Wednesday, 28 April 2010


I woke up at 3am, disturbed by the silvery light filtering through the curtains.  I thought I might have left the porch light on, so I looked out of the window.  And there was this perfect Full Moon.  Thank you, Lady, I thought.  So I took a picture.  It doesn't do it justice.  But it was a perfect moment, in the stillness of a country night, and I am glad I was awake for it.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


Blossom in the University Parks, Oxford, April 2009.  The Japanese have it right - blossom is bliss!

I am pretty worn out by two busy days in succession, but looking forward to the next two days, during which I am home and hoping to fill the time with drawing, painting and writing.  I feel like I am in a good place right now.  It's not just that the sun is out and I've been in the garden a lot (the roses are looking goooood, since you ask).  It's not just that the birds are singing their lungs out every day and the new leaves are making a lush green haze on the trees.  It's not just watching the dozen or so ducklings haring about on the pond, or the anticipation of warmer days coming. Nor even the blossom coming out. 

I think it may just be that I am not trying too hard.  Every time I catch myself saying OUGHT, I change it to a WANT, swill it about in my mouth and see how it sounds.  Do I WANT to do this?  Is this what I WANT?  Somehow, WANTs give me my power back.  And they make me feel like doing things, instead of putting off and getting depressed about the OUGHTs I feel obliged to get on with.  They make life so much less like hard work.  Trying not to be perfect doesn't always work out, but doing what I WANT to do with what little energy I have actually means I am achieving much more.  And that makes me feel better about myself. 

So maybe this spring is a new departure, and a good one. I hope you are enjoying new departures too.

Thursday, 15 April 2010


Okay, a new list.  Here are ten things I love:

  •  Pat (well, he has to come top, right?)
  • Clean, fresh bedding, straight off the washing line on a blowy day.
  • Chocolate.  Is there anything it can't do?
  • Laughing
  • Birdsong
  • Trees
  • Flowers.  Lots of them.  Especially tulips and peonies.  And roses.
  • The sea. (I grew up beside it.)
  • The Downs, North or South will do. (see above)
  • Scotland.  And Scottish men..... mmmmmm......yummmmmm.....

Wednesday, 14 April 2010


Yes, for a laugh I am having a week of lists.  Here is my list of items I require as a minimum for civilisation:
  • Chocolate
  • Hot water
  • Somewhere to plug in my hairdryer
  • Dentistry
  • Chiropody
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Properly fitted bras.
What's on your minimum list?

And another thing....

I realised at 1.30am that there were three important things I had missed out of my list on the previous post:

  • Nettles. Hate 'em. Grrrrr.
  • Morrissey.  The man who can only sing five notes, and even then, he sings them flat.
  • Tom Cruise.  Smug, creepy, manipulative.  And a Scientologist.  Do you need another reason to hate him?
Anything I've missed?

Promise I will put a list of happy things in my next post.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


Five things that make my blood boil:

  1. Margaret Thatcher.  'Nuff said.
  2. Members of the 'Middle Lane Owners Club'.  You know them.  They sit in the middle lane of the motorway doing 60 mph for 80 miles, when the first lane is completely empty, and the fast lane is solid with people trying to overtake them.  And there is a 10 mile tailback behind them of people, usually you and me, waiting to get round.  Closely affiliated with the '30 Mile an Hour Club'.  They are the people that go everywhere at 30 mph NO MATTER WHAT THE SPEED LIMIT IS.  Don't get me wrong.  I strongly believe that speed limits and speed cameras save lives.  But don't hold up the traffic either!
  3. Tickling.  Its out of order and abusive, people.  Don't do it.
  4. Anyone who tries to force prehistoric views about birth control and abortion on women.  No one has the right to tell a woman what to do with her body.  Especially if they are a man following a vow of chastity. (Jesus, I'm looking at YOU!)
  5. People who are certain about anything.  This has got me into trouble before, but I believe in shifting meaning and reality due to individual and societal perception.  The only thing I am absolutely certain about is that there is only one way to chop an onion. *Email me for details....
Okay, I admit it,  limiting it to five is almost impossible, especially during election season, but its a taster.

I went away and thought about number 5 and, although I absolutely hate dogmatism and bigotry of all kinds, religious, political or otherwise, there is one thing I hate even more.  Apart from Norman Tebbit, that is. So the amended version would have to read:

      5. Peacocks.

Monday, 12 April 2010


Just a few pics of our holiday in Sussex, such a beautiful county.  Above is Thomas Paine's house in Lewes.  As an American Studies graduate, I have to take note of anything to do with Paine.  Also, he was a native of Thetford, in Norfolk, so its a double duty.

This is the lovely Adur valley above Amberley, viewed from the back of the Arundel Castle estate.  You can see what fabulous weather we had.
On the way to Sussex from my mother's house, in Hampshire, we stopped off the reccie the grounds for the next Saxlingham Gents cricket tour, which Pat is organising for June.  One place they are playing is Hawkley, near Petersfield, a particularly pretty village with a lovely Victorian church.  I'm not mad keen on Victorian churches usually, but this one is a corker, unusually subtle, with lovely windows and elegant artwork.  And, as you can see from above, fabulous floor tiles around the font (and you know what a sucker I am for tiles).  If you are ever in the area, I thoroughly recommend a visit.

In the graveyard at Hawkley, we found this deliciously sinuous yew tree, and I couldn't help but take dozens of pictures of it.

 Finally, this is one of my favourite houses in Arundel.  Its a beautiful piece of Georgian architecture made all the more splendid with the addition of an inspired garden.  I love the cyprus trees and the carefully balanced planting.  One day, I will get to live somewhere this elegant....

Saturday, 10 April 2010


So glad I'm not 18 anymore...

I haven't quite got myself together again after coming home from our holiday yesterday, and no holiday pics have been uploaded yet.  Still, it was an interesting and reflective time.  Sometimes, when I go South, its fine, and I really enjoy the sun and the seaside and the Downs, and seeing my mum and step-father.  Other times, it feels like walking through a graveyard.  This time it was the latter, and a graveyard of my teen years to boot, the hardest time of my life. 

It is a strange feeling to be assaulted by so many uncomfortable memories.  It made me think about how different I am now from my 18-year-old self.  It made me think, 'Gods, I'm glad that's over!'  Some people hark back to their youths as if they were an idyll.  Mine wasn't, and I'm glad its done with.  Okay, I miss the youthful skin and the tiny waistline, but a wrinkle takes 200,000 smiles to form, and I am glad of every single one of them.  I wouldn't go back there for all the peachy complexions in the world, and that's saying something, because I'm really vain!

No, I am proud of my 42-yea-old self, and I am glad to be her.  Yes, there are things maybe I would change (the waistline for starters), but not a fat lot.  I have stopped trying to change myself into someone else, and started trying to be more myself.  On the whole, I think I haven't turned out too bad, and things are always improving.  If I met my 18-year-old self now, not only would I find her pretty irritating, I probably wouldn't recognise her as the same person as me.

 New Year 1990- love the hair!

Sometimes I look at the old photos and  grieve for those years that are gone and can never be recovered, for the opportunities I missed, for the way things felt then, so intense.  I wish I had done more with that time.  But I wasn't that person then.  It wasn't my time.  And now it is.