Tuesday 31 August 2010


Climbed this.

Saw this.

Earthbound flight.

Monday 30 August 2010


The rosehips are plentiful this year
and I'd love to make rosehip syrup
to see if it would have a Proustian effect,
(we were given it by the teaspoon in winter to ward off colds)
but I would hear a nagging voice saying,
'If we all thought it was OK to take just a few,
there'd be none left for others/the birds to enjoy.'

The River Cottage recipe calls for 1 kg
which isn't a few. 
I'd be stripping the bush clean.

I felt the same way about the little patch of wild garlic 
I found in spring.
Hugh would have had me gathering it wantonly
for a wild garlic risotto,
but in the crowded woods
I felt self-conscious taking just one flower.

Blackberries are fair game.
But proper foraging needs proper empty countryside.
We townies just have to play pretend.

Edited to add this wood pigeon gorging on elderberries
while its beautiful New Zealand cousin, the kereru
was feeding on the nikau palm 
next to Marilyn's caravan.

Sunday 29 August 2010

Saturday 28 August 2010


I found this King Penguin for my collection
whilst foraging in bookshops
in Hay on Wye.

Psalliota campestris.
Field mushrooms.

Never take risks with potentially poisonous fungi.
Always consult an expert,
or a photographic guide.
My book is very charming,
 but not really adequate for reliable identification. 
There is much good advice online,
in France or Eastern Europe you can take them
to a pharmacy to be checked
and if in doubt
don't eat it !

Friday 27 August 2010

Pony stories

I was not a pony mad child.
We had riding lessons with proper jodhpurs, 
hard hats and Vyella shirts,
but I don't remember begging for them.
Indeed my chief memory is of a fall while riding bareback 
and without said helmet whilst on holiday in Cornwall.
I think they thought I was making rather a fuss
and I had to get back on, 
but later when my mother was brushing my hair at bedtime
rather a lot came out and a deep cut was discovered.

Edited to add these photographs from the actual holiday.
Note the casual approach to riding safety for comedy effect.
My five year old sister is on the bigger horse!
I have obviously just had one of Joyce Wilkinson's 
more drastic haircuts.

My sister however was obsessed 
and I still have some of her pony drawings,

this one very naughtily drawn in
Flower Fairies of the Autumn.

We had an assortment of toy horses,

these are the Edith Reynolds hand made (rubber filled) variety.
 Distressingly, they boast on the label that they are 'real skin horses'.
Not, as it turns out, horse skin, 
(I've just looked them up and this blog
seems to know everything there is to know about model ponies)
but just as sadly, calf skin.
Grandpa made a splendid stable for them
and the one permanently jumping Palomino Julip pony,
previously blogged about here.

My favourite horses were the hobby horses we made 
from bamboo canes and stuffed socks, with wool for manes
and button eyes.
They were called Bracken and Briar.
But the real reason for these meanderings

the completely enchanting encounters

we had

with these Welsh mountain ponies.

Love the glamorous fringe.

We could see her foal shifting and kicking.

There was pony trekking to be had in the neighbourhood
and this time it was me begging to go.

Thursday 26 August 2010

Leaving the nest

We all flew away 

for a week in Wales

but we're safely back in the nest for now.

There was no going back for this barely fledged House Martin,

from a very late brood.

The parallel is too pathetic.
I must get a grip.

Let's look at a picture of a funny old sheep instead.
I wonder. 
Is it too late for me to get my ears pierced?

Wednesday 18 August 2010


So whaddya think of the new decor ?

We've got a new view
and those shadows are pretty cool.

That chair looks comfier than
this cold brass tray.

The Saharan brown carpet
was a thoughtful touch
but Savannah would have been better.
She wasn't to know.

Monday 16 August 2010

And in case I don't see you




Saturday 14 August 2010

The clatter of a gauntlet being thrown down

'Even I am blogging on the Mrs Moneypenny website
a practice that I will embrace for August only and then never again. 
A column a week is one thing, 
a column a day a completely different deal. 
Who blogs? 
As far as I can see, it is people with nothing else to do.'

F.T Weekend magazine.


Friday 13 August 2010


We used to have eggs in many forms
when I was a child.
My father got up first at 6 o'clock every morning
and brought us each a cup of tea in bed 
before making our breakfasts.
Boiled, fried and scrambled eggs
accounted for three of the five working days.

I have just lately revived the habit.
Perhaps a faint memory of a downgrading 
blamed on egg consumption, 
has had something to do with this.

I do wish we could still buy white ones.

He sat by the fire in the kitchen 
not daring to speak for happiness.
Till that moment he had not known 
how beautiful and peaceful life could be. 
The green square of paper pinned round the lamp 
cast down a tender shade. 
On the dresser was a plate of sausages  and white pudding 
and on the shelf there were eggs. 
They would be for breakfast in the morning 
after the communion in the college chapel. 
White pudding and eggs and sausages and cups of tea. 
How simple and beautiful life was after all! 
And life lay all before him.

Still Life of Cooking Utensils, Cauldron, Frying Pan and Eggs
Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce

Thursday 12 August 2010

The Twelfth of August

Mrs Miniver has driven up to Scotland 
for the start of the shooting season.
She declines to walk the steepest beats above the hill loch
and rests on a grassy knoll with her sister-in-law Susan,

who had planted her back firmly against one of the rowans 
and begun to knit.
'Susan', said Mrs Miniver,'where did that knitting come from? 
I swear you didn't have any on you a minute ago. 
I believe you materialize bits of knitting out of thin air, 
the way conjurors do with lighted cigarettes.'
'No,' said Susan, 'they grow out of my fingertips, 
like a thread out of a spider. 
As a matter of fact my whole inside is made of wool. 
One gets like that, you know, living in the Highlands all year round.'

The Dreamer 
Annie Louisa Swynnerton 1887

Mrs Miniver lay down on her side 
to make the colours of the hills clearer.
Across the foreground of her picture
 was a spray of whin in full bloom, 
upon which two chaffinches were swinging.
Above them a pair of white butterflies were weaving 
quick flirtatious patterns in the air.
 It was idyllic - a Chinese painting on silk; 
an exquisite, peaceful oasis in a day of organized death...
She shut her eyes, 
taking the Chinese picture with her inside the lids.

'Listen,' said Susan presently. 
'I heard a shot.'
Mrs Miniver opened her eyes again for a moment.
Eight white wings lay scattered on the grass under the gorsebush.
The chaffinches were looking as though 
butterflies wouldn't melt in their mouths. 
It was too hot to work out the moral.
She shut her eyes again and went to sleep.

English School 20th century.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Boo! 2

Second in my occasional series of
 things that appear at the window.

It's raining here, 
the finest, speckliest rain
too small to coalesce into raindrops
as it falls.

The washing line sags empty.

Monday 9 August 2010

Country living

Hugh F.W would have been proud of me.
I gleaned, gathered, 
foraged and found,
crab apples,
mulberries and
on a walk today.

But we had to pass through a light industrial estate
cross busy main roads,
and pass unlovely housing estates
to find a bit of country life.

Maybe one day,
we''ll have it on our doorstep.

Friday 6 August 2010

Hill Difficulty

It was an uphill struggle

but the view at the top

was worth the climb.

The Hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the way to life lies here:
Come, pluck up, Heart, let's neither faint nor fear;
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where end is woe.

The Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan