Month: May 2022

Pleasure of the Week 10: My Garden

I went to the Chelsea Flower Show this week so, in a way, that was my pleasure but it will have to wait till next week because this week my garden is my principle pleasure. It’s very small, and scruffy and has too many plants and far too many mis-matched pots but there are moments when it looks perfect. In fact there are nearly always parts of it that look perfect, even in the depths of winter, but you sometimes have to hunt for them. At this time of year all of it suddenly looks lovely.

Perhaps most importantly the roses have started. I have an elderly pink rose in the front garden which looks its best in May. I have no idea what it is but it smells lovely and flowers on and off from now until Christmas. One of my regular pleasures when I am working / looking out of the window is to see passers-by stop, smell it and sometimes even take photos. It flowers for over half the year but now is its moment of glory. I also have several David Austen roses, some of which haven’t quite got going yet but I have high hopes for future years. ‘Tess of the d’Urbevilles’ climbs up the side of the front door and is a wonderful rich crimson. ‘Claire Austen’ lives in an unprepossessing shady corner in a shallow bed but copes brilliantly. Her flowers are exactly the same creamy colour as the variegated ivy which forms a hedge behind her. ‘Ferdinand Picard’ is one of my favourites. At the moment it is still small but the plan is that it will soon be the star of the front garden. ‘Tottering by Gently’ is a beautiful pale yellow and has a delicate dog rose quality which I love. Finally, over the summerhouse I have a rose whose name I have long forgotten. It has no scent and the flowers are various mixes of pink and yellow but it is perfect draped over the roof. I would need to be eight ft tall to reach the flowers anyway. It looks spectacular now and then flowers intermittently throughout the summer.


Pleasure of the Week 9: The Contract for a New Book

For the last few years I have, by chance rather than design, edited more books than I have written. My plan was always to keep the two level. Earlier in the year I began compiling Bedside Companion for Food Lovers (my thirteenth anthology) and I have now been commissioned to write Urban Nature Every Day (my thirteenth full book). I am writing it with Sally Hughes and could not be more excited. I have already written three books with her (Berries, Nuts and Cherries & Mulberries, all published by Prospect Books) so we know we work well together. Luckily for this project she knows more about birds, animals and creepy-crawlies than I do, whilst I know more about flowers, trees, weeds and weather. It will involve lots of jolly days out, business meetings in cafes, pubs and restaurants and interesting discoveries.

I have lived in London on and off pretty well all my life (apart for a brief time in Edinburgh) and love it. Some time ago I wrote for a delightful magazine called Lost in London. It celebrated the ‘green within the grey’ and was a beautiful publication which came out about three times a year and culminated in a book in 2013. I loved writing for it and discovered a great many wonderful green places within the city. I can’t wait to visit them again.


Pleasure of the Week 8: Hatchards Authors of the Year Reception

I don’t normally like parties but this one is different. Hatchards is the oldest and, biased I may be, best bookshop in London, opened by John Hatchard two hundred and twenty-five years ago. Every year, since the mid-twentieth century, they have held a party for all the authors who have supported the shop during the previous twelve months. It is a delightful affair with champagne and all the very best authors gathered together to enjoy themselves. There are no publishers, no signings and no customers. I am in the uniquely privileged position of being both staff and author. This year the party was particularly timely as the previous day Sally (with whom I wrote Berries, Nuts and Cherries & Mulberries) and I had signed a contract for a new book. But that will be next week’s pleasure.