Monday, 19 December 2011


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Funny old sort of day. Kim Jong-Il died, which meant almost nothing to me, it felt so remote and unreal. It’s all over Twitter; the papers are full of it. But it just means one ghastly dictator will be succeeded by another and the poor people of North Korea are still for the dark.

Then I heard Vaclav Havel had also died, and I felt desperately sad about that. The Velvet Revolution was one of the seminal moments of my young life. Oddly, it touched me much, much more than the actual fact of the Berlin Wall coming down.

The wall was all jubilation and smashing up the hated concrete; it was like a rave or a street party. Of course it was a defining moment, perhaps one of the great defining moments of the entire century, but it did not reach my heart in quite the same way that the sight of those wonderful silent crowds filling Wenceslas Square did. It was the quietness; it was the candles; there was a great, singing beauty to it.

I remember, very vividly, going out to vote in the next general election. I thought of two things as I put my cross in the box: I thought of the Velvet Revolution and the Suffragettes. What can I tell you? I was a young romantic and I believed that revolutions could be won.

Then, I contemplated domestic things. I have many, many To Do Lists. I have not done any of the things on the list. I thought, vaguely, of going to the Post Office. I decided, vaguely, against. I have to collect the eucalyptus and the ham. There are the presents for the ten godchildren. (I did wonder if I should just inform them all that I have sent goats to Africa on their behalf, but they really would sack me. Actually, I am a terrible godmother where presents are concerned, because mostly I insist on sending them Improving Books, when they would probably much rather have computer games or ready cash.)

Bugger it, I thought. I am not one of the Organised People, and never shall be. My life is not something out of a magazine; it shall never be that neat and shiny. There shall probably always be the last minute Christmas scramble. Just because it is a certain date in December, it does not mean that I suddenly have to come over all perfect. I think my present to myself is to give myself permission to be a little bit hopeless round the edges. That feels about right.

And now, I am going to make some special green soup for strength.


And now for your pictures. It was a low, still sort of day, with an imminent threat of snow, which never, in the end, came. Yet even on a dour sort of day, the colours sang their song.

The beech avenue:

19 Dec 1 19-12-2011 11-57-35

Off went The Pigeon, head down, no messing:

19 Dec 2 19-12-2011 11-57-42

The glorious trunks:

19 Dec 3 19-12-2011 11-58-21

The green and the scarlet:

19 Dec 4 19-12-2011 11-59-26

More trunks:

19 Dec 5 19-12-2011 12-00-40

Looking south to the wooded hills:

19 Dec 6 19-12-2011 12-03-45

19 Dec 8 19-12-2011 12-03-50

The last of the courageous green leaves:

19 Dec 9 19-12-2011 12-07-40

And the final rosehip:

19 Dec 10 19-12-2011 12-07-53

These old leaves are as bright as robin redbreasts:

19 Dec 11 19-12-2011 12-08-50

Whilst these, a little further along, are the delicate colour of Rich Tea biscuits:

19 Dec 11 19-12-2011 12-09-06

One of the apple trees has suddenly, madly, put out little blossoms:

19 Dec 12 19-12-2011 12-09-49

19 Dec 13 19-12-2011 12-10-13

And here is a most delightful ball of box:

19 Dec 14 19-12-2011 12-10-26

And talking of delightful, just look at this Pigeon, sitting up to attention:

19 Dec 19 19-12-2011 12-14-31.ORF

And giving me the enduring gaze:

19 Dec 20 19-12-2011 11-58-58

And a rather cloudy hill:

19 Dec 23 19-12-2011 12-12-34

I'm sorry; I suddenly realise this was slightly desultory. I shall get more into the Christmas spirit. I shall, I shall. It may just take a bit of strong liquor.


  1. Tania: I am presently VERY hopeless around the edges. I am wussing (is there such a word?) my way through an eccentric mixture of Festive Stuff, Work Stuff and Domestic Stuff, and as a result doing a pretty bad job of them all.

    And I am meant to be a Professionally Organised Person. But then, I'm better at doing it for and with other people than for myself.

    It's about time I gave myself that permission, too, rather than getting stressed about it. Thank you.

    Beautiful Pigeon and beech avenue, as always, by the way.

  2. Your walk looks lovely. I have attempted to show the photos to my lab but she keeps squinting at the computer.

    Might needs glasses.

    And her own walk.

  3. Not desultory: calm and thoughtful. And, frankly, what we all need. That acknowledgement that lists can be made, but we don't need to do EVERYTHING on those lists. Sometimes the important thing is to cross things off the list without having done them, or to put them on to other lists.

    Also, the beauty of your photos is just the tonic that these pre-Christmas troops need.

  4. I was touched that you should mention Vaclav Havel today in your post, as well as by your meaningful reflection about loss, on your other site.
    The two things come together for me, as my mother was born and lived until she was sixteen, in 1948, in Brno. Her family left Czechoslovakia with the advent of Communism.
    I was therefore brought up in Italy by a mother that sang Czech nursery rhymes to me and a gradmother who always spoke Italian quite badly (as a child I was quite embarassed by it) but was so loving and affectionate, and could cook some wonderfully eggy apricot and cherry cakes sprinkled with vanilla infused icing sugar. Heaven!
    On hearing of the death of Havlev, such a gentlement and a reluctant leader, I was particularly touched and became at once ravenous for anything Czech that was coming out of the media.

    As Christmas approaches I feel the loss of my mother more than at any other time of the year. Christmas Eve was always the Big Event chez nous, taking off around the big candle lit tree. Nobody else in the world appreciated my present wrapping skills like she did. It was very much a case of Look at me, Mamma, no hands.
    I still take ages over my wrapping, by the way, and I am still showing off to her.

    As I was looking at that dashing picture of your father today, it occured to me that in death we don't have to share our parents, with anyone else, anymore. They can now be ours infinitely and exclusively, in a way that perhaps in life they never quite were.

    Cristina :)

  5. Ten godchildren - thats rather a lot. With just one I am still wondering what to do. He has informed us that its only cash now!!!! (at eight).
    Thank you for the photographs - that one of the avenue with the dog walking along is particularly lovely.
    Friends come from Finland - off to see them before they go on tour. Me still trying to get to grips with everything. With all the chocolates available in Australia my children want me to bring the local chocolates from here!!!

  6. what lovely photography! i enjoyed reading also your thoughtful comments. vaclav havel's passing is profoundly sad, and the korean president's is meaningless to me. thanks for posting.

    readers who may be interested in learning how phone sex operators are celebrating the holidays are also welcome here.

  7. I have already ground to a halt, way too soon since there are still presents to be bought as well as those already purchased to be wrapped, the tree has only lights on it (and I've just noticed one strand -- the longest, of course -- has burned out), the house is a tip (recent works still in progress have left a fine plaster dust over everything...) and, and, and...

    Thank you for those painterly, piercingly beautiful photos of your beech avenue (and the very alert Pigeon).

    PS I thought Jen17 was joking BUT it really is an advert for phone sex! (Some people will click on I just did!)

  8. This was one of my favorite posts of all time. I could eat those photos for dessert.


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