The speed of life

Time has speeded up over the last week or two and I am running to keep up with myself. Now I have an hour to myself so here is a canter through last week.

Saturday June 30th
Younger daughter is a bridesmaid to her best friend (she of the hen weekend at our house) and we are invited. The wedding is in an Oxford college and her husband to be is in the RAF. It is all impossibly romantic: the cloisters, the gardens, the golden stone, the bride beautiful, her bridesmaids all slim and brown and gorgeous in their cream and navy printed dresses, elegant and calm. The groom and many of the guests are in uniform, sharp and so younglooking, their smooth and eager faces under the blue peaked caps like something from a Second World War film. They carry dress swords and make an arch of swords for the bride and groom as they leave the college chapel. As they pass through laughing we bombard them with bubbles. The meal is in the college hall, another beautiful building. We sit at long trestle tables under stained glass windows and eat and drink and laugh. The speeches are funny and moving in equal quantity. The bride and groom glow with happiness. Maddy has made their wedding cake, a sophisticated waterfall of a cake, cream and dark chocolate coloured. It rains and rains but the cloisters keep us all dry. In a gap between showers I can't resist slipping away to walk round the gardens, marvelling and naming and lifting wet flowers for their scent. A magical day.

Sunday 1st July
We are on tour. First we whizz down the A34 to look at a house which elder daughter and her husband are wondering about buying. The house looks fine but the next door neighbour is leaning against the wall in a garden full of rubbish, smoking a fag, all muscles and tattoos. "Bloody hell, it's the mother" Ian whispers. Further up the road old cars are rotting in a garden. We have driven a hundred miles north before we allow ourselves to say "Don't think I'd buy it." We are going to Leeds for a friend's birthday. What rule of life is it that says your diary is either a desert or piled up with invitations all for the same weekend? It is great to see them but I am knackered - pathetic, no stamina, and to think I once partied for my country.

This week Emma and her husband have been staying and I resented going down to London, where seeing her and Maddy is the personal reward for going to work, and leaving her here in my place which I wanted to share with her. Again a work dinner where I am the first to leave at a quarter to midnight and a day in work to follow so busy that I fall asleep on the train home just after Watford and don't wake until we are nearly at Chester, snapping awake in a panic that I have missed my stop and am being whisked along to Holyhead and on to Ireland whether I like it or not.

So today has been a slow day, a day for waking and turning over and going back to sleep, a day for picking gooseberries and making jam and having a pub lunch with Emma and Ian before they went away.

Now the house is quiet and warm, the woodburner lit. I have been buying material for curtains and cushions. Why do I do this, when my life is full of jobs in lists and piles waiting for my attention, why do I make another pile, another job? Outside I have hyssop and lovage and fennel waiting to be planted, if only it would be dry at a time when I am here. There are gooseberries is such quantities that this week's gooseberry and orange jam has made no impression on the laden bushes, branches heavy with swollen fruit. I gave Emma some to give to her father and then Ian, her husband, decided that sloe gin should be the model for gooseberry vodka and picked another bag full to take away and experiment with.

No work next week, perhaps that will help. I am doing a week's intensive Welsh course based at the Welsh College of Horticulture and should be home every day (Yes!) by four o' clock (another Yes!). Anyway, life should be full.


  1. That a lovely wedding that must have been. I always think brides and their bridesmaids look beautiful.
    And that house, the image you put in my head was that of Onslo in Keeping Up Appearances (Hyancinth Bucket).

    Crystal xx

  2. we were at a wedding that day too, but sounds like you had better weather and younger people!! Ours was fun, but marquee. And the polarity of your life still continues to amaze me. best wishes.

  3. You're quite right about life being either feast or famine! I imagine picking gooseberries was a very restful pursuit after all your dashing about.

    Well done you, learning Welsh - I feel I should have a go but don't think my brain's up to taking in more information. What I've learned so far has come from road signs....

  4. Gosh that wedding sounds wonderful, lovely description. I enjoyed reading about what you've been up to. Will be very interested to see how the Welsh course goes - we are slogging up to Aberystwyth again the week after next for another 5 day course.

  5. That sounds a lovely wedding Elizabeth.

    Wonder where in Leeds your friends are?

    I think you should pick all the gooseberries and pop an 'honesty box' by the kerbside somewhere in the village or sell them to the local farm shop, that's what people in our village seem to do if they have surplus!

    Good that you are off work this week-Enjoy the course and the short days...

    Kind regards

  6. A busy week for you. It always goes like that doesn't it? All or nothing. We don't go out a lot but when we do there are always two invitations/events on the same day. I admire you learning Welsh.

  7. just caught up with your blog. yes, l too find that life speeds up then slows down. at the moment it is starting to race, fast!

  8. What a week -- from weddings to gooseberry jam. The wedding sounds perfect, hope the marriage will be too.

    I love the description of the scary potential neighbour. Choosing a house is such a business, I do wish them luck.

    Hope you get a good balance of wok and play, social whirl and peace and calm this week.


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