Tuesday, 23 January 2018

rainy days and Sundays

Grey day.Steady rain slicks patio paving, and pools in empty planting pots.  Cats clamour to go out, then stand beneath scant shelter, fur ruffled by damp droplets, before scrabbling to be let back inside.
Days like these require different rhythms ; long slow breaths and the quiet rustle of turning pages. Time slows to the spatter of rain on window panes and the bubble of soup simmering on the stove......... and we dream the hours away,waiting for a gap between clouds, and a glimpse of the pale winter sun.

Friday, 18 August 2017


Market stall apricots, warmed in August sunshine; blushing pink with ripened promise as they tumble from scales into a waiting  paper bag. This is the start of a ritual long remembered from childhood summers, when fruit would fall from bag to table; to be transformed over an afternoon into jewelled jars of apricot  jam.

 Juice slowly drips from blade to bowl, as each fruit is split ready to slow cook in lidded pot.  Scales groan under a weight of sugar, and lemons are squeezed of their juices. This is the science; a fine balance to create the alchemy of sweet amber delight.

Jam making is an art; I merely an apprentice following my mother's calm directions as I  assemble ingredients in the pan; feeling sugar, gritty under a stirring spoon, as heat begins to dissolve each granule, whilst apricots slowly slide and bubble.

Now the wait, as thermometer line creeps ever upward, and occasional slow stir keeps thickening juices from sticking. Here is the skill; an ever watchful eye, waiting for that magical moment when fruit, juice and sugar combine into the perfect consistency, to hang from spoon edge; or wrinkle on chilled saucer. This is the revelation, the secret passed from mother to daughter, to finally capture the familiar taste of childhood in a simple glass jar.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Deja vue

The slow dance begins once more; this time my mother's pas de deux......
and we, weary from past duets, recall each stumbling step of this strange ballet crafted from DNA's complex choreography.
 From the wings we watch the poise and elegance with which she glides across the floor; held in the firm caress of that same spectre with whom we shared our stage. Whilst we stand in the shadows
silently awaiting our cue......... a stalwart corps de ballet.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Of mice and Mum

My mother has always drawn mice; not the anatomically correct, scrabble footed, twitch eared images from the pages of a nature book ; but stroke of a pencil, pointy nosed, whip tail squiggles on paper scraps and the back of envelopes..
An enduring image from childhood, they peeped from the pages of  home made books to remind us when to sit 'quiet as mice' on unyielding church pews during Sunday service.

My father would find uniquely mousey gifts to bring back home from across the seas; my childhood favourite being a gilded green bellied brooch with fiery red eyes and an articulated tail, that we would beg to have pinned on our warm woolly jumpers. My mother would willingly oblige..... until the day it was taken to the jewellers where she discovered it was, in reality, far more precious than we had all believed it to be; not just paste and glass after all! After that, it was assigned to the jewellery box to be worn only on high days and holidays.

Over the years mice of every shape, design and texture arrived in the guise of birthday , Christmas and Valentine gifts; slowly jumbling the shelves of the corner cabinet we named 'the glory hole'. They were an eclectic collection; treasured by stubby fingered wide eyed grandsons who were granted leave to touch and explore just as long as each mouse was returned to its allotted place.

This weekend marked the first anniversary of my father's death. A bitter sweet time to gather as a family and celebrate his life. I would have taken flowers to arrange in vases and brighten each room; but then I saw these pink nosed, beady eyed felted marvels; dressed in the colours of our childhood, just begging to be set free from the dusty confines of a forgotten bargain bin. They seemed such a fitting gift somehow, and I have the strangest of feelings that my father would have thoroughly approved.

Thursday, 4 August 2016


Walking under tall trees, where dappled light casts moving shadows on dusty paths, and small creatures rustle under feathered ferns.
Our footfalls break the stillness as we step from path to bridge, led by signs mapped out in twigs and fallen branches gathered by small hands. As we stroll the sun catches exposed trunks where fungus blooms with soft strange beauty all its own; whilst in the shade oozing mud awaits a careless slip from wooden logs, that serve as smoothed down stepping stones. 
From woodland route the earthen path transforms itself to rutted gravel; cracked and scared by frequent rain. A scattering of wild flowers straggle their way along the verge and unseen birds sing warning chimes somewhere beyond the hawthorne hedge. And now we take the grassy track, mown flat across a grazing field; where doe eyed cows of every hue stare soulfully into middle distance, chewing on  cud and dreaming their bovine dreams.  

Monday, 20 June 2016

After the fall

These weeks after the fall  find me anchorless; ghosting through days, slipping in and out of worlds between pages, as I search for comfort away from this dull ache of knitting bone. Sleep is fitful, and often I find myself gliding through a soft breathing house at dawn to submerge in deep, hot water swirled with scented bubbles; where I lie waiting for pain to ease, accompanied by a deep throated dove cooing in the morning.
To temper this aimless existence, I make new routines, setting small goals on this exhausting journey back to fitness. I forge deals with myself - scrubbing and cleaning in awkward wronghandness  before curling on cushions, book in hand and cat on lap.This strangely rigid interruption in my normally fluid existence, is a way to fill the hours and keep torpor at bay.A way to ignore this dull ache that accompanies my every movement,until the sweet relief of a heated wheat bag and a few moments of calm.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Morning has broken

Lately, it is the sharp sound of an insistent blackbird that jars me from sleep; often to discover a small ginger cat curled under covers by my left knee.
We rise together, slowly stretching in the half light of a pale sun filtered through dark cloud and slatted blinds; before he gracefully leaps onto the windowsill, where his tail twitches in time to the cacophony of magpies squabbling  on nearby rooftop perch.
Today is mostly grey, the odd shaft of light breaking through; and has been given over to snails who languidly dance under the patio table; tentatively elongating tentacles beneath rain washed skies. One inches his way up the window pane and I fleetingly wonder if he studies me as keenly as I study him.
In the corner of the cloud washed sitting room,the first coffee of the day steams as I curl on cushions, pyjama clad, luxuriating in this little oasis of peace before the scramble of the day begins.