Posted by Tania Kindersley.
I am back.
I drove five hundred miles in one go yesterday, which I don't do very often any more, so my mind is still fogged from the road. But I did want to say thank you for all your lovely comments in my absence.
I think it was just as well that I did not have my computer with me, after all that. I don't know when I thought I was going to have time for blogging. It was the funeral of my lovely friend Sophie's dear old dad. Her mother died earlier this year, so it has been a very sad, long goodbye. They were great people, rooted in the rich earth of Herefordshire, and I spent many happy weekends with them during my university years. Soph and I would roar up, usually dressed from head to foot in black, wearing absurdly tiny miniskirts (it was the eighties, what can I tell you?), drink them out of house and home, not stop talking for a single second, and then screech off again. There was homemade bread, and jam made with fruit from the garden, and the absolute peace of the Malvern Hills. I think they must have thought me a most rackety creature, but they always gave me fond, indulgent smiles, and laughed at my jokes, and they seemed tremendously present and real. They knew and loved the countryside, in a wonderful, old school way, and they were continuity in an antic world of change.
I looked out over that rolling landscape:
I did some flowers for the church:
Every single one of these came from the garden they made from scratch. There were majestic hydrangeas, and dark purple flowering marjoram, and buddleia, and the glossy green leaves of the choisya :
I sat in the church and thought of many happy memories, and lives well lived.
Sophie flew back to Santa Monica, where she lives, and I drove on another hundred miles to see my dear cousin and her enchanting babies. There was a wild mackerel sky:
And glorious, life-enhancing small people:
And elegant black dogs, so very like mine:
('I'm sure they must be related,' one of the children said, seriously, even though her dogs were born near Stroud, and mine came from a litter in Fort William.)
There were riotous geraniums in pots:
And birds singing in the evening trees:
The baby, who was a little bundle when I last visited, is now a very elegant young lady who has gained a taste for olives, even though she is only two (so sophisticated):
We ate tiny new potatoes from the garden and drank venerable claret and laughed a lot. It is a very happy house.
So there was shade, and light. Through it all ran the same theme, the one that makes me perhaps more happy than anything else, which is the absolute love and affection and ease of very old, very deep friendships.
And talking of the things I love the most, I turned off the main road and set my car over the Cairn O'Mount, as the sun was just making its last stand through black, Scottish clouds, and this is what I saw:
That's my road home.
PS. You will be glad to hear that my own dogs apparently behaved impeccably for my darling mum while I was away, and now have a permanent invitation.