I am sitting at my laptop with a cup of coffee, looking out at the hens pecking around in the yard. I could watch hens for hours; the way they squabble and quibble and dash around, like matronly schoolmarms gathering up their skirts to get after a particularly disobedient child. It has been raining and the cobbles are dark and wet but the sun is shining brightly through the clouds and I think it will probably be a pretty day after-all. The window I look out of is framed by flowering rosemary and a few tendrils of clematis and there is a dense carpet of primroses beneath it. In a couple of hours I will drive into London but I woke up at 5am and had too many thoughts racing around in my head to go back to sleep. In any case, the early morning quiet, besides the occasional intrusion of the cockerel, gives me a precious few hours to get some admin out of the way.
April got off to an expedient start with a week in the city, a luxurious period of time to spend brainstorming and drinking endless cups of coffee at the Ace in the mornings and visiting a few museums and galleries in the afternoons and eating in a different restaurant every night. It reminded me that there is still so much to discover right under my nose, that a plane ride isn’t necessarily required to feel worlds away from one’s usual world.
My new favourite place to munch is the Pitt Cue on Newburgh Street. I shan’t try to review it here because suffice to say it is worth the wait (and I am the most impatient woman you can possibly imagine) and I’d have to pen a poem, the food is so divine.
It’s the kind of den you go back to the next night, and eat exactly the same thing.
Which we did.
And then there was Homeslice. And Hoi Polloi. And Pizza East. And Prufrock Coffee on Leather Lane. Thank goodness we walked ten miles a day or I would have driven home the size of a small house. In fact, we walked so much I had to buy a pair of Birkenstocks, which I once swore I would never do (back in the days of spindly heels and taxis). Birkenstocks, the ugliest, most orthopaedic of shoes. But after power-walking from the far east to far west of our capital, I can shamelessly say that cashmere socks and a pair of Birks is just the ticket.
We walked through many capricious spring squalls, the streets nevertheless showing signs of advancing toward warmer weather; in every lane and square and park there are little eruptions of coloured blossoms - the most intricate Spiraea, the jolting sour-pink of Japanese quince and the plump and queenly Camellia; under every cherry tree a pool of upturned admirers (my mother calls them the homesick Japanese) cooing and clicking, myself included. With weather so erratic, a dappled lane one minute could become a howling wind-tunnel the next and every way the skittish wind blew came a snowstorm of petals like a flurry of confetti.
This week we have turned over a fair quantity of flowers in the workshop on various projects, including a bountiful Dutch Masters arrangement for a photo-shoot, involving an excessive quantity of corpulent roses, sweeping Fritillaria and complete with Canadian lobster and a sprinkling of quail’s eggs. It was a hot day, that day - 22 degrees in the sun, and I’m sure when I’ve popped to the shops or out to get coffee in the same sweatshirt since, people have thought as I've passed them - funny smell of lobster!
It is glorious to be elbow-deep in flowers again. I am never more content than when I am midway through an arrangement, and the light is right, and some crappy radio show is on in the background, and I am surrounded by the most delectable detritus imaginable. A couple of days ago we drove home from the market in t-shirts, with a truck-load of ornamental branches and mouthwatering sweetpeas in the back, and it was one of those mornings where you know the sun will burn through the mist and eventually leave you with one of those golden evenings that is the optimal climate for taking photographs, where the shadows fall just so.
After what feels like the longest of all winters, spring has finally sprung.
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