European Gardeners

Just as Brexit discussions are finally commencing in Brussels, four Europeans are executing a complete transformation of our garden, in full blast of a fierce heatwave. They toil determinedly for long hours, sweat trickling in streams down their temples. Cheerful and polite, they unearth and present us with museum pieces from the last century which … More European Gardeners

Vanishing into Russia

Charlotte Hobson reminds me of a good friend who hails from the same Cornish corner of England where Hobson lives. They are both tall, have similar mannerisms, and are skilful storytellers – using softly expressive, very well spoken voices (quite posh). Both make you want to listen. I feel tempted to ask if they are acquainted … More Vanishing into Russia

24 hours in London – chat, clues and comedy

By the time we reach the River Thames, No. 2 has taught me everything I need (or want) to know about sharks (we’ve been travelling for just 35 minutes). A chill wind whips up, so I tug my scarf tighter. My son stands at the river’s edge, moving breezily on to the subject of the seals which (apparently) splash in the murky dark depths below us. So start … More 24 hours in London – chat, clues and comedy

A Spring in his Step

Today No. 4 met me from school with a spring in his step and a “How are you, Mum?” “Fine, thanks.” I smiled. His thoughtful theme continued, “Did you have a good day?” “It’s getting better … ” I laughed. My boy’s line of questioning is a rare and wonderful thing, especially in these latter days of winter. … More A Spring in his Step

Pastéis de Belém

Pastéis de Belém (or Nata) – a sweet case of custard perfection (but not too sweet). Pastéis de Nata were first made by monks in 18th century Belém at the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos – they used yolks left over after egg whites had been used for starching clothes. In 1820, the Liberal Revolution threatened the future of … More Pastéis de Belém

Happiness is Orange

I ask No. 4 what he thinks ‘happiness’ is, as he’s suggested the word as a title for this new post. “Well, Happiness is Orange.” A pause from us both, but I don’t stop slicing cucumber for his lunchtime sandwich. I need soft questions, nothing too direct. Maybe just a little eye contact. Best to unwrap the surprise of his answer gently. Slowly, No. … More Happiness is Orange