And Other Things #1

1st April 2021
A contemporary beach house clad in larch wood with large windows on the grassy dunes of sandy beach at Greatstone, Kent.

In the spirit of trying something new, it’s the start of a new series today – And Other Things. I was sitting in the sunroom on Saturday afternoon and thought that I needed somewhere to get my thoughts down, somewhere to share what I’ve been up to during the week. 

So here it is. 

How have you been? I’ve been feeling cast adrift lately and I’m struggling to stay afloat. Clutching on to any sense of normality. School is back, which has been just what the kids needed, to have their routine back. But I’m still not there yet in getting back to work. It’s quiet and so I’m embracing that and enjoying the slower pace while I figure out where the gears are. 

I’m going stir crazy for spring. 

Every morning, I’m out in the garden in tatty slippers and whatever bobbled and misshapen jumper I’ve managed to throw on from a heap on the floor. Desperately willing the tiniest buds to grow just that little bit faster. And they are, slowly. Already the sanguisboras have four or five feathery leaves to show for themselves. I divided their root balls just as they showed signs of life and replanted the other half on the other side of the lawn. Same with the astrantias, whose little white pincushion flowers keep going all summer. The bananas are unwrapped from their recycled duvet beds I used to protect them over winter and are starting to push forth freshly coiled leaves. And I’m mourning the loss of one of the first banana trees I had – it flowered and fruited last summer and it was, as I later discovered, its swan song. But there will always be more pups emerging from the soil, so there’ll be a jungle yet.

A contemporary oval shape bee hotel designed by Capi for solitary bees, hung on a concrete fence post in a garden.

A swanky new bee hotel is up on the fence post facing South, ready to host any solitary bees and pollinators that come its way. Of course I picked the most architectural one I could find, made by Dutch garden brand Capi. It’s all completely biodegradable and easy to take apart during winter when it’s time to overwinter any of its residents. 

Below that I made a make-shift pea frame from bamboo and twine, ready for the sugar snap pea seedlings to race to the top. I’m hoping there’ll be enough flowering plants here over summer to encourage the bees to nest. 

A wide shot of a bamboo and twine pea frame in the garden border against a black painted fence.
A close-up of a row of neatly planted sugar snap pea seedlings ready to grow up a pea frame in the garden border.

Good Habits, Learning Danish

Do you Duolingo? I think I’ve been using it on and off with minimal success since 2015 but for the past 46 days I’ve been doing an hour of Danish every day and I love it. I think my foundation in German really helped my understanding of it with lots of similarities but it’s very strange to begin with, when you realise just how many consonants are swallowed! Still, I’m determined to have a basic understanding of it so I can put it to good use when we’re allowed to travel again. Even if the Danish all speak English and put us to shame. 

Jodie’s New Book 

So my friend Jodie Chapman  (and now celebrated published author) wrote an actual book. My copy arrived this morning and I’m wishing away my current read so I can get to it! The last time I went to visit her before the madness of covid, she was working on her second novel from her beautiful office. In fact, I think she’s just completed her third! This one is called ‘Another Life’ and has been described as a modern day Romeo & Juliet / Atonement style tragic love story. She’s probably one of the coolest people I know so, you know, buy it now. 

Author Jodie Chapman's debut novel, Another Life, on top of a black metal table in sunlight and shadow.

Quiet Beaches and Contemporary Architecture

You can find some of the best examples of contemporary architecture on the Kent stretch of coastline. I almost don’t want to tell you about this beach because it’s so wonderfully quiet. Greatstone. We drove down here last weekend with the kids, knowing it’d be deserted.

A contemporary beach house clad in larch wood with large windows on the grassy dunes of sandy beach at Greatstone, Kent.

There are windswept grassy dunes, shells scattered like jewels on the shoreline and the sand is the finest I’ve ever felt. And then, this house. Clad in larch, just like the house I plan to build in my imagination, complete with sky gazing windows. If you fancy a nose inside it, it was for sale with The Modern House

And other things:

A collection of abstract female body line drawings in black pen on a wall.

I took an online drawing class with artist Lakshmi and LOVED it. 

Chadwick Boseman’s performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom will make your heart hurt. Watch on Netflix.

GABA’s meditation podcast is completely bonkers but utterly brilliant. It mixes poetry with music, storytelling and cultural soundbites to create a totally new experience. 

Determined to discover more about my ancestry, genealogist Paul Crooks has been helping me delve deeper into my Guyanese heritage through his online seminars. 

Catch you later,

Tiff x