I know I’ve used that quote before but I love it and it seems particularly appropriate just now. It’s been so murky here I’ve needed lights on in the car and in the house all day long. I might just as well have kept the curtains drawn. About half an hour ago I had reason to step outside and was struck by the beauty and profusion of the winter jasmine. It’s quite tightly clipped all around a window and positively shone in the gloom. Earlier, being vexed by things, I didn’t even notice it but then it lifted my spirits and I hope it does yours. Happy St Nicholas' Day.
Oh dear. I’ve just posted a stinker of a review of a new book. When I look at what it will cost and think that I’ve had the chance to read it for nothing, I feel ungrateful but if I don’t say what I think, how will anyone trust my reviews?

I’m sure there will be no such problem reading the books [livejournal.com profile] huskyteer and I picked up at the weekend. It was Folk Festival weekend and a rather subdued one. The usual charities’ fair was held on the Minster Green, with a very large bookstall. As is the way with nearly all book hunts these days, there were almost no old books to be seen. [livejournal.com profile] huskyteer was pleased with her haul which included Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal by H E Bates. She read it and left it behind and now I’ve nearly finished it, too. Because it’s good! It came from a box which included several other old Penguin editions of books by Bates and, two days later, I’m still kicking myself for not grabbing the lot at 20p each.

I got three books which I look forward to reading. The Villa in Italy by Elizabeth Edmondson, yay! It’s the first of her books I’ve ever been able to find second hand. Next a book by Rachel Hore which I hadn’t read, A Week in Paris. When I got it home I found it was a signed copy. So that’s two nice, fat paperbacks for me. From a smaller charity stall I got an even greater bargain, a hardback 1st edition of H is for Hawk, in excellent condition.

The weekend was pretty wet, on and off, which was a shame for the folk dancers, the birthday teas for the Queen and the cricket at Lord’s. Yesterday evening rain was coming down in sheets and it’s still wet this morning, with regular showers. Ah, an English summer.

It’s cold and frosty again and I’m way behind with all garden work. So I’m going back to 1st May 2011, when I was able to post
Oh my goodness, the damage that storm has done in the night! Astonishing things here. Hope everyone is safe and still has a roof over their heads.
As grey January (following grey December and grey November) merges into grey February, I really need to see flowers. I splashed out on a bouquet from Waitrose:

and )

Always a strange weather effect when mist hovers at ground level like this and the trees float out of it.
After all my complaints about the bad weather we had down south over Easter, yesterday was nice and today is glorious. I cleaned the line and hung washing outside for the first time this year. I battled with BT to try to get a better deal out of them and succeeded. I started deadheading the daffodils. Then I did a lot of weeding. That was tiring so I sat in the sun (really warm!) and made these nifty plant supports out of hazel hedge prunings the gardener left behind. All that time in the Guides wasn’t wasted.


Yesterday I saw lambs in the fields; new life everywhere.
Hah, the posts everyone likes because it means looking at other people’s stuff. It was very busy down there this morning; also very cold. No fantastic bargains but I did get more than usual.


Sanctuary Body Lotion (which I love) and an M&S gift set, £1.50
more )

That come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty;

Shakespeare’s daffodils wouldn’t have been like the ones in our gardens; more like those Wordsworth wrote about, I imagine. The principle remains though: however foul the weather, the daffodils don’t fail us. There are masses of daffodils of the larger type in my garden but they’re not out yet. They were all here when I moved in. The miniature ones I planted myself, in front of the potting shed, where they do very well. I had to cut this little beauty because I wasn’t prepared to lie down on wet grass just to get a photo.

Yesterday was a glorious spring day and I could garden outside feeling the warmth of the sun. Today we’re back to the November-like murk which has plagued us for the past week. But still there are daffodils. By the end of their season, I always feel they have delighted us long enough, but it’s worth waiting for the late flowering of the beautiful Pheasant’s Eye type, as shown in the userpic.

Current view from the window beside my desk. It's not very deep but it's buried the snowdrops. Only fox tracks have disturbed it.

The header is the first line of London Snow by Robert Bridges.


Dec. 6th, 2014 10:30 am

Past ten o’clock and the frost is still thick. Luckily, I spent some time yesterday moving pots into the greenhouse and fleecing up. Yet look at this plant. It’s a pelargonium, ‘Concolor Lace’ and in theory tender. I had so many cuttings of it this year that I tried bedding some out and it worked brilliantly. Here it is still looking fresh, if icy, after a few degrees of frost. The Cerinthes are also still green and even flowering. Marvels of nature, eh?

Went out this morning, came back to find everything normal. Half an hour later I saw my big old jasmine flapping about like a flying table outside the window. The whole thing, trellis and all, had just been ripped away from the wall. I have someone coming later to chop it down because I don’t think I could manage it with my little pruning saw. It won't be trying to get into the bedroom window now. I dread to think what will happen next.
another pic )

My goodness, the sky this morning! Looks like we’re in for another stormy day and in fact there is a gale warning out for the south west. Time to batten down the hatches.
Apologies to all sun lovers but, after weeks with almost no rain, it’s raining at last! I wonder if my hydrangeas will plump up again? At least I’ll be able to do some weeding and planting and today, no exhausting watering. Hurrah!

Glad to see that LJ is back.
No, not curly kale or purple sprouting, delicious as they are, but those useful hardy perennials which keep their leaves in the winter. Here’s a few of mine. First up, Epimedium ‘Fröhnleiten’. How fresh and shiny does it look?

more )


Jan. 14th, 2014 09:26 am
Outside it’s very frosty and cold. Inside, I have flowers.


The trumpets aren’t orange; it’s a trick of the light. They're miniature daffodils which I bought in pots at the market. I'm cutting the flowers as they open (the pots are ugly) and later I'll put the bulbs in the garden. Win!
Amazingly, after the horrors of yesterday, the weather is mild and sunny today. I was just about to Hoover in the spare bedroom (housework has been much neglected, lately), when I saw a tortoiseshell butterfly basking on the bed. It wasn’t at all keen to be caught in the spider catcher and I of course wasn’t keen on damaging its delicate wings. At last I caught and released it, knowing that there are still nectar-providing plants outside. The mystery is: how did it get in, when windows have been firmly closed against the weather?

What a Day!

Jan. 4th, 2014 10:23 am
Rain is still hammering down here in Dorset. My heart goes out to anyone affected by flooding. Really, standing water in the garden, rain under the kitchen door* and through some of the windows is nothing in comparison. I’m congratulating myself on shopping first thing yesterday, before yet more rain set in. Not a hope of getting to the market today.

The first thing I heard on the news this morning was that Phil Everly had died. My mind is now full of my favourite Everly tracks; not the ones that are being played on the news but Love Hurts, Crying in the Rain, Let It Be Me and Dream, Dream, Dream. Anyone who thinks the death of a former pop singer isn’t really news just doesn’t like music. The beautiful sound the Everlys made was a huge influence on so many future groups.

I’ve started taking down my few Christmas decorations, so parts of the house are looking bare. I’m keeping the lights up as I need all the cheer I can get. Any more grumbles, Madam?

On the bright side, I have some fab new Nine West boots which were a third of their original price. I’m reading two entertaining books: The Secret Life of Bletchley Park and Miss Bun the Baker’s Daughter. This evening I’m going to watch the first episode of Sherlock again, to catch all the nuances I missed on the first viewing. I have hyacinths in flower indoors. I finished a knitting project yesterday and will start another today. Small things.

Photo Wikipedia

*There will be more on this later on. It shouldn't be happening.
Seen in town yesterday and photographed today.



Once, years ago, I complained when it began snowing. My then very young, probably pre-school daughter, protested, ‘The man on the radio said snow showers GOOD.’ She’d absorbed the shipping forecast. I use this anecdote not to embarrass my daughter but to illustrate how from our earliest years we are influenced by the weather, and by the rituals of the shipping forecast and the weather reports. As Mabey says, we’re all in the weather together. Of course we should be preoccupied. It’s the one circumstance of life which we share in common. It affects our bodies, our moods, our behaviour, the structure of our environments. It can change the cost of living and the likelihood of death. It is a kind of common language itself.

Turned Out Nice Again was a Kindle Daily Deal, which I thought would be worth 99p. It’s a very short book – you can read it in half an hour – but yes, I did think it was worth it. As usual with Mabey’s books, it’s very personal and contains many examples of his own experiences of weather, extreme or otherwise. It’s beautifully written. Of the shipping forecast, for example, he says, Yet their names – brooding, wind-tossed, pewter-grey names – seem to be emanations of the sea-parishes themselves: Lundy, Fastnet, South Utsire, North Utsire. They’re the music of weather’s local distinctiveness. Sean Street’s poem ‘Shipping Forecast, Donegal’, catches their sense of being incantations – not just respectful tributes to sea and weather, but call-signs from the home-patch. That could hardly be better put. There are quotations from weather observers of the past, including many from Gilbert White and Coleridge, and references to Turner’s weather paintings.

Every sort of weather is covered in this poetical book, from the humdrum greyness we live with much of the time to rarities like ball lightning. Best of all, I’ve learned a lovely new word: isophenes. I hope I get the chance to use it again.

You may also like The Book of Nightingales. Mabey gets another brief mention here. I highly recommend his Flora Britannica, a reference guide to British flowers, where to find them and their mythology.



January 2017



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