Gloom in the January cottage garden
'Blue Monday' is not a single day on the New Year's calendar for me - steely blue has been the actual colour of the skies here for several days after the Midwinter Solstice/Yule/Christmas festivities were over this year. They have been the battleship grey days of Northern European Januaries which I have always felt to have to be endured rather than enjoyed. It's unsurprising to me that the mid-winter festivals are festivals of lights and fires, for it is these reds, yellows and golds that chase away the blues, and it is to seeking light and fire that I often turn to lift my own spirits at this time.
The blue-grey fug descended particularly heavily at the end of last week - nothing had lifted it by midday in Autumn Cottage. The fire was not yet lit, the rain was pouring down, the ground was sodden. Sacks of discarded clothes cluttered the corridor (part of the other favourite January 'tradition' of de-cluttering the cupboards!)
In the end we gave in and fled the gloom, driving the 10 minutes into town where we spent a happy hour, window shopping in expensive shops (fainting at the price of £65.00 for a Ralph Lauren plain navy wool scarf !!) and shopping in actuality in some of the numerous charity shops with which most towns now seem to be adorned (a measure of our relative prosperity, though, that we have so much to throw and give away)
I am already an afficionado of most of those shops in Newbury, but the occasional surprise occurs, as they open and close unexpectedly, on short leases. And so it was that on Saturday I found a new arrival; inside I found some lovely treasures - in the town but also of the town - these six pieces of Royal Commemorative ware, of which I already have a small collection.
They are all in very good condition (just a couple of hairline cracks in one piece) and two, in addition to the enamelled decoration on the fronts depicting various Coronations and Jubilees, also bear the colourful arms of the town of Newbury on the back. They were all purchased for under a couple of pounds each.
Commemoration of the ending of World War 1
Jubilee! 60 Glorious Years of Queen Victoria's reign.
The second charity shop treasures came in the form of a children's art book and game; under one UK pound each and both very usable resources for writing class exercises. (Charity shops are a huge fund of ideas and items for anyone who practices any of the expressive arts therapies).
The afternoon was rounded off in my favourite coffee shop...
...favourite because it is next to the old town bridge over the Kennet and Avon Canal where the watching of passing pleasures include canal boats in the summer and Swan and wildfowl all year round. A cappuccino coffee (one shot with soya milk, not dairy) and the Naughtiest Choc-chip Muffin on the Planet did wonders to finally restore my morale, from which enthusiasm to return home and light-the-lights returned. January didn't seem anything like as bleak as it had just a few hours before!
A new garland of green and gold - the colours of Autumn Cottage, brightening the dresser at any time of the year.