Wow, me, time and the mouse in the house.

There are no planes in the sky.  Used to watch them stack over Heathrow and could count about eight at a time.  Nothing now … and yes, we are in lockdown, and yes, the world as is being held at ransom by a deadly foe.  The tourism industry is all but evaporated for now, and we are thinking, will we ever travel again?

I live in hope. The novelty of travelling within my house is all but stale, all intentions scuppered for not being able to get paint, or plants, or anything to actually do some re-decoration and gardening.  Tried to sneak some Rose food into the trolley yesterday, on my first supermarket visit in over a week, and no, it is not an essential item and was promptly scooped out.  I get it, but how are we supposed to have any kind of house quarantine when I have so few tools to get to those odd jobs?

The second spring clean of the week.  Living in Africa, albeit in a lovely Estate for this time in isolation, I have been leaving all the doors wide open to capture as much fresh air and sunlight while the warmer climes linger.  Setting the background so to speak …

Imagine the sheer horror of seeing this mouse scamper down the passage and into one of the bedrooms.  This is (apart from a snake and those hideous rain spiders) one of my worst fears.  This is one of those times I do curse being on my own with no-one to send into battle.  Hastily shut the door lest it decide to do another tour of the house, and after (to return)I stopped screaming, and cursing no end, it was time to formulate a plan.  Fortunately the bedroom also had a door onto the garden, so, standing on the desk, managed to open the door, whilst Wilbur raced around the room … and under the desk.

Tried pleading for him to just saunter outside, his natural habitat … for goodness sake, just be gone from here, you cursed little piece of …  Brooms, bucket and baking pan at the ready, still on the desk, the one woman band of banging on baking tin, prodding behind the desk and actually thinking I was going to trap him under the bucket (although I had no idea what to do next if that happened) took to yelling and stomping on said desk – and at last he shimmied his way outside.  So I thought.

The moment I tried to lock the door, still atop the desk, Wilbur had a moment and promptly left the sanctuary of the flower bed to do a U turn and straight back into the room, this time under the bed.  I could have platzed right there and lost any last shred of humanitarian instincts to save him, thinking only of ridding myself of this invasion. Let it be said that there was a struggle and much more dancing, shrieking as he ran through my legs (me now trying to get him from out under the bed) before he decided to leave, and sit beneath the rosemary bush.  Door shut, every window promptly shut, every living space available for another visit, bolted down, but he had to go … all the way out of my property, which I eventually achieved with a strong water hosing until he decided to up his newly adopted turf.

Will admit, at some point when I had him cornered, I swear I could see his little heart racing with fear.  It equalled my own.

I pray he doesn’t come back.  I am having more than the usual wine this evening to calm the nerves and face sleep with visions of his entire family coming to visit.  All the trying not to kill the ants in my grass and saving wildlife is dissipating fast with this encounter. Still, it made for a few hours of excruciating time lapse in these long, long, long, long days of isolation.

We are half way and let the gods not decide to extend this for surely many shall be going, justifiably, insane.  All for our own good I know, it’s just rather difficult explaining to the authorities, that me and a mouse in the house, is a volatile situation which may require the ban on alcohol to be lifted for desperate times.

At best I have never been a good girl guide, or a happy camper going into the bush to sleep in dirt and have moving things crawl into my pants.

This lockdown in my own house is about the most rustic form of camping I ever want to do – and I get a mouse to add to the ambiance ugh!  Someone I know is laughing at me now …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Time, have time for you now …

 

Let me never complain of not having enough time again … or grumble about crowds, ever again.  I have this friend that always used to tell me when I complained of one thing or another, would say: ‘be careful of what you wish for.’  One of my least favourite phrases – feel like something my teacher would say …  and if I wished for more time, oh Lord, I didn’t mean this much!  A little time, a little extra time, the sort of bank holiday weekend time.  And now the hours on my own are endless  …

The third day of the lockdown had me at Bridget Jones in the bath pulling at her false eyelashes in pure despair, but have since rallied to ‘fruitful exploration of all I did not get time to do, understand, finish and dreamed of but never really believed was possible.’  You are no doubt, doing the same.  We have time now. From waking to sleep we have duvets of time, full, plump and enveloping every inch of you.

Have been rather busy. Doing very little.  Doing little important things which would not be considered important if time was chasing me about. And time brought a mate – a slinky, slightly dodge character (looks a little like the child catcher) called ‘No Excuses.’ This character I do not like much, but can no longer avoid. Good thing, going to be tricky – this is the insensitive character that thrust the mirror directly onto the wine belly which I later found out, belonged to me – where the hell did that extra life ring come from? Looks like the one they find beside the super shallow pond in English parks, red and white and bit of an eyesore in the lovely landscape.  That my dear, is the first ‘No Excuse’ objective. This is the absolute worst time to lob the wine and comforting crisps, really is, but now I have the time to begin some self care and shall not emerge until bootcamp is done.  May sneak a glass or two, sorry Child Catcher No Excuse.

Would rather be walking through Hidcote Garden (picture provided) on a Spring day, just as the tulips are all about to unfold and the Serpentine hedge leads me to a view of Cotswold’s glory.  And I can, as the National Trust, like so many brilliant places – Thinking Keukenhof, the National Gallery, the Louvre – there are many, are offering virtual tours to fill our hearts with awe and beauty.  As I look out at my little garden, Icebergs battling the elements, I can but wonder and sigh … but online I’m watching virtual tours and it’s educational and just plain lovely.

Please look at the various virtual offers out there.

What I found time for today?

  • Picking up those coffee table books and pursue – with tea and no biscuits.
  • Re-reading my children’s story books I loved, almost more than them.
  • Reflecting on what really matters to me now, at this point of my life and sayonara to the hanging onto for all the wrong, sentimental reasons.
  • Thumbing through cookbooks.  When will be have a family feast again?
  • Watched ‘Who’s the Boss’ on Youtube and loving the 80’s Angela fashion. On a run with the ‘oldies catch up.’
  • Pretended to re-design the house for not being able to do anything anyway.  Who would come to help me paint?
  • Go through files and toss … just toss for things I have held onto ‘in case.’
  • Thin out material things to give to those who really need it when I haven’t for a while.

 

 

  • Email/Itunes/spotify/photographs/documents clean out.
  • Sorting through my mother’s many tins of collected tea spoons from ALL around the world.
  • Enjoying the idea that my mother just HAD to collect a teaspoon from every destination all over the world.
  • Loving all the calls and messages – to the point of actually being really busy chatting which makes me feel less alone.

This could go on for long time.  I am conquering day by day – there is no point in being negative anymore (though still allowed the odd wobble).  The world in crises has not lost her sense of humour and I continue to pray.  As Prince Charles, himself with the #COVID19 curse, said in his interview today, gosh and I am happy he seems to be recovering, we do not know when the virus will end, but it will end.  I am hanging onto that.

About the lots of time?  Digging deep and keeping faith – all this time is a time for self discovery my friends, a time for really taking stock and like a new world will emerge, painfully I think, I mean to go through this time to be there with new ideas and new ways of thinking to support, become more engaged and just be so intensely grateful to be alive.

Sending you flowers and beauty at this time.

Here for you xxx

 

 

 

Lockdown. Travelling at home. Seems like a thousand days to go.

In some parts of the world, day three went by a very long time ago.  I totally salute and honour you for coping – please tell me how you do it.  Am in day three, admittedly in a nice little house, on my lonesome, and everything about it has worn off. Every good intention, gone with the wisp of a ‘bloody hell, Bond never had to put up with this!’  Now even Bond has too … I need him to tell me how. Is there a lifeline number I can call …

All for the greater good, I know.  We are pushing down the curve, I know.  I know.  I also know I spent  my life avoiding prison and right now, seems like I am in one anyway.  Not complaining, not complaining … not complaining.  Need to re-think the strategy, revise, surmise, organise.  I can’t even bring myself to do the ironing. Who the hell wants to do the ironing when you are never going to get to wear the clothes you are ironing in the first place – seriously, who is going to wear the lovely suit, frock and blazer when life is reduced to gym kit and bare feet?

Lasted two whole days being the positive, and tomorrow is another day.  Tomorrow is Monday … is it Monday, is tomorrow  Monday, or another trick?  Is it really Monday?  If it is, I’ll start tomorrow, with the online everything, dress up and put on the make-up, coiffed hair and sunny smile.  Tomorrow for sure. To be fair, I have been self-isolating for the past two weeks in London so it’s really, day what for me now?

Dear diary.  Started the lockdown really well.  Prepared I was.  Well prepared.  Snuck out for supplies, bought the entire food supply for Latvia and stocked.  Dreams of cooking, soup making, baking of bread.  Eggs and Aubergines.  Matters not that I do not eat meat, eggs and Aubergines – they are living in my fridge. In case. One never knows when these are called for in the next millennium, which is what it feels like being here. How long I shall be here?

Even bought the box dye.  One never knows, be prepared young girl guide.  And that ‘just touch the roots’ stuff.  Shall I resort to both when I begin to look like a panda from the top down? Dear God, is it the razor from now on?  Will I ever kiss the ground of a salon again, feel the warmth of wax, of facial and professional blow wave again? Am I a sinner for wondering when the world is at risk? Shallow, shallow woman!

Started well.  First day.  Dressed. Made soup. Pretended to exercise. Walked up and down. Read a book. Avoided the puzzle (that is giving in at this stage). Internet down so pretended I was in a Jane Austen novel – sans sewing box and quill – listened for birdsong and forgave the ants for coming after the soup. Afternoon nap (massive failure on my part as I always believed napping was wasting hours of doing). Timed the wine ‘o clock well.  Contemplated life.

Day two. Thank the Lord the Internet is back on.  I can connect! Dressed. Make up on, tweaked with tweezers and forced the curly hair into irons. Make up done.  Washed the brushes, tidied the cupboards, alphabetised the DVD’s and clipped the roses.  Routine sorted.  An hour of this and and hour of that, like units in ‘About a Boy.’ Put the soup in the fridge, ate pizza, cookies, crisps, bread, more crisps, fruit, more bread, more cookies and rationed the wine.  We are not allowed to buy wine for the next three weeks, and rationed the wine – drank beer.

Day three.  At least I showered. Gym pants.  Walked through the house and did a squat as I put on the kettle.  A sit up after I made the bed. Looked at online everything available and went, sod it. Coffee.  More coffee. A little more coffee. Ten o’ clock and wine called me from the fridge.  Resisted big time. Decided to buy a Chateau in France. Decided how to lose weight when you are in your sixties. Decided to Google that again tomorrow – Monday you know, everything starts on a Monday.

Started tossing dead parsley, bananas and froze the meat instant meals for the next decade.  Is this the time to stop having wine and getting the body back in shape, she thinks?  Will think again tomorrow, it is Monday after all. Today is Sunday, she hopes and checks the totally empty diary for confirmation. Empty diary equals no life as she knows it.

But, it’s day three – a few hundred more to go and rather than become Miss Havisham on steroids, am going to be super positive on Monday.  If perchance a soul walks by, would I do a twirly dance with glee?

It’s day three and I am having serious withdrawal symptoms, as one would early on in withdrawal from anything.  Tomorrow is going to be more positive, I shall not succumb to the gym pants, the soup ( which sans certain ingredients is horrible) and plan for Paris. Do not falter stupid woman, I say to myself, do not succumb to the being alone and isolated – to the wine, for you shall run out, and to the lard that is slowly invading your body.  Do not succumb to watching what you loathe for want of entertainment or stoop to snacking and staring at the wall.

You will be so much better on day four. Do not be complacent or critical.  Think of those who are out there to save your life, make the world better and stop being such silly person.  But you know what, even in times of trouble, all alone, we are allowed the little wallowing for I know tomorrow I shall be a Titan and all will be well.

Just had to put it out there, being locked up, or locked down and finding it really tough. I am being honest, being alone now, is tough.  Am being honest in that I am a little scared. Honest in wanting life the way I knew it. It’s ok to blah, doing it now, but not ok to not make it ok tomorrow.  Stay tuned and promise, no gym pants tomorrow.

Stay safe and I admire all of you who are making this time the most productive time.  Let me know how xxx

Image: know your memes

Gently, gently we need to tread. Gently to dispel the dread. To nature we shall cling …

 

‘The woods looked simply glorious in the morning sun, and all nature was at

its best.  Fancy a war on in surroundings like this.  It seems unthinkable.’

Private J.W. Graystone, of the 10/East Yorkshire Regiment, wrote of his camp

at Authie on the Somme.

 

There is a plague upon all our houses. A war of a different kind.

I have been silent for weeks – perhaps too disbelieving as to what was unfolding, uncurling like an evil, alien creature, to infect the world as we know it. Seemingly surreal, we witness life shut down, jobs dissipate, incomes flutter and space more and more limited. Sometimes I think that it wouldn’t matter what I say, would anyone be listening anyway, does it matter (it does to me) – and angry at all the awfulness that spills like an oil slick on a pristine sea.

I don’t really know – but what I do know is that my life, and everyone else’s, will never be the same again. I want to blame who I think is to blame, but blame is hot air. No longer matters. Human nature, in these circumstances, swings from jovial banter (the thousands of memes are testament to that)  boosting our spirits as we distance ourselves, to the worst traits, fake news and crashing negativity.  Not for a second can I be blasé about the situation we are in, we are burying thousands – but I also know if I want to keep sane for the days to come, fear will take me down.

Far from my family in isolation, on another continent, for the time being.  This is what I find the most difficult to deal with.  When all the fluff of life filters to the pavement, it is family and the people you love, you want to be closest too.  Fortunate in that my children are all isolating together, with George, who continues to coax giggles and offer hugs as only an animal can,  thus ensuring the adequate levels of love and optimism in their confined space remain high. They are together and that is a great comfort to me.  Many are separated and find themselves in foreign climes, we need to be aware of that and pray they will get home when the restrictions are lifted.

 

This is the crossroads of choice. Common sense tells us to be cautious, self isolate and take extra medical and hygienic care.  Washing of hands for 20 seconds (I have come to see doing this as my spiritual ritual).  Much thinking and absolving and washing away of oh, so many thoughts …  More importantly, the choices, of optimism and fortitude.  There are generations below us who are facing more trials in the future – adding our woes to this tragedy does not help them.  It has them worrying about us – if I am positive, no matter how fearful, at least it is one less voice of doom.  Courage is my choice (though I do have the little melt down, in private, which is ok) as is refraining from sinking in the mire of tragedy lovers.

What I am doing is rising up to my renewed faith in nature.  My renewed faith in faith. How long has it been since I really paid attention? I mean, really paid attention, as a child does staring into a pond,  fishing for tadpoles, or studying a rock pool for ages?  Not just listening to birds but attempt to learn their unique calls, coax my sickly icebergs back to life and lie on my back, in the afternoon, now that I have the time to do very little, and stare at the clouds. To the trees I go.  If this sounds twee, that is exactly what it is – nature is calming and more importantly, it is the reminder that:

The ability of nature to endure, despite the bullets and blood, gave the men a psychological,

spiritual, religious uplift.  The unconquerability of nature provided the reassurance

that life itself would go on, that there was after all a purpose and meaning to things.’

 

Johan Lewis-Stemple

‘Where Poppies Blow.’

Our war right now may be different, the dread the same, but already one hears of increased birdsong, cleaner waters, less pollution as we go into hiding.  Nature’s resilience and that gorgeous light in the morning is my song against the darkness.  With calm, common sense and the beauty all around us in the natural world, we are going to be fine.

Already looking at my life, and the world around me with new, heightened senses.  Still get scared, there is loss on a scale unprecedented, and then there is us … the breaking and the making of us.

What will you be doing during the lockdown to take the fear and keep calm at this time?  Let me know, even if it’s just to share.  We all need to support each other.  Stay safe.

 

Quote from ‘Where Poppies Blow’ – The British Soldier.  Nature.  The Great War. by John Lewis-Stempel 2016. Published by Weidenfield & Nicholson. London.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t life just full of lovely flowers this week.

Bon Jour to you and you and you and you …

Well into the New Year and the positivity bunny is still sitting next to me.  Admittedly, the Summer weather and daily dips in the Ocean may have something to do with the wellness factor, but there are other natural highs I drip feed into my soul.  Like planning small trips this year: talked about Paris and the Eurostar is booked.  My return to the ‘Grand Tour’ heaven of Lake Como is in the dairy and this time I may spend more time in Milan.  Anyone have great tips on Milan?

Cape Town and the wine lands is incredible.  As I write, I am overlooking the Atlantic from the 8th floor of my friend’s apartment, with a view that will quickly run out of superlatives. South Africa is unique, home from home and so beautiful – despite the problems, she remains feisty, sexy and strong.

Needless to say, the mind is full of flowers – when is it not, she asks, but today especially, it is full of flowers and inspiration around the blooms. Doing the flowers for a special Bridal Shower was like literally, oh leave me alone to just indulge in my passion.  The theme was an Afternoon Garden party, so the floral design was all about whimsical blooms: lots of roses, gypsophila, lisianthus, scabious and cow parsley.  Gentle flowers that create a free flowing prettiness.  Smaller vases filled with garden herbs such as lavender, rosemary and fennel flowers – the scent was perfume perfection.

With Flowers and Paris in mind, and so many other lovely articles I read over the past two weeks, I thought I would share them with you:

Love all things French, so this was a great inspiration for the New Year. We will be having four days in Paris, and though I have been many times, always looking for new ways to show my friends.  Good dining and flowers together, should check this one out. And then there is the ‘how to be a true Parisian‘ and more inspiration. Moreover, I am moving towards a more eco-friendly way of life, and this company really inspires me too!  It is possible if you look for brands that are vegan friendly and gentle with nature.

No trip to Paris would be complete without tasting, at least, a few dozen pastries – I am a sucker for the sweet things in Paris.

Back to the flowers.  One of the more lazy moments I have in the day, are spent watching the ever addictive You Tube.  Tulipina is a favourite of mine, and again, always learning.  Tulipina started her business with a passion for flowers, a website, instagram and true belief in her art of creating different and impactful floral designs.

A recent crush, and if only I were in Versailles the week before our trip, I would definitely join Molly on this course. Adore the town of Versailles, the Chateau and the Jardin du Roi, so a pastry course in the heart of Versailles, close enough to do in a day trip from Paris, would have been perfect.  Perhaps in the future?

Without bees, there would be no flowers – and little else in the future if we don’t take care of them.  As much as I love alternative ‘milk’ in my lattes, a sobering article on Almond milk.  St. Clements no longer offers Almond milk as an alternative, but one can still have soy and oat milk if the real thing is not your thing.

This year is a personal drive to being more conscious of our environment. I should have been all the time, but sometimes even I slip up on the plastic, the easy alternative and the not so great effort at recycling. Climate change is real and terrifying – I believe even the daffodils are coming up earlier, wow! Used to be in March, then February, and now some are popping up when we should be having snow in England.

It has been a fabulous week.  A floral, frilly week.  Going to the suppliers, getting the mechanics sorted, working with pure gorgeousness in petals and stems.  A wonderful Bridal Shower, and of course, always a pleasure to work with and admire, and eat, the delectable creations made by Lulubelle’s bakes, without whom the Bridal Shower would not have been so heavenly.

Till next time, get creative and embrace you life.

 

 

 

All about the blooms. Two very different events.

One of the reasons I have returned to South Africa, apart from the Summer of course, it to celebrate a very special wedding. My best friend’s daughter is getting married on one of the most exquisite wine farms in the country, and the countdown has begun.  A year in the planning, nothing left to chance, this is going to be one of the most beautiful weddings I have the privilege to be a part of. Cannot wait to share the pictures with you.

Not doing the wedding flowers this time, but super excited to do all the blooms and set up for the Bridal Shower and wedding Shabbat dinner.  Two very different themes, and two very important events on the wedding calendar.  So you can imagine, with so much at stake, a happy bride and a happy mum, I have been planning – checking what’s available, meeting suppliers, setting up the mechanics and a very tight timeline for prepping and creating two very different, but sensational events.  To set the tone for the big day.

As a wedding and floral designer, nothing happens, just like that. More that plopping a few daisies in a vase. The Bridal shower is themed around one theme, and the dinner, very glamorous. Been doing the homework, which involves a lot of time finding inspiration, creating a mood board, making sure all is going to transport the guests into an afternoon, and evening, of pure magic. All about flowers this week.  Am eternally grateful to my daughter, Madison, for working with me on these events.

We are blessed in South Africa with magnificent suppliers of these gorgeous blooms. Today I found myself at the local farmer’s market, where Adene’s flowers displayed a fusion of blooms and I was lost in the frilly petals, the strong dahlia’s, floating cosmos and many other shades of prettiness.  Am going to explore a little more on the actual flower farm.  We need frilly and soft for the Bridal Shower, and then the strong stems and dramatic blooms for the pre-wedding dinner. Could not do without Alsmeer flowers who never fails to disappoint.

Adene’s flowers. Until April they have an open day on Sundays and so worth a visit.

My inspiration comes in so many different forms.  And one is never too experienced to learn, just that little bit more.  Been fortunate to travel and see some of the most incredible gardens in the world, all which add to the dream.  Smitten with the gardens of Italy and France, and England for that matter, and Monty Don’s insightful documentaries on these gardens has me at, oh of course, how amazing to bring this into the repertoire. Have visited a few myself and April sees me back at the Lakes of Italy to discover a few more myself.

Another secret crush is Tulipina.  Follow her work religiously. Seems so simple doing flowers, right?  Tulipina has become a major influencer in floral design today. Detailed art. Then there is Jeff Latham, always popping into the George IV in Paris to see his latest work and going ‘wow’ when I do. Many floral designers in London of course, especially Bloomsbury Flowers. there are so many: Flowerbx, McQueens, Wild at Heart and Elizabeth Marsh – one is never at the I know it all.  So much more out there! Sometimes inspiration comes from the smallest things, a vintage tea cup, a beautiful vase, indigenous blooms – one’s one garden. Planted another seven Icebergs last week, they just keep blooming and great to use for a soft touch. They last well in water. They are planted beside my lovely David Austen’s ‘Litchfield Angels’, who never disappoint.

Inspired by nature, here and in the UK. How to take local materials and make them the stars of the show. One needs to work with what is right there in front of you, hone it, incorporate it and make it something special. We draw all the threads together and often, even when walking, I find material that would be perfect, for the right setting of the scene.

So, as a floral designer, the countdown has begun for this special time.  To create a wonderful Bridal shower and then turn all around for a dramatic, sophisticated dining experience. Seasonal drama. A summer setting. Want it to be personal, digging deep to do so – and that’s why it’s all about the blooms this week.

No matter how small or large the event, the flowers will tell the story.

When someone trusts you with their dream, it’s a privilege and lots of work to deliver that dream to perfection.

 

Love what I do.  Love the flowers and the possibilities of what they can achieve. Love their ability to transform the ordinary to the extraordinary.

They will tell their own story. A memorable one at that.

To work.  To doing what I love. To the blooms

Images: Own, Adene’s flowers, Italy tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning for Paris 2020 – a special birthday.

It’s what I adore about a New Year.  All the plans and details and filling the diary with ideals and wishes you want the year to bring. Paris is of course, always uppermost.  Paris has been my ‘other love’ for over a decade, since I moved to London and found the ease of visiting Paris a secret loveliness, all of my own.

When the great re-location to London became more of an early coping in a new world, and nothing like I ever dreamed of, Paris offered me the sanctuary I desperately needed.  The London of tourists experience was nothing to the actual landing with the bump kind of experience my family endured.  Life reduced from the beautiful South Africa existence. We managed, failed on some levels, grew, and changed. In the midst of letting go and embracing a small and often daunting different situation, I discovered the great, and achievable passport, via the Eurostar, to Paris.  We have been in love ever since.

This year, the diary is poised for the return. The love affair has not diminished. With my family, friends or on my own, I have grown to know her small streets and captivating nuances. We know each other well.  In the past years, at least two or three trips a year, it has been Paris in the Spring, the Summer, magnificent Autumn, and always in the Winter ( I think I prefer the latter, just before Christmas when the tourists are gone and the bones of this lovely city still has me in awe.) Love the gardens, the parks, the shopping and side walk stopping for coffee – with Hemingway in mind – and the romance of Paris that still exists.

But, it is a New Year!  And a trip with a special person to celebrate her 60th birthday. The brief is such: Four days in Paris, guided by me, and a hotel with a garden or courtyard to return to in the evenings. A very special occasion.  We have done Paris before, my lovely friend and I, many times, only this time it’s going to be even more memorable.

This is the brief and the gift I can give. Four days in June to remember forever as being a milestone and, enchanting. My usual little hotel in the Opera district does not have a courtyard.  But no matter, the research has begun. Should it be on the right bank, close to the Opera for easy access to the Madeleine and Rue Saint Honoré for shopping, Paris style, or closer to the Place des Voges and the Marais?  Then there is the Left bank and all her gifts, the Café du Flore and Les Deux Margots to people watch? Always have to do the custom people watching from the illustrious vantage points. So important n’cest pas?

A visit to Deyrolle. Must be done for it is the ultimate scene in ‘Midnight in Paris’. Hidden gem, though a little disconcerting.

Any suggestions about the perfect hotel? With a courtyard or garden room?

A day to Giverney maybe?  A day to Versailles – most definitely. Got that covered. Restaurants, sorted.

Want this to be amazing!  Memorable.

What a good excuse to go over earlier – to sort of recce the city again. The deals on the Eurostar in February and March are enticing, so perhaps that is a good reason to visit before we go and celebrate.

This photograph was taken when I was in Paris for my 60th with my family. Captured a perfect moment on the bridge.  Paris is all about the bridges over the Seine – the not there anymore lovelock bridge, the Pont Alexandre 111, the Point Neuf bridge, so many to cross. And the parks – the Rodin Museum, the D’Orsay and the Orangerie. Perhaps a trip on the Bateaux in the evening? So many possibilities.

Last time I was there with my lovely friend, we spent hours in Montmatre. Years ago, my mother had my portrait drawn there, on the Place du Tertre – I took my daughters there to have theirs done and finally, on my 60th, the drawings of my son and son in law – all framed and up on the wall in my home. I think we should do this, to make it official, to commemorate her birthday. Sixty years of being there for each other.

So it is a trip to plan for sure, but a trip that will mean so much more. Sixty decades of having each other’s backs, listening to each others dreams, as life happened and has blessed us both. So you can imagine how important this trip is – it is my birthday present to her.

In Paris.

The dairy looks exceptional this year. This is one of those entries. Let’s see what else 2020 brings – keep you posted!

 

Into the memory boxes.

This photo was taken on the first anniversary of Princess Diana’s death.  That long ago.  Our visit to her grave at Althrop. Found in the box of photographs tucked deep inside a cupboard I keep locked away when I am not here. I am seldom here.  All my family things are here.

Our family home is in the Cape, in South Africa.  I live in London.  Still in the nomadic stage of life, I rent in London but keep our family home intact on the other side of the world.  Times we rent it out, times we just lock it up and return for the summer. It’s when I return, for a little while, that all the memories surround me, time to go back and swim into the past.  Not always easy, much has happened in the interim, but fortunate to find the pieces of self that brings nostalgia, but also a sense of belonging, and inspiration to pack the suitcase and fare out again.  The past will be here, when I am ready to surround myself with it years from now, but some say I am fortunate, and sometimes I have to remind myself of that.

When children leave home, they are not ready to take their lives with them.  To much to do, achieve, races to run.  We are the keepers of their pasts until they are ready to settle and own them. Do you do the same?  Hold onto your children through their chapters with you?  Admit to moments when hanging on seems more of a burden, only to realise how blessed I am, to have the role of keeper of what our lives became, once was, the weaver of the threads, the creator of the tapestry. The gatekeeper.

So I make a quiet time, a peaceful time, to look back.  We need to do that.  When life is fraught with anxiety, and at times pure hopelessness, when the road forward seems dark and foreboding and we are that stage when some of us are alone and despite the courage we all have within ourselves, daunted – it is a good thing.  We owned our youth, silly dreams, too much experimenting – our weddings and first jobs – being the smug mummies and creating homes.  When it was simple and no longer seems so.  The memory boxes remind us of a time of everyday magic, of swimming lessons and toddlers birthday parties.  Beach holidays and freckles on their faces. Our parents who may not be here anymore. Of laden tables and slim waists.

Going through the school days.  The all important, all consuming years of exams (yes, we soothed your fevered brows), the dances and first dates (yes, we listened and were there for you).  The sports games and rugby matches (yes, we closed our eyes in case you got hurt and wanted to run onto the field and box the ears of those you bullied you) and when you brought home your ‘Christmas’ decorations and we swooned over them. All still in the boxes.

A few photos of myself, only back then, photos were rare and not the best, not so? The odd school photograph of badly cut hairstyles and teenage angst. Beautiful wedding photographs. Now my daughter’s also.  All in the boxes.

It is a time of reflection, and a time of … gathering the threads to say ‘ it was good’, and put them back at this time in the new year.  They will be safe and no matter what the future holds, the past was pretty awesome. We are the fabric of how we dealt with the past, and that fabric, that tapestry, is the forever binding to what we do with it, and take it into the future.

Which is looking pretty good, now that I have had a giggle and a sigh at the boxes of memories. I know I keep everything, photographs, toys, slips and receipts and you know why, when I feel lost, as I often do lately, it really helps with the courage, to say, I am ok, I can be proud of where I have come from and even more excited of where I am going.

 

 

 

What I loved this week.

 

This is Big Sky Country – South Africa

Hello from Somerset West in the Western Cape, South Africa.  My other home.  Here until February and plan to enjoy and explore as much as I can.  The Instagram needs some input!

Flying from cold London to intense heat in Mauritius, it is to the summer of South Africa.  Must admit to being relieved at the cooler weather on arrival, even rain, but now we are back to the full on Summer sun.  Unless you are at the beach, or beside a swimming pool, not the best, but the evenings make up for the heat of the day.  Complete opposite lifestyle to the one I live in London, I am in our family home, complete with a little garden and playing at all it entails. Putting my hands in soil, clipping rose bushes and the fragrance of fresh herb bushes is idyllic.  Rather than the sounds of London birdlife, it is the Guinea fowl that chirrup me awake in the mornings.  This is Africa and I am revelling in the joy of being here.

Christmas in the summer is not something I am used to, and it was wonderful.  Double Christmas celebrations!  Shared with friends and family, the eating is done to excess.  Throw in the odd braai (barbecue) and my favourite wine, Tranquil Blush from Haute Cabriere, I am happy to laze the days away.

Last week I took my youngest daughter to George, up the Garden Route.  My car has been cloistered in the garage for six months, so this was most beneficial to ‘clear the pipes’.  Love road trips with a passion and South Africans do them so well.  Though I have done this route a few times, I find the countryside nothing less than breathtaking.  Big Sky, vast landscapes, white washed farm houses all around.  It is a four hour drive and I literally kissed her goodbye and turned around to return home. Nothing like the best company, awesome music on full blast and the open road. A little different to the bus in London, not so?

When I returned to South Africa in April, it was going to be a sort of permanent arrangement.  It did not suit me and I was back to London, on my own terms. Now I return of my own accord and cannot be happier to spend the summer here. This is a holiday, surrounded by our family things and the pace is slow, as it should be on holiday. I have time to read, watch movies, go for long walks and eat healthily. No sad looking supermarkets with sad food in the grey days, and of course I have the best Woolies in the world on my doorstep!  Crush on the freshness of all. Even the coffee is brilliant, which is saying something from this Barrista.

Yeah, it’s that kind of spoiling myself time.  Thinking of the right nail colours is important when lounging.  Spoiling myself to facials and all sorts of body grooming, which on the pound, is peanuts. But, I have not been that idle, still read my favourites and these are some of the links I love to share this week.

A lady in London (one of my favourites) has listed some amazing winter walks to follow in winter in London. The city offers so much, at anytime of the year, so wrap up warmly and get out there, post Christmas, when we all feel a little deflated after the Christmas buzz.

Love my fellow bloggers and these are some amazing women over Fifty who you should follow on Instagram. We all have a story to tell, whether it be our love for fashion, following a divorce, beginning a new business and just living life to the full.  I take huge inspiration from all of them.  Love the fact that we all are able to have a voice now and resonate from each other.

Somehow, in the sunshine, I still need my Country Living fix and this quiz popped up.  Afraid I was dismal at it, but how would you fair?

Being on holiday, and not working seven days a week, this is the time to get those resolutions for the new year in place. I want to update my playlists, begin the new diary, plan my travels, get more technologically savvy and again, sort out the clutter stuff.  Been listening to the local radio stations on my mum’s radio and this song is getting so much airtime  Also the song of an ad in London and so yes, in the mood and love her.

Lizzo. Good as Hell.

 

Being the end of the year, it’s reflection time.  Some of the best books for 2019 – how many have you read?

I have my perfectly pristine diary all ready for 2020!  Though I do use the Google calendar on my phone, having a diary in my handbag is vital to me.  The same type of diary I have had for fifteen odd years – have to have the horizontal diary and I can only get it here in South Africa, so she is here on my desk, all ready to fill with exciting dates and times.  Diaries are a reflection of my entire life, not just meeting times so one can say, the journey is in all the dairies past, tucked away in a cupboard – my life is literally an open book.

Getting back to the garden.  Truth is I am trying to coax my David Austen roses to survive the harsh Cape climate.

Everyone else has better sense and planted indigenous.  The winds are fierce, there is a water shortage but no, I want my Litchfield Angels and have planted four of them.  They have, despite me not being here for six months, sort of survived and I have a bloom – hello girl! I am a fan of the Piet Oudolf idea of roses and grasses combined in a bed – got the grasses and nursing the roses.  Fortunately I have an amazing helper in Dosha, who comes to help me when I am away.

But it is back to the joy of being here in South Africa this week.  There is so much to do, the beaches are packed to bursting, the wine farms are beyond mere words, the sightseeing and Table Mountain is awesome.  Love the shopping, sipping and savouring of it all. So this week, it has been, for me, great to be here. More to come, but this week, the things I love the most, are the people, the climate, the views and the lifestyle of South Africa. Wish you were here.

Hello 2020!

‘What we call the beginning is often the end.

And to make and end is to make a beginning.

The end is where we start from.”

T.S. Elliot

Goodbye 2019. You have been a strange bedfellow. Forever remembered as the highlight of my eldest daughter’s wedding and my fabulous 60th in Paris with my family.  The arrival of George, the multi-talented and genie of love that is possible in a dashund pup. Kinship and kindness in my jobs at St. Clement’s and Coutours, and life affirming beauty in the trips taken over the past twelve months. The unceasing love and support from my children and friends.

No life is all at the top of the big wheel and the chapters of painful loss, feeling small and moving yet again peppered the bright lights.  What the year did bring though, for me, was the ability to face these pockmarked moments with courage, something I barely felt over the past few years; and it is this courage which, in the end, has make 2019 a remarkable year.  

New Year’s resolutions are deep in the folds of my mind and I am sure to break them. 

As we begin the next decade, let it be with resolve to be brave.  About the dreams we see dim, bring them to the fore.  About the confidence we find wavers when we need it most.  About the love we hide for fear of rejection.  Have the courage to change our very core rather than settle for comfort and the courage to act against injustice, unkindness, loneliness and fear.

Courage is not just about brevity in the face of adversity.  It is the blade of honesty.  Admitting your faults, mistakes, regrets.  Being honest with yourself is perhaps the most courageous act – facing yourself and having the courage to admit you are not perfect.  Rather awful at times.  It takes courage to ask for forgiveness, of yourself and others.  Of letting go.  Choosing a different path. 

2019 taught me great courage, and in a silent but wonderful way, opened my mind to so many new things. More delight in what I had, stripped me, smacked me around, and lifted me to new levels of creativity, exploration and many, many avenues of life I had waved on by for fear of stepping off the sidewalk. The year has ended up on a happy note.  There is still many details to determine, knowing changes will happen, but not being afraid of what lies ahead.

So 2020, you are welcome. Waiting for you with my best frock on and the biggest bottle of Champagne!

Wishing you all the most exciting 2020, with love xxx

Image: Forbes