Friday, 30 July 2010

The Top Field

It is reassuring to know that
the lush folds of hills and valleys
and the rivulets of hedges
will be exactly the same today
as they were last year
and the year before that.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

MasterM, Celebrity Chef

Last night we had a cooking competition
for all the different dorms
...we cooked a Springbok Neck Potjie...
and I think we won!

MrsM is very proud of MasterM who has demonstrated a previously undiscovered talent for cooking. Regretfully, the restricted availability of springbok neck in the local supermarket will limit his opportunity to demonstrate his signature dish when he is at home so she hopes that he expands his repertoire.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Ceremony of The Key

"and finally..."
says the Examinations Officer

(whom we all admire for his efficiency
and meticulous attention to detail)

"...I must give you the Special Key
which was given to me by my predecessor
and has been passed down
from one Examinations Officer to the next."

The new Examinations Officer appreciates
the significance of the moment
and asks respectfully

"What is special about The Key?"

The retiring Examinations Officer pauses for effect

"It opens any door in the Department!"

The new Examinations Officer is impressed.
The retiring Examinations Officer looks at his bunch of keys...

"Oh bother!
They all look the same.

I will have to go and try them out
to work out which is which."

MrsM realises that he has already handed over
The Mantle of Infallibility.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Golden Day

Imagine a sunny Sunday at Burghley

surrounded by all your family
gathered to celebrate a Golden Wedding

Brothers and sister, children, grandchildren,
cousins: first, second, third and all stages removed.

The best man was there too
and three bridesmaids
who all remembered the windy day in Lincoln
which was the very start of the fifty years.

We drank the strawberry punch
and chatted
and ate the delicious food
and chatted some more
and enjoyed the spectacular Croquembouche.

And of course we toasted the happy couple:
Many congratulations to my Parents-in-Law
Thomas and Audrey

Monday, 26 July 2010

Variation On a Theme

I start with the vague idea of researching
the Parade of Painted Parasols in Kyoto...

Woman with a Parasol in the garden of Argenteuil

but it is Sunday evening
and it has been a busy weekend...

Under the Birches
Edelfelt Koivujen

I decide that what I really, really want
is a pretty picture (or three...)
to look at on Monday morning...

The Blue Japanese Parasol
Martha Walter


Friday, 23 July 2010

Beyond the Sun

In a rare moment of quiet
MasterM looks through my photos...

Why did you take this sunset sequence?
he asks

It was a happy evening with good news
and I wanted to remember it.

I reply
I asked MrM to drive towards the sun
and every now and then he stopped
so that I could take a photo.

MasterM nods.
He understands.

Which one is your favourite?
he asks

This one - I don't know why - it just is.
I reply

That is my favourite too.
he says


MasterM is back in South Africa now.
He returns at Christmas.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Helen's Garden Party

I know that I promised not to mention china...

or flowers...

or cake...

(particularly not chocolate cake...)

but I was invited to tea
in a very pretty garden,
filled with lavender and agapanthus

by Helen, a lovely friend
that I have known
since before MasterM was born.

What could I do?

Especially as it was all in aid of
The Alzheimers Society

I only wish that I had taken more photographs.

Hungry now?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

(just for the record)

There have been so many new babies
in the Department this year
that my budget for celebration flowers
has been joyfully stretched to the limit.

We know the date and wait for news.
The email arrives:
"I have a beautiful baby daughter..."

They stare solemnly out of the photo,
little French twins, petit pois.

She is swaddled and sleeping.
Her parents looked shocked with sleeplessness.

He is a placid baby
and smiles slowly,
showing two pearly teeth,
when I bounce him on my knee.

I shut the door and make her sit down.
She leans back in the chair beside my desk
and relaxes while I hold the baby.

He leaves the office with Post-It notes
on his jumper
and on his nose
and on his little chubby fingers.

She is very shy...
but she blows me a kiss...
much to the surprise of her father and mother.

He is clutching a miniature Woolly Mammoth.
Not difficult to guess whose son he is.

She is proud of her baby brother
but the lure of the swivel chair
is too distracting to maintain the image
of a responsible two year old Big Sister for long.

Will this little boy,
hiding behind his father's legs,
be good with computers too?

She is younger than me
but is already a grandmother.
I look at the photo of her tiny grand-daughter
and wonder what the future holds for me.

Somewhere in Edinburgh
the newest little Geographer is asleep
on the edge of the world that awaits him.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Island Hopping

Bronze Age fresco from Minoan town at Akrotiri, Santorini.

MissM is on Santorini
with her friends:
the Talented MissA and the Sassy MissS.
Tomorrow she sails for Crete.

She tells us she is 'busy on the beach'.

Very reassuring...
it is so worrying when children are idle.

Monday, 19 July 2010

On Friendship

Some time ago Lynn posted a picture of a paeony
just because she knew that I loved them.
I was immensely touched by this gesture.

This is my reciprocal picture:
Roses for Lynn
(without whom Blogland would be a very dull place).

I have had other reasons to be grateful to blog-friends recently:
emails which have made me laugh,
emails which have given me encouragement
and so many wonderful comments.

And a small parcel of badges from Lucille
Peter Pan and Wendy; Tinkerbell and MasterM's favourite:
'How About It, Wendy?'
MasterM was mystified
'Why would anyone go to so much trouble
when they don't even know me?'
I tried to explain that through blogging
I have met wonderful and generous people.

Thank you all for your friendship,

Sunday, 18 July 2010

A Night in the Painted Garden

A riot of paeonies and cherry blossom

and an extravagance of exotic birds

painted onto a sky of liquid gold.

When I woke up, I thought
'this is what heaven might be like'.

I had better start being good.

Friday, 16 July 2010


Here they are:

the Head of Department,
the Examinations Officer and the Admissions Tutor,
the enthusiastic academic and the expert on woolly mammoths,
the youngest academic and the tiny American academic,
the Professor who shall remain nameless,
the academic who is going to be 41 quite soon,
and a score of other colleagues in their academic finery.

The sun shone, the champagne flowed,
the cameras flashed to capture the memories
and the parents of the graduands smiled and smiled.

And now...
let the summer begin.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The Dark Entry

This ancient covered passage
joins the School and the Cathedral

It is a place of cool darkness and silence.

The flagstones are worn
with the footsteps of 600 years.

If you walk this way, day after day,
you may not know
when you pass under the arch for the last time.

If you did,
you would pause
and turn for a final look
at the places you love.

And then you would step out into the sunshine
and walk away.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


Will she remember...

the tailored cut of the ivory dress
and the weight of her Prefect's purple gown

the fabulous costumes of her friends:
saris, turbans, kilts, ostrich feathers

the heat of the day
and the cool shadows of the evening

the fragrance of the bowl of strawberries
and the luscious ripeness of the cherries

the wrist ribbons she shared with her friends
and the warm hugs of her teachers

champagne at breakfast,
cream cakes at tea
and chocolate fountain at night

dancing all night in four inch heels
with the Charming MasterN.

I hope that, above all, she remembers
the smiles of her mother and father

we were so very proud of her.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Sure on this shining night
Of star-made shadows round
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground

I expected to feel sad
knowing that it was the last time
that we would sit in the Great Cloister
on a warm summer evening in July
listening to the music of the Serenade.

The late year lies down the north,
All is healed, all is health
High summer holdsthe earth,
Hearts all whole

I discovered that the sounds
and the silences
are all locked away in my heart.

Sure on this shining night
I weep for wonder
Wandr'ing far alone
Of shadows on the stars.

At the very end of the evening
the roosting pigeons were startled
and flew upwards into the cobalt sky
through the arc of lights,
the undersides of their wings bright gold.

I thought that I had never seen anything so beautiful.

Sure on this Shining Night
Morton Lauridsen

Monday, 12 July 2010

MasterM, Mixologist

What is in a Mojito?

Wait one...
you have NEVER had a Mojito??

It is your father's fault...
he has never bought me one.

You must remember that
your mother was very, very young
when I first met her.

I am going to make you a Mojito immediately.
You are in a new phase of your life...
The Mojito Years.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

A Bowl of Cherries

Thank you so much for all your lovely comments.

We have just returned from the little cottage
that we stay in at this time of year
which has many charming features
but no phone reception or internet connection.

The cherries were left over from a picnic
on the very last day of school
and I have much to tell you.

But first...
I have emails to write...
a multitude of blogs to read...
and a Peter Pan costume to make for MasterM.

hat, t-shirt, shorts...check
bow and arrow...check
'Kiss Me, Wendy' badge...check

Friday, 2 July 2010

I think I blinked...

Today is the start of MissM's last week at school.

We are looking forward to the concerts and plays,
the picnics, Champagne Ball and Speech Day.

But this time next week it will all be over.

uniforms, name-tapes, suitcases,
homework, projects, reports, exams,
Carol Concerts,
Sports Days,
Parents Evenings

And I can't even begin to tell you
how strange that feels.