Friday, 30 March 2012

from Kenya, with love

a message from my students
on a field trip in Kenya


as I said,
a long time ago,
the rewards of my job
are not easy to measure.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

still life

Sometimes, on the days that I am tired,
I think of Glen and Mary's house.

I remember the morning light
that filters through the shutters
and the polished tile floors;
the arrangement of china
for breakfast on the veranda
and the fragrance of lavender
that drifts out of the closet.

It is the most tranquil house
that I have ever stayed in
and the effect lingers
after you have driven down
through the olive trees
and out into the world.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

love expressed in silver

This is a silver and enamel necklace
commissioned by my father and mother
and made by my friend Emma.

I am overwhelmed
by the knowledge that
my parents and Emma
worked together to create
such a beautiful object.

I have been writing this blog
since June 2007
and the necklace encapsulates
everything I value about
the experience of blogging:
the friends it has brought me
and the person that I have become
over the past five years.

A heartfelt thank you
to my father and mother
for having this wonderful idea
and to Emma for working with them
to convert love into silver.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

au marché

I went to Reillane market
with my camera

I have pictures of spinach in bags
and bunches of breakfast radishes,
mysterious varieties of tomato
and photogenic lettuce...

I even braved the incredulity
of French housewives
to photograph Jerusalem artichokes...

but I think that it is my duty
to share with you
the Wonder that is
"The Kitchen Man".

If you do not melt before
these images of mushroom brushes,
salt scoops and wooden tops
you have no heart...

and look at this!
Four sizes of mustard spoon...
seriously...who knew?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Acres of Canvas

Campward Ho!
A Manual for Girl Scout Camps (1910)
Project Gutenburg

MrsM considers her new Sports Bra
and anxiously wrings her hands.

It has many necessary features
but it is not obvious how to get into it.
She wishes there were instructions
or at least an annnotated diagram.
MrsM always knew that
she should have paid more attention
when she was being shown
how to rig a bell tent.

There is only one solution:
it is humiliating but inevitable...

MrsM summons MrM.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sunday Morning

MrsM should be writing letters
but it is much more fun
playing with orange roses
and having a lazy breakfast.

Isn't this weather just blissful?

Friday, 23 March 2012

Men at Work

MrsM and Colin the decorator
consider the traffic sign
which was behind the bookcase.

Colin the decorator says
"I expect it was a prank"

and MrsM thinks

and hears music in her head
all the way from Stellenbosch.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

facing east

Nobody else would photograph these trees.
Actually, I am not sure why I am doing it.
I have to stand on an angle of yellow lines
with my back pressed against a brick wall
and lift the camera a precise amount
to obscure the portacabin roof.

There is no deep meaning in the choice of view
but as I pass the corner in the carpark
I see the trees in the distance
framing the morning or evening sky.

And now, almost without realising,
I have a collection of photos over the months.
Looking at them I can feel that moment
when I am not thinking about anything,
just pressing my back against the wall,
facing east.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

a breath of sea air

Leave your Tuesday worries behind
and share in my unforgettable holiday moment.

Imagine that you are walking
along the quay after a delicious lunch...

take a deep breath
of sea air...

soak up that Mediterranean sunshine...

and try to ignore the fact
that the front of your new white shirt
is covered with Bouillabaisse.


Back to Tuesday.

Monday, 19 March 2012

back to work

MrsM is having coffee with her friend
who is from 'Another Department'.
They are comparing trials and tribulations.

MrsM's Friend
"I have put together a rota for the reception
but the problem is that one of the team
brings her tortoise to work every day
and it is not ideal
to have a free-range tortoise
trundling around the reception area."

MrsM chokes on her latte.

MrsM's Friend
"To be fair...
it wouldn't be a problem in the winter
because she keeps it in her fridge."

MrsM says faintly "in her fridge??"

MrsM's Friend
"Yes, apparently it is ideal conditions.
She looked at me very oddly when I asked
why she kept her tortoise in the fridge
so I didn't dare ask any more questions."

MrsM is speechless.

Sunday, 18 March 2012


MissM has been and gone again
taking her strings of bling with her

She's definitely Granny's grand-daughter!

Saturday, 17 March 2012


We arrived at the cathedral in the early evening when it was still light enough to see the snowdrops under the trees and the flag at half mast on the tower. Inside the great West door the Bishop and Dean waited to take us forward to the High Altar. In a simple and dignified service the coffin was brought into the cathedral that Thomas had loved and laid on a bier between four pillar candles to rest overnight in the vast silent space before committal and commemoration.


We have all been touched
by your kind messages of
comfort and support.

Thank you.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

in my end is my beginning

Thomas Christie

8 August 1931 - 1 March 2012

Please remember us as we celebrate his life

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

going away

It was my birthday!

We left London in the dark
and arrived in Marseilles
just in time for a champagne car-picnic
(don't say it, I know I'm spoilt)

We went to a bar
and a rugby match
(and saw Sir Jonny kick the ball)

and wandered through
the Saturday market at Toulon.
(I have photos of sea urchins!)

We sat in the sunshine
on the harbour wall at Cassis,
(back off, ladies, they are both mine)

slowly explored
quiet Provencal villages,
(and wondered what was beyond the doors)

and ate far, far too much
because we were with
our lovely friends, Glen and Mary,
and they led us astray.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

magic tummies + other matters

Let me tell you ...
(mother to mother)
there is only one thing better
than seeing my own name in print...

and that is seeing MissM's name
at the end of a newspaper column.

Am I proud? You have no idea!
You are not even close!

I have a journalist daughter.

Oh yes.

Monday, 12 March 2012

love in a box

This is what it is like to get
your first bouquet of flowers
from your son...

It is a big box
and it is completely unexpected
and you have no idea at all
who the flowers are from.

You find the envelope
and open it to read the message

and it says:
"Flowers all the way from Stellenbosch
just for you!"

and however big the box is
it is not big enough for the love
that pours out with the flowers.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

beyond the door

We have been away!

There is so much to show you
but you must be patient with me...
I need to let my story unravel slowly.

Here, have some music while you are waiting.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

pink hyacinths

At the start of the day
the insipid pink hyacinths annoyed me.
(I know it's ridiculous - don't judge me)
And it didn't get any better.

The Turkeys of Disgruntlement*
were rushing around my head,
squawking and gobbling,
and everything seemed difficult.

At the end of the day
the youngest academic passed my door
and then turned back to say goodnight.
He said "I'm going home...
it's been a horrible day...
too much to do and too little time."

Just those few words made a difference
because I felt very ashamed
of my miserable self-centred attitude.
The squawking and the gobbling
of the turkey multitude faded away

By the time that I had got home
the hyacinths had started to unfold
their fragrant blush pink spikes.
And I felt grateful for their pale beauty.

I'm allowed to change my mind.


* The Turkeys of Disgruntlement
are Silverpebble's invention
but they are coming to live with me.

I'm off to France for the weekend!
See you next week.