My top 10 from 2020

This time last year I downloaded an app called Top 9 which selects the best (not sure by what criteria) nine photos posted on Instagram during the previous year. I’m seeing a few people posting their Top 9 so I decided I’d revisit it. Unfortunately the app doesn’t want to play ball, just hanging and displaying the message “Doing some housekeeping …”. Its been doing … Continue reading My top 10 from 2020

A Christmas Letter – Part 2 “the garden”

As the first year when I wouldn’t be distracted from the garden by work, 2020 was intended to be a year of significant garden development. We know what happened; distractions far bigger than work conspired to put a stop to those plans. However gardens and plants never stand still and here we are just a few days before the end of the year; time to … Continue reading A Christmas Letter – Part 2 “the garden”

A Christmas Letter – Part 1 “us”

I was an early adopter of the idea of writing Christmas letters. Some people call them Round Robins. Many ridicule them. But general feedback on mine is that they are welcomed and received with interest. So I shall continue to write one even at the end of this very strange year of 2020, even though I don’t necessarily feel like it. Like so many of … Continue reading A Christmas Letter – Part 1 “us”

Plus ça change plus ç’est la même chose

One of the few artefacts I have from my childhood is a composition (as they were called in those days) I wrote at primary school where I expressed the desire to live in a house in the country with roses growing over the door. I never lost that wish despite decades living in (albeit leafy) suburbia. Someone once accused me of having a romantic fantasy … Continue reading Plus ça change plus ç’est la même chose

Six on Saturday, life in lockdown, volunteers, and self seeders

Somehow, during lockdown, I’ve been completely unable to write a blog post. I don’t really know why. Perhaps one reason is that for me to retain my sanity in these strange days, these days when I should have been building my new non-working life, I’m focusing all my efforts on the here and now, counting the blessings I have, enjoying where I am. Perhaps writing … Continue reading Six on Saturday, life in lockdown, volunteers, and self seeders

Chionodoxas: a sparkling thread linking my homes across the years

Just four days after my 22nd birthday I moved into my second house, one I was to stay living in for almost 39 years. 13 days before Christmas, cold and dark, life remained mostly on the inside. Christmas Eve brought the arrival of a 9-week old Irish Setter, a surprise Christmas present (not something I would either recommend or wish on anyone). The puppy arrived … Continue reading Chionodoxas: a sparkling thread linking my homes across the years

Snowdrops and me; is this a virus?

We had many snowdrops in our Surrey garden from where we moved nearly five years ago, as the first stage in our French adventure. Mostly they were Galanthus nivalis (i.e. the common snowdrop) but I’d also introduced a few choicer cultivars. I don’t remember where the first snowdrops came from, whether they were already in the garden in 1975 when we moved there, or whether … Continue reading Snowdrops and me; is this a virus?

Compost, communication, and pain

Taking on the development of a 3-acre garden in another country was never going to be for the faint-hearted. At the best of times we can only be there between a third and (absolute maximum) half of the year. The land is fertile, the rainfall plentiful, and the temperatures temperate throughout most of the year. So the plants grow fast. We can only do what … Continue reading Compost, communication, and pain

The best laid plans … calamities and change

The best laid plans of mice and men … (Robert Burns, so Google tells me). These were the plans: 14th October, arrive at the French house, stay for three nights, back to the UK, final preparations for my final event, draw breath briefly and then get stuck into a new life that some call retirement. Well, change has occurred but with it has come some … Continue reading The best laid plans … calamities and change

A fortnight in April: cool, damp, and much progress

We set off from Sussex with a car packed to the gunwales with the usual random collection of items, this time mainly plants.   Our drive to Portsmouth is quick and straightforward (apart from the 11 roundabouts around Chichester) and we were smoothly on to the ferry. where we quickly dumped our small bag in the cabin and went straight to the restaurant for dinner. … Continue reading A fortnight in April: cool, damp, and much progress