Occasionally – perhaps once a week – I take advantage of a gap in my to-do list to breathe in some fresh air and stroll over to the cafe in our shared community-school library for a quiet moment. Even if the knitting group is chatting and laughing and pre-schoolers are running about, it is peaceful.
I used to take marking with me, to excuse my indulgence, but no longer. I’m practising for retirement.
The magazine racks face into the cafe, and my choice is usually The Simple Things, a UK magazine about…simple things. It is very calming to look at. The other day I spent quite a while just looking at a page of shepherd’s huts. It was an advertisement, such as you used to see for gypsy caravans. Shepherd’s huts are perhaps the more PC name for them. There is complexity in their simplicity when you consider how well they are designed and how beautifully they are presented. There is irony in their appeal to people (like me) who endure the discomfort of work for the comfort of money and rein in the inner Toad. Most ironically, it would be a well-heeled purchaser (with money from mining, munitions and corporate farming) who could park a hut at the bottom of the garden under the apple tree, overlooking the rolling Sussex Downs and, even though plumbed in and connected to electricity (the hut not the purchaser), picture herself trundling along a dusty road behind a Clydesdale horse – or a traction engine. Now I’ve gone and spoilt my simple moment by over-analysing and being cynical.
On looked up rolling Sussex Downs to see if they exist, I discovered that “Rolling Sussex Downs” is the name of a shepherd’s hut glamping site. A pastoral idyll. Now there’s a farmer diversifying – as all UK farmers will need to do without EU subsidies.
Take a deep breath, back to simple things…
The magazine is dated February 2018 but all the back-issues have appeal. There are unfussy gardening pages, stories of people making-do gracefully, poetry, a list of songs to go with the theme of each magazine and, in this issue, recipes for smoked parsnip soup, chai coffee with steamed spiced milk, and lemon cake in a mug. The theme is “Breathe”.
Iced coffee was my choice on that 30 degree day in a southern hemisphere February. The feverfew and lavender in an olive-jar vase on the table was perfect simplicity.