You have a voice and it is not a popularity contest.

Considered the worst line ever written – do not begin with ‘it was a dark and stormy night? ‘ If it was, if it is, you begin with … it was a dark and stormy night.

The point is, you write.  I write for so many reasons and I suppose therapy in doing so is one of them.  Writing is my diary, my inspiration, my observations and my solace.  It is my voice, for singing is not a gift I was bestowed with no matter how loud I try, so writing is not only a means to pen the emotions, but a silent ripple that may reach another that has a voice and is a little afraid of using it.

In this day and age, we can do this.

 Imagine Jane Austen right now. Or George Elliot or anyone who spent all that angst and frustration at wondering if their stories would ever be shared? We can do this.  But and I say this as I know many think that social media is part of the story. So let’s talk writing and social media.  When I began to write, and discovered the whole social media thing, I realised that it was a vessel, a way of getting my words out there.  It was, for me, never a platform for popularity.  Many think this, and panic about how many likes they will get, if they are going to be vilified and rejected by someone way out there in the unknown, so twittering and instagramming is great, and useful, but never let it be the standard by which you judge your voice.

In this business I know that companies look at the likes.  Making money from your blog often depends on the amount of followers before someone is willing to sponsor or pay you.  If this is what you want, then go for it – get those soldiers of social media working for you.  I am not for the obvious plugging of anything right now – perhaps some day but right now, saying what it’s like to be at the Silver Street stage of our lives, with all those awful goodbyes, sagging boobs and what it is like to run for the bus with shopping bags is what it is all about. Hate that, breathless beast  I am at doing it, huff and puff, wheeze and wonder. What it is like when it’s all about Insurance and keeping it together when everyone else thinks you have lost it – I don’t write to be popular, I write because it’s all new to me, frigging hard and someone else out there is going to say … hey, that’s me too! I hate the gym, and crocs and pretending everything is peachy when it’s not.

It’s ok to write about the hard stuff at our age. And the good things that come along.  About our memories and children and relationships and going gaga over ballet and a glass of wine with good friends. Being devastated when our parents die, jobs turn out to be ugh, our children leave and sometimes we just don’t know what the future holds.

Do I write to be popular? Guess not.  Do I write because I want to? For sure. And you should too without hesitation or thought because your voice will touch another heart.  It will make you stronger, more focused and at the end of the writing, you will sit back, pull in the muffin stomach, take another sip, thank the music and go … I can do this. Popularity is one thing. Liking yourself is another and it is through the words from your soul that triggers the best part of you.  It is in the learning. Learning is growth. Learning is never about the likes but about you.

It was a dark and stormy night … and I wrote about it. And I woke the next day to find the sun coming through my window which meant … I have another day to make a difference.

Images Google, pexels, pintrest


First Rose pruning in an English climate. My little English darling.

Roses. My love for them is endless.  When I used to live in South Africa, with a large garden, I must have had over a hundred rose bushes scattered throughout. Growing, pruning and watching them bloom was heaven sent.

Remember those days of my parent’s generation when a garden always had ‘a rose garden?’ A little allocated plot for cramming all the hybrids into one area, usually with a small pathway criss-crossing between them?  And of course, looming between the Papa Meillands and Double Delights were always the sturdy, dependable Queen Elizabeth roses with their pink blooms.  Remember that? My mother-in-law used to live on a farm and the local deer would love to decimate her rose garden (one stop nibbling destination) so she would spread human hair around them as a deterrent.  Some of us do love our roses!

When I started gardening in my own home, the trend was to integrate roses throughout your landscape.  Mixing hybrids with floribundas, miniatures and standards – creating swathes of complimentary, blocked colours to avoid the smarties all at the same time effect. Good old dependable, and still one of my favourites, were my icebergs.


I could go on and on about my gardens, three in total, that I poured my love into back then.  Inspired by Piet Oudolf with his roses and grasses combined, with David Austin, Ludwig’s roses – and of course, all the loving transferred to all the pruning, come winter.  It was a military operation, counting some days, tactics observed, sealing of stems, spraying of lime sulphur till you could not take it anymore – but I loved every second of it.

Now, of course, I live in a tiny flat in London and have but one rose.  David Austin’s Litchfield Angel.

And what a beauty she is.  Prolific bloomer, colours of cream and white, smells of cinnamon.  Since she is my first rose baby, I want to keep her alive and do the pruning just right.  A flashback comes to mind.  Many years ago, still pruning like an officer in my own garden,  I was visiting Queen Mary’s garden in Regent’s Park.  Unlike our individual operations on each stem, a tractor came along, and simply sheared all the bushes at a standard height – and off he went. No looking for this node, that angle, just woosh and it was done. Taught me something and I am inclined to feel more liberal this time, but not quite that flamboyant with the shears just yet. So, first things first – the seasons are back to front in my new life (like a lot of things) and pruning is now late February/March.  

There are many tips on how to prune roses on various websites and Youtube.  My appointment is going to be relatively simple to execute:

  • As it is an Old English Rose, gentle pruning is required.
  • Aim for a vase shape and as it is her first year, do not cut back too harshly.
  • Prune any old, diseased and inward growing stems to create an open and free space within.
  • Remove all foliage for less chance of disease.
  • If you choose, spray with Lime Sulpher (mixed with water) to protect the early growth.
  • Sealing of stems is not required in England (and don’t ask me why but this seems to be the general consensus on all rose pruning now.  Any comments and ideas on this one?)
  • Continue light watering and don’t allow the soil to dry out.

By spring the little angel should be budding and ready to bloom.

As I was chatting about cutting the Apron Strings, cutting my little Litchfield Angel will be fine. I intend to find more space to garden again, I need a garden in my life … so dreams in the making.

Images: David Austin, Pintrest


Hello Grace and Frankie. Oh dear, watched it all!


Not a series addict. TV is fine for a while but get into something that makes me want to see the next episode – Grace and Frankie are it.  For all the right reasons.

For once, a series that deals with the Silver Street part of our lives. In all it’s mayhem and glory.  Getting older sucks part of the time, a lot of the time actually, what with the empty nest syndrome, the menopause and barren womb syndrome, the grey divorce syndrome, the taking care of parents and loss syndrome – it seems there is little to look forward to …

But there is and this series, with two of the most enchanting and diverse actors, is uplifting.  Women who spill the beans and rant the rants but remain exciting, sexual, career orientated and mothers. And the very best of friends.

Times an episode can tell the ‘other generation’ more than we feel we are able to.

Whatever shall I do until the next series which may only be in a year’s time.  Perhaps it should be, taketh motivation and get out there and live to the full – we have many sisters doing it already.

Oh, and I want that beach house.

Images: hookedonhouses, pinterest 

A special Thank you to Peter Mayle – always ‘A Good Year.’

“Look at those vines,’ he said. ‘Nature is wearing her prettiest clothes.’
The effect of this unexpectedly poetic observation was slight spoiled when Massot cleared his throat nosily and spat, but he was right;”
– Peter Mayle – A year in Provence

It’s difficult to think of a time when Peter Mayle was not in my life.  Always in the background of my romance with France, my discovery of Provence, my blankie of comfort when the world was too rough and people too mean, it would be me and my go to movie, ‘A Good Year.’

His words were friends of mine.

Treasure hunting film locations in the Luberon.

Reminders that the quiet, the silence, the simplest things in life are golden gifts.


His words made my world so pretty.

My mother loved his books and I told her all about the places there.

The quill lies quiet, characters immortalised but none new will take us through the scraggy paths of Menerbes, of Gorde and Bonnieux –  into the shops and alleyways and back doors of people who are living there.  

Didn’t want to write more today, just to say … I shall miss you in my life.  I have you in my life.

“We had been here often before as tourists, desperate for our annual ration of two or three weeks of true heat and sharp light. Always when we left, with peeling noses and regret, we promised ourselves that one day we would live here. We had talked about it during the long gray winters and the damp green summers, looked with an addict’s longing at photographs of village markets and vineyards, dreamed of being woken up by the sun slanting through the bedroom window.” – A year in Provence.

You got to live a little of the dream, for all of us.  Thank you.

Images Pintrest

Would you hire you? How to get what you want …

  Got the right attitude to take it all on?


So you made up your mind today…

You’re going for it.  Applying for the job you really want, pitching for  the project you know is perfect for you. Write that blog, submit your portfolio, do the business.  Are you are going to own it?  Be the ideal candidate and impress the world?

Before you leap forth into this new chapter, ask yourself one question: Would YOU hire YOU ?

It’s a confidence booster, a check list and the simplest way to evaluate how you will be perceived. By asking yourself, if you, given the opportunity to be the other, would be so impressed as to hire you/read your blog/love your designs and so on. 

Stop for a minute and think of all the qualities you look for in a potential employee.  A boss.  A client.  What would that be, what would you look for, make you the ideal candidate? 






Go for the strike three’s.  And this is how you do it.

Strike One.  That first impression.

Never going to get the opportunity again. Meeting a client in a track suit and hoodie (unless you are recruiting for a girl band/athletic meet or underground activity), is not going to be a good idea.  Spend money.  Be the most striking woman they have met in a long time, the most powerful woman in application, the most ‘I can handle anything’ woman in the room.  We would not love fashion as much if it did not give us joy – harness the way you want to feel and channel it into the impression you want to deliver through your first look – your first impression.  Actually, you should feel like this every single day – empowering yourself is what it’s all about.

Assured in the fact that you look good, amazing actually, what else would make you the one desirable candidate for the brief?

Strike Two:  The Pitch

The Inner Goddess is ready and waiting to deliver.  What you say, how you say it … this is going to separate you from all the other potentials.  You have the experience, the know how, the wisdom needed, now you need to vocalise it in such a way as to stop the music, still the room, have them hanging on every word, silently nodding that you are the one.  Be confident – not always easy – knowing that you can deliver the goods.  Back up any statement you make.  Keep it succinct, to the point without the flattering, the apologising, the giggling and stammering. Give it all the power of a lioness backed up with a stunning CV.  You know you are right for the job, now let them know it in the smartest way you know.

Be the swan – glide like it’s all easy and paddle like the devil underneath.

Strike Three – The Delivery

Are you able to deliver?  The buds are about to bloom and you are about to close the deal.  Stop for a second and think:  is this what you really want, and if you do, are you able to deliver on the pitch, have the first impression be the lasting impression – are you substance rather than fluff?  If you believe this, with your whole heart, you are going to deliver the best of you and your journey of success is on it’s way. 

If you think yourself the person who is looking for the just the right person for the job, and what you offer is enough for you to hire you, you have to tell yourself just one more thing …

You are an ace. A unique asset. You have what it takes to show everyone just how amazing you are.

And finally, go for it! Never hold yourself back, from anything in life. You owe it to yourself.

Images: the daily mail, pinterest


Observations from behind the apron.

Thank the Pope for the end of the holidays.  Love them, indulge and then get totally over it. Life must have structure she says.  All that eating, drinking and trying to remember what day of the week it is … too many left over chocolates conflicting with the resolutions.  So she rises in the dark of London … lights on at five am … yuck … thrilled to hear the tubes working and off to the ‘other job’.  Yay, life is moving again.

For the newbies, I am travel consultant/event planner/writer and part time waitron.  The latter gets me out of my little abode that can at times become trying and into social engagement. I disappear behind an apron and try to remember the orders, which all of you, be a little more compassionate with this brain and all those silly requests for extra hot/one shot/almond milk/a little more foam but no foam and put it on the side sort of thing.  I don’t mind, I am floating above all over you and whilst you ponder the Silver something behind the apron, I in turn prattle, enquire and entertain.  And observe – life in a café is a life lesson of note.

You reveal all your stories.

Keep mine close.

Today there were tears.  She is meeting her ex to discuss the schedule for children caught between their letting go of each other. Both defensive and staring at diaries rather than each other.  She has heard bad news, trying to smile but her eyes are maps of her misery over the espresso.

He misses home in Australia. It’s tough spending the winter here on his own and all resolve to forge a new life is waning in the missing. Feels left out from it all back home – the smiling and saying it’s all good wanes with the need to chat.

Her child shifts the eggs around on her plate.  Mother on the mobile, not with her. Dealing with the world, but not with her.

A flat white and a slice of banana bread to pass the time.  She is alone, her Silver hair speaks volumes of figuring out what to do next.

The three year old boys faces a barrage of entrance tests to get into the right school. He wants to read books, mother wants to groom him to get it right and the competition is fierce.

Discussing the next safari – but where to go?  I say nothing but it is not easy. 

Bringing all the post with them. Christmas cards to be dealt with – they have been away and life has happened in the meantime. Unopened they tear them one by one, it is past … someone took the time to send them wishes. I clear the table to dispose of the wishes.

London wakes to the New Year.  Going back to work.  Shall I see the regulars asking for a discount?  Have some changed jobs, locality, have some taken that leap and changed everything?  Around the world have some taken a resolve to begin again, move house, change jobs, relationships?  In this little space much has changed since Christmas, and little has too.

‘Thank God you are still here.’ happened.

And I am still here. I know your favourites.  Your little scenes you think I don’t notice. You know little of me and that is the way it should be. Behind the apron I gather stories, make friends, give solace and learn.  I always learn from you.

Good to be in this space. I grow and gather.

Never stop learning, and listening and realise, as I do, that life is life for everyone – and then you make the choices.

Wow, it is awesome and I am going to take each story, everyday I am behind the apron, to high five life and to realise that the fat lady is far from singing.

I kind of like the idea that I have pushed myself out there, to learn a little more, take it all in and build a life anew.  Far cry from the past of madam had it everything, but close to the life madam is going to embrace.  The apron will not last forever, but the memories of being empowered, will.

As a student I spent all my free time being a waitron.  I earned my way. It changed my life, my direction in my studies and taught me so much.  Now, forty years later I am the waitron again, with a little more strain on the body, but not in spirit, I have gone back to learn, and remind myself that observing others is the way to stand back, behind the apron, and in time, leap into a new direction.

And if you, in your Silver Street time, are feeling a little lost, a little unaccepted or unloved – go find an apron. You are never too old to begin again …


Image: mylittleparis



Christmas winter in Paris.

Thank heaven, for little girls … they grow up in the most delightful way.’  Maurice Chevalier

I have two delightful little girls whom have grown up into the most remarkable women.  My eldest is enjoying the sunshine of the Southern Hemisphere, so it was to Paris with my youngest for four days, to take in the love we both share for Paris. My son loves her too.

Most people avoid Paris in the winter. I love Paris throughout the year, but it is in winter when I return to end the year in the heart of this magical, enchanting city of lights, and love.  Paris in the Spring, the summer and Autumn have my heart, but when the clouds hang close and the starkness of architecture and nature are at her height, I love her most.  It is quieter, more solemn and poetic for me.  Her buildings melt into the grey, her love for the linear in planting comes to the fore. We walk for miles, huddle in her cafés and brasseries, character abounds, the ghosts of writers and revolution with tips of gold on her statues, all impact when the crispness of winter envelopes.

Rather than stay in my usual hotel, we were invited to stay in a flat in Pigalle.

Dubious I was.  Pigalle is the place of the Sexodrome, of the many sleezy nightclubs and the once, or is it still, famous Moulin Rouge?  I am of the Opera, the left bank sort of gal, but we were grateful of the opportunity to explore – and loved the experience. The apartment was tucked away in a side street, just up from the falafel and ‘private viewing’ offers, but it gave us an insight into the living of Parisians behind the many doors you see.  Courtyards and apartments that are quiet and filled with character.  

By night, the lights of hedonistic living are everywhere, by day, the tarnished remnants of a bygone era greets me. The streets are wet from the winter drizzle, rubbish on the pavements, leftovers of people who frequent and go about their lives in this city.  Every city has her ‘other side’ and yet, people are living here, they thrive here.  Waking and longing for coffee, I experienced Paris in a different light, a good light, a city that has history but continues to build upon itself. Within the realm of what she is.  London does this too.

  The Moulin Rouge in the stark light of day. Still a landmark.

It had been some time since I visited the D’Orsay museum and it has been too long.  The Impressionists are a favourite, so, and so, hello to Van Gogh, to Pissarro, Monet and Manet. To all those who dared to defy the norm, reach for the different and make that happen.  Go early, the tourists are still there with their damned selfie sticks and loud voices.  I detest standing before a portrait to hear the uninformed comment and move on after a hundred or so photographs of them just being there. Is it my age that makes me grumpy with the ignorant who confuse all and this is most more irking when we visit ‘Shakespeare and Company.’  Over the years I have loved entering this little shop that offered a haven to writers so poor they needed the comfort of Sylvia Beach?  Hemingway would pop in to collect his mail, to borrow a few francs and hope his books would make it onto her shelves.  Nowadays, one bustles and breathes deeply in the hope of some reprieve to find the book. As I always do. 

As the light slips away, the candles lit at Saint Sulpice for my loved ones, time for stocktaking of the day. People watching, a bierre blanche with a view. Dinner at a brasserie. Deep conversations about life and where we are going in this interesting time.

I love the rain. We chose shelter in the company of the Luxembourg Gardens in the rain, leaves dripping and statues soaked in their frozen marble forms.  Pools of light on the pavements in their wetness. Escaping to the passages of Belle Epoque – children’s toyshops and miniature furniture stores.  Gift shops and ballet shops where point shoes and tutus take us to another place. I follow a number of Parisian bloggers and one in particular, Paris Breakfast, was doing exactly the same thing at the Gallerie Vivienne, so I knew I was in good company. Love her watercolours.

Dined at our favourite place on St. Louis, our favourite film locations from ‘Midnight in Paris’. tasted fruit and visited our favourite florists. Chocolate Chaud at Café de la Paix, where my family tradition in Paris is manifest. Brunch at Buvette, mandatory hello to Deyrolle, Claudelie, Les Deux Margot. Prayers and candles at the La Madeleine as is custom with every visit.

A creature of habit, the final day before returning to the Gare du Nord is Galleries Lafayette. She is Christmas Paris for me, besides the gorgeous Lindt chocolate close by, but her display is magnificent. Her view the same.  In the winter of Paris, the walking, the rain, the greyness of her beauty, I must to the rooftop of this place, with a view of the Opera, I am of the Phantom, the rooftops, the unique character that is Paris.  

Because I go to Paris so often, many have asked me if I have a lover there.  Of course I do.  It is she. Someone once introduced me to her loveliness and I return over and over again, for the inspiration, the history, the hidden promise of love that this city holds close.  

I love Paris. That you know.  The wintertime is particularly magical.  

‘That I love Paris in the spring time
I love Paris in the fall
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles

I love Paris every moment
Every moment of the year
I love Paris, why oh, why do I love Paris?
Because my love is near’

Till one day soon …



In a day …


Times when living in a small apartment is too small and the getting out to remind myself that living in London is a privilege means hopping on a bus, any bus (as it turns out) to navigate into the city. 

Today it was the number 39 and 87 (the new major has bestowed on us locals a free second bus within an hour) and so to Clapham Junction and then onto Parliament Square.  Being on a bus is still and remains a novel experience and the best way to discover the city.  Being high up, I have the opportunity to gaze into windows of apartments, into the backyards of dwellers and peer into the lives of urban citizens in every shape or form.  Pristine, unkept, rented, owned. Some with neat squares of garden, some with weeds overgrown amongst bins and debris. People are living there is the story. It is the London few tourists see, hidden and sullied in urban resilience . And resilience is what it is all about. I am in awe of these great Londoners.

It reminds me of the shock of actually becoming other than the tourist.

Still, there is something fundamentally brotherhood in seeing the council houses, the chicken and kebab shops on the route. The bus fills with personalities of all race, ages and types.  Chocolate children and young mothers with no wedding rings, glued to phones in the standard track suit of daily being. Their lives are as small as a punnet of strawberries, tasted and forgotten. The route is of children with instant dinners and soda, of turbans and old ladies with shopping carts. I sit on this bus with the idea of a past life and a story no-one cares to hear.  Some are silent with music for comfort, other talk loudly in broken English.

‘Yeah, innit just the most random my man.’

‘I swear, the baby is gonna get that conjuncti … summin’ that glues up them eyes and makes them brutal sick an she got no man and no babysitter sort the shit out when she gotta go to work.’

‘Well he said, that she said, that he said that Shamiqua was throwin’ her booty around like last year’s Christmas puddin’ and so he said that she said that he said …’

Everyone’s listening to everyone else … everyone is clutching the grocery bag.

They get off closer to Westminster Abbey. Life for them is not the places tourists visit, nor do they know of these, many having lived here for years without tasting any of it. It’s expensive London.


I see what the tourist don’t see.  I see a city in it’s totality. The poverty, seediness, delight and creativity of city living. I pass the back alleys, the derelict churches, the rising mosques.  I see demolition and growth and try to remember what was there before.  I pass MI6 at Vauxhall and think of Bond. I think of Brexit. I think of the Co-po funeral plan. The London that swells and shifts and the river that runs through it.

One of millions of making it through the day.  And as I alight in the Parliament of power, those people are gone, tourists and corporates take their place.  The London of postcards, the winter of lights, the tree from Norway on Trafalgar Square. Looming in her ever present state, The National Gallery to which I am headed for the shaking of life and the falling into another.  The lives of painters, long gone, now revered on walls. Their poverty and struggles are in the colours.


Cravavaggio.  He is a favourite and I am sad he died alone on a foreign beach at such a young age. I can stand before him now, with Vermeer, Rembrandt, Monet and Van Gogh. Room to gallery room I am in the company of historical genius in Art. They too were the lowly ones, the hired guns of the paintbrush, the angry young men, the dreamers and students of others.  There are never enough hours to stand before greatness, created by the gifted from stories not unlike those I left on the bus a few moments ago.

In a day, on a bus, from a sector of London to another, the richness of life on the streets to the magnificence of Cezanne and Manet.  Lautrec to Lavender Hill.  This is London, in a day, a short day with so much more to discover. There are artists now, the city inspires, the stories of everyday life are waiting to take their place …

And on my way back, on the bus, now clouded in human vapour and rain pouring down the windows, I wonder of my own place, somewhere in the middle and what it means. The opportunity to witness the greatness and the ordinary man – and who knows what talents lies within the city still?  Blessed I am to see it all.  Food for thought for sure. I am privileged to be part of this moving life …


The Guilt and ‘grrr’ of beggars on the street in Paris.

No woman, man or child should ever have to beg for their lives, dignity or daily bread.  In an ideal world, which we all know is nothing like the stories we read as children.  

Watching people beg upsets me. Coming from Africa, I thought myself quite immune to this, right down to the many street children with cupped hands at the lights.  But no, children no older than four doing the job for mother who is breastfeeding by the side of the road tears me up.  Or the blind man being led to my window for change.  I am a wreck when this happens and like PMS, on an emotional day, it’s me handing over all my money and sobbing all the way home.  Why is life so unfair?

However, I have also been on the other side of hostility emanating from those I thought I was helping.  Those very same children would, at times, reject my offer of nourishment – it’s the money for glue they want.  I have been spat on, cursed and told, with laden sarcasm, to ‘have a nice day because you can.’  This is the ‘grrr’ part coming to the fore.  I must say that in London, most homeless/jobless people are selling ‘The Issue’ and always polite.

The reason for writing now is my trip to Paris was riddled with beggars on the street.  Why do I always forget this part? Perhaps it’s my eternal romance with the city that causes selective memory but when it’s cold like this in December, at Christmas, the beggars are on practically every corner.  Some wearing Christmas hats.  All ages, men and women, sitting on cardboard or mattresses, many with animals beside them.  I believe they are given more government funding if they have and maintain good care of their dogs and cats (I actually met a man with a white rabbit on the sidewalk yesterday – quite entrepreneurial as the children could seldom resist.)

I know this is a controversial subject.  Been going on for years.  I thought I was immune.  I am not.

Reading up on where these individuals come from, Google has endless articles, all with varying opinions regarding the beggars in Paris.  Be it the older women, kneeling on the sidewalk, the mute but persistent young girls who thrust clipboards under your nose (and once tried to whip my Starbucks from the table – you should have seen me move and tell her to f … off, much to the delight of my children – goes to show what instinct brings out in all of us.)  Then there are the ‘did you lose this gold ring’ scam and the unwashed babies who should be safe and warm.  The signs and plastic cups are now so far placed in the middle of the sidewalk, one poor American kicked it over by accident – you would have thought he had killed Bambi. Kicking the man when he’s down’s cup is kicking the man when he’s down.

There is help.  Charities work tirelessly to feed, cloth and home the homeless and the hungry.  It is not a permanent solution.

I cannot give money to everyone. I work hard for mine and if I want to buy my children Christmas presents, it is my right to do so without guilt.

I would rather buy a broom from a person who has risen and found a solution to poverty by selling their wares rather than simply holding out their hands.

Every year for Christmas, each child receives a present of charity in their names:  a meal for a homeless person, a school uniform for a child, a lifeline for a donkey, these are some charities we support.

A few months ago, when I was in South Africa, I watched a documentary of a man who climbs down into the sewers everyday, wading through the muck in hope of finding objects he can sell and raise money for his family.  You would be surprised what treasure lies within the merde – diamonds and rings, cutlery and mobile phones – and though he may be killing himself with the toxic fumes and ecoli exposure, the man is doing something positive in his life.  He is not begging. 

To those I walk by, I do feel so guilty that I cannot make all your lives better and warmer this winter.

I feel powerless to help you when there are so many.

I should never develop a disregard for human need and those less fortunate than myself.

But there are times, and forgive me, when I just feel the ‘grrr’ of demands expected from me when I am doing my best not to make demands upon others.

And I hope … that there are Samaritans out there for you.  Or Angels, angels would be better …


Images and Daily mail

The Winter Garden – beauty in strength.

Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart… She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. ~Hugh Macmillan, “Rejuvenescence,” The Ministry of Nature, 1871

It always seems strange that I spend half my life in the other half of my world so to speak.  Less than a month ago I was going into a Spring garden in South Africa, and today I sit, late Autumn, beside a fire in the Orangerie writing this to you.  The garden is dormant.  No blossoms and the smell of that intoxicating star jasmine, but a stark beauty is visible through the lead windows.

The Winter Garden is like no other time of the year.  Autumn has passed and all is stripped bare.  For me, it is a time of masculine qualities, like Michaelangelo’s ‘David’, naked, self-asserting, with a dynamic energy and confidence in self.  The bones of design and form are revealed in the Winter Garden. The Gardener’s blueprint exposed and some of these designs are more beautiful at this time of year.  Symmetry is revealed.  Textures of paths and statuary seems heightened.  If one is fortunate for snow and ice, fountains freeze, the earth turns white … lonely cries of a murder of crows screech in the silent sky.

  Trentham Gardens Staffordshire

Apart from the landscape design, what else do I love about a Winter garden?”

  • Love the winter flowers, like the Helleborus, in shades of white, cream or dusky hues of pinks and aubergine.

  • Cyclamen    – those pretty bonnets that brighten up the gloomiest of dark days.
  • Dogwood     – like fire sticks – Kew Gardens is a favourite to find them.
  • Heather        –  feathery, heath loving warriors of the wintery weather.
  • Quince          –  Red blossoms that seem more fitting for Spring but they cheer up no end.
  • Witch Hazel  –  Just love the name, all spells and wiry witchy stuff.

The grasses are a favourite, like mops of wet hair under dew and snow.  Really shaggy and yet in the summer, with full blown roses, the combination in true Oudolf style, is inspirational. I am a great fan of Piet Oudolf, have been for years and the winter landscapes have been ideas for my own gardens in the past.

  Wisley gardens

The dramatic seasons in the Northern Hemisphere each have qualities akin to their own.  We all look forward to Spring and the blossoms, Summer and the halcyon days, the drama of Autumn and then … winter.  Winter in an urban city is not easy.  Winter in the garden, in nature is humbling and beautiful, to be enjoyed for the hard work done during the year.  A time of response.  Planning your garden to be enjoyed at all times of the year is the making of an excellent gardener.

My favourite for last.

The lost gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

A sleeping beauty.  Winter rest, landscaped wonder.

Gardens in the images above are part of the National Trust.  

  • Stow
  • Trentham Gardens
  • The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Wisley Gardens is part of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Hope you are inspired to create the perfect garden to be enjoyed all year round.