I haven’t written in a long while, I haven’t really wanted to I suppose, and there hasn’t been a lot of time.
There have been many bakes in this interlude including a three tier graduation cake and cupcakes that looked like ice cream sundaes. There was tiffin that ended up in Amsterdam, a chocolate and lemon Rose Garden, a cake that looked exactly like Fencing Housemate’s published novel and a strawberry cheesecake with homemade strawberry jam.
There was even a crumble that I specifically meant to write about because the rhubarb was given to me by one of my favourite members…I have decided, very originally to call him Rhubarb Member.
There have been birthdays and weddings, I’ve moved house, left University and worked the Aegon tournament. I have graduated and can talk to you for hours about what ‘I would like to do now…’ but that doesn’t mean I actually believe what I’m saying.
Right now I’m sitting in the garden of my new house. It’s open, light, quiet and warm and it’s 5.30am. There’s a magpie nearby but its character differs greatly from that of the poltergeist magpie at #78. Where he would be stealing tea bags, making the air cold outside the front door, and creating noises that woke Director Housemate and I with shiver…this one appears to be quite amiable.
The light is blurred across the garden, as if bleary eyed. Every twinkle through the trees is a blink, the sun trying to shake star shaped pieces of sleep from its eyes. It creates a glowing haze around the flowers as the dew glistens and reflects the rays, leaving the petals resembling little crystals of many colours. The trunk of the Beech looked particularly inviting to lean against as the dappled light played through the soft purple leaves but to access it I have had to tip toe across a bed of beechnuts. Some are tightly closed and stuck to the bottom of my feet with their soft burs. Others are half open and they offered a sharp mattress to my toes while the tiny kernels crunched under foot. The only sound as I wriggle into a Millie-sized space in the roots and nestle my back into the bark, is the nuts as they drop softly to the moss.
I often creep out of houses to read in the early morning. The best place for it is the farm where my Nan Nan and Grandad live. When there I have to sneak particularly quietly from the room I share with my sisters and pad down the stairs. From there, I could easily open the garden door, walk to the field gate, across to the abandoned brick barn and climb the steps to the hayloft – my favourite perch.
This however is to easy for an early morning adventure.
The best route requires a different plan of action. From the stairs I glide through the kitchen, out of the back door, around the side of the house and scamper up the rockery. Over the gin-clear water of the newt pond that I will undoubtedly have spent the previous day cleaning I leap, then up and over the goldfish pond and onto the wall. From there it’s an easy walk to the silver birch which requires a little acrobatics to navigate now that the branches are too old to swing from. Hanging from the trellis that leads the pear trees over the bricks I weave on the top of the wall to the yard gate. Here I can jump across the five barred gate if I only have a book in one hand to beat away the barbed wire, but with a cup of tea I am forced to lower myself to the bars and shimmy across the tractor path (I hope you understand that I can never touch the ground…that would break the spell). Here there are no further obstacles but I have to pay attention to my balance as I walk for a few metres along the field wall to the hay loft, scrabbling onto the concrete and leaning against the broken wooden door just in time to see the sun hit the top of the house. The vegetable garden is reflected in the windows of the summer house as the swallows drink from the rain water in the barrel beneath the potting shed and the cows wake at my feet. From here I have a good hour or so with my book in peace before my sisters wake to find me missing and scurry to join me on my perch. Then the day’s play really begins, but for this moment I am alone.
And here, this morning, I am alone. The house sleeps and the dew glistens. The tree drops it’s precious seeds, and the bees lurch like sleepy students, still drunk after a night out, from clover to clover as if from coffee to coffee until they build up the energy to fly to the flowers. It suddenly dawns on me that the open cupules of the beechnuts are sun hats for fairies and I have to text my mum to tell her. She agrees.
Then it’s all gone. The sun has topped the trees, woken up to the world and is shining clear and bright on the lawn with all the promise of a hot day. The garden is still beautiful, but it’s no longer magical. My book no longer holds quite the same appeal as I hear the world around me waking, the two of us are no longer completely removed from reality. My mind then turns to cakes and to the birthday of my Rhubarb Member last week. He reached a fabulous age that simple had to be celebrated with a splendid garden party. Sunshine, champagne, friends, canapés and 150 cupcakes made for a brilliant day and I’m so glad I could help the Hostess with the Mostess put on such a perfect party. There would be little point in my posting a recipe for cupcakes, there are far too many already out there, but I can share the designs with you and hope that you like their simple, garden-inspired magic.