Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Developing a schedule

I'm developing a daily schedule, and if I post it here, perhaps I'll feel some sort of imaginary peer pressure to make sure to stick to it. And perhaps some of you are interested in what daily life is like here in Basingstoke.

I wake up around 6:30 in the morning. The house is dim and quiet, and I can usually hear birds outside my window. It's generally impossible to tell if it's dark outside simply because it's early, if it's going to be a rainy day, or if (as is frequent in England) it's going to begin cloudy and then burn off, the sun gradually emerging. No one else is up and about yet. I take a shower and dry my hair, and by the time I go downstairs to the kitchen, breakfast is cooking and somewhere between zero and three instruments are being practiced. I help with breakfast or preparing school lunches. Breakfast with the family, then at 8 am, everybody rushes off to work or to drop the kids off at school.

Then the house is quiet again. Put the kettle on. Odd jobs around the kitchen to clean up. There's just enough time for a cup of tea (Twinings Lady Grey, the English version, which is softer and more vibrant than the American version) and some catching up on emails before it's time to grab my coat and, if needed, umbrella, and head to church up the street.

On weekdays, St Mary's has Morning Prayer at 8:45. The church is cool, even cold; its old stones make the space feel timeless and unchanging. Morning Prayer here is, in its broad strokes, just like the BCP at home, but some of the responses are different, so I still have to follow along in the book. Psalms and canticles here are read responsively at the whole verse, with a proper long pause at the half verse for psalms.

Come home, another cup of tea (or on rainy days like today, hot chocolate). Perhaps I'll write a blog post (as I'm doing just now). I have a morning, which ideally I'll use for the day's first round of dissertation writing.

Lunch of simple things. Leftovers, or a toast sandwich. Perhaps some days I'll find a sausage roll or something at the bakery across the street. Usually my hostess is around, so we chat over lunch and make plans for dinner. After lunch, I go for a walk.

This probably doesn't sound all that unusual, but it is for me. I don't like walking. I really don't like running. I don't see much point in perambulation as recreation. Even my bicycle never gets used except as a form of transportation. But here in Old Basing, there's always something interesting to look at. Seventeenth-century houses that still have thatched roofs. Footpaths beside creeks and fields of sheep. One day I plan to bring some bread ends and feed the ducks. Yesterday I found the park half a mile up the road and spent some time on a swing. There's a picnic table there, and on sunny days it could be nice to bring my laptop and do some work. The ruins of the Basing House, destroyed by Cromwell in the Civil War. A couple of local pubs--I pass them and think, shall I do some writing over a pint tonight?

Often in the afternoons I take care of some cooking for dinner. When the kids have things in the early evening--practice, rehearsal, what have you--my hostess takes them and leaves me instructions. It's been fun to help in this way. At home, I do most of my cooking for the week on weekends. Pans of roasted vegetables, casseroles, stir-fry, things that I can eat as leftovers all week. I don't usually make dinner much of an event, but with six people in the household, dinner is always an event now. And it's always delicious. I hope to come home with some new recipes.

After dinner, make sure to do the day's writing, if I haven't already. Read my Kindle, Skype my husband, watch some British Netflix. Before bedtime, I settle under the covers and read a few chapters of Les Miserables (the only physical book I brought for the summer) by the light of the nightstand lamp.

Of course, everything is different when I'm on one of my frequent research trips. Exciting and chaotic, those are marked by managing public transit, finding delicious and economical places to eat, looking up local sites of interest, and the main goal, archival work in rare books libraries. It's nice to balance out those stressful and wonderful trips with a quiet and repetitive daily schedule here at home.

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