Follow my posts by email

Sunday, 21 September 2014

thistles and Thisbe

The swallows and the house martins have gone - so I guess that's official - Summer is over. As Beezle and Bob Dylan would say "The times - they are a 'changin"
Trude looking out for the house martins

About a day after they had gone I noticed a lone house martin flying over the hedge - how awful to think he or she might have been left behind. What on earth will it do? Having to negotiate that trip to Africa all on its own. Hope it knows how to avoid flying over Malta. It reminded me of a cartoon I'd seen years ago of a swallow and a sparrow sitting on a fence chatting. The swallow's speech bubble had a map of Africa and the ocean with its route marked in dotted lines. The sparrow had a map of next door's garden.

And my swallows are getting ready to fly the nest too. The visas have arrived, the back packs packed, the first aid kits bought and I'm staring at a packet of malaria tablets as I write this post.

 One of the good things in the change of season is that the rutting season for ducks seems to be over so that I can walk out in the garden without having the back of my legs pecked at. And thinking of things rutting - the stalkers from Belgium have arrived for the deer cull. This means we have to avoid the woods at dawn and dusk to stay clear of the stray bullets. I might invest in a bullet proof vest and throw caution to the wind. Or go out with my antler hat on just to confuse everyone.

But the sweet furry things haven't started hibernating yet and are still ending up on the landing or inside Pocket's stomach.

 The leaves are still hanging on but the fruit is dropping from the mulberry trees. (ref Thisbe) The thistles have changed colour too. There are thousands of seeds on this Onopordum and with any luck in two years I'll have a forest of them.  Trude finds thistles frightening. Perhaps they don't have them in Holland which is where she comes from. You can tell she comes from Holland because she likes to walk on the right hand side of the road.
Meanwhile I love this poem by Ted Hughes

Thistles by Ted Hughes

Against the rubber tongues of cows and the hoeing hands of men
Thistles spike the summer air
And crackle open under a blue-black pressure.

Every one a revengeful burst
Of resurrection, a grasphed fistful
Of splintered weapons and Icelandic frost thrust up

From the underground stain of a decayed Viking.
They are like pale hair and the gutturals of dialects.
Every one manages a plume of blood.

Then they grow grey like men.
Mown down, it is a feud. Their sons appear
Stiff with weapons, fighting back over the same ground.

Friday, 5 September 2014

tiger biscuits and feathers

It's been a week since the launch of The Boy with the Tiger's Heart so I thought it was about time I reported back. We had a great party, sold the books, drank some wine and ate - the highlight of the evening - some Tiger biscuits.

 Below are some of them - we made about a hundred I think - and are still chewing our way through them though admittedly they are a little stale by now.  So,  Dear Readers, I hope you have all gone out and bought a copy of the book to boost sales which will mean my publishers will want to publish another story which I do have, waiting in the wings, about a mysterious black horse, a girl and a strange cat.
 And at last - a picture of the ducklings - now , as you can see, teenagers with brand new feathers and you can see the two of them that have their Rococo wigs on.
 Like their baby feathers, some of the leaves are beginning to fall. Here are the remnants of one of my client's garden - still looking good but with a definite air of autumn in the seed pods and dried flower heads.
 A season when the late flowering anemones are out and the odd rose, trying to fit in an extra bloom or two before the frost hits them. (Why do the anemones in my garden insist on coming up pink when what I really want is Anemone Honorine Jobert - a beautiful simple white one. Perhaps because I'm so busy putting it in to other people's gardens I forget I don't actually have any myself.}

 Soon, like the swallows, my girls will be off on their travels. One of them, I hope, will return with the swallows in the summer - the other will be gone for a year. She has been working to raise some money and painting. Here is a beautiful picture she has done of whales and one of a feather.
 You can see her work on

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.