Monthly Archives: May 2009

Thunder and things

It has been good to have a thunderstorm, to put some rain into our dry garden and break the mugginess of the week before. Now the sun is out again and I am at a pause between jobs, taking barely a breath before moving on to the next paper challenge. I have been looking at a wonderful large print of a 1920s photograph of the great double staircase at Coleshill, that a friend gave me from the Country Life picture Library, it is a work of sculptural serene beauty, and it is strange to think that Coleshill was one of those house lost to accidental fire (and complete demolition) in the 1950s. Celia Fiennes admired the servants’ garrets here in the late 17th century; which reminds me corrected manuscript to my servants’ book has been sent off. A great moment; I am almost bound to come down with flu.



We visited my mother twice over the weekend, and feel she is being as well cared for as she can be, and sometimes is lively and chatty with us, and other times, seems to be sleeping for longer and longer periods; when she is chatty her end seems a long way off, when fading into sleep, it feels different. Her decline has made me feel older, and it is strange how one automatically anticipates the loss, as if to brace onself for the final shock. On Ascension Day, we held a small communion service in her room, and she managed to get all the way through the prayers, with some tears between us all, she and I held hands throughout; the local parish priest guided her through with great sensitivity; it was so simple and so very moving and I was so glad we had done that all together, and that I was there. There is no way to describe the feelings of being with her during this period of retreat from life (and the frustrations of not being there too) all we can do is make her feel loved and cared for. Is it odd to put these personal things on a blog; I don’t know; it has become like my diary, so there it is.


A strange summer

The sun shine and all the blossoms of April and May have meant such a lot this year. We have moved my mother into a very good nursing home with exceptional and kind staff, and arranged a room for as if it was her own bedroom at home, with favourite watercolours and rugs and family photographs. She has a French window to the garden which she can see from her room. We are so grateful to have found somewhere so peaceful and with such a high standard of care. She gets visits every day and the rest and dignity of the place is beginning to have an impact. I played her Pachelbel on Saturday on a cd, but had to suppress an urge to put on Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, which sums up her attitude to life better.


At home, life is dominated by children’s exams and their plans for the summer, the dog won two rosettes at a “Fun” dog show at Cottenham, a thoroughly modern-day-Thelwall experience. I have been in Gloucestershire and Norfolk for my collectors’ column and the library working on the very very final touches on my book. I have prepapred a feature for Country Life due out in June on what Cambridge University means today in its 800th year and had a series of inspiring conversations with eminent professors, who are experts in astronomy, classical world and botany and bio-diversity – I think its rather an interesting read