Friday 29 May

And it’s another sunny day! Which means yet more watering. But tell me, how is it that the weeds like dandelions, ground elder, baby sycamores can thrive, whereas the runner beans are struggling? There ain’t no justice.

While in the garden today, tackling some of the above mentioned weeds, I thought about my Auntie Ruby, an unusual person who really liked her garden. I will not be betraying any family secrets by saying that she was one of the world’s eccentrics. She was my mother’s older sister, and when I got to know her as a child, she was living as a recluse upstairs in my grandparents’ house. I was told that she suffered with her “nerves” and was not to be crossed in any way. She followed a most peculiar diet, which seemed to consist of white bread and butter, and drinks of hot milk with some cereal sprinkled on the top. She rarely came downstairs and did not eat with the rest of us. I subsequently found out that as a teenager (she was born in 1905) she had suffered some kind of trauma, and the family doctor said, keep her at home for a while, and in fact she never left, except when she was evacuated to a cousin’s house in Guildford in WW2. She was intelligent, had a talent for drawing and painting, played the piano, liked the garden and tended the plants, but never left the house, never had a job, no friends, just the very immediate family. When my father started “courting” my mother, he never even knew she had a sister at first. I think about these things when I am gardening. Whenever I visited, she would take me round their small garden and point out what was in flower, and how she was tackling the snails. It was supremely ironical that having always lived the life of an “invalid”, (I think in fact she had had a form of anorexia as a teenager, she told me that she “went off all thin”), she outlived my mother by a good few years. But I am sure every family has an Auntie Ruby figure and the fact that I think about her when I do my gardening, shows what an impact she had on me.

So my daily exercise was gardening, Pilates, and a walk up past the golf course, which seems to be doing great business now. Good to see, as it has been so well tended. The 2m distancing rule seems to be flexibly interpreted now: people do not leap into the road as we approach. I am perfectly happy with that. In fact the government regulations always seem to be 2 weeks behind what is in reality already happening but I won’t push my luck by giving too many specifics. Suffice it to say that the calendar now has a few “social” engagements on it. We are so fortunate that the weather is so brilliant that everything automatically takes place outdoors.

Today’s bracelet is a red, green and yellow beaded affair which I bought in Kenya with the intention of giving as a present, but then I liked it so much and it seemed so symbolically and typically African with those colours, that I kept it.

I always have very vivid dreams. And no, it is not due to an excess of red wine. My current recurring theme is swimming. I have always enjoyed swimming and normally (what is this??) I go swimming on a Sunday and to an aquafit class in the week. In the summer I frequent lidos, swim in the sea, and do wild swimming in places I will not tell you about. Everywhere I go, I swim. Lakes in Austria and Germany, rivers and lakes in New Zealand, swimming pools in Kenya, I just love being in water. I am not a brilliant or fast swimmer bu I have endurance. I have swum in pretty cool water in Norfolk and Cornwall, and can now boast a wetsuit. But when can I next have a swim? Sea temperature in Brighton is currently 11C, but I am getting tempted. Watch this space….

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