Showing posts from July, 2008

Holiday anyone?

If you live in a very beautiful place (as I am lucky enough to do) what exactly is a holiday for? Clearly it is not for escaping from the hustle of the city although that is mostly what people are looking for when they come to our holiday cottage . Perhaps it is just the chance to get off the treadmill of every day life, however much every day life is enjoyable? The whole holiday question is a fraught one anyway. There are numerous breaks for which people pay good money which would have me screaming for release: any form of cruise (a floating prison? Who thought of that?); a hotel bursting full on any of the costas with huge dining rooms and compulsory roasting on fought-over sunloungers by over-full pools; the obligatory jollity of any form of holiday camp; anything involving sleeping in dormitories; anything involving Mickey Mouse or rides that make you throw up. Add to that the experience of a huge airport in the British summer holidays and you have a recipe fo

A simpler life?

Today I have been spinning plates: trying to make jelly, get an important document off for work, finish off the cottage for visitors tomorrow, pick raspberries, make meringues, shave my legs, pack my bags for my holiday, check my bank balance, make sure I can make a lunch time meeting in the same week elder daughter is coming to visit. While wiping the hot jars of redcurrant jelly and trying to talk on the phone I dropped a jar in all its glorious hot, wet stickiness all over the kitchen floor. Hot red jelly sliding all over the worn red lino, stickiness everywhere, jeans soaked, trainers slipping and sliding in stickiness. What seemed like hours of wiping and mopping and mopping again. So the idea of a simpler life is a powerfully attractive one: no trains, no blackberry, no juggling; lying in every morning and taking breakfast outside in the silence and the sunshine, filling the bird feeders, picking our own vegetables and fruit. Is it a fantasy? A Chimera? Perhaps life can b

July in the garden

Yesterday we had a big outdoor party - the day was just about fine but it was noticeable that people kept wandering off to their cars to bring out coats and jackets. Today of course the sun is shining and it is warm. It is time to slow down, to wander, to really look. What is happening in the garden in July? Poppies are so fleeting and so beautiful I have tried to catch some of the best. They self seed wildly in our garden in all shades of pink and purple and this year, for some reason, we also have vivid red ones. Some are extravagant double flowers, like crumpled folded and refolded tissue. Some are perfect simple flowers, like a Remembrance Day poppy but dazzlingly alive. I let them self seed and even allow them in the vegetable beds, except amongst the onions which seem to dislike competition even of these gentle benevolent flowers. In the raspberry beds which were manured in the spring the flowers muscle up, huge and rampant, but they also grow in the walls in th


Why do plants which the books say don't need staking still fall over? And yes, alliums, this means you. Why does the recipe for coffee cake you can do blindfold and standing on your head fail when you make it for a new friend you would like to impress? Why do bra straps fall off your shoulders yet still leave marks? Why is the cat always in the way? Why is the important letter the one you find unposted at the bottom of your handbag? Why are there also eleven biros? Why do you not notice until you are going into an important business meeting that you are wearing the far too shiny tights you meant to throw away? Why is a huge salad no substitute for a small piece of cake? Why is bindweed? Why does it rain on the day you have finally mastered the use of your hair straighteners? Why are bollards big enough to bump but too small to see? Why did I get up this morning?