Alexander Averin

Thursday, 9 September 2010


Dear Diary,

Roald Dahl writing in his shed

I haven’t posted any blessings for ages but here are a few heart-lifters, reasons to be cheerful this week.

There is a new biography out of my favourite children’s author, it is called Storyteller The Life of Roald Dahl by Donald Shurrock  and it’s being read on BBC Radio 4 each morning which is a treat for me as I am not working this week.  One of the wonderful things Dahl wanted to do was to instil in children not just the love of his books but also the habit of reading as well . Well he certainly succeeded, his books remain as popular as ever and children do seem to get into the habit of reading once they have eagerly devoured all his titles. 

I am reading another good book, it’s The Glass Room by Simon Mawer, it was recommended to me by my daughter and is also the Purplecoo book club choice for autumn.   I also have Kate Atkinson’s new one Started Early Took my Dog and the wonderful Fay Weldon’s Kehua  and Patrick Gale’s The Whole Day Through to look forward to.  Much reading ahead! 

I’ve bought a selection of bulbs for the garden,  two lots of tulips in the shades of pale pink and deep burgundy, giant purple alliums and smaller varieties of allium in different colours,  I’ve also bought crocuses and snakes head fritillaries, irises and a few species of narcissi.  I was also tempted by some bluey-purple heathers and another shrub. a dark misty blue Caryopteris.  Continuing the blue theme I would like to get some more bluebell bulbs soon.   There is something comforting about planting bulbs in the autumn, it sort of brings spring nearer into view, something to imagine and look forward to; the excitement of seeing those first bulbs coming into flower.  I have a fair number of snowdrops but may buy a few more, they are the very first signs of spring, they cheer so just when we need uplifting from the depths of winter.

I visited the local garden centre this week very early in the morning on my way home from an early appointment in Hay.  It is an excellent place, somewhere I love going to and I was (almost) the only customer -  it was quite magical wandering among the just- freshly-watered plants so early in the day, I always feel better just for being amongst plants and I was starting to feel very happy and relaxed.  I was suddenly heartened to hear a bird singing its heart out, just for the joy of singing, as they do…. and I came across a little robin perched above me amongst the displays, he was not afraid of me at all and carried on singing away.  Isn’t it funny how little things like that can lift one’s heart and stay in the memory?

I have been working on a family search for a friend and have been quite successful so far and quite by chance found (in Ireland) a bit of a link between us, that was a big surprise. This is the second time this sort of thing has happened to me and it makes me wonder if there is something bigger than us at work in the universe, (well of course there is isn’t there?).

What else has lifted my heart?  The weather has been kind, warm and sunny with only the odd shower.  Family members have been visiting from Norfolk and it is always a pleasure to be in their company.

I have been brushing up my French in anticipation of a visit to Brittany at some stage on the genealogy trail.  I must put a plug in for the language audiotapes of Michel Thomas; this man is a genius at making learning a language a real doddle.  He teaches other languages as well.  A borrower recommended him to me, a friend had recommended him to her and now I pass it on to you.  Word of mouth (or in this case blog) is the best way to spread good things.

There is so much that is going bad in this country at the moment, so much incompetence surrounds us that I have turned into a proper Grumpy Old Woman so it is even more important to seek out the good.

Thank God for music, M is playing some great stuff (very loudly!) downstairs as I write this.  Luckily we have understanding neighbours who love music as much as we do.

Thank God for poetry,  I have Philip Larkin’s Whitsun Weddings by my bedside.  I will leave you with one.


What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin

And here’s another of Larkin’s  that I love.


Down stucco sidestreets,
Where light is pewter
And afternoon mist
Brings lights on in shops
Above race-guides and rosaries,
A funeral passes.

The hearse is ahead,
But after there follows
A troop of streetwalkers
In wide flowered hats,
Leg-of-mutton sleeves,
And ankle-length dresses.

There is an air of great friendliness,
As if they were honouring
One they were fond of;
Some caper a few steps,
Skirts held skilfully
(Someone claps time),

And of great sadness also.
As they wend away
A voice is heard singing
Of Kitty, or Katy,
As if the name meant once
All love, all beauty.

Philip Larkin

Bye for now,
Happy Days,
Go mbeannai Dia duit,


Ruth said...

Oh! Autumn bulbs. Need to get some. Thanks.

I love Philip Larkin and bought a book of his at Shakespeare & Co. in Paris a few years ago. "Church Going" is one of my favorites.

Posie Rosie said...

Oh cait,
I have been visiting your blog each day to listen to your lovely music as I paint. I love Roald Dahl, youngest and I have just finished reading 'The Twits', he is our favourite bedtime author, we both share his wicked sense of humour.
Lovely to focus on life's pleasures, don't get me started on incompetence....x

Irish Eyes said...

G'n-deireadh an bóthar leat a Cháit, that is a lovely blog, and Dublinesque is a great favourite of mine.

It never ceases to amaze me how - just when you least expect it - you find a relation...OH was chatting to someone recently and a chance comment led to some verbal detective work and it turned out that they were related on OH's father's side.

As always - a lovely, lovely blog with Yeats to really make my day.

Fennie said...

Whatever have you done with poor Roald Dahl's legs? They've disappeared - eaten perhaps by one of his creations. Loved that Dublin poem by Larkin. So evocative!

Pondside said...

I love the first stanza of the second poem - it's just the way things are right now, over here.

elizabethm said...

I love your blessings and thank you for reminding me of the Larkin poem "Days". I have been buying tulips too, deep reds and oranges for me!

mollygolver said...

Cait - your blog in itself is a joy to read. I can't help thinking about Mary Webb's poems - 'Springs of Joy'!

mollygolver said...

Cait - sorry - typing error - I meant Spring of Joy

Wild Somerset Child said...

How refreshing to read of things which give one joy; I was only writing an hour ago over a hot mug of tea (in bed) in my commonplace book that I was becoming a 'grumpy old woman' and what should I do about it! Thanks for the prompt - and the poems.

Lane said...

Bulbs! Thanks for the reminder.

And your blessings are lovely.

Peggy said...

Hi, Cait! I loved your mention of Roald Dahl. He's my favorite author of children's books, too. I can't begin to tell you how many hours I've spent with my kids during bedtime read-aloud time with his books opened on my lap. What a wonderful walk down memory lane. Thank you!

CAMILLA said...

Just edited my comments Cait, and they have disappeared into the ether.!

Love Roald Dhal books, I remember reading them with my children years ago, still have them here on my book shelf. Did you buy the Dhal Biography Cait?

I was only saying that I have yet to plant up my Tulips in the garden, do hope it is not too late as we are nearly into late September. Love Purple Aliums too Cait.!

Have always had a fondness for Larkin's Poems, he was an admirer of a late friend of mine who was much older than me. I used to love to hear the story's she used to tell me on Larkin, and this was also how I became aware that he used to be a Librarian.

Can imagine how wonderful it must be to pass through Hay, all those lovely book shops too.

As ever a really lovely post dear Cait, thank you for cheering me up on this very cold wet Sunday.