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Showing posts from September, 2009

Escape to France

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This summer we haven't had an away holiday. There is too much to do here and the complications of getting someone in for the chickens, peacock, cats, house, holiday cottage and garden are a bit daunting. When I was working and living at ninety miles an hour I needed holidays like I needed air. I couldn't go back to work without the sense of when the next one would be. They were like rocks in a fast running river, stepping stones that allowed me to keep going. Now that I have stopped whizzing up and down to London and leaping on and off trains and planes I don't feel the same need. It is beautiful here and, when people come and stay in the holiday cottage for its peace and beauty, it seems perverse for us to insist on going somewhere else, possibly somewhere less beautiful, and requiring the crush and hassle and sheer mind-numbing boredom of modern low cost air travel. And it is not green either!

But every now and then it is good to heed the urge to get out more. So …

Is it autumn yet?

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I have always loved September. It might help that it is my birthday month. It might also be because I was a child who liked school and, even though I had loved the summer holiday, I also loved the buying of the new pencil case, the new pencils and rubbers, the folding back of the stiff cover of an exercise book to reveal a pristine sheet of clean paper, smelling of promise.
October is OK. There is still a chance of a day filled with the golden light and long shadows of an Indian summer. The only problem with October is that it is followed by November when the clocks have gone back and the days are grey with wind and rain and the light has all gone by mid afternoon and I have to work hard at shedding the sense of gloom and focussing on the light and warmth of Christmas to distract me from the grievous loss of my outside life.

So I have mixed feeling about autumn. Is it beautiful, with flowers still glowing and crops thronging the kitchen?

Or is it full of sadness, full of the loss of summ…

Town and country

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On Tuesday I went to Manchester for an appointment. Now I go to the city every week to look after my young grandson but that day tends to be spent playing with cars or at the park looking at animals or practising my football. He is three and a half and already becoming better at football than I am but I think I might have another year or so before he realises. My son tells me that he was about seven when it dawned on him that he was considerably more skilful than I was. I never get into the centre of town, rarely shop and don't have time to think.


So on Tuesday I went shopping. I am not a shopper really. I have never understood how some people find it recreational. One of the great things about internet shopping is that you don't have to trail around getting stuck behind people who are barely moving or stand waiting for lifts only to be walloped in the ankles by pushchairs. You don't have to take piles of clothes into a changing room only to find that nothing fits and that …

What a day!

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Today has been a day of total perfection: the light was pure and clear, with a pale golden glow like a glass of wine. I have spent all day in the garden, with three wheelbarrow loads for the burn pile to show for my efforts but remarkably little difference showing in the garden.


I love echinacea and I am stupidly proud of the fact that I grew these from seed. I love the way the petals curve back from the cone and way they hold their heads to the sun. I am going to have a go at taking root cuttings from this one.The cosmos has been flowering its heart out for weeks and weeks. I spent a happy half hour deadheading a dozen plants in the hope of keeping them going until the frosts. This year lots of cosmos had self seeded in the cutting garden (posh name for a big bed in the field). I suppose I had better not be too thorough with the deadheading if I want it to the same again, which I do. It is so exciting to find little seedlings busy pushing up in spring without any assistance from the s…

A garden blog

Tomorrow I am to be visited by Zoe from Garden Hopping which is both a great pleasure and a cause of mild anxiety. Zoe is a serious gardener, someone who knows a lot about plants and gardens. I am a passionate gardener but so haphazard and self taught. My bookshelves groan with books about plants. I think about my garden, muse, sow, propagate but I am a rank amateur. I garden on a high bare hill, with a northwest wind and a stony soil. Much of what I tried to grow in my first year here failed. Now I propagate madly from what is here and what will thrive. There is no point in planning a thrillingly designed sort of space with rooms and great herbaceous borders and topiary, all of which I love. We are an ancient farmhouse on the side of a steep valley. The garden is a mixture of the veg patch, which has been gardened productively for generations, and a field. I plant trees for an orchard and daffodils round their feet. The trees are not twigs now, although they were a couple…