Late January life

The garden: It’s nearing the end of January and whilst I personally feel locked down, I notice the message doesn’t seem to have got through to the garden which is showing signs of emergent life already. The bulbs I planted late last year started poking through some time ago, I just hope that the flowers don’t come to soon, only to be devastated by whatever February has to throw at them.

Rhubarb: We love rhubarb and have three plants supplying us very successfully. I was advised to stop picking it around July to give it a chance to recuperate, and I’ve done that for the last two years – it’s hard seeing all those edible stalks shouting “pick me, pick me” and having to resist the temptation. But as you can see, they are eager to get going again this year.

Emergent rhubarb

Hellebore: We were given a little hellebore a few years ago before we had the garden re-designed, so it’s had to endure being moved a couple of times. We had a few flowers last year, but this year it looks like it’s going to be lovely. I believe it’s known as ‘Lenten rose’, so role on Lent I say.


And I notice that there are loads of buds on both the honeysuckle and rose on the trellis. The rose actually belongs to next door, but it poked over the wall two years ago, and I ‘accidentally’ tied it in to our trellis. It provides a shower of small white flowers once a year.









And finally in the garden, a photo of our two goldfish, Bill and Ben. Actually we have no idea what sex they are, but they haven’t produced little goldfish in nearly 3 years so we assume they are either both male or both female. The remarkable thing is that we’ve not once, ever, fed them – they survive (quite happily?) on the natural vegetation in the pond.

Books: I was encouraged by a friend to try ordering some books from the library. You can just say what genres you like and they choose 10 for you and let you know when you can collect them. Want to know what I got?

3 novels by Susan Hill; 3 by John Grisham (all of which I’ve read, so a bit of a disappointment there); Middlemarch by Mary Anne Evans; A thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (I don’t think I’ve read that, and I hope not because it looks as if it might be rather good); and I’m currently on William Faulkner’s Intruder in the dust.

Faulkner’s writing I find very challenging. Certainly in this novel, sentences can last forever with almost no punctuation, and he uses old fashioned vocab. half of which I don’t believe is grammatically correct! But it’s a good story and rewarding to read.

Susan Hill’s an interesting one. She’s written plenty of ‘serious’ novels (I’m not sure what constitutes a serious novel) including The Woman in Black. But she must knock out these Simon Serrailler Case novels very easily I reckon. I remember Susan Hill from when I was a chorister at Coventry Cathedral. She was a good friend of the cathedral organist, David Lepine, and I remember we recorded something to accompany her reading on the BBC programme Jackanory. The chief protagonist, Chief Inspector Simon Serrailler lives in a Cathedral close (Salisbury? – Coventry doesn’t have a close), and there are lots of connections with Cathedral life. One of which is that Simon’s sister Cat sings in the St Michael’s Singers, which in the novel The benefit of Hindsight, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a performance of Britten: War Requiem. In real life, Coventry Cathedral’s choral society, conducted by the cathedral organist, is the St. Michael’s Singers and was formed in 1962 to sing Britten’s War Requiem when the cathedral was consecrated, just over 50 years ago. Anyway, it’s a good read.

Organ recitals: I’ve listened to a few organ recitals recently and been really excited by them. Organ recital/excitement??       I really enjoyed listening to one of last year’s Prom concerts, a recital on the Albert hall organ by the young organist Jonathon Scott. However, I’ve just discovered that it’s not currently available on BBC Sounds, even though I watched it only a few weeks ago. But there are some good recitals on Youtube. In this one from Norwich Cathedral where you can see the organist (and his feet) close up. I hope you enjoy it.

New year organ recital by Ashley Grote at Norwich Cathedral

Meanwhile, keep safe and I look forward to writing again



  1. Nick you should cut off all the old leaves from your hellebore once the new ones start to come through. It looks good.

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