Thursday, 27 November 2014

At the Garden Media Guild Awards

Yesterday I exchanged mud-caked boots for polished brogues, grabbed my trusty umbrella with its dog-chomped handle, and boarded the train to London. At midday I was due at the Savoy Hotel, there to attend the annual Garden Media Guild Awards; I arrived early, and spent half an hour strolling around my old stomping ground of Covent Garden, where Christmas shopping was in full swing, and the gardens of the actors’ church of St Paul’s, over which my old office window offered a fine view, are in distinct need of a good tidying up.

I arrived a second or two behind Carol Klein but, both of us managing to successfully negotiate the hotel’s entrance, the amusing anecdote of how-I-got-stuck-in-the-revolving-doors-with-that-Carol-off-the-telly entirely failed to be engendered. It’s probably just as well; no-one likes a name-dropper. There ensued a time of mingling, drink in hand, at which accomplished networkers could be seen working the room; I picked up tips, and filed them away in my head for future use. It was much more fun to poke people with my umbrella, which I’d refused to surrender to the cloakroom staff.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Notes from the greenhouse

I have discovered that autumn sown sweet peas germinate far more reliably when they’re not being eaten by mice. Either science or philosophy might have led me to such a conclusion. The first might have encouraged me to consider whether there’s something about the digestive system of a rodent that disagrees with the awakening metabolism of the embryonic legume, and then to back up my hypothesis with empirical evidence. But it was the philosophical route that led me to my epiphany, via a chance observation I was in a position to make of an existential crisis being sufferred by the seeds in question. One afternoon, I would plant them. The next morning, they were not there.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

First frost

Misty. Damp. Chilly, rather than bitingly cold. The first frost of the year has visited, befogging car windscreens and prettifying foliage. It’s not a heavy frost, but it’ll do for now, and I dearly hope it’s a sign of things to come. We need a good, hard winter – one that calls for scarves and bobble-hats rather than umbrellas and galoshes.

I want it cold and clear and crisp. I want rosy cheeks and tingling toes, ice on my ’tache and a flask in my pocket. I want snow, and winter sun, and walks through silent, white blanketed fields to pubs with open fires, mulled spice wine, hearty food, friends and laughter. I want sledging and snowball fights on the way home, slippers and a good book, cosy untaxing movies on the telly and the gentle patter of large flakes falling softly outside. And when I wake up in the morning, I want hoar frosts and ground frosts and the garden transformed into a storybook tableau, like the Christmas department store windows I saw as a child. And if a reindeer should find its way there, so much the better. But I’ll settle for cold, and clear, and crisp.


Let me know what’s on your winter wishlist by leaving a comment below, or sending me a tweet.