Friday, 17 October 2014

tableau vivant

Nebamun hunting in the marshes
fragment from the tomb-chapel of Nebamun
Thebes, Egypt
Late 18th Dynasty, around 1350 BC
© Trustees of the British Museum

They are standing at the end of the lane as we drive past, six men and five dogs in a small pool of light. The men wear every shade of green and brown, merging with the shadows cast by the trees and the high bank beside them. They carry guns broken over their arms, the dull lustre of the long barrels reflecting some of that early morning light. The labradors and spaniels sit quietly at their feet, black, white, brown. When we have passed they will cross the road into the wood on the other side and continue shooting but for this moment they are frozen into a tableau vivant, a scene that captures the essence of the remote part of Devon that we are now a part of.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Little Boy, Realtor


The Little Boy Next Door graciously accepts my invitation to visit and explores the cottage, room by room, with me trailing behind to answer questions. We discuss what should be in each cake tin in the kitchen and peep inside the fridge to admire the yellow tomatoes. In the dining room we inspect the map on the wall and work out where his school is - he has been there for three weeks now. Upstairs in our bedroom each of the cupboards is opened and approved, the advantages of shelves and rails compared and contrasted. The 'secret bathroom' (en suite) is investigated and the taps in the basin tested. My collection of limited edition animal pictures does not have the wow factor that I hoped for but the rubber duck in the bath is much admired. He informs me that the best view is not, as I had previously thought, the Dartmoor tors on the horizon but the window through which we can see his car because we can even see his car seat. MrM puts down the weekend papers to have a man-to-man conversation about mobile phones and show off his compass app. Finally we have a detailed conversation about where the Christmas tree should go. The Little Boy says that his daddy puts it where the CD rack is but as we do not have a CD rack he would suggest the fireplace - the logic of this is indisputable but I explain that it can't go in the fireplace because MasterM will be very disappointed if the tree doesn't touch the ceiling. He shrugs his four year old shoulders, disclaiming responsibility for such irrational behaviour, and goes back Next Door with some yellow tomatoes for his tea.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

a dreich day


I am the only person out in the soft rain and the squirrels ignore me, rustling industriously through the beech leaves. I can hear the thin shriek of a kite high overhead and the muffled flap of wood pigeons as I disturb them. The creaking bellow of  a stag resonates from tall bracken close to the path. He watches me as I cautiously walk past and I am relieved when he eventually turns away.


In my head I am making a shopping list: braising steak, eschallions, smoked paprika, chorizo, passata, soured cream. Tonight we will have spicy red goulash and I can see broccoli, bright green in contrast, and creamy mashed potato on my blue plates. 


I walk on between fields to the edge of the woods, seeing the shine of limp leaves and the sodden linings of chestnut cases. The sky is a damp, pallid grey. This is autumn and there is no going back but there is so much to look forward to that I hurry onwards.

*****

This post is for Nicola to say thank you for the very thoughtful email - it was much appreciated.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

MrsM embraces Autumn

October coincides with the start of the academic year
and in the past it has been a busy time for me
so I am very grateful for your autumnal suggestions.
I ♥ you .


I will shake out my jumpers, berets, mittens and boots
and go in search of leaves, hips, haws and fungi.
I'm thinking Nature Table - is there an age restriction?


Cycling! What a wonderful idea. I'm on it.
I can't wait for Bonfire Night (sparklers!)
and am intrigued by a community juicing day.


I have started knitting my own hot water bottle cover
but MissM says that I can borrow hers while I knit
so I have broken out the boxed set of 'Cranford'.


I wrote out a list of my favourite autumn food
and realised that I have eaten them all already:
apple cake, plum crumble and parsnip soup
so I will focus on cider (alcoholic variety).


Did I mention that there is an open fire in the cottage?
Bring on the crumpets and toasting forks...

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Positive Thinking


Quattro Stagioni: Autunno
Cy Twombly

Dear Friends and Autumnaholics,

I tried to make a list of Things to Do in Autumn
but I ground to an uninspired halt at number three.

Mr Google recommended resoling shoes and cleaning the duvet
which it didn't send me into a frenzy of anticipation.

I can't eat just apple cake and walk in the beech woods
please tell me what else I should be looking forward to in Autumn...

Yours desperately,
MrsM

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Meanwhile

...in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania...


MasterM has seen his first cheetah.
An ambition realised.

Also, he forgot to put the rubbish bag in the car.
So it became jackal pick'n'mix outside the tent.
Not much sleep that night.

Monday, 6 October 2014

all change


We put the garden furniture away in the summer house before the rain came. Afterwards, in an effort to look forward, I went out and bought bulbs: fragrant narcissi, miniature blue iris, snowdrops, white crocus, flame orange tulips. They are all tucked up now waiting for spring sunshine. Later, we went to the steam fair which visits every year at the end of summer. I watched MissM chase MrM on the dodgems and realised that all that money on driving lessons was not wasted. It was time to close the curtains when we got home and we ate roast chicken and plum crumble by candlelight, surprised that the hot sugary fairground doughnut had not spoiled our appetites. I don't dislike autumn or winter, it is the period of change that is unsettling.

Friday, 3 October 2014

the days slip by


These are single motifs from a huge antique Iranian cloth, part of the extraordinary textile collection of Waddesdon Manor. The fabric is layered, appliqu├ęd and densely embroidered. At this level you can appreciate the individual stitiches, the astonishing intricacy. In one place the colours are cream, blue and black on red and another part of the cloth is quite different: red, green and cream on black. It is only when you step back that the abstract design makes sense, individual motifs become part of a harmonious whole and the pattern reveals itself.

 

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Turn the paper over ...


I still have bad dreams about taking exams. Sometimes I am too late, or it is the wrong day or the wrong hall. Occasionally I have forgotten to revise at all but mainly I have revised the wrong subject. Last night the exam paper was made of chocolate and I ate it before I read the questions. I was surprised all over again when I woke up and remembered that I had graduated.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Friday afternoon

MissM said we must go to Fingle Bridge
so we go. It is late afternoon.


After climbing all the way through the woods
we reach the Hunters' path. We are quite alone.


As soon as we are out of the trees
the landscape unfolds: woods, moor, sky.


The path takes us down to the bottom of the gorge
to cross the brook by a tiny hanging bridge


and then we follow a long granite wall
through the densely wooded valley,


past the wheels and walls of the old mill,
across the narrow stone packhorse bridge.


It is a fine evening as we drive back to our cottage
and stroll down to the village pub for a pint of cider.


This is how I imagined it would be
and I am so very grateful.