Sunday, 21 July 2013

Tillypronie in summer

Apologies for the long silence; it's mainly down to the demands of my day (and often night) job at Harper's Bazaar (you can read my editor's letter for the August issue here; Charlotte Bronte fans will, I hope, approve). And then when I did try to write a blog last weekend, I was inexplicably excluded from my own account. Anyway, having spent several frustrating hours attempting to be allowed back in again, here I am, at last.
London life has been busy, busy, busy -- and tremendously hot in the recent heatwave. Not that I'm complaining about the sunshine, after several summers of rain, and such long and icy winters. The city now feels, to me, mostly centred around the world of work -- of rushing to the tube in the mornings; of always being behind on my list of deadlines; of coming home in the evenings, feeling almost too tired to walk. There are great pleasures -- dear family, close friends, the camaraderie of an office, the sense of achievement at completing a huge September issue; excursions to the opera (an amazing evening of Tosca at the Royal Opera House); a memorable outing to Buckingham Palace -- and there are small frustrations. The endless whirr of anxieties that come with editing Bazaar; the buzzing worries in my head about budget and circulation and advertising revenue... and then the moments of exhilaration, with a sense of creativity shared and unexpected successes (our August issue has been the best-selling of the year so far... although the second I write that, I fear that I am tempting the gods, and will be slapped down for even the slightest sign of hubris).
Thank heavens, then, for the solace of Scotland, which offers such gentle peace at weekends. This has been the first summer that I have experienced long spells of sunshine at Tillypronie; previous years have been marked by wind and rain. So I have fallen in love with the place with even more passion... swimming in the cool, peaty water of the loch, then floating quietly, watching the swallows dart just above the surface, seeing their silvery feathers closer than ever before. And the garden has captured my heart entirely... the brave roses, finally emerging with green shoots after the rigours of snow-bound months; the heather, coming into flower again; a bed of self-sown forget-me-nots down beside the pond; the scent of mock-orange blossom and lavender; the bees buzzing amidst foxgloves and daisies; a wild-flower meadow filled with buttercups, cowslips, harebells and cornflowers. Each week, something new comes into bloom; fading petals replaced by fresh buds unfurling. Here, then, is a sense of blessings... of the year turning, quietly, untouched by the hurtling speed of the city. Soon there will be raspberries ripening, and the deepening purple of the heather-clad hills.
And so I give thanks for the high, clear sky, the cry of the curlews, the lapwings as they soar through the mountain air... and the man I love, who brought me here, safe in the heart of the Highlands.