A slight change to an autumn walk

Before I lived in Paris, I was one of the staunchest indoor people ever. And then, to stave off the effects of croissants, patisserie and driving everywhere, I started running up and down the Seine towpath a few times every week. You really start to notice the ever-changing beauty of the things around you and Autumn is such a wonderful time to be walking dogs. We haven't yet had a frost here. It's expected any day soon but in the meantime there's a chance to view the wonderful fungal structures that have popped up all over the place. I caught sight of the bouquet on my run this morning and came back with my camera on the dog walk. Dogs often don't appreciate the local flora to the same extent as me. One stray set of paws and the ephemera have had their brief time on earth. There was an added frisson today, though, because Lewisham Council shut the golf course yesterday and Raffles was allowed to run around off the leash for the very first time without fear of him being hit by or, more likely, picking up a ball in play and running away with it. Our gain is very much the Lewisham Golfers' loss, though. This was the last remaining public golf course in Inner London. The council no longer wish to finance the upkeep of what they consider an elitist sport. What a pity. And it means that these beautiful, mature trees between the links are set to be bulldozed to make way for a lake trees. Which doesn't really make a huge amount of sense. There are rumours of other shenanigans too but, as a resident of neighbouring Bromley, I don't know enough to make any accusations here. Walking up the hill to the mansion at the top, we came upon a load of protestors, who are staging a sleep-out Occupy-style protest to try and remind Lewisham of its duty to keep the cafe and lavatories open as an amenity to park users. They told me that the bulldozers' action is being challenged in court and that they'd be there until the outcome of the case is known. They are asking for volunteers to spend a couple of hours with them this week. I might just go, public protest being a thing of mine. In the meantime, do enjoy the photos of a foggy, smoggy London morning walk.
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I keep wanting to write but being put off doing so. The dismal repercussions of the EU Referendum and the ensuing spectre of Brexit have dominated my thoughts for weeks. I am hating how the Leave vote seems to have given so many people licence to remove their think/say filter and be so generally unpleasant to each other. We seem to have assumed a siege mentality: retreating into our own bubble of niceness and hoping upon hope that those nasty people will eventually blow themselves out. My thoughts about this and other things going on my my life are so dismal that writing them down seems an act of imposing such an unbearable whinge on the world. I'd rather not. And though I am encouraging myself to think more laterally, more whimsically about my blog, I don't have the heart to write most of the time. I have Bloggers' Block. However, it does feel good to articulate one's thoughts in writing, and some people like to read this blog because it is news of home. In fact I've toyed with the idea of blogging in epistolary form next year: as letters to James or my wretched next door neighbour or someone entirely fictional. I haven't yet managed to get my head around this but watch this space. I know that letters are despised by some but they can be a neat device for expressing oneself fully. What do you think? I'm prompted to write tonight because I'm considering the nature of friendship. I am lucky to have quite a lot of friends, meaning people with whom I'm friendly and can pass the time of day or share a drink or a lunch but, like many, I have only a few very close friends. Indeed the nature of these friendships seems to be changing too: lately some people I thought were close friends have made me reconsider the nature of our friendship by some of their attitudes. One of my very good friends appears to have dropped me completely: the last time I saw her was over a year ago when she incidentally used our road as a cut through. We hadn't had an disagreement, as far as I know, but just grown apart. After her divorce she'd started a new life which didn't include me. Sad, but we all move on, don't we? I'm lucky though that i've cemented closer friendships with people I just knew and I value these people highly because they are friends with the person I am now. You know, some people manage to go through life without a supportive friendship network. They are strong enough or self-sufficient enough not to need people, or so they think. Yet, I speak to lonely people all the time who have become detached and isolated from the world through their seeming  lack of anything in common with it. And loneliness kills. I'm pondering friendship partly because I am going to a funeral tomorrow. The lady in question certainly wasn't a close friend but we went to the same dog training class for several years. We knew she had been treated for cancer: she had a wig and then her hair grew back and then she wore her wig after more treatment but, in my mind's eye I see Jane as recently as late July, in our hall in Keston, smiling at her dog Lola, who was often a bit slow to go and retrieve the dummy she'd thrown. Jane's son was about to be married in the USA, but just before she flew over for his wedding she was taken lll and never really recovered. From my scant knowledge the progress of the cancer was mercifully quick at the end but it was a shock nonetheless. How close to someone do you have to be to go to their funeral, I wonder? Jane and I were friendly with each other and often shared a quip and a smile. She seemed like a lovely, lively woman. But I didn't know her very well. You go to dog class, you chat when you're supposed to be paying attention, you laugh at the antics of your canine children and then you go home and don't see each other until the next week. Initially I thought that I'd be intruding if I went to the church, dressed in black with all the other mourners and close family members. What if they wonder who I am and resent my usurping presence? But when I've talked to other people about it, the most important thing seems to be that the church is full of people who knew her, from all of the jigsaw pieces of her life. We represent the passing smiles and jokes and also the people who knew her who cannot be there. And it's always a comfort to her close friends and family to share their grief with a packed church. It is uncomfortable for me, but I'll go for Jane and her family.
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My mum: a composite portrait

I've been trying to improve my photography. That's one of those things that I'd just like to absorb by subcutaneous injection, since I always seem to forget about focal length and depth of field. I'm still inept at landscapes and being in the right place at the right time but I hope to improve these skills. In the meantime, I've found that I can take quite good portraits with my telephoto lens but I'm still not quite sure how. I'm also trying to get good photos of my mum while I can, but I must admit that I do have some qualms about putting these on my blog: how can she consent to anything? If nothing else, these are gently meant. read more

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December 2016
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Crocheted cotton throw

I’ve finally finished it. Well, called it a day really.

I’ve been working on this cotton wave throw on and off for three years. Mainly off.

I bought lots more balls of yarn for it but eventually realised that if I used them all I’d have a stair carpet rather than a blanket. I was going to add side panels but why over-complicate things? So I’m left with this throw-shaped throw and a lot of cotton yarn in muted shades of grey, green and blue. If you’ve any ideas about what to do with them, I’d love to hear the polite ones.

Anyway, it’s done now and time to move on to my next unfinished project: an alpaca jumper that was originally destined for James, but will now go to Eliza. If, indeed, she wants it.


Cotton throw to own, random, design made using Rowan Handknit Cotton and a Knitpro 4.00mm hook.

Dandelion clock in fog

My mum: a composite portrait

I’ve been trying to improve my photography. That’s one of those things that I’d just like to absorb by subcutaneous injection, since I always seem to forget about focal length and depth of field. I’m still inept at landscapes and being in the right place at the right time but I hope to improve these skills. In the meantime, I’ve found that I can take quite good portraits with my telephoto lens but I’m still not quite sure how.

I’m also trying to get good photos of my mum while I can, but I must admit that I do have some qualms about putting these on my blog: how can she consent to anything? If nothing else, these are gently meant.

At last

Here I am again. I’ve been out of internet range since Sunday night on account of the monsoon downpours here in India, which have clearly wiped out the 3G and, often, the electricity.

I don’t like to moan, as the people who look after my mum are so kind, but the accommodation for guests is quite basic. Damp was seeping down the walls of my room and the noisy fridge disturbed my fitful sleep on the hardest bed in the world – possibly – and every time I used my travel kettle to make a cup of tea, it tripped any electricity that might have been in the room at that moment. Okra for supper, truly the only vegetable that I actively detest, was the last straw.

It’s not been a particularly jolly trip to see my mum this time. It’s clear that her brain function has shrunk again. The world’s most loquacious woman – possibly – no longer has the means to talk and she’s quite a lot sleepier than I’ever seen her for a while. Perhaps it’s the dingy weather, we all know how uninspiring persistent rain can be.

I know we’ve had downpours at home but I’ve never encountered rain on this scale before. Parts of our normal return trip back from Neral to Mumbai were like an Alpine whiteout, only with rain. On the plus side, this meant that the traffic was reduced and we made the journey through the Mumbai traffic in less time than usual, though I pity poor Deepak on his journey home tonight.

There were some hardy souls about, though:

All in all, the Leela’s dirty Martini was particularly welcome tonight.

Do you want me like this? This? Maybe a head tilt? 



I live in Beckenham, suburban London and, having worked in travel, industrial materials, recruitment advertising, and diversity consultancy, I have devoted the last decade or so to raising my children, of whom I am incredibly proud. Latterly, I have spent time developing my singing; caring for my two dogs and expressing myself through my blog and, especially, on Twitter.


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