So what’s the alternative? Have boots made from artificial fabrics, which are derived from the ever decreasing supply of petrochemicals? But that of course creates its own pollution and contaminations.

There are bespoke leather producers out there, who tan and prepare the leather in a less destructive way. But this of course costs more, and most consumers are mass consumers, and the price of an item is a major concern.

These same sort of chemical concerns apply to everything that’s massed produced, polluting the air and water and food of the immediate areas, as well as the billions and billions of tonnes of carbon produced every year during production and transportation.

And of course exploitation of the people that make our stuff. From Chinese factories making people work 18 hour days, with few breaks and no health and safety, to Ukrainian children being sent en-masse to pick cotton every year. From the raw materials being pulled or grown out of the ground, to a significant portion of that ending up in landfill a few years or even just months later, as waste products from the processing or as consumers move on to the next fad.

Nowadays even the luxury brands are competing in the ‘fast fashion’ world (which doesn’t just apply to clothing), and they don’t want loyal customers, they want lots of customers. Lots of customers mean lots of products, and less concern about the background of where and how that item was made.

As consumers it’s near to impossible to found out the provenance of our purchase. It made say ‘Made in China’ on the back, but how, and what from? Who by? And how did it get to our shop? So if we’re all pretty much stuck with our consumer goods being made of the cheap, far away, maybe we should look to other definitions of ethical?

Shopping in independent shops used to be the norm. There just weren’t big chains. Now the independent shops are the hardest to find. If you shop in an independent shop is it more ‘ethical’? Is it ‘unethical’ to shop in a huge chain store? And what if your huge local supermarket sold British made products, but your independent shop bought stuff from china?

Now that is a conundrum? Which is ‘more ethically sound’? Honestly I don’t know!

Perhaps the only way to shop ‘sustainably’ is to just not shop at all. Never, ever upgrade until you really, really have to.

Except of course, people want more stuff. We really do, even though we know we don’t need it.

Buying ‘pre-owned’ or ‘pre-loved’ (as second hand is now known) is a great option. There’s so much ‘stuff’ out there everyone has plenty to share. Online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon marketplace, ASOS marketplace, and Gumtree, are great for bargains. Freebie sites like Freecycle and Freegle offer swap services. And even the good old classified ads in your local paper, car boot sales and jumble sales can be great places to gather more things.

Perhaps shopping like this won’t save the planet, but it might mean one less thing going to landfill, or a little bit less carbon produced from the making and transport of a ‘new’ thing, or a little bit less contamination of some far away persons land.

Sustainable shopping is possible even on a budget. You don’t have to be well off to get your fast fashion fix or keep up with the fads. Bargains and beauty can be found second-hand, and once you start looking, you’ll wonder how you missed them before.

LadyLoafer has been reading ‘To Die For; Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? ‘ by Lucy Siegle.

shopping

Don’t do it!!

Working Life

57, 600 hours.

This is how long you will have left in your working life if you are now 35 years old.*

*Actually, 57,600 hours is a conservative estimate. This assumes you only work a regular work week, and are retiring at 65. So for many of you, there are a whole bunch more hours left. And don’t think that if you’ve hit 40 you’re getting out of it easily. You still have 48,000 hours to go, and even at 50 there’s 28,800 ‘ugh’ hours

Book Review

Island of Dreams by Tony Williams

 

This is an old book from the early 90’s but I thought it worthy of mention, as I’ve been having a re-read.

 

The true story of a Welsh family who left Swansea to live on a remote Pacific island. Tony Williams was determined to fulfil his lifelong ambition. They would become the Bounty Hunters – he the latter-day Robinson Crusoe, Kathy his girl Friday, and the children his castaway clan. Tony Williams swapped the gloom of recession-hit Britain for a hut on the desert island of Mania, 10,000 miles away in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This is the story of their initial struggle for survival and of their eventual life in paradise.

 

Unlike many books of this type, the Williams family were not wealthy. They were not stockbrokers, or writers. At the start of the book, Tony is living in a damp one room, with no heating with 2 young children and a heavily pregnant wife.

 

He came from a broken home in the Welsh valleys, and was ‘a bit weird’. He practiced meditation and as a young man went to London for 6 weeks. On his return no-one wanted to know about it. As far as they were concerned, he might as well have gone to the moon.

 

His dream of an island life was not one of adventure but of escape, from the dreary existence of modern Britain. Teenage joy riders racing up and down their street at night. Hours and hours of homework and stress for his children. Bullies, and kids getting mugged for their trainers.  Narrow-minded friends, poll tax bills and workplace bureaucracy.

 

Working as a school caretaker it takes them years to save up the money, and only then when a national newspaper offers to pay them for their story can they go. He doesn’t like this but takes it anyway.

 

A letter writing campaign to islands of the world hooks them up with the Cook Islands. Eventually they are offered a possibly of an island to stay on.

 

And so with a tent from Millets and everyone they know thinking they are bonkers, they fly off into the unknown.

 

Meeting with the headman of an island they may get permission to live on he puts forward his case;

 

He told them about pollution in south Wales. He told them about the pace of life, the desperate unemployment, the crime and unhappiness, the suicide statistics. Above all, he mentioned the materialism of life.

‘Everybody’s struggling with everybody else, see. There’s an expression; dog eat dog. That describes our culture in Britain. It’s very stressful, very unnatural and restless. The whole society concentrates on money and power. I think that’s corrupting. I mean, I want my children to experience nature, a life of nature, for themselves. Something pure and not corrupt, because that’s not a suitable type of atmosphere to be growing up in.’

 

It works an eventually they arrive on a lonely spit of land with little fresh water.

 

Their dream.

 

Of course it’s not perfect. They were woefully under prepared. In his desire to get away from the modern world, Tony wants little in the way of supplies. The island will provide. They are eventually persuaded by the locals to take some food and medicine with them.

 

Later a hurricane nearly kills them, Tony tying his young daughter to a tree to stop her being blown away.

 

And when one of the boys becomes really ill, they realize, they have to leave. They’ll be no coming back to the island. They will be returning to Swansea…

 

I’ve read this book many times. Its not about a desert island, it’s about fighting the naysayers and following your heart. I’d love to know what happened to the family next, but maybe that would spoil it.

 

Decluttering and having Stuff

This is one of my favourite subjects. I have in recent years become a bit of an evangelist for decluttering.

It all started about 3 years ago when I realised just how much ‘stuff’ I had. Having lived with my parents, then in a flat with another person, then a shared house I then ended up back at my parents’ house.

Over the years I had acquired the boring but useful trappings of a home like pots and pans, bedding, and furniture as well as clothes, gadgets and the assorted knick knacks a person collects. But there was also so much more, some of which had never actually left my parents home in the first place. Photos, travel journals, magazine collections *Magazine collections?!*, books in boxes, old records, video tapes oh the endless videotapes, bags of old toys from childhood, *old toys?!* School certificates, a collection of some 200 badges and on and on and on.

Moving in with my parents meant furniture had to be quickly got rid of as there was no room for it. That was quite easy. Most of it was second hand or total crap to start with. And all of it was given away to needy persons, apart from one bookcase which disintegrated under the shock of being empty and ended up at the council tip!

But everything else not already living in boxes in a cupboard, ended up in boxes, in cupboards.

Which after a brief settling in period suddenly struck me as very odd.

And I wondered, is this normal?

Do other people keep stuff like this? And if so, how? Is it in their homes lovingly on display or shoved in their parents’ attic for 20 years? If people don’t have old possessions loitering with intent to clutter, what do they do with them? Did they ever have them in the first place?

Do we really need to have material records of times gone by, or is it clutter? Does our stuff trap us, or show us how unique (or not) we are?

I think there’s a certain primitive instinct to ‘hoard’ and protect what we have. but I also think there’s been a real tendency in the last couple of decades or so for us (society) to expects to have a ‘record’ of our activities. Been to the theatre? Enjoyed it? Great. But no, now you buy a programme and a t shirt and a key ring!
Photos used to be taken only on special occasions. Birthdays, wedding, annual holiday. And when the roll of 24 pictures was used up, that was that. Now we have millions of photos everywhere. This in some ways could make it easier to let go of what you have. No longer are your photos of your children confined to one image in an album. Now the whole extended family has a dozen of them.
But, equally, pixelated images on a disc are just not the same as granny’s photo album, with someone’s flowing handwriting on the back of the pictures and a lock of hair in an envelope stuffed between the pages. Whose was it? Long forgotten.

Perhaps I’m hankering for simpler times. When there was less ‘stuff’ to be had. A less consumerist lifestyle and era.

However ‘the simple life’ where we make our own jam and repair our worn out clothes actually means the need to have stuff like sewing machines and jam jars.

I’m not so sure people ‘in the olden days’ had less stuff. They just had different stuff. In fact they were probably more attached to their blankets and butter churns as they would’ve been harder and I would think costly to replace. And of course many of the household ‘things’ we have evolved for practical reasons. Carpets keep the house warm and are nicer to walk on than bare floorboards. Wardrobes and cupboards keep dust, ash and insects off your clothes. Teapots are a useful means for making tea!

I don’t feel its bad to own such things, or desire them, but if storage space is at a minimum, or of it costs money to hold onto them (in storage units, although I never went down that grim industrial shed filled path),

Is it right to still want to hold onto old stuff?

Asking around among friends and colleagues I discovered the divide was quite strong. People either kept a lifetime worth of material memorabilia, or they had kept almost nothing.

This also seemed odd to me. Really? No ‘old things’? Ah, it turned out when I dug a little deeper that actually yes, lots of old things, but people didn’t count this as ‘stuff’ much less clutter.  Old music records, even in the attic, were just ‘there’, as was old baby booties and granddads war medals. People are quite understandably emotionally attached to these sorts of things. They provide a connection to the past, to our own pasts, not just an abstract story in a history book.

But what about when it needs to go?

Never the less the time comes for things to move on. Emotionally, and materially. Possessions need to be transient; after all they’re not what are really important. (That’s right girl, you keep telling yourself that!).

So having made the decision to seriously declutter and then had to actually do it.

I loathe the idea of throwing anything away if someone can use it. So eBay seemed ideal. While I did manage to shift a fair bit of stuff this way there are limitations. No-one wants to pay postage on a heavy box of items that are essentially low value. No one wanted piles and piles of old ‘Empire’ film magazines, or ‘TV Zones’. It was literally a heart pounding moment when I tipped then into the paper recycling bank at Morrison’s car park (not enough room in my doorstep recycling bin).

I felt a huge and rather silly relief. They were gone. Hurrah!

Un-post able but sellable things were given to charity. By the bagful.

Other stuff was simply given away, to friends, to random strangers on the interweb, oh yes it’s a social network indeed!

Some stuff was just chucked.

Some stuff was car-booted. It’s not like on the telly you know! No 20 quid knick knacks here. 20p to you madam and would you like this one for free, no please take it.  I remember the look of joy on a small boys face as he picked through the 10p each box of assorted happy meal toys and The Phantom Menace era Star Wars toys, *phantom menace toys?!* when I said he could have the whole box for a pound.  One happy child, one happy de-clutterer!

So little by little, years upon years of fusty old knick knacks, of very little financial value, too much sentimental value were gradually wittered away.

And here I am years later, so much, so very much has gone. I feel lighter. It’s tremendously cathartic.

But hang on, what’s this box? Oh, audio tapes…oh what’s this?  A bag of sewing arts and crafts bits that I have never used….what’s this? Wrapping paper! Why didn’t I find that last week before I bought some?!

It.  Never. Ends…..

Lady loafers decluttering tips

*Never ever start a clear out by buying more storage. The idea is to get rid of stuff. See what storage you need after you’ve cleared out. Chances are you’ll have empty boxes.

*Break it down into sections, clothes, books, paperwork and so on. Focus on one.

*It’s surprising how much you can get done in an hour. Stop procrastinating and get on with it. But remember the whole process could take weeks, even months. Like dieting, years of excess won’t disappear overnight.

*Someone somewhere probably wants it. Car boot sales, eBay, freecycle, charity shops, gumtree, local ads, and pawn shops.

*If you have to bin it, be nice to the planet. Most things can be recycled.

*Don’t fob your old rubbish on charity shops; they want stuff they can sell.

*If you haven’t got round to reading/listening to/watching it by now, you’re not going to are you?

*If you haven’t worn it in a year, you’re not going to now are you?

*You’re never going to slim/fill into it. Get it gone. And you’re never going to get it altered are you? Gone, now.

*Things you keep because you think they look good in your home – whether books, music, drinking glasses, pictures, whatever- don’t look good living in boxes in cupboards. If they are truly only there temporarily then fine, if not then make space for them where they do look good, or get rid of them.

*Some clutter is just good or important things in the wrong place. Get things together. Paperwork in one place, your wedding dress carefully boxed up and put away, not hanging in the wardrobe in the way

*It’s not useful. You’re not using it, you haven’t used it, and so you’re really not going to are you?

*And when you’re done with all the decluttering don’t just fill it up with new clutter. Think wisely about what you bring into your home and your life.

Remember

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. 
William Morris