Tuesday, 28 June 2011

In which the sun does, literally, shine

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

So, today, after all that, there was sun. I looked at it and laughed. The trees and the grass and the moss and the lichen looked green as green. The light danced over them as if in celebration. Stop it, I thought, you didn’t have to take me literally.

The missing is still there. It’s just it’s much easier in the sunshine. I can smile and miss at the same time. Today, on the morning walk, through all the gloriousness, I thought of the Duchess and wished she were there with us. I think that is the stage that comes now. There is shock, great sadness, even a bit of despair, an odd sort of exhilaration in the face of mortality, which takes the form of: this is Life, it must be Lived, I must talk about the Big Subjects, and LOOK AT THE TREES LOOK AT THE TREES. There is a scrambling about to remember what is important; there is a return to first principles. Then that passes; the unreality passes; and something else comes, which is the missing. I miss my dog; I miss my dad. That is how it is with me now.

I’m learning to carry it with me. The sun felt like a blessing on that resolution.

So I went in, ate my breakfast, made a ridiculously strong pot of coffee, put on some Brahms, and did 1476 words of book.

Then my friend M rang up and said could she bring the great-nephew and nieces for tea. So I made a tea party. I put a blanket on the lawn, and all my special French cushions, and made some lemonade with mint, and found some jammy biscuits in the cupboard, and arranged it all, and felt quite overcome at my own domestic godessy-ness.

Those of you who read your Nancy Mitford will remember the younger Radletts, who always cheered Fanny up by arriving in her little house in Oxford and emitting shrieks. Oh Fan, they would exclaim, not Fuller’s cake. My Smalls are very small indeed, and they are not quite yet at the stage of exclaiming, but they bring the spirit of the Radletts with them. They loved the lemonade, they wanted more biscuits, they ate everything in sight, with beatific smiles on their faces. They did running races and threw the ball for the Pigeon, who loves nothing more than tiny visitors.

There was a particularly touching moment when she noticed that the smallest of the three had not yet had a go. He is very tiny indeed, not quite two, and so she carried the ball over to his feet with great gentleness and deposited it for him, nudging it towards him with a Go on, you can do it expression on her face. He has not quite got the hang of throwing, but is more of a dropping man, and she very politely pretended not to mind, but picked the ball up and gave it to him again for another go. He was quite enchanted by this new game. It’s impossible to feel sad when you see something like that.

In my grief manual, I shall say: Have small people to tea. Go slowly, and grow things in the earth, and get your youngest relations round, because that’s how life goes on.


Now for photographs:

Getting ready for our party:

28 June 1-3

28 June 3-3

The guests:

28 June 12-3


28 June 2-3

Pigeon’s face after the ball-throwing:

28 June 4-4

And the lovely flowers in the sun:

28 June 4-3

28 June 5-3

28 June 6-3

28 June 7-3

28 June 8-3

28 June 9-3

28 June 10-3

28 June 11-3

The hill:

28 June 14-3


  1. How sweet! Pigeon and the baby (anyone who says animals don't "get" it doesn't "get" animals...)!
    The Tea Party was a great idea!

    XX Pat

  2. Oh, how wonderful. The photos of Small People are glorious (all in a row); and the Pigeon story with the ball made me well up. They know.

    Thank you for sharing a happy time.

  3. What a wonderful day. Such a gorgeous pic of the three littlies. And, of course, the darling Pigeon x

  4. Truth and honesty from very small children and dogs...count on it. Not to mention what a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

    They say without misfortune we'd be unable to appreciate the truly good and grand. I'd be willing to give it a go...the appreciating without the bad stuff...but deep inside I think the ubiquitous "they" must be right.

  5. Such lovely comments; thank you. Can't tell you how delightful it is to put up a tiny domestic post and see the regular readers come and appreciate. It feels like having a big virtual family, out there in the ether. :)

  6. How nice for you and the Pigeon. The sun did come, literally AND figuratively! Ease follows hardship... Love the story and the pics of the Smalls.

  7. Your guests are heavenly and I can see why they made the day so bright. xv

  8. Lovely to see Pigeon smile... and I am glad YOU had a lovely day x

  9. Brought tears to my eyes, the bit about the Pigeon bringing her ball to the smallest person. Lovely.

  10. I love the photo of the Pigeon! She looks like she is laughing heartily.

  11. Can we come for tea, please ? I adore Scotland and my three are ON MY CASE for a dog, they look at your heavenly photos of Pigeon with longing....I personally am wowed by the al fresco set up. Grief manual a great idea xx

  12. I may have squealed slightly at the Pigeon-small-person part. It sounds like you had a lovely tea party.

    I think we in Scotland should enjoy the sunshine whenever it graces us with its presence because it is entirely possible that This Is It - that's alll, there isn't any more sunshine avaliable; we've had our quota for this year...

    And so I'm going to go and pick some more flowers from the garden...

  13. Such very kind comments; thank you. So glad you enjoyed the tea party. :)

  14. Lovely pics. I want to come to tea. I'd bring Fuller's if I could find it.

  15. The story about the Pigeon and the wee man was wonferful. Thank you for sharing.


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