Some trees for Christmas or an alternative Christmas tree

As autumn approached this year I was looking forward to splashing photos of my beloved Japanese maples all over the blog. Then there was too much going on at home and in the world; they seemed out of place and the moment passed. So I will send all of you – the happy, the sad, the politically bruised, the new parents, the newly bereaved, the travellers and the homebodies, the ordinary and extraordinary people who drop into my blog – some maples for Christmas.

dscn0019 dscn9945-version-2dscn0017 dscn0026 dscn0018 dscn0020 Below one of the nine maples that have seeded over the years beginning to grow in beauty.dscn9985-version-2

And the alternative Christmas tree…   screen-shot-2016-12-17-at-17-06-24

Have a wonderful holiday season, and see you next year.

Shiny red shoes

There are still small joys to be had in this time when disappointments are on a scale too large to comprehend. In my twenties I used to run around at Art College in bare feet and once got hauled into a room where there was a Karate class, because the teacher wanted to show the class an ‘ideal’ karate foot – an ageing foot that was once ideal for Karate does not fit comfortably into 99% of women’s shoes. After wearing the same two pairs for the last few years, I have at last found, and bought (two very separate actions), a pair of comfortable, respectable shoes. As I sat on a sofa looking at my feet last night I felt for a moment that toddler-like wonder at the sight of my splendidly shod feet.

dscn0076 dscn0079

I send my deep commiserations to my shocked American friends. We are equally shaken on the other side of the ocean.

Amy’s drawings and interview with Suzy Henderson

More random, but happy, events – an email from daughter Amy with a lovely mini-show of her drawings

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at a curious event – the House and Garden pop-up-shop – Amy met some celebrities at the launch seen here at the Tatler website.

– an interview with writer Suzy Henderson, who has a passion for WWII history. Her questions about becoming a writer and the new Railway book made me think about my parents’ role in my writing. The interview appears on her WWII blogspot Lofell Writers Place and on her WordPress writer’s site. Something I found interesting on this last site is a persuasive videoed book review by Mike Reynolds.

Sorry, lots of links. Have a tree peony in it’s autumn glory to finish. dscn9971dscn9970

 

 

The best laid plans…

… of mice, men and women are bound to run agley.

Just as I was getting back into a blogging routine, life has bowled me a googly and I shall have to prioritise ruthlessly for the next month or more. So once more, although I will be around, dropping in, and occasionally waving from the sidelines, I will not be visiting regularly and not posting much at all. When I don’t see or comment on your posts it is me, not you. I will be back.

Here is the book I am reading and which is engaging me completely. If you want to keep a perspective on our life on earth, this is the prescribed medicine. dscn9867-version-2 It starts with the simple premise that explorers have reached earth 100,000,000 years hence and then looks at what they might find. Actually it’s an accessible lesson in paleontology and stratigraphy (! my vocabulary is expanding).

And here are my delicious peppers (at least I hope they are, I haven’t eaten one yet), grown from seed. dscn9862 dscn9861

And finally the hips are colouring in the garden as autumn creeps up on us.dscn9869

À bientôt!

Time, You Old Gypsy Man,

Will you not stay,

Put up your caravan

Just for one day?

etc Ralph Hodgson

It is more than a month since I posted here. My three email inboxes are bulging and I still haven’t posted flyers for Surviving the Death Railway to friends and relatives on my mailing list… A week today on Thursday 28 July, I will be giving a lecture at The National Archives in Kew titled Writing to a Ghost: Far East POWs (by this time a week today it will be over!). But this is the first of five going into November.

At the two launches for my book many people sweetly offered the same theme, with variations: ‘You must be so proud, now you can relax.’ I am proud of the people in the book and very happy that others have been able to recognise their achievements now and  yes, I’m pleased that I played a part in that. Relax? In my dreams.

In between these events I continue to attend the local Toastmasters Club, where I am learning to overcome my fear of public speaking. This is the warmest safest environment imaginable. Many bright young things, often giving speeches in their second language, as well as several of my own age – a very buzzy, happy, honest, international crowd – and that in spite of the nightmare of Brexit and many other world horrors. This provides a good reminder that the newspapers only tell us the bad stuff, there’s plenty of the other. Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 22.06.36

And, the hedgehog still attends nightly (looking a little anxious about being photographed). I even saw three of them one night. DSCN9629 Of course the garden, a little neglected, will still be there when this caravan limps into a parking space. (These so-green photos were taken before the current heat wave!) DSCN9631 DSCN9606

See you all again soon.

Walls, balls, squirrels et al.

A while ago I mentioned that I planned to replace my desk seat (an ancient block of polystyrene) with a Swedish ball. I duly bought one… but I go the size wrong. DSCN9306I’d need to have shorter legs, or a very long body to make this workable. So I thought I would use it for its proper purpose – exercise. I checked out some websites and there were some good moves to be done with a flat piece of wall*. So I walked round our house looking for an appropriate piece of wall. We have a plenty of rooms, but – one of our daughters and several of our friends are artists, my husband is an archivist and historian, I have been collecting books from childhood onwards… I could not find a single large enough area of wall for me and the Swedish ball in the whole house. I am still puzzling over this.

A couple of days ago we met the smallest squirrel in the area on his first day out. DSCN9271 - Version 2 DSCN9276 - Version 2 DSCN9278He wasn’t entirely sure who to be friends with, what to eat or where to go.

One of my prettiest acer seedlings, the only purple dissectum, got caught by the frost three weeks ago, DSCN9190 - Version 2and has now definitely bitten the dust. I cannot complain as all the others that I transplanted have survived appalling wind and frost (I have been turning the garden into a ghosttown at night with white fleeces every where). The mature maples are now in lovely spring leaf.

Acer palmatum Sengo Kaku

Acer palmatum Sengo Kaku

Acer palmatum Trompenburg

Acer palmatum Trompenburg

Some spring flowers are already going over, but I still love tulips when they grow blowsy,DSCN9308and the Kraken is awaking (see Monster Hosta post).

Hosta Sum and Substance

Hosta Sum and Substance

We have a friend staying and yesterday went to visit Audley End in Essex. I am suffering from greenhouse envy. DSCN9296

*Memo to self try to avoid text with the words ball, wall, movement etc, it is very difficult to keep it clean.

Crazy packaging, sheds and log stores

The other day a substantial box came through the post. It even had two plastic ties (not shown) to hold the contents safe. DSCN9217I opened it and the inside of the thick cardboard was attractively coloured and patterned.DSCN9218The contents were wrapped in white tissue held together with a pretty sticker. When I opened this there were two small packets and some air-filled polythene cushions. When I had discarded all the packing, this is what had arrived: DSCN9222Two pairs of pants and a bra. These are modest purchases of very basic underwear and would have fitted in a small jiffy bag. What was all that about? These people sell only lingerie, are they trying to woo me into buying their top of the range camisole? Do they think because I am small I am a teenager, and they need to make me a friend for life? Frankly baffled.

I seem to remember promising photos of the shed – it looks awfully like the old one. DSCN9122 We robbed parts of the old shed to make a log store. It took our combined ingenuity (and vast education) several hours (plus a trip to the hardware store) to construct this simple affair.DSCN9204

Rainbow at mid-afternoon.DSCN9144

Full moon at dusk.DSCN9236