Showing posts from September, 2007

What a week (plus diet update)

Living deep in my rural valley and continuing to work in London a couple of days a week means life is always schizophrenic and I can never decide whether that is ok or not. This week has been a ludicrously exaggerated version. Saturday was a home day, the sun shone and we picked apples. The big tree in the field had a smaller crop this year, possibly due to over enthusiastic winter pruning (Ian and a pruning saw are a dangerous combination), but still filled a big wheelbarrow with Howgate Wonder, a fabulous apple which starts life as a cooker, keeps well and matures into something sweet enough to eat without sugar by March. The old apple trees in the kitchen garden have cropped heavily, much of it pitted or small but loads and loads. One of the projects for this winter is to prune in there and and to see whether, organically, we can bring the old trees round again. Even if we can't they are beautiful in spring and earn their place by beauty alone. Then there is chutney makin

OK, this is it - weight loss time

I blogged a couple of months ago about women and weight and was knocked out by the number and the passion of the responses. Really struck a chord there! Well a week ago I started to diet and this morning I have lost five pounds so time to stop being secretive about it and have a look at what is going on. I have never been a natural skinny but, varying up and down by half a stone or so (oh no, summer, time to lose the winter podge) I spent my twenties and thirties at around 9 stone, about right for me at 5 foot 4. Sometimes I resented people like my brother who can eat industrial quantities without putting on weight but mostly I just accepted that watching what I ate was part of the feminine condition and in the fight between greed and vanity, vanity usually just about won. It got harder to maintain the equilibrium in my forties, needed more exercise and more deprivation so I settled for around 9 stone 4, accepted the flabby tummy as a badge of honour and got on with it. Then my body

Things I wish I'd known about gardening.

My lovely daughter is about to acquire her first house and her first garden. After years of wandering around gardens with her and having her say "But how do you know all this stuff?" she is about to start getting to know it herself. Well here to start her off are a few things I wish I had known about gardening when I started. 1. Things die. You will waste a lot of money on plants which turn up their toes. It is best to be philosophical about this and regard it as the opportunity to buy another plant. I used to beat myself up about all the things I put into my garden which simply disappeared. Now I realise that you can do things to minimise plant loss but sometimes it is just a mystery: you thought something would be happy in your garden and it isn't. Never mind. Move on. There are so many plants out there. Have a go with something else. But the business about things being happy in your garden is important and it took me years to garden to my soil and not to be led

scents and sounds

My homework: the smell of Ian's homemade bread warming the kitchen and making my mouth water. the smell of a compost heap when it is ready for use, earthy and strong but pleasant, the smell of life. the smell of a baby's head, milky and sweet. the smell of sweetpeas, faint and evocative, catching the heart unawares. the smell of a wood fire when the woodburner is being lit and I am outdoors, promising warmth and comfort inside. the sound of running streams on the hillside. the sound of Ian's key in the door (back when we lived somewhere where the door was locked!). the sound of silence, followed by the distant sounds of the valley emerging, sheep far away on the other side, a tractor moving, birds coming and going, bustle not silence at all. the sound of my chickens clucking and busying themselves contentendly in the garden. the sound of a cork coming out of a bottle of wine. I could go on and on!


Ian has been away walking in Scotland for a few days and is coming back this afternoon. It's always the same when he goes (and I go away quite a bit as well but the dynamic is different when you are the departing): first I don't want him to go and feel quite unreasonably sad as he departs, then I shake myself off and get down to enjoying the business of having the house to myself, doing just what I feel like, loading the dishwasher without the inevitable complaint, catching up on sewing or reading, loving having the bed to myself and most of all loving the glorious silence that comes from the absence of Radio 4 or even worse Radio 5 following him around the house. As the time comes for him to get back I get all excited, can't quite settle to anything for looking out of the window and listening for the car or the motorbike. I change the bed and tidy the bedroom, knowing he loves the feel of clean sheets after a few nights camping. I choose something to cook that I know