The Journey

As I may have already mentioned, I am not a keen driver.  I do it because I have to.   I don’t dread the more familiar domestic journeys, but longer excursions are not so welcome.  Needs must.  We all have our crosses to bear, and to be honest there are much heavier loads.

However, there are days when it seems less of a chore.  Today was one.  Today I drove to The Mantle’s estate.   Quite often on this particular journey, one that takes me from town to the edge of Exmoor, I imagine experiencing it for the first time.  In my head I commentate as I travel along the way, pointing out highlights.  The views of bracken hills, the flowering gorse, the fast running ford, glimpses of sea, the beech hedges and winding roads which lead to narrowing lanes.   A close encounter of the buzzard kind, road running blackbirds and the memory of snowdrops that are yet to come.

On the estate Peggy the cockerlab or poobrador or something like that, was in residence, more teddy bear than canine.  Over coffee The Mantles and myself chatted about yogic ear plugs.  We had homemade bread and toasted cheese for lunch and mince pies for pudding.  Oh, and we did some gardening.

On the way home I startled a flock of goldfinches, glinting as they flitted away.

A Little More Conversation

True Story

Lord Mantle:  I like Francis Bacon.

Me:  Oh I don’t, he gives me the eebeegeebys.  If I was to write a critique of his work, or even a thesis entitled The Artistic Merits of Francis Bacon, that would be exactly what I would say, “he gives me the eebeegeebys”.  Except I am not sure how to spell it.

Lord Mantle:  E E B E E G E E B E E ‘ S

Lady Mantle and Myself in unison:  There is no apostrophe!

Lord Mantle:  Yes there is, by golly!

Lady Mantle replied alone.  This could quite easily escalate into one of their marital ding dongs which general end in a very messy cow pat flinging shoot-out.  For this reason, and not wanting to get between them if such a thing should happen, I thought it sensible to hold stum:  Definitely not, it doesn’t have anything belonging to it so consequently it doesn’t need one.

Me, before Lord Mantle could reply, trying to divert attention from the dangerous apostrophe:  I wonder if it ends in Y.

Lord Mantle who is easily sidetracked: Yes, Y ‘ S that would work

Me, unconvinced and cowardly:  Perhaps ……….

Lady Mantle takes deep breath and starts making strange whimpering noises whilst pawing the ground.

Me:  Shall we do some work now?

Post event note:  According to the Collins English Dictionary the word is spelt heebie-jeebies, and means a state of nervousness or jitters.  It was first used by the American cartoonist W. B. De Beck (1890-1942) in his comic strip Barney Google. 

We weren’t even close.  But there is definitely no apostrophe.

Stone Washed

Today Lord and Lady Mantle were called away on top secret business, possibly something to do with road testing custard slices, but I can’t be certain.  I was left to my own devices.  Dangerous you might think.  And I wouldn’t blame you.

By nature I am a flitter, jumping from one task to another and back again.  This doesn’t work well when you are working with other more methodical folk.  Being home alone meant I could dance around to my heart’s delight.  Two days of dry weather gave perfect seed collecting weather, if you discount the gale force wind.  I trimmed back the black elder and tree peony, allowing plenty of space for the soon to be on site Men with Machines who are going to trim/butcher the leylandii.  Pots of pelargoniums and dahlias were moved to the greenhouse, I dug up the black zantedeschia and chocolate cosmos to keep them company.  Weeds were ousted and prize winning compost incorporated.

They returned just in time for His Lordship to make me a quail toastie and pour me a pint of claret for lunch.  No one mentioned custard slices.  Mum’s the word.

Although there is still much colour in the garden, gazanias, alonsoa and osteospermums, I loved the muted, stone-washed tones of this lace-cap hydrangea.


“Quick, quick, come and see this!” Lady Mantle called out frantically.

His Lordship and myself dropped our croquet mallets and ran at full pelt towards her plaintive calls.

“Is it a newt?”  I asked


“A toad?”


What other exotic creature could be lurking in the flower bed?  A boomslang, an axolotl, a New Zealand flatworm?

Panting after our exertion, having run a full 10m without a pit stop, we demanded:

“What have you found that is so exciting we had to drop everything and rush to your side?”

“A really big worm”

Lord Mantle looked at me.  I looked at him.  We sighed in unison and walked away muttering “a worm” and “not even a very big one”.

As we retreated we could hear Her Ladyship exclaiming:

“Look! It’s as big as a snake, enormous, come back!”

Attention seeking again.  When will we learn?

There is no photo of the “enormous” worm.  I hope you aren’t disappointed.  Instead you have a picture of a canna seedpod, just ready to drop its contents to the ground.



I’ve been a bit dippy lately. Dippier than normal.

Last Saturday I mislaid my house keys. I had been embarrassingly (to OH anyway) counting out a tonne of small change in a local cafe and forgot put them back in my purse. Luckily we were reunited without too much stress.

In the week I forgot my steel toe caps and had to struggle through the day wearing inadequate holey pumps. This was not quite as traumatic as wearing my slippers to school, but almost.
Today I forgot my bag. I noticed that the passenger seat was spookily empty approximately 5 minutes before reaching Lord and Lady Mantle’s estate. This oversight meant I had no money, no phone, no diary, no packets of seed, no multi-tool, no teabags, no stationary kit, no paper bags, no spare pair of socks, no camera, no coffee granules, no mini first aid kit, no anti-histamines, no emergency humbugs, no manky tissues, no ear phones which would have been useless without the phone anyway, no penknife, no notebook, no pen, no other pen, no pencil. Most importantly, with the prospect of imminent disaster, I had no glasses. Luckily Lady Mantle and myself wear the same size so she leant me her diamond encrusted spare pair.

I must concentrate harder.

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

Any day that starts with a rainbow has got to be considered lucky.  And that wasn’t the last of the omens of good fortune.

Next we found a lucky newt, especially lucky for him as he managed to avoid the tines of my fork.

Then a mushroom portent, along with a lawn full of puff balls that Lord Mantle systematically popped as he mowed.

Finally there was a heart shaped golden raspberry, which legend tells us is only lucky if eaten.

When I got home I ran into the front room, demanding to see the Premium Bond top prize winning letter.  Not quite that lucky it seems.


Due to a surfeit of workman and their corresponding transport, His Lordship picked me up today from the National Trust car park a mile or so from the Mantle’s Mansion   This rough old patch has breath-taking views along the rugged Exmoor coast and across to Wales.   A camper van was the only other vehicle in the area.  “What a view to wake up to!” I said to LM “Shall we pretend we are having an illicit meeting?” “OK” and he gave me a big bear hug.  “I was thinking of pretending we were international jewel thieves” I said, “Oh” he said as he helped me put my tools into the back of his brand-new motor.

On the way to the house we pulled in to wait for a cautious woman to inch her way past us in her nice shiny 4 x 4, determined not to get any mud on it.  Whilst patiently waiting, I pushed a button on my door.  By a stroke of luck this opened the window, meaning I could take a photo of swampland beyond.