Showing posts from 2014

Wet and Windy Weekend in Wales

While the rest of Europe basked in 30 degree sunshine, we managed to find Welsh rain in bucketfuls. A Year 11 daughter of a disorganised disposition had declared in no uncertain terms that WE MUST STAY AT HOME for half term in order for her TO STUDY; thus, despite my arguments that she could just as well study over there as it is a 'home from home', my plans for a blast of guaranteed hot sunshine in southwest France, following a grey and dreary summer there, were finally dashed. When similarly compromised friends from down south suggested a two day meet equidistant for us both, South Wales seemed an obvious choice. Pembrokeshire has always eluded me and I have long wished to enjoy its rugged salty charms. A boat trip to see seals on Ramsey Island was the final incentive to book up. 
And so we convened at 5.45pm at the Warpool Court Hotel in the village of St. David's, perched on the southwest tip of Wales before the vast expanse of the Atlantic opens up beyond the Irish S…

Two New Fridge Food Posts

To let you know that I am still alive and kicking (just), I have published a couple of new posts over on Fridge Food. One is to do with a palate awakening light lunch involving lime, green chilli, garlic, ginger, black pepper, balsamic and mint; the other is a Greek twist on an classic Italian salad. Those golden days of September may now have receded, but the memories linger on...If you click on the links above, they'll take you straight there. Bon appetit!

Scotland divorcing the United Kingdom - For Better or For Worse?

This whole situation with Scotland is very sad. It is rather like one partner in a long-term marriage having a mid-life crisis and suddenly demanding a divorce. Now, we all know that divorces can be clean-cut when there are no children involved – but in the Scotland versus United Kindgom case there are millions i.e the population of both countries combined. And we also know that divorces involving children can get very messy indeed – and very expensive. The only winner, usually, is the lawyer.
Imagine that Alex Salmond is the lawyer; then that his Scottish National Party is one parent and the UK is the other. Let's also imagine that the children are the 64 million individuals who reside in these islands. The parents are making a set of decisions and the children are being asked to take sides, without necessarily understanding the full picture. Everyone should really be all one happy family where loyalty, unity and history are the glue which holds it together, but the reality seem…

The Story of Duck

Duck came into our lives on Sunday 1st June. There was a scuffle in the corner of the kitchen where we keep our trays and instead of the expected mouse, a small brown and yellow ball of fluff waddled out on oversized webbed feet, peep-peeping like a thing possessed. It is a noise that has become the fabric of my daily life. As has taking Duck for walks up the stream, digging for worms along the way, and watching her paddle around, ducking and diving (if you'll excuse the pun), all activities accompanied by the constant peep-peep escalating rapidly to a panicky screech whenever she thinks she's lost or been abandoned.

She was about two weeks old when she was first scuffling around the kitchen, dangerously close to the Aga (and becoming crispy duck) and the cat who seems strangely indifferent to her presence given she is the most likely reason Duck was in the kitchen in the first place. We think she came from an 11 duckling brood down the lane but by the time we found this out …

Walking with my Dog

Dog has been depressed by Duck and Decorators this week. Frisbees in the garden were starting to pall. Time to take her out for a romp about the High Peak. Chose the Goyt Valley, my favourite local spot. Rushing streams, grouse moors, pine forests and reservoirs. Nothing better to lift the spirits - even when still unseasonably wet and cold. 

This bridge was moved to its current location in 1965 when they flooded the valley lower down.

As I walked alongside all this gushing water I mused on why it is that I love it so much. Still water can be calm and beautiful but I realise it is running water that I always seek out. The noise, the energy, the movement - it stimulates the senses at so many levels and was the life-affirming force that was required on this otherwise dank, lonely day. 


I feel incredibly sad. I have just come downstairs to find the dog staring at the cat staring at a dead swallow on the kitchen floor. I picked the beautiful creature up and it was still warm. Just yesterday I was so happy to come home in the evening and see them sweeping around the courtyard, flying in and out if the garage with incredible agility and precision, heralding summer and all good things to come. It is heartbreaking. So many thousands of miles flown to end up on my kitchen floor.

I have held it and blessed its incredible little body and taken it out into the wood to bury it under some dry leaves with the sound of birdsong all around. It is the best I can do for its little soul.

I hope tonight I will come home to find the other swallows still here, though I fear they may move on if one of the mates has gone and when I look at them I will feel sad anyway knowing they are missing one of their fellows.

I am not blaming the cat. She's a little old these days to be catching …

Easter Holidays

The holidays began at my parents' house in West Sussex, in lovely soft spring sunshine with small reminders of Easter dotted around.  Their woodland garden was looking so fresh and colourful. From the lush, manicured greens of Sussex we were on soon on a plane and re-united with the wilder greens of our own garden in France, left to fend for itself for too much of the time. Yet breakfast outside is always a joy next to the straggling roses, the tumbling vine and the sounds of the spring bubbling away in the background... From there to the wild expanses of the Atlantic coast, battered and bruised after a long winter of endless big storms. The worst damage to the beaches for decades and an appalling dumping of human detritus. What are we doing to our planet? Half the sand on the beach has been removed by relentless Atlantic breakers... On a day trip to St Jean de Luz, nestled on the Bay of Biscay at the foot of the Pyrenees, we found that the coastline had remained undamaged by th…