Entries in personal (34)


truth and lives


I came across a box of old photographs in a flea market the other day and stopped, as usual, to sift through them. Finding a poignancy in each image - bare sketches of lives left lying unclaimed - I was most compelled by these two. With the photos tucked in my pocket, I walked around with scarcely half a mind on the push and noise of real life and the rest filling up with stories about that couple and the pair of girls. 

I think about their stories. I think about my stories: those ones I tell myself about my self, my memories, my life. I look at these strangers in the photographs and myself in the glare of the screen; glaring slightly with concentration and seeming a stranger to myself. Sometimes I wonder if the reason I write is because making up stories about other people is frankly more straightforward than sorting out the truth of my own. 


early world


I sometimes think my vision of the sea is the clearest thing I own. I pick it up, exile that I am, like the purple 'lucky stones' I used to collect with a white ring all the way round, or the shell of a blue mussel with it's rainbowy angel's fingernail interior; and in one wash of memory the colors deepen and gleam, the early world draws breath.  (from Ocean 1212-W - Sylvia Plath)

For Plath, the sea. For me, the cold Canadian lakes - some of which were so big they seemed like the sea. And the little sandy shored, pine-ringed lakes that we'd drive to on a weekend; my legs swinging and sticking to the leather beneath my short 1970s dresses. The regular peel and slurp of skin released from leather mingled with the car radio and my own low singing. Sometimes, to fade out raised voices in the front, I would sing harder. As we drove, I watched for patterns in the clouds that dominated the big skies. Some days, there would just be blue. A bright dazzle - just blue and the yellow disc of sun. 

At the lake, the first slap of cold against hot summer skin. The scent memory of sun cream and pine, earthy lake water and the rubbery swim hat I was sometimes made to wear. Then into the water and the freedom of moving further away from my non-swimming parents. My dad taught me to swim by making me arrow towards him underwater; and as he gradually moved further away I found myself to be a swimmer. The transition from the speed and grace and cool shadow underwater to the splash and struggle of swimming in the air was one I made reluctantly. So when the shouts and splashes and noises of a busy beach began to drown out my daydreams, I'd happily submerge and swim long, slow pulls underwater. That water is glass green in my memory, striped at intervals by the sun. 

My early world, encapsulated by those lakeside moments, is tucked inside my own seashell - ready to open at any time. I'm opening it now.


woman's work 

It's been an unusually domestic week - mostly because the sun suddenly came out and my strongest wish was to sit quietly outside watching the fishermen cast and reel on the lake or listening to the radio in the shade of a tree. Both provided the perfect accompaniment to sewing.

First, I stitched up some little stones for Jude's project. I loved the process of setting the pleasingly imperfect stone shapes onto tiny squares of linen and could have carried on for ages. Only the thought of Jude's heart sinking as she gazed upon mountains of my stones made me stop. Then I tried a little freehand embroidery but the heat sapped any creativity and I set aside my hoop with not a little irritation.

So it was that I gave in and got domestic. I cut down some outgrown patchwork trousers to shorts for Joel and then spent a frustratingly long while unpicking the excellent stitching that held all the separate patches together. Still, I now have a tantalising stack of colourful squares to work into a floor cushion or rug for his room. I finally patched up the pockets on my favourite 'hot evening at home' Antik Batik kaftan. I sewed swimming badges onto Joel's pool towel. I even fixed the hems on John's cricket trousers such was the domestic goodness of my heart. And remembering Anja's beautiful checks, I cut and hemmed up some extra large gingham napkins to use on picnics. Oddly satisfying; all of it. 

Though the tranquillity of sitting happily outside in the heat contrasted uneasily with the sense of dread that always accompanies the bowel-shifting grind of the low flying chinooks that are busy in the sky this week. There is something about the simple, homely sewing that I'm doing now that makes me think of all those women - stitching, mending, running a home - in places and circumstances where tranquillity is a distant memory. And thinking about them doing their best in intolerable situations, I feel - yes - gratitude for my quiet days but also such impotent outrage for the too many lives that are far from ordinary.

* Kate


secret light

top: Woman in a Beret, bottom: Woman in a Fur Coat

At the weekend, I went with a friend to the Lucien Freud hoopla in London. Squeezing between the fractious, shuffling crowd, we tried our best to actually look at the paintings. Ignoring the passive-aggressive glares and sniffs (thank you middle-class English reticence) I sidled into the respectful space that people left between themselves and the canvasses to place my face a nose breadth away from the paint. 

I've seen some of his work in the flesh and almost all of it in reproduction, but was still startled by my visceral reaction to the canvasses and the complete turnabout of all I thought I loved. The fastidious smoothness and precision of paint in the very early works has always discomfited me and I've erred towards the later, larger, looser work. But I found myself drawn to a series of portraits that displayed such an acute drive to render the reality of a person in paint that my dislike of the hand-cramping, fine-brushed stippling was overcome by a frank wonder at his eye and technique. 

With the large nudes, the inherent problem of chronologically curated exhibitions took hold. Coming one after the other, room after room, I became desensitized and - rather bored. With a few extraordinary exceptions, I realised that I actually disliked a number of the canvasses I've long admired in reproduction. Partly a growing aversion to his palette and the obsessive dry stippling that he layered on over faces and contours, but more that his objective eye became colder and more relentless; more obsessed with paint yet less acute. What lingered most as I walked slowly through those rooms: what would that cold, clear, judgmental eye see hidden in me? 

The work that caught me most off guard was tucked into the very corner of a wall. Stepping close to the unassuming little head and shoulders of a woman hunched into a fur coat, intrigued only because she resembled an old friend, I was stilled. The extraordinary amber capture of light at the base of her pupils is a little slice straight into who she is. If you ever have a chance to see it, get close and peer at her. The technical mastery and sheer power of looking revealed in those moments redeemed Freud's genius for me. I have that little postcard on my desk and although her eye light is dimmed and dull in reproduction, I take pleasure in knowing that it's there. 

All that looking and shuffling made us suddenly starving and we sprinted through the crowds massed around the exit. Once we'd ridden up and down in the lift to find ourselves always outside the same beautiful (expensive) restaurant overlooking the rooftops, then wound our way down endless flights of stairs finally to find our place in the basement cafe, we fell upon salads and frittata and beer and coffees with hungry happiness.

Watching clouds and crowds moving across the street level skylight above our heads, eating and talking and taking our time, worked to gradually soothe my ruffled inner self. Remembering that afternoon now, it's the time talking together and a handful of paintings that settle inside me as a firm memory. That, and a reminder always to look for the little unexpected sliver of light in the eye. 



losing it

I've just had one of those moments that happen too often. When a thought I've been happily following simply slips away while my mind snagged on something else. I'm a lateral thinker and talker, constantly interrupting myself to say remind me to tell you about that later or to stop, mid-sentence, to follow another tangent whose logic is entirely apparent to me. Not always so to others. And there's the related problem of other people sparking off new thoughts that I need to follow - and on it goes. I fear it makes me seem scatty at best, tiring (or mad) at worst.At the weekend, whilst waiting for lunch, my request for a piece of scrap paper (to jot down a trail of thoughts) was met with a holding gaze of disapproval as a waitress slowly tore a ticket off her book for me to use. This came after my asking to move tables and usual menu indecision and marked me out as a person to be hustled out as quickly as possible.

The pressure of the mental catherine wheel is eased by jotting things down: pinning words and phrases and little mind maps that spiral in different directions. But while I always mean to carry a notebook, my restless jigging about of bags means too often I forget to transfer it. So the stack of notebooks and pens that I stockpiled for various trips have now been scattered around every conceivable pocket and bag. It's the only way.



thinking about clams

Venice is one of those cities, like San Francisco and Stockholm, that I slipped into so easily that coming home felt wrong. Even the greenly dank smell of the water didn't worry me. I accepted it like the little flaws you secretly like in someone you love. Evading the crowds who trod heavily round the same few streets, the pleasures of getting lost amidst the back streets were heightened by the frequent discovery of a tiny deserted church with a centuries old fresco. I dreamed of training in fresco restoration and spending my life there. Sitting quietly with a prosecco in a neighbourhood square, watching the life move around us, we talked of how easy it would be simply not to go home. 

But for all the many good memories I have attached to Venice, surprisingly few of them are culinary. Some of the most disappointing Italian food I've eaten has been in Venice. There are glorious exceptions. Plates of cicchetti served in little bars full of raised voices and crowded with office workers. Gefilte fish eaten in on the canal side in Cannareggio. Little polpetti that were so hot and fresh that we burned out mouths in haste and greedy hunger. And the best spaghetti al vongole. There were no tomatoes or chilli - just a lot of garlic and wine and a soft, leafy green that lay across the clams like a little blanket and melted on contact with your tongue.

Listening again to this programme, I determined to celebrate all things Venetian with my own tribute to that vongole. Chard will be my leafy green, and I'll use a heavy hand with the garlic and the wine bottle. And there's a bottle of prosecco in the larder from the days when it was actually spring - hurray! It's so cold and grey here that a little feast is just what's needed. What are you cooking tonight?



...               I love

to stand among the last trees listening down

to the releasing branches where I've been - 

the rain, thinking I've gone, crackles the air

and calls by name the leaves that aren't yet there.

from Wood Not Yet Out - Alice Oswald

Now that drought has officially been declared in our area, it's rained solidly for the past week or so. That really heavy, vertical rain that drills straight into the soil. Good for plants but bothersome to walk around in. Unless you have a rather fetching olive green hunter-style hat with a ludicrously large peak that makes it a matter of pride not to let a drop of rain touch face. Happily, I have such a hat.

As I walk I tune into the rhythm and patterns of rain. I like the hypnotically loud and regular drumming sound on the brim as I walk: it goes a little way to drumming out circular thoughts that walking alone has failed to do. 

And so the sun comes out now, until the next shower in a half hour or so, judging by the colour of the sky. Then comes that glorious hour before sunset when the skies ease and break into extravagantly tinted pinks and purples. Before it all begins again. I'm sure I'll miss it when it's gone, and sunny skies are taken for granted. 


how are you?

A while back, I bought a trio of these postcards from Kerry at Seventy Tree and immediately knew that I'd have to claim one for my own. Just looking at it makes me happy - and reminds me daily that there is a long list of people I need to say hello to. 

If you know me in person, you'll have many examples of phone calls left unreturned for far too long. The phone and I are not friends and it's too easy for me to let a call go to voice mail. Then begins a self-perpetuating circle. I don't return a call promptly - time goes by - and it becomes too hard to easily answer the question 'what have you been up to?' More time goes by. It becomes even harder. And the worst thing is, it's the friends I think of almost daily - but who live at a distance - that I neglect most. I too often assume that we will always pick up where we left off. The loose, local acquaintances based on proximity and children have calls and coffees and no hint of my elusive ways.

But at this point in a new year, I realise that it isn't enough to say that I've thought a lot about someone (though entirely true). I need to accept that a regular phone call is better than a perfect phone call. To answer that call instead of leaving it to the more convenient moment that never comes. So these cheery lovelies are not going to be used to avoid a call but as an adjunct to one. And if one of them arrives on your mat then I hope it comes with a light-hearted hello, unweighted by lengthy apologies. It means I've managed at long last to break one of my most unhappy habits. 


fare forward

I'm in a bit of a bind. With this new year hurtling by so fast it's taking my breath away and this song going round in my mind, I need to decide what I'm going to commit to over this next year, and beyond, to make myself happy. The kind of intrinsic happiness that comes from doing something that you love and that leaves you with the sense of a day well lived. Something beyond the daily contentment of family: something entirely personal. These last years have been so full of parenting that this kind of decision was, more or less, redundant. Now, before another birthday comes, I feel I need to make that choice and get going. But making the choice between different options is where I come unstuck.

There are many things I love and that fire me up. Some of those things - art, making, photography - are more simple pleasures. They don't cause me too many problems. But the writing that I know is what I really need to commit to is where the fear lives. It's words that have always held me and exercised me and filled my secret corners. The trouble is, I'm not at my happiest whilst lost in words. It's too deep a descent into the world of the hidden, and the excavation of words and meaning is hard. I'm distracted - preoccupied - often lost. It's like being back in the forest and choosing the path that looks the most impenetrable. It may be that I have to exchange the comfort of a gentle, immediate form of happiness for the sort that comes when something hard has been achieved. When fears are faced down and seen off.

There's a small circle of blue breaking through the dense clouds that have suddenly taken away the promise of spring. Enough to make a sailor a pair of trousers my grandmother would say with satisfaction; knowing it was likely that the day would turn out well after all. I have most of this day in front of me and I won't make it better by indulging in yet more circular thought. I think I know what I've got to do. 



another life

Some years ago, at a work conference, I met the man I think of as my other husband. We didn't know each other but the recognition was instant. He made his way steadily, but too slowly, towards me; pausing at intervals to shake hands and pat shoulders. Finally, he reached my table. Ignoring the chair held out for him, he fell into the one next to me and we smiled in astonishment. Leaning close, we began to talk. There wasn't much time and there were constant interruptions. He and I had grown up in neighbouring small towns in Canada. He was a year younger than me and more than two heads taller. His face was handsome and kind and his big hands moved with an unexpected delicacy. Our food lay cooling on our plates and we talked softly; seriously. That night, I was pulled away to a function. The next day we spent in separate meetings with the promise of dinner that night. But I was suddenly called back to work and flew home without saying goodbye. It was complicated. I left work and the country within a month. My life changed and moved. 

If the theory of parallel universes is true, then I'm living somewhere with my tall, gentle, garrulous Canadian. Am I happier there than here?  



I spent Saturday with a friend I rarely see alone. As we wandered through the busy streets and in and out of vintage clothes shops, we caught up on each other's lives and plans and vacillating priorities. As that point in the afternoon when the sun dipped and the air cooled further, we stopped for a cortado in a fashionable new coffee shop and talked longer and deeper. Then a moment when I realised how far I've come in tamping down my people-pleasing tendency, but also that I could have strayed too far the other way.

A waitress reached silently between the two of us and snatched my (not yet empty) glass away. I reached out silently to take it back. Something in my look made her step back, silently, and stand there a moment or two longer at my shoulder after I'd turned away. Then she moved on. I found Nicole watching me wryly. All she had to do was ask first. I've been a waitress: I would have asked. I still care what people think of me and I care what I think of me. I should have acted with more grace. Does it make it better that I'm thinking of it even now? 




Another overnight delivery of snow rearranged my day and left me with a couple of spare hours this morning. I was happy. The sun began to assert itself as I walked and the silence of the empty fields was punctuated only by the music of birds. The buzzards wheeled in slow arcs. A tiny wren perched on a thorned branch for a moment to catch its breath. An apricot-coloured young fox paused in fright at the crest of the ridge as I climbed, and disappeared in an instant. I stopped to speak to the pair of horses I'd last seen trespassing in the grounds of the manor house at new year. 

Sometimes I'm not sure if I value such moments of solitude more than others or if I'm more accepting of them. I've spent a lot of time alone during my years of academic study and work and during long bouts of travel and living abroad. Alone a lot even while in a relationship because of work. Being alone in public doesn't bother me. I can eat alone, travel alone, go out alone. But long periods of living alone is something that saps all joy from me. I miss that daily routine of being with another person. At the moment, John is clattering through the cutlery drawer to lay the table for the supper I've prepared while he's put Joel to bed. I like that. All the daily inconveniences of sharing a life with another person are secondary to the simple pleasure of knowing that my solitude has an end. My achilles heel. 


not talking of love

Hurtling as we are towards Valentine's day and those depressingly dutiful, standardised, expressions of love, this Fenton poem offers a comicly earthy twist on love - and sightseeing. Because, let's be honest, travelling somewhere engrossing and diverting during those early days is simply a waste of time. A room or two, some food. That's all you need. That's all I need now. Oh sigh. Now I've gone and stirred up stirrings. 

I'm going to think instead of Devon and the first time I heard this. That night when another road wasn't taken. 


In Paris With You

Don't talk to me of love. I've had an earful

 And I get tearful when I've downed a drink or two.

I'm one of your talking wounded.

I'm a hostage. I'm maroonded. 

But I'm in Paris with you. 


Yes, I'm angry at the way I've been bamboozled

And resentful at the mess I've been through.

I admit I'm on the rebound

And I don't care where are we bound.

I'm in Paris with you.


Do you mind if we do not to the Louvre

If we say sod off to sodding Notre Dame,

If we skip the Champs Elysees

And remain here in this sleazy


Old hotel room

Doing this and that

To what and to whom

Learning who you are, 

Learning what I am.


Don't talk to me of love. Let's talk of Paris,

The little bit of Paris in our view.

There's that crack across the ceiling

And the hotel walls are peeling

And I'm in Paris with you.


Don't talk to me of love. Let's talk of Paris.

I'm in Paris with the slightest thing you do.

I'm in Paris with your eyes, your mouth,

I'm in Paris with ... all points south.

Am I embarrassing you?

I'm in Paris with you.


James Fenton




Even though the sky was thickening we didn't dare get our hopes up. But late afternoon, home from the planetarium and with eyes full of black holes, small flakes began to fall. By evening, the unmistakeable silence that comes with snow had settled and we could relax, knowing it would be enough. Though a few days late. These last years the first snow has fallen during the night before Joel's birthday and that opening of a curtain to unexpected whiteness has been the first present. But it's worth waiting for that day of exhausting sledding down our long hill and snow fights. 

The sun is too warm though for the snow to last. Already, the whole hill has reverted to green though the lake remains weakly frozen. Yesterday, snowed home from school, we watched a heron lifting off from the still-running stream in the stillness of the snow, trailing long, awkward legs.

Today, the garden is busy with birds readying for spring. Looking out on my peaceful, if quietly active garden, with workmen sizing up the fireplace for another wood burner, I'm accommodating the incongruity of listening to a news report of the bombardment of Homs with defiant birdsong still audible amongst the blasts of mortars. It reminds me of the recording of the song of the nightingale in a Surrey garden - not too far from here - through which can be heard the drone of the bombers flying on a raid during the second world war. I'm not sure if that juxtaposition of bird and bomber lifts my heart or makes me despair more.

A male blackbird eyes me through the window as if to inquire about the too-soft grapes that usually make their way outside at around this time. I know I'm grateful to be halfway through an ordinary day with its ordinary preoccupations: supper tonight, schools, the deepening creases at the corners of my eyes. The vague, ungrateful dissatisfaction that my lunchtime bowl of leftover thai-spiced spinach and potato curry was just a little too small for my big hunger today - until sharp lime pickle brought me to my senses. 

I wish you an ordinary day. 


la mer

On Sunday, John and I were thrown an unexpected couple of hours alone. As Joel disappeared on a hunt for flints with his visiting Italian uncle, we stood bewildered by what to do. Desperate for air after the celebrations of the night before, but away for the weekend without our walking boots, we struck out for the sea. 

Fiercely cold and intensely bright, it was a perfect day for a stomp along the promenade. The sea dazzled and the wind blew strong but - oh joy and pleasure - it miraculously blew behind us each way. So my long coat and untamed hair moved smoothly around me and we moved swiftly along together; discussing, looking and breathing in all that good air.

There are some days just made for fish & chips and this was one of them. Hurrying the short steps from our favourite fish restaurant to beach with our paper wrapped food, we settled on the shingle and dived in. Eating hastily, gloriously burning fingers and mouths, we stared in companionable silence at the surf and the gulls scudding and darting over the waves.  Denise's post beautifully captures how the sea can heal and settle. I've lived near the coast on and off for years but when living away it's the shift and swell and empty horizon that I crave. 

Refreshed and restored we retraced our steps, more slowly now, back towards the cliffs and to the cottage, where a ring of flints were joined by two perfect shells. It was a good day. 


how to irritate people just by being you

Today I took my first pottery class and my hands have that slightly dessicated feel: a rather pleasing raspiness that makes them feel used, as they do after a day's gardening.

As the only beginner in the class I found myself asking question after question about different techniques and their possibilities. And as the tutor gazed at me over her glasses, admiring my enthusiasm perhaps but wishing to god that I'd just calm down, I realised, yet again, that my need to map out an area in advance - to see the whole and then focus down on the detail - isn't always appreciated. 

Needless to say, I didn't produce a masterpiece. An adequately stable little bowl and a pinchpot that has a degree of internal integrity is the sum of my hours (all those questions to ask, you see). I'm having to damp down my perfectionist streak and see these next weeks as simple experimentation. And perhaps I'll try to be a little less annoying. But it was meditative and absorbing and has made my appreciation of master potters even greater. 

Sitting here overlooking the garden, I've just watched three full-grown swans chase each other down the little stream that separates us from their lake; blurring the air with their wings and sending drifts of leaves skywards. Although I need to head out soon to collect Joel from school, I'll brew a quick coffee to drink outside. To watch the birds as they move serenely now on the lake, in slow elegant circles, and imagine it's my hands turning clay on the wheel - turning it into something magical. 


light can be both wave and particle

me, by Joel

Several years ago, I found myself stuck in the middle seat of the middle row of a jumbo when I'd expected to be in splendid isolation on the side aisle. Oh I was unhappy. Pinned in on both sides and unable to move my arms and legs my claustrophobia began to rise at the thought of the lengthy transatlantic flight. I determined that this was all a bad show and my bad mood radiated off me. I ignored my fellow passengers, scowling instead into my book. Time passed though my fury remained.

Suddenly the man beside me said 'it's true, y'know'. I blinked at him. He just smiled and repeated 'it's true - the book'. I was reading Ellen Gilchrist's Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle. With that, the journey changed. He was a physics teacher, travelling back home with his wife. We all talked for the rest of the flight. I remember nothing of our conversation but that it was good and thoughtful and unexpected. He took the risk of breaching my barrier of gloom and it lifted the day for all of us. 

I'm not a fan of the strict resolution but this year I'm going to try and remember to live with more generosity and lightness. To smile and see the best in someone, or a situation. To cut off a bad mood before it affects other people. To enjoy the simple fact that I'm alive to see in another year. I hope you've had some good days and are looking foward to the chances that this new year brings. Happiness to you. 


tilt and shift

As a child I spent a lot of time on my back: trying to feel the motion of the earth (and I did, I swear), watching the patterns of clouds, and pretending that the ceiling was actually the floor and imagining how life would be different in that scenario. I feel like I need a little of that altered perspective this week. Life is shifting but how it is changing is as subtle as sensing the tilt and rotation of the earth through one's skin. Perhaps that explains my recent preoccupation with photos of the world upside-down and reflected; a sort of modern day reading of runes.

When I sat down to write this post this morning I had a different one in mind. That little paragraph above is where I got to before it started to go awry. As I wrote it became clear to me (and maybe that's why I write here) that looking for signs in cups and mirrors and clouds is an evasion. I had an image of myself lost in a forest, waiting for someone to come along and show me which way to go. As I pictured myself just sitting there, waiting for the all-knowing 'someone' to direct me, I realised that's how I've been acting in regard to my own life. Waiting for a sign that it's time to act; for 'someone' to show me what to do.

Chastened, I stepped away from my laptop and put on a pot of coffee (default delaying tactic). As I waited, I flicked through one of the A4 plastic-sleeved folders in which I file snippets that inspire me. I stopped at an article by American writer Anne Lamott. I attended a couple of her readings in the mid-nineties while I was living near San Francisco and enjoyed her dry humour and commitment to her writing life. So I paused to re-read it. Another blow to the heart. She wrote about making time to do what you most value. I realise I have time but I don't use it to do what I most value. It's as simple as that. I don't do enough of what I most value and I wait rather than act. When I sat down this morning I wanted a shift in perspective and I've got it; just not in the way I expected. Time to get walking.

All your life, you wait for the propitious time.

Then the propitious time

reveals itself as action taken

 (Louise Glück 'Landscape' Averno)


everything's rosy


I had an unexpected little hour of happiness the other day that began with the discovery in a second-hand bookshop of The Pocket Encyclopaedia of Roses. Emerging into a suddenly blue sky with a spare half hour, I sat outside my favourite cafe and ate Swedish carrot cake. It had a cheery little icing carrot on it and I admired the extra effort. So I sat happily in the sunshine and ate and sipped and read about roses.

Published in 1963, it's a technicolour beauty. The styling is so of its time it's easy to imagine those formal displays sitting alongside a table set with wine bottle candleholders, a bit of Engelbert Humperdink on the wooden record cabinet and a hostess (already hot in her long, patterned, polyester gown) worried if moussaka is a little 'foreign' for a dinner party. My favourite bit of the book though are the descriptions of the roses themselves. Clustered together, they read like characters from a play.

Emily Gray : shapely buds golden yellow opening to buff. summer flowering. foliage small, dark and glossy. vigorous but inclined to die-back.

Cecile Brunner : blooms miniature and perfectly formed. bright pink, yellow base. fragrant. foliage sparse, dark greeen. growths long and slender.

Countess of Dalkeith : vermillion flushed orange flowers. very fragrant. bushy growth of average height. an attractive variety but similar to parent, subject to black spot.

Hugh Dickson : rich crimson shaded scarlet. very fragrant and recurrent. growth vigorous and upright, and best grown as semi-climber. unsuitable for formal beds.

John S Armstrong : blooms large and flat, freely produced on good stiff stems. attractive colouring, rich scarlet crimson. slight fragrance. foliage dark green and plentiful. a vigorous variety of good habit.

I see myself sneaking into the action as Clair Matin: blooms medium size, cupped, semi-double, slightly fragrant. pink. moderately vigorous, best suited for pillar...



love and dancing  


Some lovely friends married recently in a tiny, private ceremony, a moment all the more joyful to me because it comes after some years and two children. I've written before about the particular romance of long love. To marry early in a relationship is arguably a simpler thing, with the critical tests of love still ahead. To marry years later, with a full understanding of each other and having endured difficult times, is a special symbol of love and hope.

P & A, this song's for you. Dance on!  x