Monday, 13 November 2017


I am not a fan of the large tote.
It may be my undoing one day but if I can,
I leave the house with no more than a travel card,
a credit card, my phone and my keys.
Even the keys are paired down because the car key fob is so bulky.
Not for me the chatelaine's heavy belt hook.

I don't carry make up because I don't wear any.
I never mastered that skill.
I don't carry a book because I can't concentrate on trains and tubes -
the people must be watched.
I don't carry an umbrella because it never rains if I do.

The newel post is the usual home for household bags.
The threadbare Ally Capellino page is a handmedown from son 
(Happy Birthday!) to husband,
the Strand Bookstore bag is my sole souvenir from the last New York trip,
and the small felt bag is you know who's.
She chose the ribbon and the button.
If only all bags could be as minimal as this.

Of course the bag carried by her loyal retainers is huge.
Change of clothes, change of shoes, waterproofs, gloves, hat, scarf,
 wipes, toys, hair accoutrements,
drink, snacks, sunglasses, make up quite probably. . .

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Insufficient fuss?*

 I failed to note that the blog turned ten sometime in October.

I think my 3 year old guest photographer
had something to do with that.
I spend quite a bit of time at the computer,
but these days I find I am searching for
entertaining songs and clips from her present
and my past,
 to suit her very catholic tastes.


And this of course.
She knows all the words.

* Barbara Skelton, socialite, noted in her diary June 26th 1952,

'My Birthday today. Insufficient fuss made.'

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Monday, 30 October 2017

Winding down at Sissinghurst

 And some essential maintenance.
The tower is under scaffolding for the next six months.

A cold snap at last.
I have been planting tulips 
and trying to remember what my intentions were
for Spring 2018 when I ordered them.

In other news, furniture is being eyed up for reupholstering.
A new carpet is being laid.
Light bulbs have been replaced.

Autumn is the new Spring.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Tall Cat takes refuge

from Storm Brian.

(It's not here quite yet.)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Lamb's (lettuce) to the slaughter?

Two beds of succulent winter salad leaves
in the ground.

Each one surrounded by grit,
with two beer traps filled with Guinness,
strategically placed.
Muddy paths jet washed.
All surrounding weed and plant cover removed.

Let battle commence.

Edited to add:
Two torch patrols tonight
 and the enemy's capabilities have not been underestimated.
Both beer traps have been dug up.
One of them moved 30cms and not a drop spilled.
Many, many little black slugs were apprehended while climbing out 
from under the boards.
The leopard slugs were patrolling the paths.
But incredibly it turns out they are the gardener's friend.
They eat other slugs! Who knew?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Training Day

Determined to get better use out of our Senior Railcards this year,

we decided on an ambitious day trip,

which necessitated a 5 a.m start,

and approximately eleven hours sitting on trains,

because that's what it takes to get to Edinburgh and back.

It was worth it.
I've been hearing so much about True to Life, British Realists in the 1920s and 30s.
No photos allowed but you can read about it here.

So now we've been pretty far west, pretty far east and pretty far north.
Pretty far south will soon get our feet wet,
so it may have to be south west next.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

A trip of extremes 3

I will never forget the blast of heat
 as we stepped out onto the roof garden of the Met,
so deceived had we been by the cool interior.

And there were Adrián Villar Rojas' heatstroke victims,
3D models,

huddled in sparse shade

 and collapsed over dining tables

clutching replicas of objects from the Met collection.

How relieved we were later to find 
the Conservatory garden in Central Park
in the relative cool of the evening.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

A trip of extremes 2

At last an opportunity to browse the stalls at Union Square Greenmarket,
 often described by Frances  on her blog.

Hadn't bargained for the wasp sting but
luckily no lasting reaction.

Chihuly at the New York Botanical Gardens.
I had only ever seen his Rotunda Chandelier at the V&A in London before this.

A regular stop off for coffee was either Bluestone Lane Cafe,
or Jack's Wife Freda near our Airbnb apartment in West Village.
It was a very convenient, if pricey location.

Last year we stayed in Brooklyn and had a lengthy commute
for Manhattan sight-seeing. 
I was grateful to be able to avoid the subway in the great heat.
We were alternately roasted or frozen on the journeys
that made walking too arduous.
Ten miles was an average daily hike,
not always intentionally!

I was pretty struck by the contrast in fortunes of NY residents
we observed on the streets and in the subway,
especially when we saw women begging (panhandling) with children.
A complex issue.

Manhattan was full of the loud, exuberant, tattoed, opinionated, striving young.
I wondered where all the people my age were.
People who didn't litter their reportage with 'like' and 'literally'.
One very elderly woman in a restroom in the Strand Bookstore
eyed me exhaustedly in the washbasin mirror and said,

'Isn't it horrible out there?
The subway is just dreadful.'

 I smiled sympathetically, nodded my agreement,
 and we went our separate ways.
We had a rendezvous at a ramen cocktail bar in Harlem to make.
A young person suggested it and took us there.
We would never have dreamt of going down into the dingy
subterranean bar of our own accord,
but it was really good fun and watching the barman constructing the cocktails
in front of us was like a cabaret act.