Showing posts from January, 2011


Time is like water.  It slips through your fingers.  Sometimes it makes great pools of stillness when it hardly seems to move at all: endless childhood summers, langourous days in the garden.  Sometimes it gathers into stagnant ponds, dank and slightly smelly: those hours hanging around on chilly railways stations or dismal afternoons looking out of the rainstreaked window at grey nothingness.  Sometimes it charges and spills like a waterfall: the rollicking day at the fair, the morning spent learning to sail or hiking a high peak, shouting into the wind. It changes with company: the doldrums of an afternoon with the tedious, querulous, elderly aunt; the fast flowing river of a night with a lover. It changes with the time of your life.  I remember when the words "Maybe next year" were as meaningless as the idea that I might one day walk on the moon.  Now years sprint past like the channel crossing from a hovercraft, a blur of grey and white. Sometimes you can pack thing

photo blog tonight

Arum bought as a tiny plant at Great Dixter's nursery is now slowly beginning to spread and grow.  I love it. In the curve of the fallen wild cherry, the native daffodils are starting to push up amongst the fallen leaves. Frosty morning as the mist lifts and the sun comes through.  The front roof is looking good. And inside, marmalade. So that's what's been happening here. Any questions?

You never know what you can do until you do it

You have heard all the cliches: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, feel the fear and do it anyway.  I have been musing about difficult things and I find that one of the great things about getting older is that you know that you have dealt with difficult things in the past and survived. Years ago I was a trainee tax inspector.  The first time I investigated someone for not paying enough tax I couldn't sleep.  The night before my first interview I woke every hour, my stomach churning.  That morning I couldn't eat my breakfast and when I got to the office I spent the first half hour in the ladies'.  I had written an interview brief so detailed it could have been a script for a play.  A more experienced inspector was sitting in with me. "You ok? Ready for this?" he said. "Yes, I'm ready." "Don't forget.  It's much worse for him that it is for you."  And off we went.  And it was fine.  I asked the right questions.  The

January garden

I am not a winter gardener.  In the cold and wet I am much more likely to be found by the fire inside than outside pruning fruit trees.  When I started to garden seriously perhaps twenty years ago I would get all keen from March to July, go away on holiday in August, come back to a tired flopping mess and basically give up again until the following spring, apart from a few bad tempered forays outside during the autumn to tidy up. Gradually my gardening time extended.  I started planting bulbs in the autumn.  I planted one or two evergreen shrubs so that the garden was less of a blasted heath in winter.  And that was about it. Coming here has made a difference in two major ways: firstly I have become much more interested in autumn.  This is partly because the light here is liquidly beautiful in September and October and the hedges are full of hips and berries.  The michaelmas daisies which were here already in their hundreds throng with butterflies and I found myself falling in love

A plea

On New Year's Eve my much loved brother had a massive stroke.  He is only fifty four.  He had further complications last week.  It seems his life is no longer in danger but his condition is still serious.  I don't intend to blog about this much as he would not want me to but I think he would forgive me saying this: It seems likely that the cause of the stroke was untreated high blood pressure, perhaps combined with the stresses of a high pressure job which he loved.  He knew his blood pressure was high I think but I am sure, in not taking the time to engage with medical appointments and treatment, he had little sense of how great a risk it could pose. If you don't know what your blood pressure is, find out.  If it's high, see your doctor.  If you have any inclination to put your head in the sand think of my witty, active, workaholic brother, who loves sailing and his family, lying in his hospital bed unable to move, and sort it out.  Please.

To resolve or not to resolve?

I wonder if I am getting too old, too lazy or too awkward for New Year's Resolutions.  The beauty of writing a blog for quite a long time (since 2007! how amazing is that?) is that you can go back and check and see what was happening in your life in earlier Januaries.  Pottering back through the New Year entries I see that some years I have made resolutions and some years I have not.  One year I see that I resolved to be more glamorous on Thursdays.  I think we can safely say that did not happen.  On other years I have blithely ignored the very idea.  I see that I have however kept the resolution to stop resolving to eat less, drink less and exercise more.  I haven't done any of those things but at least I have stopped boringly girding myself up to do them and then berating myself for failing yet again. We have had a challenging few months to finish off 2010 and this morning I learned that my much loved younger brother is ill.  This is not a year for making life any harder w