Wednesday, 30 April 2008


Who knows why I love Camellias so much?

Marjorie Waldegrave

The form, colours and names thrill me.


Maybe it is because I grew up in Cornwall
and spent spring days exploring Caerhays Castle.


I can remember watching Greta Garbo in Camille;
was that the beginning?

Adolphe Audusson

These flowers are all from my garden
and the photographs were taken between December and April.

Contessa Lavinia Maggi

Some are grown in pots and others are large bushes.

Joan Trehane

A spectacular large white is missing
because it was caught by the late frosts.


Otherwise, this is my complete collection,
and I lay it before you.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008


The first day of the exam term is hard work.

It is the day that second and third year students
submit assessed coursework essays.
I accepted about 800 essays
and spoke to many of the 300 students who came into the office.
I have known the finalists since they started as anxious Freshers
and will not see them again now until Graduation.
They were relieved to pass over the essays,
the product of hard work and late nights.
Some students have overcome great personal challenges
to get to this stage. I admire these young people.

It was good to wish them luck for their exams
and hear their plans for the future.
One young woman, a talented Shakespearean scholar,
will be moving to Brazil to work with street children.
I was surprised and touched
to receive a bunch of beautiful white chrysanthemums
from a young man who has been consistently late
at each deadline apart from this, the most important one.
He is only slightly older than MasterM
who phoned shortly afterwards to tell me
that he had just taken his first A Level exam.

When I came home the sky was black and thunderous
and then the sun shone
creating a rainbow of startling intensity.
I hope that somehow all my finalists
find a way to their own pot of gold.

Monday, 28 April 2008

And there was light...

I think that I may have been through
a mid-life conversion experience.

I have always enjoyed knitting quite complex patterns
- preferably ones with a traditional or historical angle -
However, there are only so many
Breton guernseys or Aran sweaters
that one loyal husband can wear.

I have now discovered that my future is in lace.

When I was last in Loop I bought a wonderful book
Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby
which gives details of original Victorian patterns for lace
and cleverly converts them into scarves and wraps.

It has been a joy to knit my first scarf
and having discovered that
the pattern was indeed Easy as described
I have made plans to move to
Intermediate lace for my next project.

This scarf is knit in Rowan kidsilk haze
which is so fine that it has only taken one and a half balls.
The mohair/silk mix makes a wonderful scarf
but the detail of the lace is lost.
I really wanted to make the next project in 2 ply silk
but it proved very difficult to find a source
and I had given up and bought
some luscious purple kidsilk haze.

In a serendipitous moment Ali asked about tussah
and I discovered the mouthwatering Aurora Silk
which sells hand-dyed silk in fifty colours

The only problem is deciding which colour.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

MrM - Computer Guru

Shutter Sisters is one of my favourite blogs. It has wonderful photographs, interesting perspectives on photography and thoughtful comments.

This post talks about backing up your photographs on a regular basis to avoid catastrophic loss if your computer crashes.

I am very fortunate because MrM is conscientious about this and our computer is backed up regularly to an external hard drive.

MasterM knows what it is like to lose your photographs because his laptop crashed with a whole summer of photographs from South Africa irretrievably gone. He had backed them up to his iPod but they were saved as thumbnails and the retrieved images were very low resolution.

Fortunately, MrM had made a CD with a selection of the best photographs to circulate to grandparents. Wonderful MrM saves the day - again.

I have decided that I am going to print off the best of my photographs from 2007 and make an album. I have bought the album - now all I need to do is stick in the photographs.

I may be gone a little while.

Saturday, 26 April 2008


This brochure came in the post today
It seems to me it has a finger on the blogging pulse:

Patterned cupcake cases
Cookies with...ummmm…dots in
Vintage cake tins
Victoria Sponge cakes
Embroidered table cloth
RicRac ribbon
Fabric Bunting

In fact, when I looked at it, I thought…
This is MY LIFE.

(I am a little hurt that there are no birds
but I am sure there is one in the bushes.)

If you want more check out the Joules website

Friday, 25 April 2008

A Guilty Secret

I am a very bad reader;
I read late at night when I am tired
and my concentration is poor.

Jean-Honore Fragonard (1732-1806) A Young Girl Reading

I would love to be able to sit down in the day
and devour books as I used to do,
but somewhere along the way I have lost the ability.

Edward John Poynter (1836-1919) Reading

I sometimes snatch a page or two
when I should be making the beds
and occasionally I will sit in the garden
for a minute at lunchtime.

Peder Severin Kroyer (1851-1919) Roses (The Artist's Wife in the Garden at Skagen)

I feel guilty
because it seems a selfish thing to do.
I wish I had known how hard it would be
to start doing things just for myself again;
I might not have given them up so easily.

Sorry - forgot to label this!

MissM does not have this problem;
she reads from the moment that she wakes
until she falls asleep at night.

Perhaps I should persuade MissM to read to me.

George Cruikshank (1792-1878) Tales of Wonder

Thursday, 24 April 2008

The End of the Day


I sit here.

At the end of the day.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

MasterM and the Oak Tree

MasterM inspects his oak tree.
The buds are spilling open, fresh spring leaves.
I have successfully nurtured it for another year.

MasterM regards it with affection
"It is too big for the pot, you know" he says.
I know.
"You could plant it in the garden" he says.
Maybe, maybe.
"Don't worry, I'll water it while you are away" I say.
"Thanks" he says.

MasterM turns away, there are other things to think of.

I consider the oak tree
and remember the acorn
that came home in the pocket of his shorts.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Creative Writing

Just for once, I was careless and mentioned my writing.
Not my blog, you must understand.
My writing.

This was braver than you might imagine
because she is a Poet and Creative Writing Tutor.

As soon as the words were out of my mouth
I wanted to scrabble around in the air between us
and frantically drag them back to me.
I did not want that 'writing' word to cross the room.

She, of the extraordinary red necklace,
was generosity personified
and offered to look at the work I had mentioned.

I thought about throwing myself out of the window
to avoid this embarrassing experience
but decided that MrM needed someone to iron his shirts.

She, of the beautiful red and black skirt,
said very kind things.
I am sure that even if it was total drivel
she would still have said kind things.

Later, she, of the knee high, elegant, black buckled boots,
gave me two books to read.

This one fits in my handbag
and I read it in small snatches.
I cannot read it all at one go
because then the sense of the ridiculous creeps in

"Why am I reading a book about writing?
I am not a writer
Am I?"

Monday, 21 April 2008

Briefly, the sky was blue...

My recent photos have been so grey,
so bleached of colour,
that I began to wonder
if there was something wrong with my camera.

Yesterday the sun shone for a brief period
and I realised that the problem was not my camera
but the grey light filtering through thick cloud
which has drained the warmth from the pictures.

The blossom on my crab apple tree glowed
for that short burst of sunshine
and I fell in love with my camera again.


I have a confession to make...
my inbox is overflowing with unanswered emails
and unacknowledged comments.

I apologise.

Thank you so much for all your comments;
thoughtful, generous and funny
and always entertaining.
It is my sincere hope
that I can catch up this week
now that the holidays are over.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

A Pink Balloon

Yesterday we went to a Rugby match with a difference.
Guinness, the sponsors of the national Premiership,
had organised a weekend in support of
Breast Cancer Care
It gave publicity and fundraising opportunities
for this worthwhile charity among the thousands of supporters
who attended all the Premiership games
and those who watched on television.
The match officials and the mascots were dressed in pink
and the supporters had an eye watering collection
of pink hats, wigs and costumes.

As the balloons went up
my thoughts were with Whymommy
who has come to the end of her treatment
for Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
She has undergone chemotherapy,
a double mastectomy
and radiotherapy.
At every stage her courage
and the knowledge that she has so much to live for
has carried her through the pain
and been an inspiration to all who read her blog.

And now she has great news.
Go, Whymommy, Go!!!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Dinner in The House

I had dinner in the Houses of Parliament last night.

Yes! Truly, I did!
I have never been there before
and I have come home enthused
by Pugin and the High Gothic style.

I sat opposite a man who climbed the Tower of Canterbury Cathedral with friends and hung a For Sale sign at the top. They were at school at the time and the next morning they were called before the Headmaster.

He glared at them and said
"You are all rusticated - do you have any questions?"

One of the boys looked confused
"What does rusticated mean, Sir?"

"It means you are suspended, you twit...
and while I am on the subject of twits...
you left your Cash's name tape on the sheet, you twit."

And today I must go shopping
because we have no food in the fridge
and tonight we are eating a ham sandwich
in front of the TV
as a special treat.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Tree Paeony

I have three Tree Paeonies:
shell pink, white and this one
which was supposed to be dark red
but is fuschia pink streaked with carmine.

It has not flowered before
and when the branch broke under the weight of snow
I was stricken with disappointment.

I put the branch into water
and when we returned from holiday
it was in full extravagant bloom.

I put down my suitacase and grabbing my camera,
photographed the flower immediately in the soft evening light.

The petals are as thin as silk gauze
and have an irridescent sheen.
They are the most exotic of the flowers in my garden

and I love them with a passion.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Mount Etna

Mount Etna is a serious volcano

Picture courtesy of MasterM
It is 3,326 m (10,910 ft)high and it erupts.

No mucking around on Etna, please.
You should wear the appropriate clothes

and approach the summit with caution.

Oh dear, we don't have the right shoes,

we only have one brown cashmina scarf between us,

and MasterM has run out of Percy Pigs...

Never mind, we got there!

MrM decides to buy some honey to celebrate;

Who is going to tell him that
he can't take it back through Airport Security?