Showing posts from May, 2007

Bodnant with bodran

I met Jo yesterday for lunch and a walk in Bodnant Garden. I drove like a mad thing down the A55, thinking I would be late and parked the car and found I still had five minutes to spare. So I nipped into the Ladies before meeting Jo outside the cafe and met her in there already, having the same thought. That rather set the tone for the afternoon. Looking at and loving and commenting on the same things, the words falling over each other to get out. Each of us noticing a fantastically shaped trunk, a sudden rush of scent on the air, a vivid fountain of azalea blossom and turning to the other at the same moment: "Did you see? Oh, look. What's that? does that grow for you? I really love acers, poppies, that colour of red, everthing. I love everything. I want everything. Can we find any purple?" The cafe was heaving with old age pensioners and coach trippers. We found a table and were joined by two elderly ladies. When my daughter was about thirteen she was sai

Chickens and chicks

I arrived back from London last night tired and cross and with lots of work to do today. There is an email from my friend who is hatching the chicks: fifteen out now, would I like to come and look? So this afternoon I left my computer muttering to itself and went up to see. A few weeks ago we had a beautiful drive through the spring green and the trees down the Welsh border to a farm near Chirk where we chose four breeds of chicken. We came back carefully nursing egg boxes on my knee with twenty six fertilised eggs for hatching. Fourteen went into the incubator in P's dining room and the rest went under a broody Buff Orpington and we held our breath. Ten days ago they began to hatch, the eggs shaking gently and cheeping away like little toys. The ones in the incubator did better than the ones under the hen as the hen was inclined to get up and wander away, not the most attentive mother. One of P's Welsummers also became broody so she took some of the eggs from the Buff

A garden update

This morning has been cold and windy. I was going to pot on all my ludicrous numbers of nicotiana, pelargoniums and petunia but after an hour and a half I have only done about a quarter. Why must I always bite off more than I can chew? I have a rest by wandering through the rest of the garden. All the rain has made everything reach for the sky, broad beans climbing, roses budding, paeonies falling over, battered by rain, their huge heads almost lying on the ground. There are gooseberries filling in such quantities on the bushes that when I went to the farmshop this morning I considered asking whether they wanted to sell some but then I bottled out. Do I want yet another job? This year I must make four times the quantity of gooseberry and elderflower jam I did last year. It was delicious, looked and tasted special and was gone in no time. There is somehow greater satisfaction in jars glowing on the shelf than in a full freezer. Weeds are on the march too. The bindweed is twining and pu


I have just read a piece by suffolkmum about attending a christening. She talks about seeing other women apparently making other choices about how to live, how to work, how to be a mother. It is the huge unanswerable question: how to live? Not just for women, for men too, but women are brought up against it by childbirth in a way that men often aren't until later in life. That might be it's own strait jacket too, the assumption that men will work and support and be relied upon whether they like it or not. I stopped work when the first of my children was born although I was young and hadn't really got a career to leave. I loved my children passionately, lost myself in the smell and feel of them, marvelled at the chance to see the world through their eyes, but struggled too. Some mothers seemed to have houses that hummed around them, warm and bright and covered with children's pictures. Their children played with playdough and sand but the table was always covered with

Emerges blinking into the daylight

It is very quiet. I cock my head and listen; I can hear the soft crackle of the fire, the hum of the laptop, very faintly the hiss of the rain. It has been raining since lunchtime. When I look out of the kitchen window the layers of green foliage, flowers and leaves arch over over the side of the house like a living wall. Ian has gone to see his father who had a fall earlier this week and will stay in Manchester overnight. I wish he were here and don't mind the solitude at the same time. It has been a strange week. My check up scan was on Wednesday and I worked hard at being all right with that: all the usual stuff, best to keep a check, consultant pretty sure I am all right, all the rational parts of me steady and OK. But if the thought came on me unawares without the chance to remind myself I was about to think it, my stomach would lurch with nausea. It was like when you see yourself in a supermarket mirror unawares and get taken by surprise at the sight of the tired ol

A walk in May

It was cloudy this morning but fine and rain was forecast for later in the day so we set off over the stile by our gate, going down to see if the shire horse and foal were out. The footpath takes you along the edge of the farmer's field and to another stile onto a narrow track. In the two weeks since I walked it the track had darkened as the overhanging trees came into full leaf. Now it is a green tunnel. On either side bluebells cling to the edges mixed with tiny white stars of a flower I cannot name. Halfway down the valley some big trees have been felled but have not been moved and lie sprawling down the steeply wooded hillside. The track is lighter here but even the felling of the trees has not produced a view. Towards the bottom of the hill the track flattens out, the verges widen and there are fields rather than woods behind the hedgerows. Here the verges are a mass of red and pink campion, bluebells again, and some bright yellow flowers, the flowers themselves very lik

Visit to Bala

Yesterday I went to meet another Country Living blogger. You may remember her blogging as elspeth. She proudly informs me that she did seven blogs and they were sparky and witty and funny as she is. It was a beautiful drive down along the edge of the Clwydian hills where we live towards Ruthin and then up from Ruthin to Bala, everywhere bursting with green and life. I was carefully following instructions and eventually without getting lost pulled up on a steep hill above Bala lake outside a stone built perhaps Edwardian house, square and strong and impressive. Katrina was warm and friendly, tall and slim with auburn hair, a firm handshake and a direct gaze. We started talking and didn't stop until I left. Driving away afterwards I wondered at what I had told her: some stuff about the breakdown of my first marriage, some about my illness and recovery. Nothing madly intimate but much much more than I would normally say at first meeting. Someone once told me that I am very easy to

Home again

Home again and what a fabulous morning. So much to do outside and the whole valley lying lazy in the sun. The strange selection of pictures is firstly our mushrooms, grown in a box on the pantry floor and looking, I hope you agree, very convincingly like mushrooms. In the background is the distressingly awful kitchen made bearable by the bottle of wine and the kettle. The swallows are swooping and diving this morning, busily repairing the nest in the big pigsty. They fly in through the little window above the door and are coming so fast it amazes me that they don't fly straight into the wall on the other side. I sat on the seat outside the pigsty for my coffee break when I was working this morning inspecting the non-existent carrots (too dry for germination I think) and they came whizzing in above my head. I had hoped to get a picture of one sitting on the pigsty roof but numerous attempts have failed so I hope from the second picture you can see where they go in and get