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Come Into my garden

St John's Wort, dripping in the Autumn sun

I’ve often wondered whether gardening is in my genes. 

I can remember an old black and white photograph that captured a long, narrow garden stuffed full and overflowing with perennials and annuals. In the foreground was my proud grandfather, who died three years before I was born. I never knew him but I stole his name to pass on to one of the giants. 

Leaves shout out their bawdy beauty

Even as a young child, the image made a strong impression on me. Despite the limitations of colour, I knew that it would have been a spectacular display.

Olives share a pot with a munching vine weevil

Later, as fashions and generations had altered, I watched my father propagating annuals, lifting dandelion clumps from the lawn (with a strange metal tool that looked like a lizard's tongue) and develop a long term relationship with rocks and alpines!
Despite its poisonous sap, the Euphorbia earns its place with its elegant fronds

The autumnal drop in temperature, shortening of daylight hours and curling of vegetation, always sets my inner stopwatch off as the winter closes in. There is much to be done still, in this drowsy garden.

The last of the sweet peas

as others have turned to seed

I love the fact that we have seasons in England; less so, the unpredictability. Just as we start snuggling into voluminous woollens, with steaming bowls of soup or stew, our plots need tucking in for the winter months ahead.

Bay leaves ...

... self seeded tomatoes

 and a cranky fig, introduce a mediterranean vibe

Newly purchased bulbs are hidden, for later appreciation, like squirreled away nuts (I always scrawl details of requirements in the midst of the bulb flowering season, on the calendar month of September). Dead foliage is cut back, while still-living plants are left alone for snoozing invertebrates and other diminutive beasts.

Right now, the leaves continue to change into their autumnal coloured robes. If I’m lucky, I will smell the wafts of wood smoke from freshly lit fires and will be transported back to a childhood garden, in the suburban south east.


I‘ll admit to hating the dark mornings that result in me reluctantly peeling myself out of bed, despite having the luxury of a heated house. So too the dark evenings, journeying home from work and cooking an evening meal when it feels like bedtime, with the dark rain speckled windows being hidden by drawn curtains.
and horseradish loving snails

So, when I ventured into a rain sodden garden this morning, during a break in this October’s deluge, I was thrilled to record these photographs of autumnal garden delights. I hope you've enjoyed them too?

Does Anyone Have It All?

The catalyst for this post was a tweet that popped into my Twitter stream on Friday 12th September 2014, which linked to this brief article.

My first memory of Nicola Horlick was of the mad media frenzy that surrounded her in January 1997. To be honest, my initial reaction was one of embarrassment.

I was stunned that a woman, who had given the male dominated City of London a run for their money, would react in such an emotional manner. Having been unceremoniously (and probably unfairly) suspended from her role in altering the fortunes of a big swig investment management company, she did no less than get the next flight to the head office (in Frankfurt); with baying journalist hounds in her wake.

I remember reading that her husband had been ‘surprised’ by her reaction. 

Thinking that he had a point, it dawned on me (much to my horror) that, if I were her, I would probably have reacted in the same indignant manner.

Over the succeeding decades I admit that, on occasion, my mind has wandered back to this episode. Not least because of the ridiculous 'Superwoman' label that she was daubed with by the media masses.

I couldn’t believe their ignorance; Nicola was no superwoman. 

With the money she was earning, she would be hiring an entourage of help, far beyond any realms of possibility for the ordinary working (or stay at home) mum. I've since discovered that Nicola would agree with my thoughts.

Much more troubling, was the way that she was labelled as ‘having it all’.

Her daughter had leukaemia, how could anyone say that a mother whose daughter was dying had it all? 

However, I felt equally uncomfortable when Nicola divulged that she was having another baby, in the hope of saving her eldest child. 

I wonder if the inability to save caused a burden that proved difficult to live with. 

Not surprisingly, most of the scathing articles that have continued to be written about Nicola over the years, have been by men. Men, who could be described as having a whiff of the misogynist about themselves. 

The articles that I have read … and there are many, have enlightened me. As if holding a  matryoshka doll in my hands, I started unravelling her life since that miserable January day in 1997. 

In a strange way, my research has altered my view of concerned consideration to renewed admiration towards this other working Mum. 

As far as Nicola actually ‘having it all', I would suggest that life has certainly thrown it all at her, some examples of which are:

  • Her beautiful daughter lost her fight with cancer
  • She was pistol whipped during an aborted robbery
  • Divorce followed her husband's admission of adultery
  • The Telegraph ran details of her building nightmare (slow news day that day?)
  • Let alone a rollercoaster ride of a professional career

Reading all of these and more, I was left feeling a little dazed. Nicola seems to have rowed a far more turblent river than I have, over the same period of time.

I was glad to take some comfort that there may still be the possibility of a tale with a happy ending; one that involves her second husband Martin Baker.

Watching this video (a British version of TED talks) made me warm to Nicola further. The image that I have always held is the one at the top of this post. A latter day Virgin Queen, who happened to have a lot of children

My long held view has dissipated and, completing my metamorphosis, I don’t think I could close this post with anything better than something Nicola is reported to have said:  

Happiness isn't all about lots of money and a career; it's about fulfilment in your family.

... and in that sentence alone, I believe she does have it all.

thanks to Martin Baker for the perficpic

Simples? #YeahRight!

I knew that the first rule of blogging was to ensure I grabbed my domain name (or in my case, two, but that’s another story) and that’s what I did; long before I even pressed my first Returnto Work Mother publish button.

It took me over a year of frustration, having to remember the blogspot inclusion in my URL, before I cracked. Why, when I had the domain I wanted, could I not use it? Could I use it? I knew that my web based knowledge wasn't advanced - but neither was it basic.

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