Today I have made gram flour crackers, drawn a picture of a pineapple in oil pastels, learnt some Dutch, entered a photography competition, set up a zoom meeting for the first time, practiced some yoga and shared some blue sky and Magnolia stellata flowers with you.

And yes, I do want a medal. It is unlikely to happen again.


I may have posted this photo before, or perhaps something similar. The picture was taken on our, should be, daily walk. It is a view I anticipate. There is something about the way the coast and sea are glimpsed through the branches that makes me smile. A happy tease. Although I love the swaddling of a wood, to catch a tantalising sight of the great beyond is also to be relished. Sometimes we visit the beach below, tiptoeing down the steep wooden steps to gaze out to the horizon and think far away thoughts. Sometimes we circle back, cutting across the rec and the rugby pitch. It is a walk we have been taking regularly, with minor diversions and off-piste ventures, since the first lockdown. Each time a little different. Never the same, or indeed even similar.

Six on Saturday – Waiting

My photos for this Six on Saturday were restrained by the fact I had to be within hearing distance of the phone. OH was out doing the weekly shop, God bless him, and I was on high alert, loitering within ear-shot. Therefore, all pictures had to be taken within two leaps of the back door. As it happens, I could have wandered further. I was waiting for the call that never came, like some love sick teenager. Please pop on over to The Prop’s site and check out the other SoS who I am sure were more adventurous. Let us proceed.

First, we have a peek-a-boo Fuchsia ‘Eruption’ screaming “why are you denying my time to shine!”. Fleeced up for protection, it has managed to poke a couple of flowers out of a weak point in the defences. You will be pleased to hear, it is all tucked back in and cosy again.

Next, a Cornus ‘Porlock’ seedling, which is supposed to be deciduous but hasn’t been caught on yet. Perhaps cornus are like beech trees and hold onto their leaves whilst young. Yet another plant in waiting, we are all waiting.

Now, a ravaged leaf, ripped from the nearby brugmansia by the wicked wind, dumped on the steps and subsequently chewed.

Onto Callistemon masotti, presenting fat buds to aid our dreaming.

Whilst lurking I opened up my little plastic greenhouse for a breath of fresh air and at the same time had a poke about to see what had been happening. All the while listening out for a ring, of course. The sempervivum were looking quite fine and most dandy.

Lastly, hidden beneath the shifted fuchsia fleece, a lone Iris reticulata bud. This is the lolly-labelled pot, whose identification had biodegraded rather prematurely, so I’m afraid I can’t tell you the cultivar. Made me smile though.

Six on Saturday completed for another week, I hope you lot are all doing well and staying safe. All fine here. Like Vladimir and Estragon, I’ll must be getting on with my waiting.

Six on Saturday – Crisis? What Crisis?*

Second week in and 2021 is already looking rather tarnished. I’ve got an idea. Let’s buff it up, reintroduce a shine, give it a serious Six on Saturday make-over. If you visit the SoS Housekeeper’s site you will find a battalion of us from across the globe, armed with dusters, doing a bit of polishing, making their own corners sparkle. Without further analogy, which to be honest was getting a little out of hand, let us get on.

We start with Osteospermum ‘Double Berry Purple’, an oldie but goodie. This flower has been stuck in the self same position for the past few weeks, like a horticultural game of musical statues. Perhaps it opens and closes when I’m not looking. It may even do the oki-coki.

Next, we have Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Tom Thumb’, dark, shiny and mysterious, like my soul. Not really, my soul is made of candyfloss.

On to a moth eaten viola, still, to my mind, quite beautiful. But then again I always did like the waif and stray, the underdog forever has my backing. Nice pop of orange too.

Now Erysimum linifolium ‘Variegatum’ which is a wallflower made of stern stuff. It grows in the gravel edge to a paved area, it is continually trampled to avoid bashing your head on the rotary clothes line, and swamped by its neighbours. No complaining, it just gets on with the job. Good chap.

Next a Miscanthus napalensis seed head, its golden locks now turned to grey. I think it very distinguished.

Finally, Vinca difformis ‘Jenny Pym’; always a joy, never a nuisance (not yet anyway), and so welcome in these chilly hours.

That is your lot, hope you feel the world is shining a little bit brighter now. Until next time, stay safe and well.

*with thanks to Supertramp

Top of the World

After much deliberation, I’ve decided not to go down that route, although it is tempting. I’m not going to mention all the misery, conflict, despair, denial, the shock, the horror, the unrelentingness of it all, although it is hard to think of anything else at the moment.

Instead, I will share a photo from a few days ago. I took it whilst out walking with my friends Biddi, Bonnie, and Pickle. We stood here for a moment to catch our breath and silently gaze down to the harbour below. And I wanted to shout “Made it Ma! Top of the world!”, but I didn’t. It probably would have ruined the moment, but a sliver of me still wishes I had. Perhaps next time, when I’m all alone.

In Between

It is a strange time, this in between period, a weird festive void. Christmas has gone, but the decorations are still up, although beginning to irritate a little. New Year is not quite here, but tantalisingly close. I’m in Limboland and eager to move up the line to Clean Slate Town.

Still, as we all know, you can’t hurry love. Here is a tree graveyard. That’ll cheer us all up.

Six on Saturday – Left Overs

Bar the shouting, most of the Christmas craziness should be over by now, and we are probably all a little relieved. To my mind, Boxing Day is the most relaxing day of the festive season; there is minimal cooking, plenty of time to play with your new toys, have a little walk perhaps and room to reflect on the meaning of life. And lots of left overs. I am sure it will be no surprise that I am not writing this on Saturday, that would be over and above the call of duty and might cause some non-marital tension. But we are not far off, it is Christmas Eve. The ham is cooking, the red cabbage prepared and I am just about to search for our only table cloth for its once yearly performance. My name is Christine Control; all is calm, all is bright. How long do you give it? Whilst we are on the subject, our master The Prop is always the epitome of control and calm, except of course when it comes to tulips. Shall we proceed?

First, we have the carcass of a crocosmia seed head. I remove a lot of these unremarkable montbretia from the back of the garden, and still they spread with unconcealed glee. Today, this rusty reminder was most welcome. My icy heart may have thawed just a little.

Next another rogue, the three-cornered leek. Again, I have dug many of these out of the garden, to little avail. Still, if I didn’t know their reputation for invasion, I would think them quite lovely.

Onto the aeonium that is heading towards the stars, like an old fashioned camera lens. Looks like some untimely flowers are on the way. Who am I to argue with Madame Nature?

The other evening, whilst sitting in the front room learning my lines for the SoS panto, I heard a suspicious noise. Bravely/foolishly I went to investigate, armed only with my curiosity. I found nothing. A couple of days later the culprit was discovered. The Hoya lanceolata ssp. bella had leapt off the top of the filing cabinet in the office onto the floor below. It was put outside in disgust, into the naughty corner, where it has stayed.

Now onto my faithful friends, the fuchsias. You have got to hand it to them, they are stalwarts.

Lastly, the statuesque teasels; ever reliable, ever welcome. I have saved all the seed that I need to spread their joy to foreign climes, leaving plenty for our golden visitors.

I hope you are all relatively unscathed and had much fun and laughter over the last few days.
This time next week we will have a new year to cheer us!


During the original, and to my mind most pure and fruitful, lockdown we created a family WhatsApp group and every Sunday met up on Zoom. Some fool (me) had the idea, to spice things up a little, that it would be great fun to have a weekly challenge, chosen in rotation and to be judged by The Matriarch. These tasks proved to be a great joy over the weeks of our partial interment.

We are a keenly competitive family. Many years ago, when discussing the merits of yoga, I enquired from my ever patient Dutch sister-in-law who was trying to entice me to the calm-side, “but how do you win?”. I have since been converted to its merits, but at the time I was only half joking. However, I don’t think being competitive is always a bad thing, and in our family at least it is usually done with good grace and there are seldom tantrums. The urge to win rarely oversteps the mark, although sometimes it dillydallies at the periphery. An unseeming episode during the final round of The Christmas Jenga Championship 2008, involving a Senior General Practitioner and his six year old nephew, was the exception to the rule. And possibly best forgotten.

The Covid Challenges took me to places never before visited, all from the safety of my own home. I spent hours creating a collage of OH, which admittedly looks like it was glued by a 5 year old having an off day, but I don’t care. It is now framed and lives close to OH’s Meccano portrait of me, part Metal Michelle, part Princess Leia. As well as the portraiture, we wrote limericks, made musical instruments, iced cakes, learnt languages (well a couple of phrases), built towers and recreated great art works. Both the process of creation and the sharing of our masterpieces was immense fun. We cheered each other on and everyone tried hard to complete each labour as well as possible, all with imagination and wit. Most importantly, we laughed and we bantered and it was almost like being home. All this was overseen by Peggy, who mainly shouted “I can’t see it” and smiled to see her gang being her gang again.

During lockdown people didn’t start baking bread because they were hungry. Unfortunately, the hungry people didn’t have a designer sourdough starter and organic wholemeal flour. They made it because it was creative, and it made them feel good. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing things that make you feel good.

In the past I have shied away from doing things I’m not good at, which was a mistake. I am rubbish at art and a slapdash baker, but I really enjoyed giving it a go. I rediscovered the joy of participation, of doing my best and it being enough. If there is one good thing to come out of this trial, perhaps this is it. You don’t always have to win.

But of course there are exceptions. If I am playing anything against that dastardly GP, which hope I will be in the not to distant future, I will do my utmost to beat the socks off him. I will show no mercy! With love, naturally.

Six on Saturday – Greatest Hits

This week, in the pretence of treating you to some joy at this festive time but in reality is because it is tipping with rain and I am in a grump, I will be presenting to you lovely folk six happy recollections of the year past. Whether or not this is permitted, perhaps an addendum in the tome that is the Six on Saturday rule book, quite frankly my dear etc etc. Please feel free to pop over to see what the generally law abiding SoS elves have been up to and if our very own Santa Prop has got his gardening mojo back. Let’s get this party started.

In the eye of the storm I managed two visits to RHS Rosemoor in the space of week. They were both joyful events. This photo is not staged. At the time I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I am still undecided.

In February, when we were all still innocents, we had an amazing few days in London. Always on the lookout for the green, on the banks of the Thames I spied some valiant lichen and evidence of a passing angel.

This picture always makes me happy. It is the seedling of, what I believe is, a lesser spotted orchid which has made its home in the furry arms of a large fern at Westwell Hall. And why wouldn’t you?

Onto a green variegated zantedeschia, donated by Mrs Bun to Max. It is always good to share, especially a plant which sounds so unlikely to be beautiful, and never fails to prove you wrong.

My cosmos were rubbish this year. Nancy Nightingale’s were wonderful. More than wonderful.

In August, as a birthday treat, Hero whisked me off in her campervan. After visiting Atlantic Botanic and a delicious picnic, we went for a walk on Braunton Burrows. I spent much of the time with my head down, marvelling at the wildflowers, including this little echium, growing in almost pure sand. A memorable day.

And to finish (and yes, I can count but refuse to cull any of the above photos, so stuff that in your pipe and smoke it) three doves. They are the symbol of peace and hope and of course love. Which is exactly what I wish for you all.