Wednesday, 16 April 2014


This isn't the kind of book I'd buy - certainly not at £25 - but I saw it in the library and was seduced by the lovely pictures.
But, heavens, I found Emma Bridgewater's writing so annoying.
I'm as big a sucker as anybody else for all that aspirational stuff about life in the country with chickens and a dresser of enviable china - even though I know that I'd run a mile if a chicken cocked its eye at me. But it's a seductive image and, like every woman I know, I've bought into it.
Now I think of it, every kitchen where I'm on tea-drinking terms has some of her mugs/bowls/butter dishes ...
It's a brand. You shop at Waitrose. You buy Emma Bridgewater.
I'd have been interested in knowing a bit more about how she built such a successful business.
But there's a cliquey-ness about this book. It's rambling and unstructured. It's like being at a party where everybody else is on first name terms - and you're the glassy-eyed with boredom person who doesn't know who they're talking about. And the author hasn't the good manners to make introductions.
It's a bit like reading the Daily Mail sidebar of shame, only with a posher cast. (Kim, Cheyenne, Dita ... no, I haven't got a clue either.)
And it's put me right off my butter dish with the blue stars.
Which I don't suppose was the intention.

Monday, 14 April 2014



It's Mills and Boon meets Harry Potter.

It's Fifty Shades of Grey with vampires.

It's a silly book for silly women - and it's as long as Middlemarch.

Don't know what possessed me ...

Unless you're a vampire, life's too short.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Oh, to be in England ...

I have picked the first vases of white lilac.

Suddenly I notice wisteria drooping on the walls of enviable houses, ie not mine.

The bluebells came out when I must have been looking the other way.

A friend gave me a bunch of red parrot tulips from her garden - which would be on my desk. Except that is a precarious position for flowers.

There were violets on her lawn.

The Surrey hedgerows yesterday were bright with celandine and wood anemones and masses of cow parsley.

The year seems to be going very fast.


Yesterday we visited the Watts Gallery, I've never been there before. Not an artist I much care for - although I enjoyed seeing Miss Virginia Julian Dalrymple's green velvet gown displayed by her portrait. The gallery, however, is superb.

Here is a link for Mystica, who asked to see lilac. The scent is the smell of spring, Mystica, especially after rain when you smell the wet leaves. Around here, the white lilac has been out for a few days but the mauve-purply lilac needs a week or two longer. I remember one fabulous year when I enjoyed two lilac seasons, as I spent a few days in Sweden when it comes out in June, much later than ours. Every village there was drenched in it and the scent wafted on every breeze. More prosaically, I pick mine from a mass of bushes overhanging the railway line. This year they haven't cut them back and there's plenty in reach. 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014



I missed the last couple of productions at the Almeida, then regretted it when they transferred to the West End where seats are a sight more expensive than £9 in the stalls (supposedly restricted view but I've always been able to see perfectly well).
So this time I took a chance and booked for King Charles III - described as a future history play - without knowing anything about it.
I was in my seat before I looked at the cast list. Tim Pigott-Smith ...
He was simply brilliant as Charles, captured every nuance of well-meaning, dithering self-doubt and standing on ceremony.
The Queen is dead. Charles wants to be a King who makes his mark.
The first bill he has to sign is a privacy bill gagging the press.
Despite having no love for them, Charles doesn't want to put his signature to a bill about which he has grave reservations.
But will the politicians and the people accept a monarch who is more than a figurehead?
There is a tank outside Buckingham Palace ... but who/what is it there to protect?
Brilliantly-written, almost Shakespearean and highly-recommended. (Though I wasn't completely convinced by William's Kate as a manipulative Lady Macbeth.)
I did wonder what the real Charles would make of it.
But it's absolutely inconceivable that he could ever go!


The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.

In memoriam (Easter 1915)
By Edward Thomas who died at Arras, this day, April 9, 1917.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Saturday mornings are not a constructive time of the week here. But last Saturday I got myself up and out to a morning piano recital ... listening to a very talented young pianist, playing this, this and this  ... and thought, what a lovely way to see in the weekend. (Not many people there.)
Then it was over the road to the farmers' market where I bought a bunch of rhubarb. (Still haven't got round to making that crumble.) 
And panettone ice-cream for a healthy lunch, as good as it sounds. (After serious consideration, I have to say that it's better than Scoop around the corner. And cheaper, too.)
Then on to the National Portrait Gallery to see this exhibition of Great War portraits, the paintings too glib but the photographs of heroic boys and their destroyed faces so terribly moving.

  


Almost no mention of women apart from Edith Cavell and Mata Hari. I did think that the NPG could have given this a bit more space; there were crowds of people, of all ages and walks of life and a real sense of recognition that this war was part of all of our family histories. When I got home I searched on the internet for my great-uncle's grave in a naval cemetery in Malta. He was a ship's cook - I didn't know that, I'm not sure my mother did - whose ship was torpedoed in 1917. The following year his younger sister, my grandmother, was awarded one of the first OBEs for saving another girl's life in a munitions factory. I'd sooner have seen a photo of my granny - and all the other ordinary women who played a part in the war - than Mata Hari.

Friday, 4 April 2014



Ever since I realised that 50 years have passed since Play School appeared in black and white on BBC2 (which we didn't have in our house for several years to come) ...
This blasted tune has been ticking relentlessly through my head.
Open with care.