Showing posts with label orchards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label orchards. Show all posts

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Nostalgia

"Footfalls echo in the memory 
Down the passage we did not take 
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose garden
My words echo thus
In your mind"

Burnt Norton - T S Eliot

We drove past my old home the other day, on a brief visit to Kent, and stopped for a moment in the road outside.  A house I once lived in, a home that once was mine, a garden I once loved, an orchard where children played and a life that fitted me like a glove; a door that once was open to me, now closed for ever.


It is a strange thing, to so utterly possess a house, to sweep through the white five bar gate and park my car in the drive outside, put my key in the latch and go inside, to find my life laid out there, my possessions just as I left them, my pets waiting for me, my family coming and going, to wander outside, sit and have a cup of coffee making plans for my day, answer the telephone, put a wash on, go for a walk.  Ordinary, everyday things. And then one day it's finished.  Someone else has the keys.  I am a trespasser now and my life has moved elsewhere.

Drive on by, it's not my home anymore.  It exists only in my mind.






Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Autumn Blues (again)

I make no apology for re-posting this piece - it is one of my favourite blog posts and one I feel proud to have written.  Another time, another place, another life but still the essence of an English Autumn for me.  I miss my orchard so much it hurts!




"Leaves and fallen apples litter the grass in the orchard now. It has an air of faint neglect and spentness, the hammock stashed away, no more time for lazy afternoons. The bonfire has burnt itself out and the charred remains smoulder gently in the light breeze. A lazy wasp investigates the fallen fruit as I wander through the trees, wondering when I will find the time to cook the apples to a fragrant pulp and mix them with the blackberries that grow so abundantly in the hedgerows as I walk through the quiet lanes.

Jars of plum jam are stored in kitchen cupboards or have been given to friends and family. Pears have been pickled with cinnamon, cloves, juniper berries and peppercorns and glow palely as they marinate in their spicy vinegar, waiting to be opened when winter bites. Logs are stacked in the woodshed and the year begins to unravel slowly towards it's busy end".

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Year Turns

After the recent stormy weather, it wasn't hard to fill the car boot with fallen branches to build a fire in the orchard. My son and I carved out pumpkin faces, threaded lanterns through the apple trees and borrowed bales of straw from a kind neighbour, scattered around the fire for seating. We put the stereo outside on a long extension lead, playing party music and waited for the guests to arrive.

There was a nail-biting hour or so, when it seemed no-one was going to come. My son kept smiling somehow as his friends phoned and texted, changing arrangements, re-making plans, but finally a friend arrived, then a couple more. An hour later, there were a couple of dozen youngsters gathered around the blazing fire, seemingly immune to the damp and cold, eating pizzas and hotdogs, drinking beers, chatting and laughing.

Much later, when everyone had left, I wandered around the dark, quiet garden, collecting whatever needed to come in straight away, leaving the rest 'til morning, stopping to gaze up at the clear, cold, starry night sky and enjoying the sense of peace and the pleasure of another successful gathering. Memories that I hope my son will carry with him when his life takes him away from this quiet corner of the countryside and into the wider world where he must make his own way.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Autumn Blues

Leaves and fallen apples litter the grass in the orchard now. It has an air of faint neglect and spentness, the hammock stashed away, no more time for lazy afternoons. The bonfire has burnt itself out and the charred remains smoulder gently in the light breeze. A lazy wasp investigates the fallen fruit as I wander through the trees, wondering when I will find the time to cook the apples to a fragrant pulp and mix them with the blackberries that grow so abundantly in the hedgerows as I walk through the quiet lanes.

Jars of plum jam are stored in kitchen cupboards or have been given to friends and family. Pears have been pickled with cinnamon, cloves, juniper berries and peppercorns and glow palely as they marinate in their spicy vinegar, waiting to be opened when winter bites. Logs are stacked in the woodshed and the year begins to unravel slowly towards it's busy end.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

The Man in the Pink Shirt

Even the sun shone for us. It was a perfect summer evening, snatched from a disappointing summer.

He arrived promptly, wearing his trademark pink shirt and carrying a bottle of red wine. We sat in the orchard for a while, drinking white wine Kirs, enjoying the late sunshine under the plum tree as the Chicken Cacciatora bubbled gently on the stove and we took it in turns to give it a stir from time to time. Somehow new potatoes and green beans cooked themselves and supper was ready.

We moved to the conservatory, lit the candles and opened his bottle of red wine. The food was delicious, we talked and laughed, then later kissed and cuddled, watching the bats flitting in and out of their nest in the eaves above the conservatory. It was a truly magical evening and I just want to hold onto that feeling.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Curdled Milk

'This milk's off,' I said to the Deputy Head, 'in fact the fridge is warm. Feel that bottle of white wine. Is it yours?' 
'Yes,' he said, 'do you fancy a glass?' 
'Oh, no thanks,' I replied, rather ungraciously. It wasn't the best offer I had ever had. It was late afternoon and we were just trying to have a final cup of tea before heading home to children and supper and chores. I suddenly thought of the bottles of fizz sitting in my lovely, cold fridge at home, waiting for a special occasion and decided I could do better than that!

'Why don't you come over to my house and have a glass of wine in the orchard?' I suggested. It was such a lovely, clear, warm late June afternoon and an opportunity simply to let everything go and enjoy the evening. And he came, along with a few other friends who could drop everything at short notice, bringing nuts and crisps and more fizz, and we had an impromptu drinks party in the orchard, moving the wooden table and chairs around to catch the last warmth of the sun as it sank towards the west and the shadows grew longer.


Sometimes, you just have to seize the moment.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Turning Point

'You changed the course of my life,' I said to her as we stood talking in the Marquee beside the white-covered trestle tables, laden with food and drink. She looked shocked. I suppose it is strange to think that a casual decision, taken one busy working day, can shape someone else's life.

I was a fresh pretty young girl, newly arrived in London from Yorkshire when she took a chance on me, offered me a job working for a large international company without checking my shorthand and typing, which weren't all they could have been.

Not that I had thought of her at all, these 30 years or so since that day, but seeing her there now brought it home to me that it was that decision that had changed my world, brought me a marriage that lasted 18 years, our three amazing sons, life-longs friends and the invitation to this party in a Sussex orchard on a fine June day.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

The Orchard

Summer's here!

The hammock went up in the orchard today, strung between two ancient plum trees, threaded through with the tiny pink scented roses that flower for only two weeks each year, echoing the delicate pink and white blossom that studded the trees earlier in the spring, promising a heavy crop of pears, apples and plums when summer slips away.

The mown grass is a vivid green after the recent heavy rains, and delicious dark pink dog roses glow in the hawthorn hedge. A faded, weather-beaten wooden table and chairs invite me to take time out and let my cares melt away.

I thought of going somewhere else today, but what could be better than this?

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Happy Easter

A glorious Easter weekend and I have two tall, dark, handsome young men in the house, oozing testosterone and amiability. Did I say I also have shingles? Apparently the virus that causes chicken pox lies dormant in the spinal cord and reactivates when the immune system is down - just when you are about to go on a trip!

Luckily it's not man shingles, so I have spent a satisfying weekend in the kitchen. We have had roast chicken with proper red wine gravy and roasted root vegetables, steeped in olive oil, garlic and herbs from the garden. I have even made stock from the bones for vegetable soup. Rhubarb, also from the garden, has been stewed and I have made a chocolate and almond cake.

I have been for short walks in the countryside and have sat in the orchard with our pet rabbit and the cats playing tag, drinking tea and eating too much cake. Today will be spent with the Sunday Times and a roast leg of lamb studded with garlic and rosemary, potatoes dauphinoise with carrots and broccoli and more red wine gravy, followed by chocolate pudding with whipped cream.

I never said it was all bad!