Silver linings

Grantham sunset

Second trip to Doncaster this week – feeling tired of travelling and so badly wanted to stay in my garden this morning, destroying more leylandii in the spring sunshine. But the training session I went for was good, a rare chance to get together with fellow trainee mediators; fun, informative and confidence-boosting. And later, while hanging around between trains on my way home, I watched the sunset and regretted the absence of my camera. Silly me – my iPad is also a camera – so here is that sunset sky over Grantham.

I love this sort of sky that looks as if painted by Turner – when you look at it full size, you can see the brush strokes.

Writing this on the little train. Back in lovely Heckington in a few minutes; too dark for gardening now. A quarter of a century ago, in my little garden in Brixton, I used to rig up lights so I could garden in the dark!

Of clay and continuity

Pheasant plate

Last month I mentioned my bay tree that travelled with me from Brixton to Manchester and then, twenty-two years later, from Manchester to Heckington (Vegetable Stories).

Pottery and cooking pots hold other connections, threads running through my life. The ‘pheasant plate’ above was made by a lovely potter called Jill Fanshawe Kato; and I bought it in my mid-twenties, my first serious bit of ceramics buying. I’ve always treasured it, and used it, remember many midnight hours, the party over, friends gone home, after too much to drink, washing it up and putting it away so it didn’t get muddled with other dirty dishes and get broken in the morning.

I remember its first appearances, holding plaited bread for parties in a flat in Victoria. I remember a sort-of-Chinese chicken and beef salad in Brixton and Moss Side, terrines and roast lamb stuffed with spinach in Chorlton.

So when I look at this plate, sitting on a window sill just by me now, it seems to hold all those parties and dinners and friends in all those places; it holds that moment when I felt so grown up, buying a piece of art for myself; within it are centuries of Japanese pot-making, a modern English potter’s love of birds and the pheasants that live in my mother’s garden.

A lot to hold; but clay is dense and deep and weighty, can take it. At my pottery class (Too late, too late…), I’m getting used to the feel of it again after many years; takes me back to London days, ‘my salad days’ when I was young perhaps, but not so green that I couldn’t tell a good pot when I saw it.

And we did eat a lot of salad back then, come to think about it…