The decorations are down, and in their place, as much hopefulness as I can muster at the moment. Narcissi and paper white bulbs indoors. Outside, there are muscari and iris reticulata poking their little green noses through the soil in my many tubs and containers.
The news here is pretty grim. Covid cases, and deaths, are rocketing upwards and we’re back in a national lockdown. I walk through the streets of my town on my daily exercise allowance, and it is almost deserted. Shops are shuttered and people are mostly muzzled in their masks. Yesterday I walked five miles across the fields and met only one dog walker, a very chatty Irish man with a freckled cocker spaniel. Apart from that one person, the countryside was silent, apart from the occasional sound of sparrows chattering in the hedgerows. I could see splashes of red rose hips in stark hedges, and blue-black clusters of plump sloes on bare branches.
I have a daily routine. I get up at my usual time, I work on my computer on my regular commissions, and I break to take a Zoom Pilates class, or to go for a walk or a run. I’m taking three or four classes a week now, I like the repetition and the long, deep breathing and the pleasure of doing an exercise well. In the evenings, I like to paint with oils or watercolours, cook, or read in front of the fire. Sometimes I watch TV or a movie, or I might Zoom with a friend or WhatsApp with my family. I am craving company, friends, travel, markets, live music, bustle, galleries, antique fairs, train travel, colour and the unpredictable. I even miss driving, and I don’t even like driving. I won’t be the only one to be wishing for these kinds of things to return, and I’m not complaining about it. I don’t work on the frontline, I’m not struggling to home educate young children, and I am lucky to have a comfortable, warm house.
Oil painting sketches on cardboard. The beautiful print is by artist Clare Curtis.
I am considering repainting some of the furniture, and I was possibly going to embark on a project to expose some of the brickwork in our kitchen. Smashing off the plaster might be therapeutic, but our builder has just been in touch to say that he should be able to start our kitchen extension in February. It might be best to hold on for the experts. It’s been a year since we had our plans drawn up, and it’s not easy for builders at the moment, but it has seemed like a very long wait. It’ll be three years since we moved to our house in June and we’ve had a lot of false starts.
Deserted streets in our Georgian town
In the meantime, I have decided to work on a new writing project, details of which I will post here if and when I get it off the ground. I’ll also be posting up some recipes and planting ideas in the coming days and weeks.
For now, best wishes for this unknowable New Year and thank you for visiting.