Cleaning therapy

I’ve been in therapy for the past 48 hours. It’s not what you’d normally think of as therapy, but it works just the same. Cleaning – the new self-help detox therapy, a total de-stresser, healthy and very cheap. So why has nobody realised this?  Time to corner a gap in the market perhaps.

You might be wondering how cleaning is therapy…it goes like this.

Think of a stressful situation like moving house, moving countries, leaving a job, abandoning children (Ok adults actually, but still our children!) and all that goes with it. How do you manage the stress? Try hoovering for an hour it really sucks up your worries. Then there’s sweeping – clearing away the dust and debris into little piles – while you mentally brush up your ‘to do’ list and drop it in the nearest black sack. Then there’s dusting and polishing away those anxious thoughts and this can be anything and anywhere from clearing the handfuls of dust underneath the radiator to making the bath taps or the tops of the cooker shine. The great thing is you make progress and you can see the results of your work, at least for a moment before someone walks in out of the rain and right across that newly mopped floor.

This has been my focus for the past couple of days and it’s felt good to leave the house sparkling – well not quite – but definitely clean and much cleaner than it’s been while we’ve been living there, all these years.

I’ve got a friend who insists on cleaning her house from top to bottom before leaving for a holiday – it’s a absolute ritual for her, but she is an army wife. I liked the idea, but preferred the option of having someone else come in and clean WHILE we were on holiday and when we walked in, we’d all think what a lovely clean house we live in…rather than what a mess! Cleaning is very much a lifestyle choice, for some they can’t even relax until the washing up is done, while others can just chill while chaos reigns all around them. When I used to work from home, dirty washing and unpacking were welcome distractions from getting on with the business of writing a report, editing an article, or whatever it was I was supposed to be up to for paid employment.

So what will I find myself cleaning next week and where will the sweeping and brushing take me?

As we carried out the last mop and bucket and closed the door behind us, had we cleaned this lovely house and home out of our hearts and minds? Not quite, but I felt a little more ready to leave and walk away up the drive… 


loving socks

A pile of socks has been travelling around our house for the past few years. It’s an evolving pile, which grows and decreases depending on the house occupants. Socks with a matching pair move in and out of the pile, but some socks have been there for years….waiting for a partner to emerge from the washing. It must be exciting for them when they’re joined by newcomers – the occasional Christmas stocking fillers. Although their normal resting place is the spare room bed they have been known to move into bags in the airing cupboard or into wardrobes, even under beds, when the house is full of visitors.

The call used to go out on a Saturday afternoon…
“Mum, where are you?”
“I’m in the spare room.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m having a sock party….do you want to come?”

‘Sock parties’ usually happened on the spare room bed and involved the ‘sock game’ which is finding pairs until the pile is reduced to the same old lonely favourites. The thick grey one, the day of the week socks with a flash of green or orange, the indistinguishable black ones which required close examination to see if any of them actually matched up, the various white or nearly white trainer socks and the odd ski sock – too good to throw away in case the other half turned up. Sadly time is running out for these odd socks… next week they will be consigned to the recycling bin. It’s definitely the end of an era!

I shouldn’t be sorry about dumping the pile of odd socks, but when I realised I’d be throwing them out I felt a bit sad…not about the socks (that would be silly!), but sad about leaving all those years of memories of the things we’ve done in the house – including ‘sock parties’, which usually involved some good chats one to one with whoever joined me in the quiet of the spare room. It seems it’s the little things like a basketball net rescued from the tip, the painted plate of a teddy in a wood of lumpy trees and then of course, the bundle of socks that triggers a little pang of sadness, in between the final packing and cleaning.

One thing is for certain, socks won’t be in big demand in Cyprus, whether they’re odd or in pairs. My flip flops will be my new best friends.



Connection problems

Is it wrong to pray for computers, or wi fi routers? If God can heal people I’m sure he could fix the lack of internet connection in our house tonight. Still, something doesn’t feel right about that kind of prayer….so I’ve bottled out and spent the last three hours trying to plug and re-plug wires, type in numbers on the lap top, poke a biro into the back of the router re-set hole and if all else fails shake the box a bit, hold it up above my head and tilt it slightly. Nothing.  I am now an IT expert. But still no internet.  Perhaps praying about it would have been a better idea.

This week has been dominated by IT issues. At work the word ‘website’ has been used a lot, along with a few more colourful words, as we attempt to get our new-look site ready for general use by Friday. It will be a delight to log in to, eventually…but I suspect I will be long gone by then. The lack of internet here at home is something I may need to get used to abroad, especially at first while we wait to get connected. It seems amazing to think that dial-up internet was completely the norm about 15 years ago, now we all hop from wi fi zone to zone, even walking through a town, I find myself checking for the nearest  signal, desperate to keep myself connected. Although I’m not sure exactly who we’re all connecting with.

My real connections are the people I see and meet up with face to face and then chatting on facebook , twitter or email with them is just another dimension. But it can’t replace the enjoyment of being with people, sharing their company face to face, hearing the chink of glasses and seeing the twinkle in the eyes as jokes are exchanged. The internet isn’t doing any of that for me. That’s what was good about today, lunch with friends – well colleagues who’ve become friends.

I’m not sure quite how many leaving lunches is too many? Two feels fairly decadent, but three may be positively greedy…and then that’s not counting the suppers out, afternoon teas, and the odd drink to say farewell. This leaving lark feels quite a drawn out process – just put me on the plane with a box of tissues now please!

leaving on a high

Like the 53 bus in London, you wait 15 years for some really good news on the Church of England in Notts and then two bits come along at once, just when I’m leaving! This week the national attendance statistics for churchgoing came out and Notts was top (to everyone’s surprise)…I was running, yes running (or maybe it was skipping) without shoes on, down the corridor to tell my boss and make sure I wasn’t misinterpreting the figures. Seems they were as right as they are ever going to be, so we were top on growing numbers. However, because it’s the C of E and we’re not too bothered about bums on pews, we’re not making a huge deal of it…just a press release, some radio interviews and a mention on TV. The second bit of good news was that Christmas attendance is up aswell, by quite a lot and that’s everywhere pretty much. This is especially good news for and the ‘Christmas Starts With Christ’ campaign we’ve been working on for the last 4 years. Could it finally be paying off? Or are people just getting into Christingles and choirs singing carols because of nostalgia and Gareth Malone? More discussion on this on the Radio 4 Sunday programme I suspect.

So, someone told me it was good to be leaving on a high, in the light of this news of church growth. I wasn’t so sure, because if it continues to go well, I’d sort of like to be around and part of it. Looking on the bright side, it’s Ascension Day tomorrow and 16 boys (and a photographer) will be climbing the tower of our Cathedral – Southwell Minster, at the unearthly hour of 7.30am to sing in celebration of the special day. Jesus’ ascension into heaven was an entirely different kind of high, but was also linked to church growth. He had to go for something really good to happen…but I could be reading too much into that.

Working for the church does have its perks, because tomorrow, actually today now, the office is closed. I will be attending an alternative ‘worship centre’, in the guise of Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Half way home

Who invented green fruit pastels? And how many should there be in an average packet? For me there are never enough red and black pastels….who even likes green ones anyway? Rowntree (we know you’re really Nestle), please take them out, stop making them and replace them all with black and red pastels. It would just make the world a happier place.

This is the ‘stuff of life’ running through my mind half way up the M5 on a 250 mile journey back from Devon. I was on a delivery mission – handing over unwanted TV and surplus curtains to poor students receiving our moving cast-offs. Motorway junctions were marked in pastels consumed and Radio 1 and the chart countdown made an entertaining passenger.

Monotonous motorway driving is something I won’t miss when we leave this summer, especially the drivers who think they are in Italy and continually undertake on the left and weave in and out and across lanes irresponsibly. Plonkers! There is a motorway in Cyprus, where they drive on the ‘right’ side of the road – which is left of course – but it only goes from one end of the island to the other and I’m not planning to go on it a lot. I’ll be far too ‘busy & important’ with jobs like swimming pool cleaning and cycling to the market for food. Probably.

Walking to work I’ve been making different kinds of lists about leaving. They are, ‘what I’ll miss’ and ‘what I won’t miss’…here’s a few for starters, ‘cause it might get boring.
I’ll miss: the wood pigeons cooing when I wake up, morning dew on the lawn, the smell of freshly mown grass and the Sunday papers.
I won’t miss: traffic jams, damp grey days (or perhaps I will when it hits 45 degrees!) and fake tan.

I’m motorway-bound again this weekend, but northwards to Jordie-land for another drop-off of furniture, food and… flipping heck there must be another ‘f’ in there somewhere! That means more boxes will be disappearing from around the house, which seems to get more echoey by the day. And the more stuff that goes out of the house, the more need there is for cleaning…if you like cleaning that’s a positive, if not, it’s best to look busy and find an important blog to write, so you can put it off for another day.

mf (or more follows)