Showing posts from December, 2010

Silence falls

The tide of family has washed through: this year son and grandson, daughter, daughter in law and her mother over from Canada.  We have eaten turkey and all the trimmings, truly delicious and a tribute to the happy life the bird has lived, wandering our friends' orchard full of organic food.  We have eaten home made bread and cold turkey and cold lamb, our pickles and cheese by the ton, Welsh cheese from our local deli.  We have made some small inroads into the Christmas cake. This afternoon four year old grandson was helping to hand round cups of tea and slices of cake.  He looked at the cake and said "Grandma, I only like the icing." "Well," I said, "that's amazing because I only like the cake so we can share."  I took the icing off and gave it to him on a plate and put the cake on a plate for me. A huge smile cracked his face and he put his hand gently on my arm like a little old man.  "You know what that means, Grandma?  It means you

Sometimes you just need to get out

It's lovely to be inside in the warm, especially when the kitchen smells of this morning's bread baking, but sometimes you just need to get out. You just need to wade down to the viewpoint and wonder if there is more snow in the air. You need to wander around the field, inspecting things. If you are a cat you need to help with this. Sometimes at quite close quarters. You need to admire the only artichoke head left unpicked. Or the sedum heads. And then you need to come inside again into the warm.

Oh yes, this Christmas thing...

I have intermittently been watching Phil and Kirstie's Perfect Christmas programme in an aimless, talking wallpaper sort of a way, not because I am likely to do any of it but more because I like both of them and love the enthusiasm with which Kirstie embraces homemade things and the whole idea of making an effort rather than waving a credit card.  It did however occur to me last night that this Christmas thing was not theoretical but really was going to happen and in fact is approaching at a rate of knots.  Somehow in the last couple of months of hospital visiting and the last week or so of preparation for my FIL (now safely installed just before the snow came) I have not been making home crafted Christmas presents and individual paper snowflake decorations.  So I thought I had better take my head out of the sand and do a quick stock take on where we are for Christmas. Let's start with the most important thing in our house: food. The Christmas cake is made, made in early N

Dream gardens

I have been reading a wonderful post at Esther's Boring Garden blogspot (and don't be fooled.  She was just too modest to call it Esther's fascinating garden blog which is what it is.)  In it she talks about her dream garden, not a fantasy garden but the way parts of her real garden represent bits of a dream: a single primrose by the path is a bank of primroses.  It resonated  strongly with me.  I suspect most gardeners have a dream version of their own garden.  It's that dream that keeps us plotting and planting and musing about our gardens. That sensation is very strong when you are slowly making a garden.  So much of my garden as yet in is my head and what is happening on the ground is sometimes something of a surprise, so vivid are things in my mind's eye.  So here are some of my dream spots. Under the viburnum by the gate to the field the soil is shaded and dry.  In my head it is marbled with cyclamen and dancing with epimedium.  These are the epimedium I

Poised between one life and the next

Here I sit, balanced between my old life and my new.  Next week sometime my beloved father in law will come to live with us.  I have spent the last few days sorting papers and cleaning in the room which was my study and which is to become his bedroom.  The room looks bare and empty now with only a bed and a chair and a bookcase in place, although it is a lovely room with a huge red rug on the quarry tiled floor and a deep windowsill. It looks out towards the bakehouse and across the valley.  In the morning the sun streams in. I want it to look welcoming.  Ian will bring some of his many family pictures and maybe the photos of Orkney and the wallmounted map of the islands.  As a working class lad from the industrial North it must have been extraordinary for my father in law to find himself spending his war on little boats patrolling the islands.  He still has all their names on his tongue: Mainland,  North Ronaldsay, South Ronaldsay, Papa Westray, Papa Stronsay, Hoy.  He will tell you


Sometimes the contrasts in life are almost too much for the brain to comprehend. On Friday there was my sister in law's funeral.  All our grown up children came from all over the country as well as my mother from Devon and friends from all over the place. On Saturday we drove for three and a half hours to Oxford for my one year old grandson's first birthday party.  There was a cake in the shape of a dinosaur made by my daughters, and biscuits and balloons and a lovely low key happiness.  Ian drove back to visit his father in the evening.  I stayed overnight to chat in the evening and play with the baby in the morning while his parents had a rare lie in.  He snuggled into my chest and put his thumb in his mouth as he began to get tired.  His blond hair curled against the green jumper I was wearing over my pyjamas. Today I took a train to Manchester and was picked up and visited a livelier father in law, living much more in today rather than tellling stories of his war year