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The Perfect Tidying Storm

Order out of chaos in the utility room

This week my house hasn’t known what’s hit it. Never one to do today whatever housework can be put off till tomorrow, I’ve been decluttering like a demon, filling bags and boxes with stuff to eject, and turning out drawers with the exactitude and application of someone training for an Olympic medal in tidiness.

Why have I been changing the habits of a lifetime? Three factors have come into play:

1) the summer solstice – I am always energised by long daylight hours

2) the imminent summer fete in the village, held late June each year to raise money to be distributed to the community’s old people at Christmas (if that sounds a bit feudal, don’t worry – the old people ain’t complaining)

3) more surprisingly, the acquisition of some neat and tidy little rows of pot plants.

I have for a while had a yen to nurture some succulents, reminiscent of the plants on my Grandma’s front room windowsills. She was especially fond of tradescantia (not a succulent but equally unkillable). I finally found some cute sets of cactuses in IKEA and some succulents in glass jars in Waitrose, reduced for quick sale.

“What are those?” asked the lad on the checkout in wonder. “Do they hurt you if you touch them?”

He must have been confusing them with triffids, but not even Waitrose stocks those.

There is something very winning about succulents, small yet neat and perfectly formed, giving a feeling of order to the place, even when the rest of the house is in chaos. (The extension project continues.)

It'll be lovely when it's done. (Repeat and breathe.)

With three succulents on my study windowsill and five cacti standing to attention in my utility room, I feel more in control than I’ve felt for ages.

Installation: Rubble and cement mixer by Gordon Young

Is this feng shui in action? Have I inadvertently favoured my tidiness quadrant? Has my aura changed colour? Have the potplants reversed my polarity?

Whatever the cause, I am more than happy with the effect. If ever I crack the code, I’ll be sure to let you know.


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

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