Climate change dominates the news. High temperatures continue. People keep getting Covid. Footage of fires, war, famine and refugees fills our screens. At home, political upheaval, price increases and strikes make life uncertain.
Our London trip was the holiday we needed. Not too hot but pleasantly warm. My planned visits to two libraries, especially the Wellcome Collection, allowed me much needed quiet hours surrounded by books and documents. It also has a great coffee shop.
I loved this sculpture on display on the first floor, a life size ballgown made from contraceptives.
Cannyrob went to the Imperial War Museum and Tate Britain. We both enjoyed the Africa exhibition at the V&A along with a nice lunch. Tina, the Musical was a great night out at the Aldwych theatre.
Time in Ealing allowed me to re-visit the street where my grandmother’s family lived, last visited by me and my Sister when I was 15 and she was 12. I had met with my other Sister just before our trip. She has done lots of detailed research, going back to the 18th century. I had some family papers and photos. Pooling our resources means she can finish writing up the family story. I used a photograph of the house (built in 1894) to imagine how it might have looked based on similar houses still standing. It was demolished some years ago. See featured image at top of blog and sketch of details below.
Enjoying being home but disappointed not to be able to visit Son as his ward was in lockdown due to Covid although we could phone and message him. Now we can visit again, which is so good. Daughter and WeeBoy spent time in the grounds with him on Saturday. Redecorating his flat is a family effort, bringing us together. My contribution is limited by a shoulder injury which has become quite painful. I am having an ultrasound scan today. My contribution to the project has been cleaning, using my left hand and doing load after load of washing.
I’ve been enjoying sitting in the garden reading, listening to and watching the constant bird activity. At least three broods of sparrows have been raised in our blue tit house. The adults have a bit of a squeeze getting in and out but they don’t seem to mind! Thanks to L our wonderful neighbour, who, in spite of being ill with Covid, watered our plants in the greenhouse and courtyard while we were away. They survived the drought and are an absolute joy especially the sweet peas.
I almost put this month’s Tarot card back. It wasn’t what I wanted. But that is not the point. The time has come to face the Devil once more. The thing with Tarot is to find meaning in the card. The Devil looks aggressive, but the sword is in his left hand, suggesting a haphazard use of power. Rather like some of our political leaders. The Devil’s wings remind us of the bat – a night flyer, often feared. He represents the beast within us, causing destruction, war and climate change. But Satan’s role is ambiguous. The apple brought knowledge of good and evil. The strange couple in the picture are neither wholly human nor entirely free. They must assume responsibility for their actions.
I’m on my fourth audiobook this month. In Our Father by Marilyn French, (author of The Women’s Room) four sisters gather at the bedside of their dying father. A story of shocking events from the past unfolds. The House Party by Mary Grand is a murder story set on the Isle of Wight. My absolute favourite has been Ruth Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness, a very special book about books, voices and grief. I loved it! Right now I’m back with Dickens – his last, unfinished book The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
I’m reading more, mostly on my Kindle: The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer writer of quirky thrillers, Death in the East by Abir Mukherjee, fourth book in his Calcutta detective series, The Unheard by Nicci French in which a small child witnesses a murder. Jane Casey’s new book The Killing Kind, is a good read as always. After enjoying Rizzio, I looked for a Denise Mina crime story. The Less Dead is a gritty novel about prostitution in Glasgow. Like my friend A, I find her crime novels a bit too gory. The Swift and the Harrier by Minette Walters, set during the Civil War, is enjoyable, and well researched. Dark Water by Elizabeth Lowry also has a historical setting with a mental health and vaguely supernatural theme which ties in with my interests.
So sad to hear of the death of Susie Steiner. at the age of 51 from brain cancer. Novelist and Guardian journalist, her three Manon Bradshaw crime novels, mentioned in previous posts, are compassionate, funny and compelling.
Some time ago I wrote a blog about teddy bears and my relationship with my very old Teddy. I loved the stories other people shared and realised how important these ‘transitional objects’ can be. I told the story of losing my Panda when I was 2 and having to do without a cuddly toy until my third birthday. Recently I happened to see a panda in a shop window. On impulse I went in and bought a mummy and baby panda. They are soft and cuddly in a way Teddy never was (well they didn’t have the materials in his day) and fill a gap for me I didn’t even know was there. They do seem to have bonded with Teddy as a family, although I do have less room in bed. I took baby panda to London and he shared many of my adventures, becoming a meme (is that the word?) in messages to the family.
We’ve had WeeBoy here. He and I had a great time, paddling in the tidal pool, playing the piano and generally having fun. He is now strong enough to carry chairs and bags of logs out to the garden, which I couldn’t manage. We had fish suppers round the fire bowl on Friday night.
Wearing summer clothes has made my forearm tattoos more noticeable. Lots of comments. Mostly favourable. Women of my generation tend to say nothing. I have to admit to enjoying looking at them myself! That is kind of the point.
For once, I was not only watching football last night, but supporting England. Great to see these talented women winning the Euro final.
I feel I have lost touch with some of my friends this summer. I haven’t been able to get to my usual Pilates classes or go swimming. Holidays and family stuff have left me with less time for visiting and phone calls. I haven’t stopped thinking about you and hope to do lots of catching up once Son is settled back in his flat and I have had some treatment for my shoulder.
I hope you’re staying cool and avoiding Covid. Please keep in touch in whatever way suits you. Elinor xx
That’s a lovely photo of you at the end, looking so relaxed and happy, A xx
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Thanks: that’s what a holiday does!