Wednesday, 30 March 2011

In which Sarah is very naughty

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

At her work, my co-writer sits next to a man whose writing I very much admire. He is interesting and thoughtful and can turn a lovely sentence. His knee does not jerk. I rather foolishly told her on the telephone today how much I liked his last column.

'My friend LOVED your last column,' she bawled, across the room.

'Stop,' I said, blushing. I started to laugh uncontrollably, like a girl. 'I did love it though,' I said.

'Love from SCOTLAND,' Sarah yelled.

Even though I have a reasonable understanding of modern technology, I am sometimes slightly amazed that what I say up here, as the crocuses grow and the oystercatchers sing, comes out in a newsroom six hundred miles south.

'I'm going now,' I said, firmly.

Two hours later, she calls back.

'I've sent that man whose writing you like to the blog,' she says.

'Oh no,' I say. 'But it's all about dogs and trees at the moment. I haven't done a serious political piece for days.'

'I did warn him about the dogs,' she says.

'Oh dear,' I say.

'Can't help it,' she says. 'I am feeling impish.'

'You most certainly are,' I say.

There is an oddity about the way this blog has developed. I don't really care about numbers, but I do occasionally look at them. It's the old competitive streak, which must always win at Scrabble. I am rather gratified to see how the graph goes up and up; I get now in a week what I once had in a month. But all the same, it is a very, very small thing.

I love that it is small. It makes me feel happy and safe. There is the kind coterie of regular readers, who make my soup and care about my dogs. Occasionally, I read about those professional bloggers who have hundreds of thousands of reader and make real money out of the thing and get profiles written about them in the New York Times, and feel a twisting stab of envy. Then I realise I would hate that kind of success. What I love about blogging is the intimacy. You can't be intimate with a hundred thousand people.

So the thought of a serious, national columnist reading this tiny enterprise is quite terrifying. This is, of course, entirely irrational. Some of you probably are serious national columnists. I write books which are reviewed in the newspapers. I am not shy about that. But this is different. It is where I can put whimsy, and snowdrops, and the beloved canines, and recipes for soup which I made up in my head. It is a tiny, personal, delicate thing. I have absolutely no idea how that happened. The unlikely thing is that I am rather glad it did. Like Bagehot, I am not going to shine too much daylight on it. I rather love the mystery.

And now, I am going to make some ratatouille. Whilst of course contemplating the geo-political ramifications of the Libyan rebels' retreat from Ras Lanouf.

Now for the pictures. It was another low, dirty day. 'Ah, but it is dreich,' said my favourite newsagent, with a disdainful sniff. Still, there were some lovely green things, all the same.

The first leaves are unfurling on the dog roses:


The philadelphus is verging on bushy:


I have no idea what this is; some kind of shrub on my walk. But rather fetching:


The old beech leaves are still hanging on:


And here is an arty close-up of the beech hedge:


The snowdrops have almost gone from my garden, but they are still blooming in the wild places:


There has not been a good tree trunk for a while, can't think why not:


The Sister's poodle is staying while her humans are away, so there is now a pack of three:


The Duchess, doing grand yet wistful:


The Pigeon doing her usual 'if I just stare at you long enough, perhaps you will turn into a giant biscuit' face:


No idea what the poodle is thinking about. The perils of inflation, perhaps:


Today's hill, labouring under the unrelenting dreich:



  1. That was indeed naughty of Sarah.
    Is the pink flowered plant you don't know the name of strongly scented? If so, I think it's a flowering currant. It looks very like the bushes that were planted in vast spaces of the town where I grew up by the landscapers. In quantity, they smelled so overpowering I once fainted on a walk to the town centre.

  2. Yes, I'm quite sure Mona's right about the shrub - an ornamental currant. We've got loads of them. I love your poodle friend, though I'm not sure she possesses enough dignity to pose with the two grand ladies (or with The Duchess, at least).

  3. The poodle knows everything but is saying nothing.

  4. I agree with Mona and Deb - flowering currant - my father always claimed that they smelt of cat's pee; I tend to agree. Hence the fainting episode, Mona!

  5. And I read your last sentence as the leaves "unfurling on the dogs' noses...."
    I think it's (way past) time to get my eyes checked (already in bifocals which are 3.50 plus -- arrrgh!).
    That poodle looks like s/he might try to lead your two stalwarts astray....

  6. I do so love when Cousin Canines come to visit.

    I too like the intimate nature of the blog. Though I don't comment regularly, I regularly read the comments, and it is nice to see familiar names. It's more difficult to read comments when there are hundreds of them. However, the blog will continue to grow, and there will eventually be so many readers and commenters that it will be difficult to keep up. This won't be such a bad thing, though. It just means more people will get the joy of watching your corner of Scotland turning to Spring and of seeing adorable pictures of the dogs.

  7. Here in the Midwest, Spring is beginning to show signs of appearing but we're still quite a ways behind you. It does me good, on the gray days, to see your photos of things that are already leafing and flowering and greening.

    And the dogs reveling in all of it with their sticks.

    You'll post photos of your ratatouille tomorrow, I hope?

  8. You are utterly charming. Incidentally on blog stats did you know that of my all time site referral hits of a total of 622 came from your blog roll?! I like being in such good company. Lou x

  9. Mona - it does not have a scent, but I still think currant sounds likely. Fainting story is very theatrical!

    Deb - Duchess feels exactly that way about the poodle and will barely acknowledge her presence.

    Lucille - that is making me laugh a LOT.

    Jennifer J - your father sounds excellent. :)

    Pat - you are quite right. I have to watch that poodle like a hawk.

    Amy - what a very kind thing to say.

    Fidgety Pilgrim - ah, ah, did not take pictures of the ratatouille. Although it does always look like a horrid gloopy mess, so probably just as well. Might put recipe up though. I just did a plain, classic version with what I had in the fridge.

  10. Love your blog, not sure how I came upon it. But since I did a regular reader. Living in Hong Kong at the moment I love the spring flowers, I do miss the seasons. Also, dogs are adorable.

  11. I do love how the Pigeon's ears are up and she's looking ever hopeful.
    And if the columnist reads through your posts he will be a regular in no time. I do like a friend who is impish...

  12. Dear Tania, I thought you were going to say Sarah rang and he wants to take you on a date! He can't fail to love your fabulous writing. I wish I could write as brilliantly as you.

    Your sister's poodle is adorable! xx

  13. I sometimes look at my boyfriend wondering if I stare long enough he will turn inot a cup of tea. I think I relate to the pigeon.

    Always love your writing, and the recipes, dogs, photos and whimsy mixed with politics is the perfect balance. I often finish reading feeling like all will be well.

  14. Like Fidgety Pilgrim, I too am writing from the American Midwest. And I don't want serious political pieces, either, so much as I want photos of gorgeous Scottish dogs and quotations with words like "dreich" in them.


  15. Lou - what a lovely thing to say. And so pleased about the blog roll.

    Anon - so glad I can send some seasons all the way to Hong Kong. :)

    Em - the Pigeon's sweet hopeful ears do slay me.

    Christina - what a very kind compliment. Am blushing.

    Siobhan - love the boyfriend and the cup of tea joke. And so pleased that the blog cheers you up. :)

    Catherine - I am always particularly pleased to hear from readers far away from these shores. I still find it a kind of miracle that what I write here in Scotland is read three thousand miles away. And dreich is one of my favourite words too. (For full effect, it must be pronounced in a Scottish accent.)


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