Showing posts from March, 2011

Time to look outward.

On Thursday night I whizzed down to Oxford to stay with elder daughter and her family.  I was there for a trustees' meeting of The Blackden Trust , held in Magdalen College .  Magdalen (pronounced Maudlyn) is an impossibly beautiful place of golden stone, quiet cloisters and green quads.  Many Oxford and Cambridge colleges are similarly beautiful.  I have never forgotten my father, a working class boy from the North of England, wandering the colleges on his first visit when he was about fifty and saying, stunned and appreciative but with a touch of sadness "When I was a child, I couldn't even have imagined that places like this existed."  Until he went away on National Service he did not realise that  it was not simply a fact of life that if you touched a tree you came away with black on your hands.  He and his generation thought that the sooty smudge was nature, not pollution.  Oxford colleges dreaming in the sun were a world away from rainy Rochdale. Bur before th

A simpler life? Ha

I really did think when we moved out to rural Wales that I would end up with a simpler life. When I left corporate life and had my year out I almost thought I had achieved it.  It might have been busy with gardening and growing things and cooking and family but it was simpler, for a few months!  I wasn't whizzing around the country and getting on and off planes and trains.  I wasn't trying to balance the demands of a job which I loved with the fact that I wanted time at home with the people who matter to me.  I wasn't always feeling that I was stretched too thin.  I sat outside with a cup of tea in the sun.  I turned over in bed in the morning and slept for another half hour. So how come I am all stretched out again like an old hankie, practically see through?  Well some of it is to do with starting work again, working for myself and loving it but once again suffering from my usual tendency to say yes when I should perhaps say no.  Some of it is in getting involved in thin

Thinking about food

Last night younger daughter arrived with her best friends and their fourteen  month old little girl.  Today Karen from An Artist's Garden was coming for lunch so this morning I set to work in the kitchen. Yesterday I had produced two lemon drizzle cakes, one perfect, the other with a surprising hole in the middle.  However we agreed that this was fine as you could persuade yourself you were not eating yet another slice of cake but a bit more hole, with cake surround. Today has been a day for making Somerset Apple Cake, carrot and coriander soup and now a beef casserole with a cheesy scone topping. There was a small break there for going away and eating. I love being able to produce good food from the contents of my fridge and store cupboard.   I love the fact that there is always enough in stock to know that I can turn out something good.  I would hate not to be able to cook.  Of all the skills I have acquired as an adult I think cooking and driving are the ones I most valu

Singing in Welsh

Amongst the press of responsibilities and anxieties of the last couple of months, I had rather lost the fact that I had agreed to sing with a choir from my Welsh class at the Learners’ Eisteddfod in Flint last Friday.  An Eisteddfod, for those who don’t know, is an ancient Welsh tradition where people come together for song, poetry, literature and music.  It is a competition but it is also a social event, a cultural high and a community occasion.  The National Eisteddfod for Wales is a huge deal.  It moves between North and South Wales and this year it will be held in Wrexham.  Just in case anyone is reading who might be intending to come, we are about half an hour’s easy drive from Wrexham, and the holiday cottage is still free for the Eisteddfod dates.  Do have a look at the link alongside and come and stay. The Learners’ Eisteddfod, by contrast, is not such a big deal.  I’m not sure how our Welsh tutor got us all to agree to sing.  His wife and son in law and best friend are in th

End of month view for February

Hurray!  February, my least favourite month of the year, is gone and March is here and surely it must be spring?  Early spring maybe, but spring nonetheless.  I am joining in again with the end of month view posts, hosted by Helen at Patient Gardener .  The discipline of taking photographs at month end is really useful and the record really interesting.  I am so glad I did it last year.  Especially when you are making a new garden, it is easy to think nothing is changing.  These photographs show that things are growing, the garden is filling, never mind that it is so slowly. Here is the side garden.  The first photograph is last month's view at the end of January.  The garden still feels quite empty to me now and yet the two photos side by side show that foliage is appearing and the beds are filling.  The grass has not started to regrow yet and is still churned to mud on the way out to the field.  One day we will have a hard path going through the gate so that we don&#