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:
Dappling over the massed trunks:
Illuminating a mossy stump:
Tumbling over the grassy slope:
I think it makes the ladyships look as if they are in a film with a really great lighting director:
The good news is that somebody found a properly big stick:
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:
More light and trees and moss and logs:
And of course the tiny buds and leaves were dazzling in the sun:
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:
And two hills today - one panorama, and one up close:
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.