Monday, 31 August 2015

Kondoing the condiments- again

Goodbye garam masala.
Farewell 5-spice.
Ta-ta za'atar.
Adios allspice.
Bye bye bay leaves
(there's a whole tree outside).
So long so many sesame seeds.

Well what else would you do on a dismal Bank Holiday Monday?
Might as well have a laugh at the same time.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Young Visiter*

 She is a lively and entertaining child
with a rich and sometimes accurate vocabulary -
'ess', 'het', 'cat', 'up tairs', 'iss', 'dat', vigorous head shaking 
and a fine line in imperious hand signals.
She is walking briskly at 11 months,
and acquired her first almost cartoon-like bump on the forehead 
to show for it this weekend.
(Bad POANG chair).
I wonder if Daisy Ashford* was somewhat like her at that age.

Friday, 21 August 2015


I must ask Hiroko and Chika if there is
a Japanese equivalent of a plummy accent.
We covered puns yesterday - there was a Japanese one
to do with a futon which caused much hilarity.
I had to explain damp this morning as my resident
Japanologist had left the building.
I used my right hand to indicate wet and my left hand to indicate dry
some distance away
and then with a smart chopping movement 
half way between the two,
said Damp!.
It was deemed to be a useful addition to their vocabulary
so I was glad to have been of assistance.

Luckily they didn't ask me to explain moist.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Treasure hunt

Opals, emeralds, tourmaline, turquoise, aquamarine

and a silver mesh necklace.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Bye summer?

Is that it?
Is summer over?
It has been dark, dark, dark all day.
I hear rustlings of spring from Antipodean blogs.
Their days are lengthening.
The sun favours them with its strengthening rays
as we turn our face away.
The plane trees leaves are falling -
brown paper napkins littering the drive.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Monday, 10 August 2015

Blog from a log

We've had to have a tree felled.

It was the huge cedar crammed into our front garden.

I see that in 2009 I couldn't contemplate having it cut down.

But the goldcrests have long since departed 
leaving only the pigeons.

Meanwhile the tree has continued to grow,
and its roots have lifted the driveway.

And one windy night a large branch fell,
mercifully on our side of the fence
and not into the road.

At one point there were seven men wielding three chainsaws.

It was a massive undertaking
and took six hours to bring down.

We've saved as much of the wood as we could.

It was eighty eight years old.

What a difference it has made to our south facing sitting room,
previously cast in deep shade all year round.

Now we must plant something more suited to its situation.

As Loudan said in his 1832 edition of Useful and Ornamental Planting,

'no tree confers such an air of grandeur and dignity upon the grounds 
surrounding a mansion as a full-grown cedar of Lebanon'


'Remember that a squashed cedar is a sign of unaffordable pretensions.'

Monday, 3 August 2015

At your own risk


Very tempting.

We'll just have a look.

It's a steep climb down
but someone has cut some new steps

and provided a bench

and a rope to hang onto.

Here's another sign.
What does this one say?



and pretty much deserted.

At least in any direction I was looking.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Cromwell in my kitchen

Strange but true.
Mark Rylance and his wife Claire
paid us a visit to look at our windows.
He wore one of his trademark hats
but to amuse the baby - doffed it.
His wife said that was not something you'd see very often.

They were both smiley and charming and
 highly complimentary about the windows,
floor tiles, garden and baby.
Her actress mother was chuffed to meet him.
(They just happened to be here for lunch you understand.)
On this cold, wet July day,
it was just the tonic we needed.

Now I am pondering the peculiar nature of contacts 
between unknown individuals and the famous.
On the face of it, we all 'acted natural';
there was no gushing about his wonderful acting,
no autographs were sought,
no selfies were taken.
But would I be blogging about it if he'd been
just a man in the street who'd used us as referees
for a window making company?

Of course not.

You can listen to him on Desert Island Discs.
I missed this one.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The last punnet

of ripe red cherries on the stall,
and in fact, the last in their orchard.
All the rest are black cherries from now on.

Hone's Everyday Book records that cherries were brought up from Kent 
and sold by the London Barrow Woman.

This is cherry season, but it is not to me as cherry seasons were. 
I like a great deal that is, but I have an affection for what was. 
By-gone days seem to have been more fair than these; 
and I cannot help trying to
"catch the manners dying as they fall."
I have lived through the extremity of one age, 
into the beginning of another, and I believe better;
yet the former has been too much detracted; 
everything new is not, therefore, good;
nor was everything old, bad.
When I was a boy, I speak of just after the French revolution broke out, 
my admiration and taste were pure and natural, 
and one of my favourite at all times, and in cherry time especially, 
was the London Barrow Woman.
There are no barrow women now.
They have quite "gone out", or, rather,
they have been "put down",
and by many they are not even missed.
Look around; there is not one to be seen.

Round and sound.
Tuppence a pound.
Cherries rare ripe cherries!
Cherries a ha'penny a stick.
Come and pick! come and pick!
Cherries as big as plums.
Who comes, who comes.

Monday, 20 July 2015


Once in a while I get seized by an urge to find and wear
 the perfect spring or summer hat.
Not for a wedding.
Not for a garden party.
Just for everyday.

And then sometimes the urge is sufficiently strong
that I go to a shop to see what is on offer.
What is on offer is an array of
completely impossible millinery.
and downright ugly
I try one or two on in an apologetic fashion
and tear them off before anyone has noticed
that they are wearing me.

I go away discouraged.

But I do believe my search has ended.

I found a charming hat on Friday.
This one.

Isn't it lovely?
I thought it would go beautifully with this.

But it seems they are not for sale.
They belong to a Mrs Emmeline Lucas.
She is unwilling to part with them.
She had them made especially for her in Paris.
Too too dweffly cross-making.