Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The proof is in the pudding...

... or rather, the cake. The flapjacks were a bit heavy, I'm afraid -- not quite enough golden syrup. But the lemon drizzle seemed to go down well, and the rain stayed away.
Back in London now, fretting about imminent 'Coco' publication (a bit like waiting for exam results). Could this have any bearing on my recent spate of nightmares, in which I am running away from a huge and angry beast? (Suddenly reminded of the stage direction in 'The Winter's Tale': 'Exit, pursued by a bear...')
Have just eaten curry with my sons, followed by Dairy Milk chocolate. Very nutritious.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The last days of summer

It's raining here in Crouch End -- dark sky, heavy cloud, sodden grass, dead leaves on the pavement (why are they falling so soon?). But at least the garden has been thoroughly drenched, and my potted geraniums are thriving.
I've been tending to 'Coco' in London for the last couple of days -- hoping and trying and almost certainly failing to tie up the loose ends before publication -- then nipping back to Scotland for the weekend, before the start of term next week. Anyone who wants a slice of my lemon drizzle cake should come to the garden opening at Tillypronie on Sunday afternoon; hopefully there will be other treats, including some excellent homemade scones as well. As for the promise of sunshine -- well, if anyone happens to know any Celtic blessings or charms to summon up blue skies, please do say them now...

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Ponies and pansies

The Tarland show has something for everyone; prize-winning ponies in the morning (as well as an excellent homemade cake and jam stall; I snaffled lemon drizzle cake, and three different kinds of jam -- gooseberry, blackcurrant and raspberry). Then in the afternoon, the spectacular Tarland flower show in the MacRobert hall. The sweetpeas were prettier than a picture, the vegetables magnificent, and the home-baked gypsy creams as good as they get. Who could ask for anything more?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Tarland Show

The season of festivals continues -- my friends and their children talk enthusiastically about Latitude, the Big Chill, and other fashionable gatherings -- but to be honest, I cannot imagine anything more dismal than camping with tens of thousands of others. People talk about the free spirit (even though the alcohol is very expensive) and endless nights of fun (in other words, sleep deprivation), but I am more excited about the Tarland Show; of which more later...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Slightly Better Housekeeping

Some small signs of progress have been made in my household. My younger son and I have taken all the clothes out of his wardrobe, and put the ones that no longer fit him (most of the contents, it turns out) into eight large plastic bags that are now blocking the hall. I have deadheaded the roses, removed as much of the bindweed as I can, and am trying to convince myself that the rest of the green invaders in my borders are not quite as bad as all that. Three of the garden chairs have collapsed, after a winter in the snow followed by teenage summer gatherings, and I am wondering how to rid myself of them (the broken chairs, that is, rather than the teenagers). Ditto, several dozen wire clothes hangers, that were found lurking in various corners of the wardrobe.
Still haven't done the paperwork in my study, but I did cook an excellent supper last night: chicken fillets in creme fraiche and wholegrain mustard, with salad, roast new potatoes, and peas with courgettes. Then chocolate icecream with blueberries; an unplanned yet oddly delicious combination.
Now, am going to tackle an overflowing chest of drawers, to fill more bags for the hall.
Cyril Connolly wrote: "There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall." What, I wonder, would he have made of the blockage of bags in mine?

Friday, 6 August 2010

Bad Housekeeping

Am supposed to be catching up with all the essentials tonight: tackling heaps of laundry, and sorting out the unsorted piles of paperwork. The dirty washing I can deal with, but the teetering towers of bills, etc, are driving me to distraction. Literally. Every time I look at them, I immediately find something else to do, eg investigating the new boden autumn catalogue, answering the telephone to random cold calls from credit card companies, eating another flapjack, wondering how I will learn to use the television remote control, when neither of my sons are available to change the widget from play-station thing-y to the correct setting (whatever that might be).
Edna O'Brien said August Is A Wicked Month (and what a sad book that was; too upsetting to re-read), but I think this time of year can be oddly silent. I like the quiet London streets -- although I was surprised to see three Chinese tourists walking along my suburban road this morning, carrying cameras (why Crouch End?).
The garden is dried out and wilting -- a sorry state after the glories of June and early July -- even though the skies have turned overcast. An invasion of mosquitoes has taken me by surprise; as did the discovery that I don't entirely like Nancy Mitford's 'Wigs on the Green' (very disconcerting to read a Mitford novel that doesn't delight).
I am fighting the urge to go to bed at quarter past nine -- surely too early for a grownup? But sleep seems far more appealing than the prospect of tidying my study.
Grey cloud and light rain forecast for tomorrow. At least the dull weather will provide no further temptation to abandon paperwork.
Oh dear, apologies for drab and dreary blog. By way of recompense, here are the things that have brightened up this week, aside from the flapjacks.
1. Tom Hollander in 'Rev'. (Hope this link works, for anyone who hasn't yet seen it).
2. The Shooting Party on Radio 4, from the novel by Isabel Colegate.
3. Pleasing new trousers from Gap.
4. Beatrix Potter's 'The Tale of Two Bad Mice'... I've just re-read my treasured childhood copy, complete with illustrations that form a mirror to the past, to the doll's house I shared with my sister; with such eerie symmetry that it seems almost as if they have fallen out of a dream.