Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Feeling a little crazy in the head after doing exactly one thousand words. I was grumpy this morning because my fuel bill arrived, with a number on it that looked like the GDP of Kyrgyzstan. Instead of staunchly comprehending that it has been a very cold winter, and I work at home, and so must stay warm to write, I went at once to profligate and spoilt. I should wear more jumpers. I could use fingerless gloves when I type. There could be the judicious employment of a hat. Instead of just turning up the thermostat, I could do star jumps to increase my circulation. Instead, I have spent the cold months like an aristocrat before the French Revolution, eating metaphorical cake. Bad, bad, bad.
Work, I decided, that must always be the answer. So I switched on my head and did the thousand words and tried not to think about my boiler drinking oil like a 1950s playwright on a spree. Once the day's job was done, I fell into my usual post-writing glaze.
As you know, I think quite a lot about the pulling tension between creative thought and the plain life task of Getting Things Done. Everyone, no matter what their job, has to get things done: pay the bills, fill in the tax return, hoover the house, buy the food, cook the food, eat the food. There are days when I relish the small daily requirements of life: there can be something quite soothing about the mechanical act of doing the washing up, when you have been wrangling all afternoon with some knotty ontological problem.
But there is something peculiarly draining about writing, which I shall never quite understand. I do not complain, you understand, I love and adore this job and never take it for granted; it is just an observation. The point is: I am not working down a mine, or putting in rivets all day in a production line. I am doing something I really, really like, and that I would do even if I were not paid for it. So my irrational thought is that there should be nothing tiring about it at all. Yet, it often feels as if my mind has been emptied, like a chaotic attic; so by the time I am finished, I am good for nothing. It is then that the practical tasks take on a daunting, climb to the top of Everest without oxygen aspect. It is then that I absolutely cannot deal with the oil bill.
Well, it's a little life tension. I suspect that I should get more iron in my diet. Oxtail is at the bargain basement price of £5.90 at my butcher. There shall be no more cake, but good, red meat.
Luckily, there is the reassuring simplicity of the pictures of the day. It was a drab, cross old day, with a glaring white sky and nothing frivolous about it. Even the views looked dull, so I went for texture instead.
It's all trees and bark and moss:
You see I am quite fascinated by bark, and tree trunks in general. I think this one looks like an old elephant's foot:
The massed ranks, with the beech hedge beyond:
Lichen and stumps:
The great girth of a Wellingtonia:
More trunks. It amazes me how different they all are. From a distance, they are just trees, in the generic. Up close, they are as individual as fingerprints. :
And a texture day would not be complete without mossy stone:
The ladyships found a nice bed of leaves on which to take their ease:
(Look at the Duchess pretending she is Julie Christie in Dr Zhivago.)
Always time for a little lie-down:
(You would have thought that these beech leaves, which fell in the autumn, would have been reduced to a hideous black slush, after all the snow and frost, and yet there they are, as fresh and crisp and delightful as the day they left the tree.)
Ready for my close-up, Mr De Mille:
(They really are getting the hang of this posing business. It's quite shameless.)
And today's hill, enigmatic against the flat sky: