Saturday, 3 September 2011

Lovely day

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

It’s a lovely day. The sun shines. For the first time since June, I go out for a walk whilst wearing only a shirt. I have not done this for weeks. Lately it’s been the green velvet coat and a swathe of some kind of ancient cashmere shawl. (I bought a job lot from India during my ill-fated venture into retail a few years ago. At the time, I felt idiotic that they did not sell, but now I have lovely items to keep me warm, hand-woven and embroidered in the Punjab.)

The Pigeon and I run into the Younger Niece. She is zooming about, learning to drive. She dutifully admires The Pidge, because that is what everyone must do.

‘Do you remember the time she won the Dog Olympics?’ I say.

We laugh and laugh. The Dog Olympics was a very serious competition put on by the Younger Niece and her friend C, with many different track and field events. I seem to remember there was some kind of cross country thing involving swimming in the burn, but I might be imagining it. Anyway, The Pigeon won everything, most especially anything to do with jumping, so that the Niece had to start giving the other dogs consolation prizes so they would not get upset.

I go and lie on a blue blanket in the sun to do my work. One of the lovely things about being a writer is that sometimes you can do your work in the sun. In order to understand where the insane desire for beauty (current subject of current book) is rooted, I am currently reading about the wider culture. I have discovered a staggeringly good book by a man called Michael Foley. It is a book so brilliant that I keep smiling as I read it, even though it is for my work, even though his conclusions are rather demoralising. (He thinks we live in an infantile culture, forever chasing possibility. He yearns for the Stoics. As do I.)

I read, and The Pigeon basks in the heat, her eyes half-closed, her head raised to the light.

It’s funny how things happen. On Monday, I think, or Tuesday, I wrote about stumbling upon a programme on Radio Four about a haunting piece of music by an Estonian composer, and how it made me cry for my dad. Just now, I paused in my reading, suddenly inspired, and came in and wrote, quite unexpectedly, 1121 words. I was thirsty after all that writing, so I went into the kitchen. The radio was on, as it so often is. And there was the exact programme again. It was the Saturday repeat, which they do with some shows.

The music was even more beautiful than I remembered. Because it was a good day, I stood and listened to it, smiling. I’m not going to cry this time, I thought. Then I did, just a very little. But the odd and wonderful thing is that this piece of music, of which I had not even heard until four days ago, will now, always and forever, make me think of my father.

Even more oddly, I then went to look for it on YouTube, so I could give you a link. The version I chanced on is here. It is accompanied by some very beautiful photographs, arranged in a slideshow. The more I looked at the pictures, the more I wanted to know where they were taken, and by whom. I thought some had the look of Ireland or Scotland; some possibly Scandinavian. It was quite hard to tell. I went back to the beginning and found the name Nicolas Valentin. Perhaps he is an Estonian too, I thought, and that is why he has put his photographs up against this piece.

I did a quick google. Nicolas Valentin, it turns out, lives in Glasgow and runs a fishing tackle shop. But what he loves most in the world is photographing Scotland. He is a Scot. He is one of mine. I could hardly believe it. Now, on top of this delirious piece of music, I have lots of glorious pictures of Scotland to look at. I think this man is properly talented. You can have a look and see what you think here.

So, that was a whole lot of serendipity. Jung always believed in the connectedness of things; he called it by many names, but the one I like is synchronicity. He believed that when your heart was open, then these random but related events would come along. He thought it could be seen as a sort of spiritual awakening. There’s also a whole lot of other stuff about the collective unconscious and even a possible Unified Theory. But really, what he thought was that these synchronicities were Good Things. I have always loved them. One can give them as much meaning as one wants, but in one way they are just small human pleasures, little coincidences that make you smile. I am all about the small human pleasures at the moment.

At the moment, I think that may be the most important thing there is.


Pictures of our walk:

Off goes The Pigeon, wagging her waggly tail:

3 Sept 1

Past the blue wooded hills:

3 Sept 2

3 Sept 3

Over the bridge:

3 Sept 4

By the Wellingtonia:

3 Sept 6

We pause to admire the elegant wild grasses:

3 Sept 6-1

And the mossy wall:

3 Sept 8

And the newly fallen branch which looks like a snake or a seahorse:

3 Sept 9

Another glimpse of the hills, from between two old oak trees:

3 Sept 10

My three favourite beeches:

3 Sept 11

And the sheep, with a bit more hill in the far distance:

3 Sept 12

The thin cirrus clouds in the sky:

3 Sept 13.ORF

Back to the sheep:

3 Sept 14

3 Sept 15

The youngest of the new beeches:

3 Sept 16

The limes:

3 Sept 17

I throw a stick for The Pigeon, which makes her very, very happy:

3 Sept 17-1

3 Sept 18

Then we go back to the garden to see the honeysuckle:

3 Sept 19

3 Sept 20

And the salvia:

3 Sept 21

The Pidge, tired from her exertions, has a bit of a lie-down:

3 Sept 22

Whilst I admire the hydrangeas:

3 Sept 23

3 Sept 24

3 Sept 25

And there, at last, is the dear old hill, as seen from my front door:

3 Sept 25-1

Have a very happy Saturday.


Oh, by the way: the composer of that piece is called Arvo Part (tremendous name) and it is called Spiegel Im Spiegel, which I think means mirror to mirror. You can listen to the programme on the iPlayer here. I warn you though, the first ten minutes, with the Irish mother, will break your heart.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this piece of music - it's beautiful, I'm on my second listen now and I've bookmarked it.
    They're some lovely photos, I genuinely think Scotland is one of, if not the, most beautiful countries in the world. You're very lucky to live there!


  2. Tania

    This piece of music makes me think of my Dad too, and I cry every time I hear it. My Dad is a typically unemotional Scotsman, but he heard this piece of music and loved it. He played it for me in the car when we he picked me up from Glasgow airport in a swirling snowstorm. It was the day my nephew was born and it seemed like a momentous day. I downloaded it for my iPod and every time it comes up unexpectedly on shuffle I cry again. My Dad had a heart attack earlier this year and although on the mend, it's such a shock to think of his mortality. I know you've been through an awful time with the loss of both your Dad and your dog in quick succession, so I can believe that this piece of music really touches you. So glad that your days are brightening a little. Fiona

  3. I'm so glad you had a fine day. You deserve it.

    I, too, adore the Arvo Part piece; utterly evocative. There are many pieces that can move me to tears (depending on circumstances): the Mahler 5 (Death in Venice) being one of the most powerful; Erik Satie's Gymnopedie; and my most unusual favourite is a relatively unknown piece by Ernest Chausson (the Poeme). I found an assortment of YouTube recordings (and it's a long piece): this is part 2 of the piece, played by a very young Yehudi Menuhin. The dying phrases at the very end are extraordinary.

  4. I heard the same programme earlier in the week, although I missed the beginning! I'm going to listen on the iPlayer on Monday and follow your links. Thank you.
    And what a happy dog, she is really delightful, I skip through your other (beautiful) photos but always pause when I see her lovely doggy face!

  5. Thank you for sharing this heart rendingly beautiful music Tania. Everytime I hear it I will think of you and the lovely lovely Pidge on a good day, in the sunshine, enjoying your walk.

  6. Thank you for including a link to this piece of music. The other day I was wondering, curiously, what sort of music would have so affected you---what it could have said about your father.

    Now I'm trying to fit the man to the music, and it speaks volumes. The other day, wanting to know more about his racing career, I scanned through a bit of info (as an American, I wasn't too well versed). One item was the obit in the Telegraph. What a fabulous, one-of-a-kind character he must have been! Then there was something in the Racing Post, including a comment or two that was utterly unique, not the usual sort of platitudes said after someone has passed away . . . and then there were the reader responses, every one a tribute, mostly from people who, I'm sure, he'd never met. It is hard to escape the conclusion that he must have been somewhat incandescent.


  7. Ohhh, how beautiful...the music, the photography, the quotes. Thank you for finding this and sharing it. Here's to serendipity! (I haven't felt up to hearing the Irish mother yet). As always, I love the peacefulness of your photos. My favorites today: the mossy wall, the hills between the oak trees, the beeches. The quality of light is exquisite. And keep the sheep coming!

  8. Oh, Arvo Part...I was wondering which piece of music you wrote about earlier. Are you familiar with Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten? Here it is among some other lovely pieces - they are labelled 'sad' but I prefer melancholy
    I love the grinning Pidgeon - Olympian to the bone :-)

  9. When you mentioned an Estonian composer, I guessed it might have been Arvo Part. Hauntingly beautiful stuff and Spiegel im Spiegel is my absolute favourite.

    Sometimes you need music to cry to, and this piece is certainly that. x

  10. Oh, and I just love your part of the world. It's so very beautiful.

  11. It is a perfectly lovely piece of music. Have you ever listened to Sigur Ros?
    They're Icelandic, and wonderful. Their film 'Heima' will absolutely make you weep.


Your comments give me great delight, so please do leave one.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin