Wednesday, 25 December 2019

December the 25th .

The saxophonist picked up the Christmas cards from the mat on Wednesday and reappeared in the bedroom . " Look " he said . I looked .

It was his new driving licence .
The slow admin at the consultants office had meant that we had forecast about March .

He took a speculative look on the net . There was his ideal car at the right price at a garage that was fairly near us . He test drove it .

Christmas eve morning we drove it away from the garage .

I had the turkey crown , sprouts etc , etc ready for Christmas day .

This morning , however , I rose early , had a shower and sat wet haired at the table sipping a steaming mug of strong tea .
The saxophonist joined me . There was a very brief and very happy discussion .

I packed corned beef sandwiches , some cheese , some tomatoes . I added Coxes apples and a fiery ginger cake I'd made . The saxophonist boiled the kettle and packed good coffee and some milk .

We stood on a sunny beach . I cried , he grinned and we knew this journey of a years flight from the bad time and the illness was over .
I held him very tight and he held me very tight .

I hope you had a happy Christmas .
We did .

Friday, 6 December 2019

A mile out along the river .

A mile out along the river willows sit along the bank .

Secateurs in coat pocket I go out with a capacious bag .

I cut long lengths but only take what I need and I thank the tree .
I always thank the tree out loud otherwise it doesn't count .

By the lock is a thorny bush plump with rosehips . Snip , snip and home as  the rain comes down .

Now , you must work the willow whilst it's still sappy . Leave it and all you've got is very big twigs .
I force the lengths into a circle , weaving in the ends as I go .Amongst the sappy circle rosehips now sit proud .

I didn't thank the rosehip bush . It has large vicious thorns and the Christmas door wreath has indeed got plenty of rosehips on it.
The pale wood now has some of my blood staining it where the thorns caught me .
That's justice and the staining would not be noticeable unless you knew .

Along the road are plastic wreaths that light up and manufactured wreaths , every one made to exacting factory standards . Some are made by people who take a stall and sell the things for jaw dropping prices and there are some that are discount shop bargains .
I think that they all count . Shut the door and you're not getting the benefit , instead you cheer the weary traveller coming up the hill . That's unselfish and I like that .

The wreath I made , though .
Ah , that speaks of an older history and a deeper furrow .
People before me , down the years , have cut willow and been pricked by rosehip thorns .
I am proud to hold hands with them this season .

Thursday, 28 November 2019

It's no go for Gauguin but green light elsewhere .

Went to the National on Wednesday . We had comps for the Gauguin portraits exhibition .

Now , normally I wouldn't have bothered , having had an aversion to said Gauguin since I was obliged to study him a bit for my academic History of Art exams .I could have said "comps or not its no go " and buggered off to loose myself in the Jan Van Eyck self portrait ( as I regularly do ).

I thought , though ,  that I should employ the same principle I do to most things - take a fresh look then open your mind before you open your mouth .
I carefully separated the man , the paintings and the customs and expectations of his time .

That's a half hour I won't get back .

There was a gallery attendant ( looking like Edris Elba ) perched on a little chair .
I said " do you like these ?"
He said " sometimes I do "
 I said " and like me sometimes you don't ".
We had a quiet giggle together and I went off to buy a Dega postcard in preference to a Gauguin .

Today we went off in the rain in the bumbling country bus . The route took the usual detours to villages beginning to prepare for Advent .

A curry for lunch , three bookshops  and then round to the market square . They had had " switch on "last Sunday.

The square  had a huge tree and garlands on gables and old lampposts  .

Everything was bedecked in white and Emerald lights .

In the fading light and drizzle it spoke of the bright white light that hope delivers .

It spoke of how  ever present  and timeless greenness is in spite of all circumstances  .

We sat on a bench in the dark and drizzle .
I remembered where we were this time last year ( see post Dec 19 / 12 / 2018 ) and my heart danced in the lovely light .
"Come on " the saxophonist said " or we shall miss the bus " and I grinned at him out of all proportion to what he had just said .

Monday, 18 November 2019

Piccalilli and Topaz .

I  have always hated piccalilli . I find that your taste buds and sensibilities change over time .I had a speculative taste and loved piccalilli . Not sure what that says about me .

Anyway ,  I tried various types . Then I went to the market and bought two sets of ingredients . Veg diced small and plenty of mustard in one . Beetroot , red onion and red cabbage in the other . The latter comes out a glorious purple . I have yet to try it .

We have timed tickets for the major Hogarth exhibition at the Soanes . We have always loved sliding the wooden panels back and seeing each treat appear .
The attendant in the Hogarth room is real East End . He stood there looking cheesed off with life , heard us talking about the paintings and came over . He has read every book he can find on the period and the artist . He can tell you marvellous snippets about small details in the paintings you had never noticed before .
I wonder if the curator of this new exhibition can drop as many aitches in such an erudite fashion as our man or seem like he is a refugee from one of Hogarth's paintings . We will see .

Pushed my hair back the other day and discovered it has grown long enough to put it up again .Think of a slightly ruffled ballet dancers hair - like that .

This , then , is the excuse to get out my jewelry boxes . Over the years I have collected  silver and semi precious stones . Artisan and handmade . Think Elizabethan portrait but silver and stones and not gold .
I have dipped the plain silver things and am painstakingly doing each semi precious by hand .

I bought a new mascara in London the other day from a pop up in Carnaby Street . It's called "better than sex ". I rather doubt it somehow but each to their own .

dishevelled ballerina hair , that mascara , and the freshly shone citrine , topaz , garnet and amathyst etc glimmering on my ears . That's me for Christmas .

Must think what my Christmas books will be this year too . Might do another nice fat Anthony Trollope , will fit in the Hogarth biography but have not decided on what else . Any ideas ?

Friday, 27 September 2019

Contentment .

Bumbling along in a country bus with rain streaked windows . Reading , dozing or lost in the green views .

Destination : a second hand book shop , an old fashioned restaurant that does roasts and homemade pies  .
Maybe a butcher in a striped apron with sawdust on the floorboards .
Maybe a market full of seasonal treats - celery and wet walnuts this week .

Small pleasures to anticipate , relish and savour .

Thursday, 26 September 2019

The democracy of dirt .

I was sitting on the bench at my plot this afternoon . I've been doing this a lot lately , usually covered in mud or soaked and often both . I looked at the plot and realised the wilderness has gone .
There are rows of beet , beans , cabbages , sprouts and leeks . Broad beans , garlic and onion sets will follow shortly .

I have met fellow plotters. I have been given cooking apples and a pumpkin .

Yesterday a man approached, six foot , long pony tail .He looked over the plot .
 "That carpet is better than the one in my sitting room " he said .
 I explained about getting old carpets from the carpet shop and pushing them in a shopping trolley all the way to the plot . Twice .
 He listened , nodded and eyed up the straight rows and the nets here and there to keep the pigeons off . " I've got a digger " he said . "if you get the last of the rough off I'll go over it for you if you like ".

Heavy limbed and content the saxophonist and I discuss it over a pint .
When did going through the motions become an enthusiasm , a joy .

We have made friends there , because although we are a diverse bunch we all have a love of the green haven .
 A place were we can sit serene , drinking tea  in our muddy glory , where we work hard and there's a sense of achievement to take home with you .

People are decent and kind to one another on the plots . We help each other and either laugh or shrug when a crop doesn't come up or gets attacked by pigeons or slugs . It's all a learning curve or an excuse to stop and chat .

In a world so ugly and uncertain as it sometimes seems a man with a digger and some generosity is most welcome .

This afternoon I walked along the little paths to his plot and put a jar of piccalilli and two jars of chutney I'd made in his poly tunnel . He will know who they are from .

It feels good to be part of a community where nothing more is implied than meant .

Friday, 16 August 2019


I saw some one offered a free non disposable canvas bag . I was behind him in the queue and when he was asked " what colour ?" he said " it did not matter"  .

I was shocked . How can you have no preference ?

It's the same as people who live in beige clothes and look beige themselves .
 Few people want to look like Coco the clown but to not delight in colour in some way is inexplicable to me .

 I have always been excited by colour :

  • Opening a new paint box .

  • Huge old fashioned apothecary bottles full of brightly coloured water in chemist shop windows .

  • Old Christmas tree baubles from the fifties or earlier . 

  • Old fashioned Spangles that had waxed wrappers that thrillingly included purple and white stripes , yellow and white stripes , dark emerald and white stripes ....

  • Expensive balloons in beautiful colours ( not those horrid foil ones )

  • bottles of ink .

  • The colours of stained glass the sun throws onto plain church floors .

  • Trays of embroidery thread all graded by shade . A draw in the cabinet for each colour .

  • Semi precious stones that are lemon yellow , blood red , kingfisher , lime green .

  • Coloured foil on Easter eggs .

  • Reels of ribbon .

  • Unexpected fairy light colours .

  • Brush pens in lines of colour that include mint , leaf green , mustard , dark storm blue and cerise . 

I hope it is common for people to revel in such every day joy .