Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Oh I was going to do a most excellent rant today. I have been storing it up in my mind, and today was the day. It was going to be about sexism and feminism and hypocrisy and misogyny. I was going to let loose, and gallop across the polemical prairie on my very own untamed bronco.

Then everything went wrong. I could not sleep last night, one of those episodes of crazed insomnia that hits me sometimes when my monkey mind is monkeying about all over the shop. I woke rather late, and felt slightly crazed. I'll make some good vegetable soup, I thought, to anchor me before I gather myself and settle down to work.

This was a good plan. There is nothing like the making of a wholesome soup to calm the fretful mind. I chopped and peeled and pared and stirred, and felt some sanity trickle back. Then I called my sister, for an extra sanity break. It turned out she had exactly the same monkeyish mind yesterday, so we compared notes, shouted with laughter at our own idiocies, reassured each other that we were not alone in the farther shores of irrational thought, did a bit of sisterly teasing, and threw the love at each other, until we felt calm again.

So that was fine. Then the dogs started barking at the door. The oil man has still not arrived, so I have holed myself up in the study with one tiny blow heater, in an attempt to keep warm. The dogs seemed to want the door open. 'Bloody hell, what is it?' I said, slightly impatient. I opened the door, to the smell of black smoke. Panic stations. I rushed to the kitchen, to find that the glorious, wholesome, made with love soup had not enough water in it and had boiled dry and burnt to cinders. This is the kind of thing that flaky women in films do, not real life femmes serieuses like me. There was a hideous smell, and all my dearly chopped parsnips and celery and carrots and onions were charred to hell and back.

It was a tiny thing. It's really not the end of the world. But what with the freezing cold and the lack of sleep it felt overwhelming. I wanted to cry like a girl. Instead, I made stupid amounts of coffee, put some Mozart on very loud, and wrote 1032 words of my book, because I needed to chalk up some achievement on this day.

Now I am cold (I have to keep turning the heater off, because I can almost see the electric bill ticking up in my mind), still quite cross, manic from too much caffeine, and  regretting the waste of good food. Which is why there is no rant today.

I do have one final, slightly positive thought. And that is that the amazingly clever dogs did save my kitchen from conflagration. If they had not smelt the burning with their brilliant doggy noses, and started barking and whining, who knows what disaster might have happened? I may be in a perfect heap of flakiness today, but at least I have genius fire dogs.

And, if I am on a silver lining kick, I must not ignore the fact that the sun was shining, which means that there are lots and lots of photographs of the miraculous winter light.

Here it is, glittering through the trees, casting everything in a diffused glow of loveliness:

1st Feb 8

Dappling over the massed trunks:

1st Feb 7

Illuminating a mossy stump:

1st Feb 15

Tumbling over the grassy slope:

1st Feb 16

I think it makes the ladyships look as if they are in a film with a really great lighting director:

1st Feb 12

1st Feb 13

1st Feb 14

The good news is that somebody found a properly big stick:

1st Feb 10

Look of intense concentration is because she is trying to work out  how to get it over the cattle grid. Before I could come and help, she just leapt over the thing, stick and all. Then she lay down in the grass to have a damn good chew at it:

1st Feb 15-1

More light and trees and moss and logs:

1st Feb 17

1st Feb 11

1st Feb 18

1st Feb 19

1st Feb 20

1st Feb 22

And of course the tiny buds and leaves were dazzling in the sun:

1st Feb 1

1st Feb 2

1st Feb 3

1st Feb 6

1st Feb 4

1st Feb 5

1st Feb 23

1st Feb 24

I know I give you an awful lot of these, but I love the way they come out. Something happens to the colours when one gets in close, and I think the blurred backgrounds always look rather wonderful. Also, the whole bud thing reminds me that spring will, one day, come.

Mandatory beauty shots:

1st Feb 25

1st Feb 26-1

And two hills today - one panorama, and one up close:

1st Feb 25-1

1st Feb 26

PS. Just as I finished writing this, THE OIL MAN ARRIVED. It is tea-time, and I had quite given up on him. He was a charming smiling gentleman, although he did look a bit surprised when I greeted him as if he were the Prussians pitching up just in time to save Wellington at Waterloo. (I know that everyone says the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, but I still say that if it were not for Blucher the entire course of European history might be very different.) Anyway, I am afraid to say that I gushed. Still, he seemed to take it in his stride. And now I shall be warm again. I might even make some more vegetable soup.


  1. I'm sorry but I laughed at your post today. In recognition of days like this one chez moi. Tomorrow's another day and I hope it'll be filled with more of such fantastic shots as the ones you shared with us today.

    Besides, 1032 words on a day like you had today is not bad - I've only managed a lousy 342 because I edited away over 500 not so good ones written over the weekend.

    Helena xx

  2. I too laughed as I read your post - not at your misfortune but at your honesty for outlining your crazy mind, comparing notes with your sister on said mind and then positively gushing to the oil man. Being in similar straits I too gushed over the oil man - but not as much as I gushed over the septic tank man when he arrived! Oh to be on mains drainage! I am sorry for your soup. The beauty shots of the dogs are wonderful today, as is the hill. Thank goodness for the constancy of that hill in this shifting world. Lou xx

  3. You are both so lovely and am so glad my rather ditzy post made you laugh. Makes it all worth it. You will be pleased to know the boiler has finally kicked into life. (Took it two hours to realise there was finally oil; had to keep madly pressing the recalcitrant red button.)

  4. Dear Tania, oh dear what a day! Thank God for the dogs and the oil man finally turning up! Lovely photos xx

  5. I am glad the dogs averted disaster. The health and safety busybody in me says go check your smoke alarms please!

  6. I did the same thing with stewed apples. I forgot them. They burnt. What was worse was that they were the LAST batch of the season from our lovely Bramley tree. And the saucepan was a write-off. I was disproportionately distressed by this: I am rational organised woman, I do not do such things...

    Love today's photos. As always.

  7. But did you rescue the pan? I nearly did the same thing with some spinach I was wilting last week - completely forgot about it and if there's one ingredient that clings on to a pan for dear life, apart from milk, it's spinach. The poor pan's never been quite the same since.

  8. "The oil man cometh"....
    Too warm beats too cold any day in my book!
    One THOUSAND, 32 words in ONE day! WOW! (When I hear things like this I start thinking about burning soup myself to get creative juices up and at 'em!)
    Stay warm (and very occasionally ditzy. Think we all need a bit of ditzy now & then for "balance" in this crazy world)
    Pat (in Belgium)

  9. Christina - combination of clever dogs and oil man did feel like a miracle. So glad you liked the photographs.

    Betty M - you are quite right. All batteries being checked.

    Cassie - so glad I am not alone. Clearly this can happen to the best of us (I know you are much more organised than I).

    Jo - oh I know that spinach thing. Luckily, for some reason, I had made the soup in my new super duper non-stick pan instead of my old steel one, and all the ghastly charred mess just slid right off.

    Pat - so glad you like a bit of ditz. Your comment makes me smile.


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