The evening buzz

I was weeding as the light was fading and became aware of a continuous buzzing noise. The great lime tree next door, covered in blossom, was almost shivering with bees. You could hear the humming right across the garden.


Swifts were screaming over and round the house and I could hear the nesting martins burbling away under the eaves. A second nest has been inhabited late in the season and is full of young. We are not the only ones enjoying the hot weather. Mind you, I had to rescue some very limp lettuce earlier today.

Mahler and garden ghosts

White souls have been inhabiting the garden last two mornings. These rather beautiful ghosts are the frost covers that I wrap around vulnerable plants that are just coming into new leaf. And yes, I know I should only grow hardy plants, but sometimes the tender growth on tree peonies gets zapped and one of the great joys of spring is waiting for the oh-so-slow buds to open into fragile cabbage-sized blooms. I am equally soppy about the new growth on my maples. In fact I go a little gaga each spring as I watch the leaves unfolding (and again in autumn as they blaze before dying).


Last night was a treat beyond description. We had recorded a performance of Mahler 1, conducted by Simon Rattle with the Berlin Phil, in Singapore. I am a Mahler addict anyway, but this was so beautiful, intense and powerful, that I cannot imagine a more fulfilling experience. I so much prefer to have my heart beating too fast because of a musical crescendo than because a foolish character in fiction or TV drama is blatantly putting themselves in danger and we are invited to watch their downfall.

Shattering, but immensely satisfying day playing with bricks. The brick paving on the drive was washed so all the sand has gone. Over the twenty years they have been there many bricks have sunk and there are bad, wobbly patches. I found I could extract the bad bricks, introduce sharp sand and make them level again. I have also been robbing the bricks from the area that is being redone (THEY START TOMORROW – only a week later than scheduled) and my brick paths can progress at last. The garden is a war zone now, with piles of earth, turfs, pots full of uprooted shrubs and bulbs, bags of rubble and sand.

The birds are unfazed and nesting industriously. The early martins have stayed and settled and are burbling away outside the bedroom window.


On Thursday I did some serious work on Border Line and managed to post another submission yesterday. I don’t plan to talk about politics in this blog, but the events in Boston and elsewhere have made an uncomfortable backdrop to our domestic and very lucky and privileged lives.

On the other hand

I’m damned if I’ll give up yet. After three days of gardening distraction, I am back at my desk working on more submissions. Border Line has had several bites from agents and I should at least persist until the whole MS is asked for again in its revised form.

Feel invigorated since making this decision. In the meantime I have rebuilt the really rough bit of path, put turfs into bare areas, dug all the available granite setts into the edge of the dragon bed, moved a lot of earth on the new bank by the drive-to-be, started cleaning up the area by the knot-garden and had an all out battle with a dark corner of the garden full of cow parsley and Lords and Ladies (arum italicum). So rejection has had a very good outcome for the garden.

Martins were probably passers-by. We haven’t seen any more. Maybe they are the ones who arrive at my brother’s house in the South West about now.

Managed to go Lindy hopping this evening, interesting moves, but way too much talking. Feel pleasantly exhausted now. No piano practice for three days. So tomorrow piano and writing.

Return of the martins

The martins have returned. They can normally be expected on the 16th May (EG’s birthday), but I saw their characteristic upward jinking flight a few days ago and EG saw one fly into a nest on the front of the house. In past years we have occasionally had brief visits a few weeks early, but we must be some kind of staging post as these martins fly on. Not sure why they have come so early, it can hardly be the warm weather.

Happily the last few days have been much warmer and I have been seeing off my garden-induced sore back and elbows by more of the same. It has worked.