The snowdrops and aconite are out but the winter garden is still, for the most part, asleep and it’s hard to think that the spring will ever wake it up. So here’s a little reminder that it will soon be daffodil time. This photo was taken last year and even as I write the little tete a tete daffs are poking their green leaves above the soil again, without me doing anything to help them on their way. The board declaring that the Duckpool Teashop is open, I found on the roadside many years ago. I sometimes think that when the Albertine is in full bloom I’ll make scones, put the sign outside my side gate and serve cream teas to any takers.
I’ve been travelling this last week. Every so often I give Tottie to the dog minder and head off over the Cotswolds to cuddle Archie and give Mimi a break. He’s nearly a year old now and walking, Being with him makes me wonder where the years have gone. It seems only a couple of blinks of the eye since my own two were learning to walk and in between Laverne has risen from her haunches and walked and walked, all the way to university. I miss her but celebrate her new independent life.
It’s the much quoted foreign country all right, though according to Mimi, all was not steady in that place. ‘It was either Little Women or Things Fall Apart in my childhood,’ she said to me a couple of days ago, as we munched into cinnamon toast. How proud I felt to have such a literary daughter. Then a landscape of PMT and deadlines, pitted with marital craters, flashed before my eyes. All I can say in my defence is that I did my best, and the fact that I have left three strong women in my wake is testament to the profound effect of influences other than maternal. Today I focus on being a good granny and living each day as it deserves to be lived, fully and gratefully. Mercifully the raging hormones have settled, leaving a space of profound calm.
On the way back I stopped off to visit my friend Bridget, who lives a bus ride from Oxford. Upstairs in the front seat of a double decker heading towards the city, we looked out over the dormant hedges at our youth and talked, as we always do, non- stop. Bridget and I have what she calls ‘a robust friendship’; one that has spanned fifty years and a multitude of differences. That’s a lot of hugs and tears.
‘ There are many consolations in growing older,’ she said, referring, I think, to the fact that for both of us the ride was free. I agreed. Here we were heading for The Playhouse to see Stephanie Beacham play Callas in ‘Masterclass’, a matinee performance attended by a mass of grey heads. Oxford’s ageing population clearly does not believe in hair colouring. The performance was bravura and I was left reeling from the number of words Miss Beacham had managed to cram into her ageing head. The only ones I managed to retain in mine the day after the performance were, “There is Art… the rest is caca, peepee and dudu.” I am inclined to agree.