Thursday, August 13, 2009


Today is the last day but one of my summer holidays. “Only the seven weeks, then?” Daughter 2 says cheekily. “Shame.”

Well, yes. But it’s still a bit …hmmm. I don’t mind work; I really don’t. Especially once it gets started. But the beginning of the year, when all the students are new and I’m trying to be terribly entertaining and interesting and informative and at the same time not too alarming – when the classes are a bit nervous and so am I, and there aren’t enough seats or even enough rooms (the dreaded “pool room” situation when the class is in a different room each week) – well, it’s all a bit exhausting.

Sitting in the garden, having coffee with friends, reading a book – even tidying out the archives – these are all less demanding.

However, I’ve made the most of this last week, having various social gatherings and meeting yet another lovely blogger, this time Adelaide from Adelaide who’s performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. My daughters, my bloggy friend Loth and my non-bloggy friend Morag all went with me on Tuesday to hear her and it was very beguiling experience, though hard to describe. Adelaide, or Tracy (who’s a librarian, or a vegetarian librarian as she rhymingly told us) narrated an amusingly surreal little story about the head librarian who… well, the title of the show – “She’s not just quiet… she’s dead” kind of give you a clue as to what happens. And there were little side-tales and comments about life and – well, death and the hereafter. Very good indeed, should you happen to be in Edinburgh with 45 minutes to fill at 7.35 in the evening.

Then she came to our house for a cup of tea this morning. I was quite nervous because she writes brilliantly and not at all like me. She doesn’t write about trivial drivel or post pictures of her garden or her cats – or pictures of anything, I don’t think – and she’s recently published a novel and she’s much younger than me and I thought she might be a bit alarming. But she wasn’t. She was very nice indeed.

I’ve now met five people through blogging: Fifi, Loth, Thimbleanna, Rachel and Tracy. (No! six! How could I forget Rosemary Riveter? Though technically I'd met her before, when she was four and chatting to Daughter 1 at a nursery school party. But then twenty-eight years elapsed.) And they’ve all been lovely in their own ways. And in each case, there’s been that easy sort of half-friendship before we met: knowledge about each other and confidence that we’re interested in reading and writing about our own and other people’s lives.

Then in the afternoon I sat in the garden and read a book and slightly mourned the fact that next week I shall be stuck in college all day.

The garden will bloom unseen. The cats will come to the back door and it’ll be locked; they’ll have to go round to the front of the house and use the catflap in the kitchen door.

So I just sat there in my little domain and looked at the flowers and smelt the heavenly perfume of these lilies and listened to the birdsong and the thump and crash of the digging machines excavating the garden of the people up the road who’re having an extension built.

And sometimes I lay on the grass, which was a bit damp and smelt wonderfully of earthy vegetation, and I watched ants negotiating grass blades, and cats chasing the little hoverfly chappies that are all over the place at the moment, and I mourned my imminent lost freedom.

And the cats sympathised.

I think.

Now I must go and ice the cake I've just baked because Mr Life and I are going to Glasgow tomorrow to see our son, who’s now working there but who has a day off tomorrow. And you can’t go and see your son without taking a cake.


  1. Well, dear Isabelle, I must take exception with your implication that you "write about trivial drivel or post pictures of her garden or her cats". There's no trivial drivel here and I love reading about it all. I'm certain that the cats have sympathized with your loss of freedom and so do I. I hope you and Mr. Life will have a wonderful visit with dear Son too -- I'm so happy for you that he's closer than he used to be!

  2. I am very lucky to be part of that excclusive cub, those of us on earth who ae fortunate to have met you.

    You are so much more than you make out!

    And I so ,love your garden, especially now with all of the lovely flowers. Beautiful! I love the idea of you on the grass, watching everything. And I am so envious that you have met the lovely tracy in oerson!!

  3. You lucky person! You have met more bloggers than I will ever meet, I suspect!
    I love your garden, I love your writing & I love your cats.
    I know, cyberly speaking the wonderful blogger of whom you speak.
    Time spent with sons- or daughters- is always nothing less that wonderful!

  4. I second Thimbleanna - too modest by half, you are. I have to confess I was sort of hoping for a description of the wonderfully authentic Scottish cafe (selling pasta and lattes) that we had coffee in on Tuesday night after seeing Tracy!

  5. Beautiful garden and lying on the grass watchnig ants and cats and hoverflies could never, ever be trivial drivel.

  6. Not drivel. Burble. Very different.

    The title had me humming the old Cat Steven's song as I read. I am sure the cat sympathized, they just aren't going to do anything about it.

  7. I am absurdly, ridiculously pleased that you and thirdcat have had a cup of tea together.

    A little jealous too.

  8. I'm new to your blog and very jealous of your garden. I hope my lawn looks that good one day.

    Just wondering if you get slugs and what you use for them with the cats around?

  9. You also met me, though you originally met me through nursery school when I was 4, which I don't remember, we reconnected through the web!

    Those lilies are divine, I can smell them from here.

  10. I sympathize with you. It't unbelievably hard to go back to work after seven weeks of holidays. I have 2 weeks left before we start school and so much work to do to prepare! I need a holiday.

    I also don't think your blog is drivel. If it was, I (like many other discerning readers) would not visit you so often!

  11. Isabelle, don't put yourself and your writing ability down. To be able to write about simple everyday things in a lively loving way is a skill you have. I enjoy your writing and your garden and your cat. Be assured that while you are away teaching the cat will still walk around your domain and watch over things ( between naps ).
    When things are less than pleasing as you teach just momentarily close your eyes and remember, what you smelt and saw today.( you have a beautiful, calming other place to take your mind to ).

  12. Like Suse I am pleased and not a little jealous of your meeting thirdcat. Not to mention seeing her show. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us.

  13. The way time flies these days, it won't be long before you have some more holidays, Isabelle. It will be Christmas in a minute.