Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Courgette and Lime cake

One sunny day HelenandCarolineandJaneandMe hit the road and ended up in Winchester. This was not totally accidental because we had important things to do. Helen had promised to give us a tour of the historic centre of the city. En route we planned to stop for coffee in the cathedral refectory, admire the water meadows, check the quality of the retail stores and decide which houses we would buy when we won the lottery.

It was an arduous day and we replenished our glucose levels by eating cake. After much discussion and consultation with the waiter it was agreed that we should each have a slice from a different cake otherwise we would not be able to assess the overall standard. I had courgette and lime cake but don't ask me what  flavours HelenandCarolineandJane chose because I was laughing too much to remember.

Monday, 18 August 2014

cup and sun

Scenes from my weekend:

a bowl of nectarines on a windowsill,
a newly framed picture on a kitchen wall,
a jug of white stocks in afternoon sunshine,
a white enamel bowl of oranges,
a posy of summer flowers from my mother.

A multitude of small delights.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

people I work with

Albert Irvin
Andromeda, 2012

I cannot find an image of Redcliffe 2000 that I can share with you so it must remain on the wall at the foot of the staircase, a joyful explosion of acrylic paint seen only by the great and good as they hurry past to their policy meetings. It is a life-enhancing painting, a rejection of darkness, an electric surge of colour. As I walk past I turn my face gratefully to absorb the energy, the elan vital.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A Dahlia Moment

I have a difficult relationship with dahlias.

I would love to have a dahlia border
with every extravagant shape
and the full spectrum of neon colours.

Unfortunately I know myself too well,
I am too lazy to stake floppy stems
and too forgetful to do the earwig patrol.

And so I look forward to late summer
when dahlias burst into flower
but they are an annual reminder
of my own failings as a gardener.

Perhaps next year...


I was sorry to see that Jane Brocket has decided to finish writing on her blog. I met Jane in January 2007 and it was as a result of a conversation with her that I discovered blogs and the window they offered into an inspirational world. At that time I had time to explore and I found such diversity : women creating beautiful work, overcoming challenges, enjoying life with their families, discovering the world around them. There was always a warm welcome in the comment box of these blogs and eventually I found the courage to write my own story. I am grateful to Jane for pointing me in a direction that would ultimately bring me so much creative satisfaction and wish her luck with her new projects.

Monday, 11 August 2014

The Rules of Croquet

"[He] can't get through the hoops,...
but then how gracefully
he fails to do it!"

The Small House at Allington
Anthony Trollope

They don't know how to play croquet,
these young whippersnappers.
It makes you wonder what they learn at school.

It's quite simple really:
hit the ball through hoops
and smack your opponents
into the shrubbery.

It's when you discover
the brutal inner person
which lurks inside us all.

No use behaving like a gentleman
and letting your girlfriend go past.
It's every man for himself.

Many thanks to the lovely Natalie
for an amazing garden party
in the most beautiful of settings.
An idyllic English summer afternoon.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Emergency Rations

Our lives are the sum of our memories.
How much are we willing to lose
from our already short lives...
by not paying attention?

Joshua Foer

So true..

(as MissM would say)

I can't string words together tonight,
my mind is like mashed potato.
Back tomorrow.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Courgette and Basil Frittata

Take new potatoes from Sunday evening,
half a yellow pepper from the fridge,
summer courgettes and left-over cheese.

Whisk eggs with fork in your favourite bowl
add to frying pan and cook gently,
inhaling fragrance of basil.

All you need now are
sun warmed tomatoes, a pinch of salt
and bright green salad onions.

Also a glass of chilled white wine.

I'm taking it seriously,
this slow-cooking, easy-living thing.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

people I work with

Sir Terry Frost R.A.

Lizard Black

screenprint (1995)
British Academy Collection

This iconic screen print is in the lobby behind reception. I do not love it - my eyes slip over the cool, smooth surface, I am repelled by the pale yellow tones and my heart does not engage with the mathematical abstraction. Nevertheless it is part of my landscape and counterpoints the bustling energy of Gillian Ayres nearby. I don't think Sir Terry Frost would have been offended - better to see and speak honestly than to walk past oblivious.

Monday, 4 August 2014

the light and the shadow

It's been a bit noisy around here recently,
lots of coming and going to hither and yon.

So many things to think about, plans to make,
ideas to organise, people to meet.

Let's just pause for a moment
and look at some stained glass windows.

These photos were taken in L'abbaye du Thoronet,
a place of austere beauty hidden in a wooded valley.

A memory to hold fast to on a busy Monday morning.


The title comes from an article by the architect, Le Corbusier,
who visited Thoronet while preparing plans for a new convent.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

My Secret Shame

The consultant at the Library of Unread Books had a very kind face and and after several false starts it was here that I finally confessed my secret shame. In a low voice, stumbling over details, I admitted that I had not finished the prize-winning novel 'The Luminaries' by acclaimed young author, Eleanor Catton. She listened patiently until I had run out of excuses and then, pointing to a green post it note, said gently "You are not alone...look...there was another refusenik here before you". As I read the words my shame fell away from me and I left feeling whole again.

Friday, 1 August 2014

MrM & MrsM live the mojito life

You have been with me to Port Eliot before
so you know what to expect...

It is a very genteel sort of festival,
quirky, relaxed, perfect for families.
The only mud is in the estuary.

Suzy Menkes is at the fashion parade,
Jane Churchill judges the flower arrangements
and Cath Kidston wanders around
taking photos of festival-goers in vintage CK dresses.

The tea cosy competition was displayed
beneath ancestral portraits on panelled walls
and featured an eclectic mixture of styles.
Second prize went to the prison charity, Fine Cell Work.

The food was wonderful.
Here is our meze plate.
Oh, and our empty mojito glasses.

It was hot, hot, hot
and we just pottered around
dropping in to tents to learn how to open oysters,
listening to "debauched estactic rhythms
fusing gypsy jazz with Eastern European swing"
buying lovely festival jewellery,
watching the wild swimming.

I had an intense discussion
on behalf of my willowy friend Val
with the guy from Fortnums
about their record breaking hamper.
Isn't it fab?

My favourite part of the whole weekend
was a panel discussion about Nikolaus Pevsner
featuring his biographer, Susie Harries,
the editor of the recently reissued Cornwall edition,
an academic colleague and a former student who drove him around.
A unlikely topic and even more unlikely panellists at a festival
but a joyous discovery of the work of this remarkable man.

It was all a delicious interlude in real life.
Back to the coal face now.