Saturday, 29 August 2009

paper kite

I know, I've neglected you. Godchildren went, daughter arrived, daughter and I got into her cute little car and went north to visit family and also Claire, who is on a pilgrimage up the north-east coast. Not one of your 'all in the bus, please' pilgrimages, but the real thing. Walking. My feet hurt just thinking about it.

We stayed with my sister and brother in law at their idyllic cottage. Sister didn't feel so idyllic as her back is crippling her just now, so between her and Claire there isn't a blister plaster or a heat compress left anywhere between Seahouses and Whitley Bay. If Claire were a woman of less integrity she'd be selling plasters to the other pilgrims at twenty quid a pack, and carry my rucksack for the next five miles.

On a rare day off from trudging through the rain, Claire came with us to Alnwick Garden (google it, it's wonderful) where we had tea in a tree and got wet in the water sculptures, then sat in the sun watching fountains and eating ice cream. There have been very few days this summer when I could simply sit in the sun with good company, good views, and ice cream or a cold drink, and I really enjoyed this one, with the best of company in God's beautiful Northumberland.

Home, my wonderful son joined us for a few days, and for the first time since Christmas we were all together. So, so special. And all this in between writing the new stuff, keeping everyone fed and watered, answering the e-mails and letters, and sorting out the garden, where everything had sprouted up during the rain and the gnome couldn't see a thing.

My brother in law, talking about somebody rushed off her feet, said she was 'flying about like a paper kite'. That's me these last two weeks. Flying about like a paper kite. A happy paper kite.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

the dog

Sorry to keep you waiting, I've been god-childrened all this week. God-children are like jazz dance, exhausting and wonderful at the same time. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

I was going to tell you about Elgar and the dog. Apparently the 11th of the Enigma Variations is dedicated to Sinclair, Elgar's friend who was organist at Hereford Cathedral, but is actually about Sinclair's bulldog, Dan. Elgar and Sinclair were walking beside the River Wye in Hereford one day when Dan fell in. Typical bulldog. It's all right, he got himself out again. Sinclair challenged Elgar to set that to music, so Elgar did, and that becme the 11th variation. You can hear the dog falling in, paddling about, and shaking himself dry, or at least you can when you know that's what it's about.

When we walked along the river we saw a statue of Dan at the place where he allegedly fell in. So why is he facing away from the river? Not bright, bulldogs.

No bulldogs were harmed in the making of this blog.

PS The hollyhocks are out.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

back to blog

Apologies for the error in the previous post. 'Elder son' should read 'lovely elder son'. Or so I'm told.

After Wales came a few days at home to say goodbye to the lassie (ouch) whose work here is finished, then shunted ourselves off to the Cotswolds. Some places are almost too pretty. I can't quite believe that there really are rows of golden stone cotages with thatched roofs and hollyhocks, but I have seen them with my own eyes. (hollyhocks is one of my favourite words, by the way.)

I can recommend the RSC As You Like It, which we saw at Stratford. Sparkling, beautifully staged, funny, energising, and with a set which is both simple and ingenious. Just brilliant, and I came out as happy as a hollyhock in a cottage garden.

Elgar's birthplace and the museum are a good stopping off pace en route to Hereford in torrential rain. Rain is good for hollyhocks. Indirectly I suppose it's good for middle aged authors, too, though it doesn't feel like it when you've got your foot in a puddle.

Do you know the story about Elgar, the dog and the river? I'll save it for the next blog. Happy hollyhocks.