Isn’t June a lovely time of year? It’s true that we generally are awakened by young jackdaws squabbling noisily in our back garden at about 5 am, but the times are so lovely you don’t really mind. The sun is high in the sky and everything seems to be stretching heavenwards.

In the garden there’s fragrant honeysuckle and the heady philadelphus. The roses are all beauty and scent. The lawn is green and tender (and at the stage of will-you-credit-how-fast-that-grass-grows.)Lupins stand tall in the border. There’s a whole stand of foxgloves under a tree. The air is full of birdsong.

The first little family of newly fledged blue tits came en masse to the feeders this morning. They were all tweeting excitedly and had to be shown what to do by their parents. We have starlings, blackbirds (who eat our gooseberries), thrushes, great tits, sparrows, jackdaws, crows, and magpies.

The garden is full of activity and life.

I lie on the swing in the shade and just let everything slip quietly by. June will be gone for another year before we even know it.




It is now over three months since we returned from visiting Elisabeth and Rob in Japan and I think I’m finally coming to the end of my reflections, which like those in a pool of water, ripple across my mind for a long time.

Japan is a culturally different, beautiful country of great contrasts, and anyone who has the opportunity to visit should seize it with both hands.

When we visited Japan in March 1997, we travelled in the company of John’s eldest daughter of his first marriage, Kerri.    As we walked round a garden in Kyoto, we were ‘adopted’ by an old man, a former headmaster, now retired.    He still retained a somewhat didactic style, and turned to me and enquired: “And what do you think of the atmosphere in this garden?”    Er, what? I thought.    Does he mean, green?   Damp?    Then inspiration came.    “It is very tranquil.”    He listened carefully, then nodded in approval.   So, all the way round he asked us questions.    He also obtained for us, by vigorous discussion with officials which we could not follow, access to forbidden areas, special views, VIP sections and so on.    His English was very good, and he also talked with Kerri in Japanese.    Finally, when we took our leave of him, (John presenting him with his business card, two hands, small bow, and inviting him to visit us should he ever come to England) he turned to me and said, “One last question, madam.   What is the most impressive thing you have seen in Japan?”     But I had my answer ready.    “The most impressive thing I have seen in Japan is the beautiful Mount Fuji.”     His face lit up.    “Ah, Fuji-san.”     Then he gave me a small, valedictory nod.    “It is a good answer.”

Fuji, which rises out of a plain in an almost symmetrical cone is a most beautiful, mysterious mountain.    You can go out looking for it all day – it’s huge, and you know it’s right there in front of you – but it can remain utterly absent.    Then, disappointed, you walk away, but you drop your glove and turning round to retrieve it, there’s Fuji in all his majesty, in full and glorious view, as though he had been teasing you on his game of hide and seek but had suddenly relented.    Yet on a clear day, you can see Fuji from Tokyo.   Whenever you do see Fuji you feel blessed and privileged, and experience an uprising of the heart.

The lovely photographs of Japan in my blogs have all been courtesy of John, and above is his photograph of Fuji taken from the  shinkansen, and below by Rob  of a boat on a canal in Kurashiki.


It is always a pleasure to visit the land of the rising sun.