Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Woman under a tree



Ever since I was a schoolgirl, I have always needed to choose a book or two to put aside for the summer holidays. If I'm going away for my holidays then books in the suitcase are as important to me as the suntan lotion. When I was younger I remember spending days upon days lying on a hammock at the back of the garden swinging to and fro with a book in my hand and a pile of books waiting on the ground below.



This summer's book has been chosen - Dusty Answer by Rosamond Lehmann. I have two books on the go already and enjoying both of them but this book caught my eye in the charity shop and has been on my wishlist for a while now. It is Rosamond Lehmann's first novel and tells the story of an only child, who spends her childhood dreaming in her house by the river, her relationship with a family that move in next door and her experiences at Cambridge after the First World War. It's ticking lots of boxes for me already and the cover of this old penguin edition is delicious - "Woman under a Tree" by Walter Bayes.



This leads me on to my secret little fantasy. It all started a few weeks ago when I found at the bottom of a pile of ironing (no I never reached the bottom, I just jiggled the clothes around a bit) a tub of unopened halva. It must have been left unused from a supper we were having with friends, probably a supper involving wine otherwise no other explanation can be given for it ending up amongst the ironing. As gorgeous, tasty and sticky as it is I always find halva just a tad too sweet on its own (this from the woman who has just written an entire post devoted entirely to sugar and its consumption). I prefer it with grapes or, better still, a cup of peppermint tea.



So in my mind I see myself sitting under my apple tree on a quiet, warm summer's afternoon, book in one hand and tea and halva in the other. A little blanket to keep me warm if necessary. As the photo shows, it's all taking shape. I've even made a new cushion cover for my chair! Not too much to ask for on a summer's wishlist. I actually thought I might bring it all forward and have a little read this afternoon. Just a bit of quiet and calm before the school holidays begin. Just two more days before the mayhem begins.



However, this being real life I found out that Little Sister's school was closed due to strike action, the sun has been playing hide and seek all day and for once, this being the only time I can ever remember, there is no peppermint tea in the house! The garden is full of washing and rugs drying because at some point this morning I had the insane idea to wash them all and dry them in the same day.



Another book I want to be dipping into over the next few weeks is this old copy of "Profitable Hobbies and Handicrafts". I doubt whether it's going to solve any financial worries but it's a fun read and I'm hoping it'll get me going again on the crafting front. If you notice me making things from fish bones, silk stockings and breeding my cats, you'll know that I've taken it all a bit too much to heart.



As I write this in the evening, the rugs are still dripping in the garden, the washing has been taken from the line and there is a stillness in the air that has been absent all day, as dear old Hagrid would say "There's a storm coming Harry". Little Sister and I had a good day together, pottering around, chatting and enjoying each other's company. I think we both needed some quiet and a chance to be alone together. Hope you all have a good few days before the holidays begin , maybe a few moments of calm. As for me I'm psyching myself up for six weeks of trying to translate what my teenage daughter's talking about -
Kitchen table, supper time:
Big Sister: " Oh how nice, this looks like one of those places where they give you lemon"
Little Sister and I look at each other wondering what on earth she means this time
Big Sister, sensing our confusion and her brain just having caught up with what she's talking about: "You know, a restaurant..."

43 comments:

Elizabethd said...

I so enjoyed reading that! Thank you.

Debbies-English-Treasures said...

So fabulous to read...
You made me laugh when you mentioned about your teenager daughter speaking a different language to ours.
Having a soon to be 11 years old daughter, I`m already noticing it too...
Kisses Kisses
Debbie
xxx

Emma Herian said...

Oh Kim, you make me giggle!
When you get your quiet time, can I come and squeeze in on the cushion - I need some! I have pepermint and camomile tea bags!
I realLy must get a list of the books you read and head down to the shop and ask the lady to get a pile ready for me!
Enjoy your moment!
X

meggie said...

Laughed at Big Sister's comment! I instantly thought pale tea, in china cups, with a thin slice of lemon- yes a restaurant!
Loved the idea of the mint tea & the book, & peace to read.

Pondside said...

Lovely post! I have a fantasy that's quite similar. It involves one of the Adirondak chairs, fluffy cushions, a spritzer and a stack of books.
I have to admit to poaching the title of your last post - I did give you credit though!

She'sSewPretty said...

Oh my goodness! As usual, i have no idea what halva is. But, I do know I am on my sixth load of laundry tonight and I would have loved to have spent the day on my swing with a good book instead!!

jo said...

I have two teenagers and know what you mean. I find it even harder to trnaslate the texts they send me. I wish they'd call instead.
Whenever I try to grab 5 mins to myself the phone rings or the door knocks.

Cathy said...

Can I join you? Sounds like a fabulous way of spending a few hours! I love halva too, but unlike you I don't need anything to temper it, but a cup of peppermint tea to wash it down would be acceptable! I know the saying 'You shouldn't judge a book by its cover', but I often do and I am seldom disappointed!
Good luck surviving the holidays!
Cathy XX

JuicyFig said...

I almost always judge by it's cover - I think "if I wrote that book, would I be happy with the cover?"
Never tried Halva with peppermint tea - sounds like a good combintation! - I have a Greek relative who makes the most fabulous baklava...

ok, just dribbled on the desk...hehehe

Kath
x

Simone said...

'Profitable Hobbies and Handicraft' - I like the sound of that! I am just having a quiet few days before the school holidays descend upon us too. I have so much I could be getting on with but I just want to sit and contemplate!

Tracy said...

I had a bit of a tear in my eye over this post...Seeing the book Dusty Answer at the top. I was in my teens, in the States, and devouring English literature, dreaming of seeing England "someday"...Dusty Answer was on my reading list for years & years until I tracked it down from a secondhand book shop in Oxford...It was worth the wait, such a sweet read! Anyway...Had to laugh over Big Sister! I think the tea looks delight--so light and bright for summer. Hope the run returns soon! I'll send you a bit of mine ;o) Happy weekend ahead to you & yours ((HUGS))

Linen and Roses said...

I'm not entirely looking forward to the School holidays starting seeing as my lovely Man has 6 weeks off and I have just one thanks to starting my new job(I did have two booked but in my keenness to get the job said I'd give the one up at the end of August!). Should have been a teacher! Really like the sound of that first book. My kind of book I think. Finished Miss Pettigrew by the way and am now on with The Diary of a Provincial Lady which I'm also loving. I'm also totally with you on Halva. I have the sweetest tooth but do find it almost too sweet. Do like the idea of drinking peppermint tea with it though. Am thinking you must have very fun dinner parties if the Halva ends up in the ironing basket!

Rosezilla said...

Sounds like a wonderful book. I'm re-reading Sense and Sensibility. Actually i'm reading it aloud to hubby, he enjoys me reading to him, but this one is a bit difficult to read out loud, more "mystery" words than there were in Pride and Prejudice! Thanks for stopping by my blog - to tell you the truth, I find hurricanes to be very exciting! It's the aftermath that is hard.

dottycookie said...

A hammock - that's what you need! And maybe if you made it yourself it could turn into Crafting for Profit too ...

I'm storing up the teenager translations!

Janice said...

Woman under a tree-looks like a very relaxing place to be. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I feel bad about complaining about my flowers when some people lost lots of farm equipment and 45 HECTARES of crop as the storm worked its way east. Oh well, hopefully the flowers will come back and if not its a small price to pay compared to others.

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

Sounds like the sort of break I need......

I've never heard of halva before, I looked it up......I'm on a mission to try it now :o)

Connie said...

I just have to tell you - your photographs are fantastic, roses chickadee!! It's rare to find ones that good. I simply adore your blog, honey. Bright and pink!
Smoochies,
Connie

Pieceful Afternoon said...

I just love your blog - I'm not even sure what led me to it - but I'm so glad I got to stop by. I too used to spend my childhood summers picking books to read, and daydreaming. I grew up in southeast Alaska - the part that runs down beside the west coast of Canada - and always had a reading list ready long before summer arrived. The problem was that sometimes I couldn't wait for summer and read most of my list before school was even out - then had to revamp my list and start again. I just reserved two of the Nigel Slater books your talked about, from my local library (Bellingham, Washington, US) but couldn't find the one about Eating for England, nor Dusty Answers - but I shall continue to search.

My children all had reading lists for summer also - a good family tradition and I think my grandsons are coming to an age where they might begin their lists.

Thanks again for a fabulous blog!!

Brierley & Clover said...

I wish I found such great things in my ironing basket! A tin of baklava would go down a treat!

Alison Boon said...

The book has a idyllic cover, just how I like to spend my summer days. We are lucky here in that our seven year old can translate for the teenagers most of the time, but a dictionary would sure come in handy.

LOUISE said...

You'll be needing that blanket today, no sunshine slightly further along the coast either. I haven't ever tried Halva, glad you found a treat in your laundry basket for a change. I hope you manage a few more pages before that peace is shattered! x

Heidi said...

Your photo of the book, tea, pillow and afghan on the garden chair is the perfect picture of summer to me! I am going through lots of books lately and still have I Capture the Castle on my list of soon to read books. By the way, I just love peppermint tea! I always keep a box of it on hand. I had to look up what halva was as I have never even heard of it. It sounds a bit too sweet. :) And as far as bourbons go, they are a long lost memory now. LOL!

Do you have any special days away planned for DDs school holidays?

Hugs ~
Heidi

Heidijayhawk said...

i have some of my favorite memories in the backyard of my grandmother's house in a hammock with a pile of books. thanks for helping me remember.

Jennie said...

What a lovely dream, I hope it is a great reality through the summer holidays. My youngest has just broken up from her secondary school about an hour ago and is already driving me mad chuntering on about being bored! :/ :D

Heidi Ann said...

Good morning Kim, As always.. so enjoyed this post of yours!!!...It always amazes me how miles & miles can separate all of us, but somehow we are living very similar lives!!!...I think the conversation you had with both your daughters has happened at our house too, & with the same cast, mother (me), Big Sister (Holly) & Little Sister (Mallory)!!!....Don't you just love "life with girls"!!!...On another note, I always want to go hunt up some of your book selections!!!...I have to find & read "the Lady" one!!!...As a child, soon as summer vacation began, I would ride my bike to our "library", which at that time was a tiny, old house?...no new fancy one!...Anyway, I would walk in...& browse the shelves...I was looking for the "lovely old classics" that had the most beautiful illustrations!...If the illustrations were not "simply enchanting" back on the shelves they would go!??...I would choose a large stack, pile them in my bike's basket & pedal home!!! On arriving home, my mother would look at me in wonder, shaking her head?...Do you really think you will read ALL these huge books???...Well, in my mind I was SO going to read them all, however in reality I would read a couple, but nothing was wasted since I thoroughly enjoyed looking at all those "illustrations'!!! Funny little girl I was!...Thanks again for your sweet comments on my blog! You are such a nice friend!...Enjoy your weekend!...Heidi XO

Bonnie the Boss said...

It looks so serene. I envy the cool, and the no children. Mine go back to school in about 4 weeks.
I love old books as well. I just don't always read them. Mostly I decorate with them. Yours are serving a higher function. Enjoy!

periwinkle said...

your book sounds lovely - speaking of which I'm going to have to find my holiday book :-0. Hub would say that me and your daughter would get on fine as I do that all the time - apparantly
lisa x

French Knots said...

ok so I need to Google Halva to see what it is! Lovely pictures, sunny, floral and summery - you must have taken them really quickly in the 30 seconds of summer we've had so far this year.

Nostalgia at the Stone House said...

Hi Kim,
It's no wonder that your blog posts are always so beautifully written - you must have been influenced by so many good books.
But how ever do you find the time to read, with everything else that you achieve?!

Have a wonderful weekend,
Niki x

Sal said...

Lovely, Kim!
The thought of sitting under a tree, with a book on my lap and a glass of something lovely by my side...oooh bliss!;-)

Cassie said...

Your post was great! How I wish for a lazy day and a good book. Hope yours is wonderful.

Curlew Country said...

What a blissfully, relaxing post Kim. I do hope the weather perks up enough for some serious outdoor reading this summer.

I really agree about books being the best bit of a holiday. At the start of the long summer break I was always taken by mum to the huge bookshop in the city to choose a new book. I remember discovering Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman when I was 13 and becoming hooked on her trilogy about the princes of early medieval Wales. Wonderful saga.

My boys are still little but B's reading has just taken off so I think I'll revive this tradition for him. Thanks for the inspiration and happy reading!
Stephx

Cowboys & Custard said...

Sorry for rolling in so late M....
This is conjuring up all sorts of memories.. lying on the lawn when I was an impressionable young lass with a head full of romance and nonsense reading my pile of Victoria Holt novels.. and dare I say it .. the odd Barbara Cartland too!
Be thankful that Big Sister is using words still and not just incomprehensible grunts!

Enjoy your tea and pour one for me please!

DXXX

Alchamillamolly said...

Thanks for visitng my blog - we have been hard at work today getting 'Percy ' on the wall!!

a home far away said...

Wonderful reading today:-) I also enjoys a good book, brought 2 for my holiday in Langkawi.

Hugs from Singapore

Wild Rose said...

Thanks for the book recommendation ~ I'm forever on the lookout for new (to me) authors.

I've just finished The House At Riverton, which follows the story of a 14 year-old girl who goes into service before World War I. If you enjoy period novels, you may wish to add it to your reading list.

Enjoy the school holidays.

Marie x

Garden Girl said...

brilliant post as usual Kim, and love Big Sisters sense of madness ( I really mean that in the kindest possible way, BS!!)
Your glass cup of peppermint tea looks perfect for a sunny afternoon bookfest x

Katherines Dream said...

Hi Kim, I am sitting here dreaming now! the long long summer hol's - when the sun seemed to shine every day ! ...the little camp I used to make with sheets and blankets draped over my garden swing. Those were such fun times...and special books for holiday reads...sigh!
Your Halva and Mint Tea - yum, never tried it, but I want to now!
have a lovely week Kim...the weather forcast looks good!
Carol x

Diane of Crafty Passions said...

Great post,that's my idea of a wonderful way to spend the day relaxing, just reading,having a tea nearby, and a little blankie in case I should feel like a quick nap.Ahhhh sounds blissfull and heavenly !!!
That's living !
Diane

Thimbleanna said...

Well, of course, a restaurant LOL! Now, having been puzzled over this comment, you can understand that I'm having the same reaction over "halva". I pretty much had it nailed as containing mashed potatoes until you said it was sticky. Maybe sticky mashed potatoes???? ;-)

Isabelle said...

Happy holidays, Kim. When my children were at school, I used to love the freedom of not having to keep to a schedule or worry about getting homework done and so on. Mind you, being a teacher I was going to love the school holidays anyway!

Lisa said...

Wonderful locale and photos. A real pleasure to stumble here and stop and browse a bit.

Have a great week.

ShabbyInTheCity said...

Off to google 'halva' ...crazy how we also speak different languages...and teens with their texting in codes...I do know what LOL means,LOL. BRB Kim...