As Steve began to recover from the after-effects of chemotherapy during 2010, the emphasis was on enjoying life and getting together with family and friends. Once again, maintaining the house and garden did not figure high on the "to do" list, bar the occasional blitz when visitors were expected. As Steve's regular assessments came and went with no sign of any deterioration in his health, the top priority was to make the most of life; the impact of neglecting our home was becoming increasingly noticeable.
So here we are in 2011, still enjoying life to the full! However, this year we needed to set aside just a little bit of time to give the house and garden some tender loving care. And it's this week. And we've made a start.
The front hedge is clipped. In between showers, we've started to clear the overgrown jungle that had overtaken the back garden, cutting back and reducing the height of next door's hedge to let a bit more daylight and sunlight on to our side of the boundary and taking out a few plants that didn't make it through the winter. Work has ground to a halt on that front until we have time to take the green waste to the recycling centre - there's far too much to wait for the fortnightly doorstep collection. And we'll need to get someone in with the right equipment to tackle the climbing hydrangea which has grown up above eaves height and is now scrambling along the roof, and taking next door's ivy with it.
Then it was the turn of the house. Going round inside with my mum's old cobweb brush has got rid of the cobwebs, made some spiders homeless, and disturbed the dust that's settled on the tops of doors, picture rails and frames, light fittings and cupboard tops. So now it's time to vacuum from top to bottom and into all the nooks and crannies. There's lots more to do on the list - cleaning windows, curtains and blinds; washing down surfaces; going through the bookshelves, wardrobes and drawers to clear out, de-clutter and create more space; sorting out old paperwork to be shredded if necessary before recycling - that alone could take a week!
Having started, it's clear that there's far to much to tackle in the few days earmarked for the 2011 spring clean, but at least we've got going. As well as starting the spring clean, we've printed, mounted and frames the eight pictures which were selected for the Coast exhibition, ready to deliver to the gallery tomorrow. Steve is in the process of updating the Oxford Studio website to show our successful Royal Photographic Society Associate panels from last week. We've sorted out a reward for ourselves for making some progress on the spring clean and have started making plans for the rest of the summer, up to Steve's next assessment in mid-September. Lots to look forward to - but for now, it's back to the spring cleaning......