Saturday, 5 October 2019







We are a long way, away from home. We flew right across Iceland.  I peeped through the windows and I could see Reykjavik and ice and snow below, the sun shining all the time. We followed it for thirteen whole hours of daylight and then the landscape gave way to desert and dust, backyards with turquoise pools and aeroplanes that looked like tiny white crosses. We landed in Los Angeles, then we got on the smallest plane  to Sacramento, where we are staying in a garden apartment on the ground floor of a large house with a tropical garden. It's just a stone's throw from my baby and her partner. I love to hear the tinkle of her bicycle bell as she cycles over to see us and wish that she could do the same when we are back home in England. 

We time travelled...it was still the same day when we arrived...we had gone back eight whole hours. It seems appropriate that Portal Park is nearby. It feels like we've stepped through one.

It's a different world. A fun, sunshiny one. It's hot and the sky is blue and there are palm trees and fruit trees with large round ripe oranges, lemons and limes, dates and sweet pluots and pomegranates, that line the streets, and edge the gardens in the neighbourhood. There are big beautiful clapboard houses and some that look like they are in an English Tudor village and others that could be in Mexico. It reminds me of Disney Land.  I wear my new, 1960's style glasses and look very serious, feel as though I should be wearing 60's style clothes too, or maybe 70's or 80's. But they must be colourful... 

The sounds are different, the fire engines wail like someone in pain, the trains make a deep honking sound. It's a safe homely honk... a comforting melodic chord. 

I ate my first pumpkin pie in a turn of the century soda fountain in Sonora and fell in love with The Tower cafe on Broadway, Sacramento. It's next to The Tower Theater, a 1930's art deco wedding cake of a building. The cafe and garden, similarly aged,  the interior a theatrical paradise of tiles and plants and trees, a colourful cacophony of old paintings and prints, basket chairs, and Oriental Paper Parasols. Reincarnated on Earth Day, 1990. 

We sip Moroccan Mint Tea from the Classy Hippie Tea co and eat brunch at The Tower or the Hitching Post in Ahwahnee, meet for early morning coffee at a roastery or at each other's apartments mostly just enjoying the time that we spend together before we fly off home again... dx 

Sunday, 27 May 2018

...the darling buds of may...





















































































'...rough winds do shake the darling buds of May...' sonnet 18, William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616

Spring had only just begun but it felt like summer. The days were long and hot and sunny, and I didn't want to waste a second. I rose early to make the most of it. After the long cold winter's hibernation, it was catch up time!

I sowed seeds, and I planted and watered, painted outside doors and windows, and garden furniture that had been washed by the snow. Sorted out the loft, the shoe cupboard and my wardrobe. Recycled, renewed, repaired, and baked a million fruit crumbles and streusel tarts.

Before the sun was up I worked on my little shop, that had also mostly hibernated, and then did the same on the long light evenings.  It was  good to feel an order and rhythm return to this little life we've made for ourselves.  

Then April showers came and we went to London and when poor Ahmad was in meetings, I explored the Serpentine in the rain, and the green lungs, and saw bright green parakeets, horses and heron. Discovered little lanes with quaint mews houses and the Liberty store, with it's ancient oak beams taken from an old ship. I met friends, and one of my sisters, and drank gunpowder tea from the teeniest Japanese teapot. 

But best of all we crossed that bridge again, and visited our 
little acorn in Bristol. She pampered us. Baked us pie and made crumble, and delicious breakfasts; and there were goodies and parcels waiting for us in the spare bedroom. 

And the most precious gift for me. All wrapped in tissue-y paper and tied with thin twine. It was a book that I had picked up so many times in my favourite bookshop. Each time I had put it back because I already have a version.  A newer one.  The same words, different skin. Every time I visited that bookstore, I would search for it. The little skinny one  in-between the stout tomes. 

I would take it out and pour over the hand-cut pages with their serrated edges. Feel the smooth marbled, paper backing and carefully open the delicate leaves and read the inked hand written inscription from 1936.  

Then I would turn a page to the printers title: 'House - Warming and Winter Visitors, from Walden, or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau, privately printed MCMXXXVI, and then the next page: 'These essays from Walden have been privately printed by the Haddon Craftsmen for their friends at Christmas,' with subtle green print of pine cones on a branch. On the following page, the little house in the woods and the text began. Walden's beautiful poetic words. 

I would find an old comfy armchair in the store and settle in, whilst everyone else was on their search for books ...I would sit and drool over the pages, sometimes uttering a quiet exclamation at it's beauty. I'd look up and someone would catch my eye and and chuckle. They had been their too. 

Then I would put it back. Almost in the right place, but not quite. Maybe a few letters along. So that it would still be there the next time I came. 

The last time that I looked for it, it had gone. I was surprised that it hadn't gone earlier and was a little sad but reasoned   someone else loved it, just as much as I did.

...Little did I know who that person was... and now that lovely old book has a new inscription below the older one, cursive script blue/black ink, this time to me from my little acorn and her larger oak... 

'...I went a-graping to the river meadows, and loaded myself with clusters more precious for their beauty and fragrance than for food. There too I admired, though I did not gather, cranberries, small waxen gems, pendants of the meadow grass, pearly and red...'Henry David Thoreau,from his essays, 1854.

Now we are well and truly into May and the darling buds are blooming with a vengeance. But what about your garden, how does it grow? dx

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Snow, Swanson, Seed Catalogues and Stocking stitch






The snow came back. This time properly.  The wind blew drifts that closed the roads and sealed us neatly and tightly into our little old house. It was like a big soft white wooly scarf was wrapped right round it.  The fire crackled, we were warm and cosy and it felt a bit like the Christmas holidays all over again. 

Before you knew it, seed catalogues and reading books were out and knitting needles were dancing again.  Promised half done projects got finished and new ones started.  

Knitting:
  • Bergen cowl by Carrie Bostick Hoge
  • La La Simple Shawl by Laura Linneman
  • Chunky tweedy pullover, copied from an old favourite 
  • Finished long promised leg warmers and mitts
  • Working test swatches with vintage wool 

Reading: 
  • Her Every Fear, by Peter Swanson, 2017... Enjoying this easy to read thriller. The first of his novels that I've read and I like his uncluttered use of words. 
  • Pouring over new seed catalogues. Sarah Raven's is always a favourite even though some edible flower seeds I bought didn't germinate. It's such a pretty one. Chiltern Seeds too... 



are you coming too? debx  (you can link over to her here