When you start to blog, you are advised to write regularly and reliably. So you undertake to write daily or weekly etc and you produce the articles as promised. It is by no means easy to maintain this.

You want to write meaningful, thought-provoking, topical blogs. You hope your writing is stylish and well crafted and you variously want your blogs to be witty, amusing, moving, provocative. Some lucky months you may be ahead by 5 or 6 written blogs, and all you have to do as the publication deadline approaches is select the one of your choice. But at other times you get bored with yourself and you find the deadline looming and you have nothing to say.

No political issue of the day engages your heart. (For example, I’m going to vote to remain in the EU, but I couldn’t say I felt passionately about it. I just think it’s probably better and besides you’re guessing in the dark for there’s precious few facts and what is touted you neither trust nor believe.) Nothing in the least funny has happened in the previous week. You can’t seem to dredge up any memory you can describe or expand upon. You don’t feel up to the mental effort of conjuring an entertaining piece from a start of: it rained the entire week and absolutely nothing happened except that I attempted a new recipe for casseroled chicken which wasn’t a success.

You wonder if you’re all written out and should retire from the field.

But the next week you observe some oddity that amuses you; or someone riles you; or something touches you, and, as they say, Bob’s your uncle.

When it flows easily, it’s fun. Yet some of your best pieces are produced from the tightest corners.



Spring has arrived.

It comes in so hesitantly, quietly, unobtrusively at first, but its onset gradually speeds up so that finally it comes racing down in a headlong gallop.

The signs are unmistakeable now. All of a sudden your winter clothes seem heavy and uncomfortable. You notice that the lawn, which has been a patch of indifferent mud of late, has turned fresh and green, apparently overnight. Already snowdrops, crocus and daffodils have raced by, and we are now seeing tulips. There are creamy lemon ones, and rich orange-yellow ones, in the tubs at our front door. The magnolias in the parks, especially the pink early Campbelli, are opening their huge, unbelievable flowers. The buds on the lilac, cherry, apple and wisteria, are growing fatter every day.

There is now a dawn chorus. It begins, when it is still dark, with some unknown bird’s piping call and gradually swells into full orchestra. Eventually a blackbird takes up his beautiful song just beside my open window, and it is so lovely it seems every other bird falls silent to listen, and so he closes the day’s performance.

We have survived the winter.



On Wednesday, Joanna and I drive to London to visit Elisabeth and Robert and their new son, William. We find the newly formed family in good order. William’s other grandmother, also Anne but to be known to him as Nana, is in residence and it is lovely to see her. In his Nana’s arms, William looks quite like her. He is wearing a blue striped baby-grow I provided, and a very fine lacy cream jacket knitted by Nana ( my daughter has been well brought up!! )

Holding him on my knee, I can see changes in him over the week. His jaundice has disappeared and his skin would be the envy of any cosmetic house’s model. I can feel that he is heavier and indeed he devours his food with noisy gusto. And his eyes, which were baby blue last week, are so dark this week I wonder if they will be brown or green. He still has large hands and feet and his grip is powerful. Last week, when he looked at me bending over, he just saw ‘a face’. This week, what he saw was ‘a face that is not my mother’s.’ When Elisabeth speaks, he turns his head in the direction of her voice. He is her son and she is his mother.

I was amused to hear that she had flung the ‘breast-feeding app’ out and decided ‘just to get on with it’. William seems to be managing his end of things quite competently without the benefit of ‘Baby’s app on how to have adequate nutrition from only one woman’.

He is as yet largely an untold story. Will he appear calm like his father, or will he have fearful  rumplestiltskins  like his mother, or even rarer episodes of nuclear winter rages like his grandmother? He appears fairly calm at the moment, so only time will tell.

We eat a delicious lunch cooked by Nana. William falls asleep and his parents and grandmother look as if they could just sink into a wonderful nap, so we take our leave of them. When I say Good-bye to the boy, by coincidence he raises his hand, as if in a gesture of farewell.

Angels and ministers of grace defend him!