Reflecting on the shape of our Saturdays, there is a template, a routine, that plays out more neatly over the winter months, kitchen based most of the day, sofa, blankets and snuggling up on dark nights. Things that have to fit in, things that I like to avoid. Saturday rituals that are important, slow cooking, pots of tea, paper reading.
Saturday begins with early swimming lessons for my small boy. Like Monday to Friday, there’s an alarm to get us out of bed and we have to leave, usually with a flurry, by a certain time.
Falling through the front door again, an hour and a half later, we shift to slow Saturday mode. There is the unavoidable domestic stuff, our hurry to get out the door leaves a messy wake. On return, the washing is slammed into the machine; school uniform and swim kit. Still warm enough to line dry, washing flutters in my neighbour’s gardens too. Saturday is wash day.
For the weekend, we stock up on sourdough bread from the bakery. Saturday is for snacking; toast, pancakes, tea and biscuits. Once the washing is out and the kitchen straight, I like a pot of tea (preferably a child playing Lego in another room) and the Guardian newspaper spread out on the kitchen table. When my partner is home, often he works at the weekend, this is the bit of the day, that whatever the weather he potters in the garden. Everything, for an hour or two, slows down.
The Guardian newspaper on Saturday is my most revered Saturday ritual. Every Saturday. Without fail. No matter what else is going on. I read the magazine first, starting with my favourites, the celebrity Q&A, The Measure (a guide to fashion trends, that I don’t need or adhere to). Beauty recommendations from Sali Hughes. Over a pot of tea, I scrap at half the crossword, I never manage to finish it, I leave the rest for the Mr. On to the newspaper, various sections, every page browsed.
Things I avoid on a Saturday
Laptops mostly. Checking my phone (not great at this). Homework from school. Shopping centres with children. The supermarket unless absolutely pressed. Cleaning. Tidying is OK. Tidying equates to pottering. Pottering is perfect Saturday activity.
Saturdays are for exploring
This weekend we explored St Werburghs, an area of Bristol we don’t know. I’d say it has a unique character, it’s small, with a few independent shops, a strong community feel. A zone of self-build, eco-homes, which have the feel of Holland or Germany, rather than a collection of houses nestled amongst Victorian brick terraces. We came to see the city farm, which has a famous hobbit house cafe and a very good lemon slice. The pub next door ‘The Farm’ is painted in very Bristol style. St Werburghs isn’t boring.
Home again, the kitchen is my base, late Saturday afternoon the radio set to Radio 2, something I’m less keen on during the week, but essential on Saturday. The end of Dermot O’Leary and then Liza Tarbuck, Saturday soundtrack. Saturday night is for slow cooking; risotto, lasagna, curry. Food that requires faffing and a bit of time. Food for kitchen smells, stirring with a glass of wine on one hand. Crumbles, I love making crumbles to eat on the sofa, currently new-season Bramley apples and blackberries, picked and frozen a few weeks ago. Pre-children the ritual early evening, was quick food and faffing devoted to hair and make-up pre-leaving the house. Leaving the house on a Saturday night is so rare, I can’t remember when I last did.
As the evening gets darker, fairy lights and lamps on, a shift to the living room. We are Strictly people, not X-Factor, I think you are either one or the other? No? To be honest, we ostensibly watch Strictly. The TV is on, I’m reading the paper and my boy, because it’s the weekend is stretching his time on Minecraft, while celebrities twirl in sequins in the corner. We raise the odd comment, just to keep up appearances. The evening drifts and I’m happy to let a small boy, stay up late, my evening and his merge. Eventually, the child goes to bed, maybe, if the Mr is home, we watch a bit of catch up TV. Mostly the week catches up, all there is left to do is read the last bits of The Guardian magazine.
With the shift in the seasons the weekends take on a more habitual nature. Much as I miss the events and activities that punctuate the summer months, I like the slow nature of cold weather weekends. Slower and ingrained with preferences, which become the rituals that shape my Saturdays. What shapes yours?