Back at home all the windows are open to air the flat out, the laundry is churning and squelching, and I've already been to the grocery store to try and buy gooseberries (Nil. It's a blink-and-you-miss-it thing, the gooseberry, and gives me fruit anxiety every year. Who's seen them?). We had a stack of good-looking letters behind the door, which I'm looking forward to opening later, and there's a backlog of podcasts and the Archers episodes. The garden needs watering, a neighbour reports that the council was erroneously pruning the plane trees, and a fox has chewed through two of ...
Earlier this week we packed a smaller bag and a car picnic (focaccia, nectarines) and took a side trip to Florence for a few days, where the husband and I hadn't been since spring vacation when we were twenty and my mom came as a chaperone. Then, she walked us to and from the David, and the Uffizi, over the Ponte Vecchio and through the jewel-box baptistry of the Florence cathedral. We had tiny glasses of wine and huge cones of gelato. This time we stayed on a hillside overlooking the city, @belmondvillasanmichele, and didn't go to a single museum. ...
We're in boiling Tuscany with my family for a couple of weeks, staying in the hills outside of Siena. A few days ago we climbed the corkscrew stairs to the top of the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo for the view: miles of terracotta rooftops and, to the left beneath the Torre del Mangia, the Piazza del Campo. It has already been turned into a dirt track with wooden stadium seating ahead of the Palio di Provenzano on Tuesday, a bare-backed horse race with feasting in the streets the night before. We'll bring Henry to watch when he's old enough to ...
We went to the most glorious, intermittently storming, hollyhock-swaying wedding in the Cotswolds the other weekend for our friends @mollytaithyland and @hibbert.charlie. Everyone had wet ankles and cake with blackberry jam, there were dogs under tables, the garden was damp and enchanting, and it was perfect.
The husband and baby and I are waiting at the base of Primrose Hill for our lunchmates, having arrived twenty minutes ahead of time in a freak accident of efficiency that will never be repeated. We brought the pudding, so have tubs of strawberries and cream, tea and biscuits, and rose from @babylonstoren (corkscrew forgotten, so I'll have to rove around the other picnickers to borrow one), plus a deck of cards for rummy and jars of roses from our garden to give away to anyone who doesn't mind lugging them.
I turned thirty-three today, and to celebrate all three of us had toast in bed and spent the morning @royalacademyarts looking at the Summer Exhibition. Then we walked down Piccadilly for lunch @theritzlondon, where I ordered beef wellington and the baby fell asleep chewing on the husband's tie. Now delight after delight: a birthday book haul from @johnsandoebooks and banana splits after dinner.
This weekend the husband, baby, and I drove out to @kewgardens, where we went around the outdoor, treasure-map style Chihuly exhibition (it's wonderful, and on through October) eating salted caramel ice creams even though it was drizzling. Afterward we had lunch @petershamnurseries (raw broad beans and pecorino, tomato salad, chocolate mousse) and then looked in the garden shop for straw hats, of which I do not believe it is possible to own too many.
Roses in vases, roses in bowls, roses in tall dried-pasta jugs with the spaghetti tipped out, filling pitchers, on my desk, in the loo, traded with Mrs Next Door for strawberries. When we were planting the cutting garden at the back of the house two Marches ago (supervised by brilliant @butterwakefield who masterminded the whole thing) I remember looking at the bare root roses, which, to a novice, seemed scraggly and questionably alive, and wondering whether twenty-two was the right number for a London patch. No, probably not, said the husband. Let's do twenty-five.
Left the crowds at the flower show to find a bench for lunch, and am roaming back and forth along St Leonard's Terrace waiting for one to free up. I've bought so many seed packets now (holly-leaved hellebore, Chinese anemone, common poppy) that I rattle everywhere I go, like a walking box of macaroni.
I've come back to London for the start of @the_rhs Chelsea Flower Show today, trying to punch my straw hat back into shape after crumpling it on the Eurostar, but my stomach is still on the Saône in Burgundy, wondering where it's next piece of cheese is coming from. I've had so many nice messages and questions about chartering a barge to visit this stretch of France, and wanted to say I'll be writing about it for @cntraveler: travel logistics, the food on the river, taking a holiday as an extended family, and all the rest.