Friday, July 30, 2010

The Darling Buds

Having skimmed what I wrote last time, I wonder if I am anti-child. This also reminds me of yesterday’s Woman’s Hour, which was about women who have chosen not to have children. Some of them said, ‘I never liked children,’ or ‘I never looked in prams to see other people’s babies.’ I have to make a confession here, and repeat what I said at some stage in The Fruit of the Tree, my autobiographical book. I didn’t have maternal instincts before I had children; I also didn’t like children particularly, and certainly didn’t do much drooling over babies. I wish I could reassure people who don’t have babies for those reasons, that they grow up. I particularly valued my children when they turned into human beings that I could talk to, and I enjoy that aspect of them still.

I haven’t forgotten about my Chartwell photos, but they’re still in the camera, at the moment. Instead, I have a deer. This little creature got into my garden a few weeks ago, and then didn’t know how to get out. I captured him/her on camera, while he was dithering. Strangely enough, this year, for the first time for many years, we have been able to enjoy our roses. We only have three rose bushes left now, because they have died as a result of having their top growth eaten away, or because we have given them away. But these three produced buds and flowered. We cannot fathom if the deer have abandoned us because they have found somewhere that is cooler and damper, where there’s more vegetation, or possibly because a neighbour has removed an electric fence (due to having small children) and the deer are now in their garden. If the latter is the case, I’m pleased to say they have a new baby, so long may their non-electrification continue.

I’m also pleased to see that my hibiscus has a number of buds, too, so perhaps there will be a colourful display there too. Last year, the flowers seemed to drop off – or were they bitten off by the deer. It will be interesting to see. We also bought a blue hydrangea last week, and will try to take care of its watering needs, as we have the pink one we’ve been nursing for two years. (Required because I nearly killed it when it arrived as a present in a tub – much safer in the garden.)

I shall be selling books at Pirbright Flower Show tomorrow, with Irene, which reminds me - I went into Guildford yesterday, and noted that at Waterstone’s North Street, all paperbacks are being sold on a three for the price of two, basis. So rush in now and buy a copy of Tainted Tree, along with two other books you like

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The sublime and the ridiculous

A busy week, so far, including a trip at the weekend to see Chartwell, the home of Winston Churchill. Apparently, friends of the Churchill family bought the property from them and presented it to the National Trust, when the family could no longer afford to run it. Before WW2, Churchill had made his money from writing. But saving Britain from defeat, when Prime Minister in the war years, did not bring in the same income. I am glad he was able to stay in his home, because it is on a beautiful site, part of The Weald, in Kent, which he chose himself, before carrying out work to the house, and it must have been a place of refuge during difficult times. I'll post photos some time soon.

We had a very interesting day there, and sat out for lunch and tea, as the weather was good. The nice thing about Chartwell, as opposed to the local houses we have recently visited, was seeing the family’s own furnishings, and of course, Winston Churchill’s own paintings. I didn’t care for all the paintings; there was a great deal of dark green in them; perhaps they represented his ‘black dog’ moods, or perhaps he painted to get out of those moods.

On Monday a friend visited, and Irene came over on Tuesday. We were able to sit in the garden on both days. After she left, I progressed about 600 words on the novel, in a sudden burst of enthusiasm, ahead of the Guildford Writers’ meeting in the evening, though, in the end, I read out my first story, written in my twenties. Interestingly, viewpoint was all over the place. Whether I could do anything about it, and whether it’s worth the effort, I’m not sure.

Yesterday, on the train to London, to meet friend, Pam, I added a bit more to the novel and have just copied it to the computer. When I say ‘wrote’ I really do mean ‘wrote’, and I’m beginning to think that I get on better when I hand-write than when I start off on the computer. It’s so easy to get side-tracked and play another game of Freecell or Mah-Jong, or browse through messages from friends.

It was difficult to concentrate on the novel, because I was in the thick of a noisy group of school kids, on their way to the London Eye. The two girls closest to me seemed to the be worst and I felt like telling them to be quiet. They so obviously thought they were funny and clever and had to repeat their jokes three times over. ‘I’m not a lesbian,’ shouted one. My, how sophisticated. ‘He’s got a nice arse.’ Really? I just don’t want to know.

My friend and I spent the day at the National Portrait Gallery; we went specially to see the BP portrait exhibition which is always interesting. Brian Sewell is probably right to say there were too many photographic works, but still some paintings that we both enjoyed seeing. We also viewed the exhibit on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square – Ship in a bottle before making our way home – I can't seem to get the URL doing what it should do, but look it up:

Thank goodness there were no school parties then – just civilised rush hour travellers.

Friday, July 16, 2010

40 days of mixed weather - it's England

Last weekend, I told the OH that the blazingly hot weather was set for the rest of the summer. It’s St Swithin’s Day on 15th July, I said, and that means the weather pattern’s established by then, and will stay roughly the same. (The actual superstition is that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day, it will rain for forty days.) By this time, we had used all the water in our rain water tubs, which collect water accumulated on the flat roofs of the house. We had been having to hose the 8 new privet bushes which we bought in the spring, and the rather magnificent new rhododendron, as well as other less expensive additions to the garden. And the Busy Lizzies, too, of course. The OM went out and bought an additional rainwater tub, and, wouldn’t you know it, since then, it’s been cloudy, dull, raining – and I’ve had to put my winter jumpers back on. It did rain on St Swithin’s.

And talking of rhododendrons, these are photos I took, just before I went into hospital. Same bed, but taken from all different angles.

This week, has been a milestone. It was six weeks since my op, and I revisited the surgeon. She did the necessary and said it was all fine. But of course, I still have to be careful – in the short term – the next six weeks or so, and some things in the long term, otherwise, I will be back under the knife, again. For the moment it’s a case of adopting strategies. When I was ready to leave, I gave her a copy of my autobiographical book, The Fruit of the Tree. Because it deals with the births of my children, the death of my baby daughter, Amanda, and two miscarriages, I thought it might be of interest to her, and I told her that. At some point in my book, I was really angry with the two doctors I saw, in particular, the surgeon who operated on me after the second miscarriage. He didn’t talk to me; he talked to the nurses and called me ‘she’. It was really good to have a woman surgeon, and one who explained everything to me, and treated me as a human being. When I gave her the book, she kissed me on the cheek and seemed really pleased.

I went to Sainsbury’s yesterday, and picked up some fruit. I bought less than half my usual shop, and will do the rest on line. I made sure the shopping was spread out into three not too weighty bags. Today, I’m doing proper cooking, and last night, we had the neighbours’ parents (who are visiting from Norfolk and whom we have known for many years) over for drinks and nibbles. Normality is returning.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Powering ahead

I have started my power walks – and jolly difficult it is too, in temperatures of 30°C. My last walk today was at 9.45 p.m. for 15 minutes, just before it got dark, but at least it was cooler. I was tired today, having gone to bed late yesterday. Not a good idea.

Yesterday, itself was a full day – a trip to London, to discuss participating in a ‘Meet the Author’ session at the Jewish Book Week next year. Followed by a walk around the Jewish Museum, near Camden Town.

By the time we got home, I felt disinclined to go out again to the reading circle meeting. We were to discuss White Ghost Girls, a first novel by Alice Greenway. My own feeling was that this was an insubstantial book, with too much emphasis on atmosphere, as I think I’ve said earlier. On Tuesday, I was at Guildford Writers, where I read out an extract of an amended version of a previous passage, describing my hero’s visit to a casino. I believe I am more than half way through the current novel, Innocent Bystanders.

On Wednesday, I went to the physio, and was instructed in what I should and should not do, in the short and longer term. No more turning mattresses, apparently. Look for able bodied men and get them to do it. No lifting of the vacuum cleaner, but I can use it. And I can carry half a dozen copies of Tainted Tree without causing any damage. I drove to the hospital; it’s good to be at that level of independence again.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Turning over a new leaf?

1st July

I’ve turned to a new page on the calendar, and already it looks much busier. During the month ahead, there are two trips to London, a meeting of the reading and writing circles, a visit here from a friend, and lunch out at another friend. In addition, I will be seeing the physio and the consultant, on two different weeks.

Today, I ironed some shirts for the first time, and I’m washing up odd things, too, as well as making the evening meal. Tomorrow, I hope to take the OM to the station in the car, and go on to get one or two vegetables, etc, to supplement the on-line order. I sat out in the garden for a little while, and managed to add a little bit to the current novel, which I’ll type in later. The half hour walk is quite tiring, though. Goodness knows how I will cope when I have to move on to ‘power walking.’