Sunday, 30 August 2015



One of the joys about these August days is the simple outdoor eating that happens. Today we lazily made an easy lunch of bread, tomatoes and cheese and boiled some beautifully speckled eggs kindly given by a friend and we ate in the garden, trying hard to ignore the wasps who were determined to join in the party. And this coming week we're somehow back to packed lunches and running for the bus and suddenly it seems as though the summer has slipped through our fingers...

Saturday, 29 August 2015


Oh my goodness, I am feeling a little *delicate* today... we had friends over for a big ol' end of summer dinner and of course we may, or may not, have drunk an unhealthy amount of gin and wine and beer and eaten enough food to cover several days' calorie intake... So today it has been cups-of-tea-and-no-sudden-movements and I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I am thinking I am getting too old for this shit and then I think nah, not too old at all, just out of practice. Anyway in order to accommodate everyone in relative comfort we swapped our sitting room and dining room around. And yes, we did it fifteen minutes before our first friends arrived and yes, some bad words might have been said and there was a definite sheen of sweat on my brow as a result of hurried, harried table setting (never set a table under pressure, it's so unladylike). So today, post Apocalypse, I am enjoying the fact that our sofa and chairs are in the dining room and I'm liking the look of them there and anyway there's no way I'm hoicking them around, that's a step too far for my delicate constitution.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

slow morning

It's one of the last of the slow mornings. The boys are tucked away in their pyjamas, watching a dvd or playing with Lego or reading. The sun is shining. Take advantage of a quiet kitchen and make coffee the slow way, grind the beans, fill the little red pot with water, put it on the stove, hear the hiss of the gas and wait for the magic to happen. As soon as you hear the putt of coffee in the spout, whisk it off the heat. Toast pops, buttery fingers, cream in a favourite cup. And then out into the sun to sit and drink and eat and, if you're a dog, sunbathe.

Monday, 24 August 2015


We are on the cusp of change. It is gradual and inevitable and the birds are the first to tell us. I always associate the beginning of autumn with the crows. Their rasping cawing wakes us - they are extremely vocal - and they sit in the swaying treetops as the wind picks up, flapping away in indignation when it all gets a bit too much. We used to live in a tiny gate~lodge encircled by beech trees in which the rooks nested in their messy high nests. The noisy comings and goings of so many birds provided the soundtrack to those years of our early married life and the birth of our eldest son and so they have an especially fond place in my heart. I think they are calling in the cooler, darker nights, reminding us of smoky wood scented air and falling leaves.
Of course the garden is changing as August draws to an end. Most of the colour is gradually fading although the white Japanese anemones and the cornflower blue agapanthus are providing some interest. We are hoping for a kind, dry September. There are still many outdoor jobs to do before we finally retreat indoors. Indeed it is becoming almost too cool to sit out in the evening time, but if we do we sometimes get rewarded with fiery sunsets and rainbows.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

end of summer

What is nicer than an end-of-summer trip to the seaside with family? We headed to the North on Saturday morning, stopping in Hillsborough along the way. The weather decided to cooperate and it was sunny skies and warmth all the way. Over four days we picnic~ed at the ruined 13th century Layd Church near Cushendall, walked in the walled gardens of Glenarm Castle, strolled the prom in Larne and swam in the sea both at Cushendun and in the harbour at Ballyhalbert. It was lovely for the boys to spend precious days with their cousins and it was lovely for the grown~ups too. And now we face the fact that there are less than two weeks until September and the beginning of school, but for now we are enjoying these last few days of freedom.

Friday, 14 August 2015


How sentimental are you? I have to admit that we possibly find it a teeny bit difficult to throw some of the paraphernalia of life away. I have every letter my husband (then boyfriend) wrote to me and since we met when we were 16 that's quite a lot of letters. We have most of our children's drawings and daubings, from early scribbles to school art. We keep all their homework and copybooks, we keep letters, postcards, invitations, Christmas cards, thank you cards... 

And I couldn't help myself. While rummaging around in the brocante in Fanjeaux I had to have someone else's paraphernalia too. Postcards which, I didn't realise until I got home, were all sent to the same Mademoiselle in Paris...Written in 1902, 1904 and 1905 they are a perfect little mystery. How did they end up in a provincial small town far away from Paris, who sent them, why did the sender post two almost identical cards (top picture) on the same day to the same girl... oh, thinking about it all gives me a lovely shudder up my spine, especially since there were hundreds of postcards in the dusty box in that brocante and I only chose the ones whose pictures I liked without looking at the backs of them...

Monday, 10 August 2015


Lately around here summer doesn't know if it's staying or leaving. My morning walks have either been wet and misty with a definite autumnal damp hanging in the air or dry and sunny with the coquettish promise of a good day. To be honest I'm happy with either. On the nicer days we have grabbed the chance to eat outside and Hugo and William camped in the garden with their friends ~ complete with tents and sleeping-bags, a noisy forage into the woods for dry sticks for their campfire, sausages and beans, toasted marshmallows and ghost stories and er, dogs and Nerf guns for 'protection' (from what, I wondered, the rain?)

But we've had more of the wet/cold days, ones which speak of changing seasons and warmer clothes and evenings drawing in and all that September brings. But before we hatch down and think autumnal thoughts we have a trip to the sea to look forward to, last few precious days together before Hugo goes away to school and another chapter in our lives begins.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

August reading

I bought Testament of Youth way back in January and between the swings and the roundabouts didn't think to pick it up. To be honest I think its size scared me a little. It's hefty (600 or so pages) but the other evening with the rain dripping endlessly outside I lit the fire and started it. Of course Vera Brittain's writing is such that you get effortlessly sucked into her story, beginning with her early life and her battle to get out of provincial Buxton and into Oxford. Of course the Great War gets in the way of those plans and takes the lives of her brother Edward, her fiance Roland Leighton and their friends, creating the lost generation, and of course changing her life too. If the summer continues in its dismal way I shall have lots of fireside reading time - although I'm wondering should this be my August and September choice for The Year in Books and that way I can stop hyperventilating over its size...

Tuesday, 4 August 2015


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Oh the pull of the sea and its swishing tides and clacking pebbles and wind in the sails and smell of chugging diesel engines and maybe, if you were lucky, fish and chips with the calling of seagulls and the wet slop of bladderwrack. To the sea we must go.
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Wonderful linocut seascapes and more to be found on artist Melvyn Evans' website

Monday, 3 August 2015


The honeysuckle threads its way through the hedgerows making the air around it sweet and luscious. This is a favourite part of my morning walk - this hedge is thick, its depth is least the length of my arm, there is a stream under the hedge running alongside the road at this point and in the autumn there are mushrooms growing in the grassy verge. This stretch is about a mile from home and it's part of my daily walk (unless of course I choose to walk to the lake) and it's just beautiful. The landscape is gentle, there's no traffic and the dogs and I amble along with only bird flutterings and the odd whirring of smaller insect wings for company.