Thursday 31 December 2009

The deck of cards

I was going to set up a review of the year in pictures,
optimistically thinking I could quickly choose twelve photos 
to represent each month of 2009.
One hundred and forty two carefully considered selections later, 
I had only reached June.

As I sit here in the early encroaching darkness
I am encouraged by the long, light-filled days,
fascinated by the flowers, fruits, fields, frogs, fires, markets, music,
 trees, travels, birds, badges, buildings, books, birthdays, blossom, 
cakes, cows, clouds, reflections, rainbows, soups, sons, sunrises and sunsets.
I am refreshed by the sea, snow, streams, parks, people, parties.
I am replenished by the food, feasting and foraging.
I had underestimated all the walking, stretching, running, 
swimming, swinging, 
climbing, driving, flying, cycling.
Spring Summer Autumn and Winter
all captured, all compressed.
I've fanned them out
like a pack of cards.
And scooped them closed again.

Pick a number, any number.


It's the 19th of March.
Sunrise from our bedroom window.

I'm happy with that.
Thank you.

Wednesday 30 December 2009

Sweet no things

As we leave behind us the season of excess
and are taken once more by the gentle hands
of Reason and Restraint,
we talk earnestly of decluttering and simplifying our lives.

This is a sincere goal but a difficult one to attain.
Wanting is like an itch. 
Scratching is irresistible but only makes the itch worse.

I think I may have found a soothing balm for our acquisitive yearnings.
Suppress that urge with virtual possessions.

They are free.
They are the loveliest things.
And they never need dusting.

Here is my first new no thing,
I found it in Beth Chatto's Garden Notebook.

...a little pewter jug filled with snowdrops...
In the warmth of the room the snow-white petals have opened over prim,
closely-folded petals,
each bearing a green heart-shaped mark
at the tip.

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Une petite soirée chez nous

Watching this.

We know how to party.

Sunday 27 December 2009

Busy going nowhere

The birds have been wonderfully bold this last week since their usual hunting grounds have been buried in snow. The Blackbirds and Thrushes are usually rather shy, and fly away at the approach of anyone, but now, they only hop away to a little distance and sit watching with their bright eyes, from beneath the friendly shelter of a bush, waiting to go back to their feast of crumbs. The Tits and the Robins and Sparrows scarcely take any notice of one. I have noticed chaffinches feeding among the other birds the last few days, they seldom come to feed.

We too have had chaffinches at the feeders. A first.

I rather like this vintage bird feeding station.
Although she* says,
I don't think the Robins really care for cocoa-nut; but they don't like to see the Tits enjoying anything, without claiming a share.

from *Edith Holden's Country Diary of an Edwardian  Lady

I must add a cocoa-nut to my shopping list 
just for the sheer pleasure of spelling it this way.

Saturday 26 December 2009

Thursday 24 December 2009

The Holly and the Ivy

They decorated every room, from the kitchen 
where every lustre jug had its sprig in its mouth, 
every brass candlestick had its chaplet, 
every copper saucepan and preserving pan had its wreath of 
shining berries and leaves,

 through the hall, which was a bower of green,

to the two parlours which were festooned 
and hung with holly and boughs of fir,
 and ivy berries dipped in red raddle, 
left over from the sheep marking.

Holly decked every picture and ornament.
Sprays hung over the bacon and twisted round hams 
and herb bunches.
the clock carried a crown on his head,
and every dish-cover had a little sprig.

Susan kept an eye on the lonely forgotten humble things,
the jelly moulds and colanders and nut-meg graters,
and made them happy with glossy leaves.
Everything seemed to speak, to ask for its morsel of greenery,
and she tried to leave out nothing.

from The Country Child by Alison Uttley

Wednesday 23 December 2009

Last minute forgetting

Up early

and down to the pine scented hall.

Out into the still quiet street.

Off to Borough Market.

Forgot the figs.

No matter.
Found these growing
outside Southwark Cathedral.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Monday 21 December 2009

Clean, clean, clean, clean

clean, clean,clean.
Clean, clean, clean, clean, clean.

And a dish of kumquats.

Sunday 20 December 2009

This was going to be

a bird boast post,
to show you the huge variety we have visiting our feeders.

wren, robin

bluetit, starling

magpie, blackbird

goldfinch, greenfinch

great tit, coal tit

house sparrow, tree sparrow

rook, goldcrest

even a greater spotted woodpecker.
Not to mention redwing, wood pigeon, ring necked parakeets.
But the one garden bird that remained elusive,

the thrush.

Until today when I found


We think he flew into our window.
So sad.

 First, Second and Third Ladybird Books of British Birds
illustrated by Allen W. Seaby and Roland Green M.B.O.U.,F.R.S.A  

Saturday 19 December 2009

Snow Ball

One of us

is preparing for a dinner party tonight.

A lavish menu has been planned
and every pot, pan, chopping board, knife,
ladle, worksurface, gadget,
and recipe book has been pressed into service.

The scene is set.

Guests to be seated by 8 p.m.

His younger brother's special champagne jellies
are in the fridge.

There may be dancing.

The rest of us are going out.

 It's pretty cold out there.

We hope that the Snow Ball will not go on until dawn.

Brambly Hedge Winter Story by Jill Barklem