Archive | June, 2011


20 Jun

It’s that time again!

Who’s your favourite this year?

I’m not sure I have one. I haven’t had one since my beloved Marat Safin hung up his racquet a few years ago.

How is it possible not to love a man who said:

I am not a singer or a rock star. Tennis is tennis. If you want to see a clown, go to a circus.

I do quite like Marcos Baghdatis, but I’m afraid none of the top-seeded players really excites me these days. I suppose it would be good if Andy Murray won.

Tennis is more than just a sport. It’s an art, like the ballet. Or like a performance in the theater. When I step on the court I feel like Anna Pavlova. Or like Adelina Patti. Or even like Sarah Bernhardt. I see the footlights in front of me. I hear the whisperings of the audience. I feel an icy shudder. Win or die! Now or never! It’s the crisis of my life.

~Bill Tilden

And are you one of the lucky ones who’ll be there in person? If so, I do hope you get some good weather. The forecast isn’t brilliant, unfortunately.

If you haven’t got a ticket, you’ll be like me – having your strawberries and cream in front of the television. One of these days, I’ll get there in person.  Until then, enjoy!

P.S. Those bookish tennis fans among you might enjoy this literary tennis quiz, courtesy of The Guardian.


Trevoole Farm

19 Jun

Today was one of the three days during the year that the gardens at Trevoole Farm are open to the public. As part of the National Gardens Scheme, the privately-owned gardens charge a modest admission and all the proceeds go to charity.

Despite another wet day, we set off for Trevoole in Praze-an-Beeble and had a jolly time. The gardens are truly beautiful, with a cottage garden, a herb garden, a bog garden, a rose walk, a Victorian greenhouse and a potager.

As well as the gardens, there’s a lovely shop selling bunches of flowers, vintage china, jams and marmalades and lots more.

And there’s a gorgeous tea room if you’re feeling peckish. The owners had gone to a lot of trouble setting up tables and chairs outside, but it was really raining quite heavily by the time we got there.

However, we Brits are hardy. A little rain wasn’t going to get between these ladies and their cream teas!

The grounds were cleverly decorated with little seating areas tucked away in corners.

If you live locally, Trevoole is open again on Sunday 3 July from 2-5pm. And, if you’re lucky, you may even get some sunshine! If you don’t live locally, have a look at the National Gardens Scheme website and see if there’s an open garden in your neighbourhood this summer.

Morrab Midsummer Fair

18 Jun

In spite of a rainy start and definitely not feeling like midsummer, the Fair went off really well.

We sold bric-a-brac (I was on the bric-a-brac stall) in the library, along with cakes, crafty items (including gorgeous printed works by the library’s own very talented Alex Higlett) and, of course, books.

In addition to all the stalls in the library itself, there were stalls around the fountain in the Morrab Gardens:

There was lots of food, including these oh-so-pretty cupcakes:

And delicious treats from the lovely ladies of Ottoman Kitchen:

And stunning wrapping paper and cards by Desert Rose, which I couldn’t resist:

At the end of the day, a drawing was held for the BIG RAFFLE we’ve been running for the past months. Sadly, I didn’t win either of the prizes I had my eye on. This John Piper painting:

… or this Anne Bull painting:

Despite not winning and although my feet are killing me, it was an excellent day and lots of money was raised, which is the best part of all.


The Hay Festival

7 Jun

I’ve just come back from my annual pilgrimage to the Hay Festival, and what a wonderful time we all had! My friends and I rent the same old farmhouse not far from Hay every year. Each morning I thought how lucky I was to be waking up to this gorgeous view:

I went to hear loads of speakers, from Nigella to Naipaul. In fact, here’s the rundown of the events I went to:

  • Gaynor Arnold and Polly Samson talking about their latest collections of short stories
  • David Baddiel talking about his latest novel
  • Jo Brand being absolutely lovely
  • Marcus Brigstocke, my imaginary boyfriend, sporting some rather unfortunate facial hair, talking about the book based on his God Collar stand-up act
  • Lizzie Collingham talking about the role of food in World War II
  • Dan Cruickshank discussing the British country house
  • Andrew Davies giving the inside scoop about writing his screenplay for South Riding
  • Gilbert and George being their fabulous selves. And singing! They sang!
  • A.A. Gill being his usually prickly self
  • Daisy Goodwin talking about My Last Duchess

    Diana Quick (left) interviewing Daisy Goodwin

  • Nigella Lawson looking even more gorgeous than she does on television

Nigella Lawson

V.S. Naipaul

  • Mavis Nicholson talking about What Did You Do in the War, Mummy?, her collection of women’s remembrances of World War II
  • Virginia Nicholson, one of my perennial favourites, talking about her latest book, Millions Like Us, also about women’s stories from World War II
  • Allison Pearson discussing I Think I Love You, her book about a teenage Welsh girl obsessed with David Cassidy in the ’70s
  • Justine Picardie in what might have been my favourite talk of the week, discussing her amazing biography of Coco Chanel
  • Vanessa Redgrave talking about her life and getting the longest standing ovation of the week


Vanessa Redgrave

  • David Sedaris, someone I never tire of listening to

David Sedaris

  • Tim Smit making me feel inspired to change the world
  • Edward St. Aubyn being … Edward St. Aubyn
  • Sandi Toksvig and Sue Perkins doing their comedy lecture thing
  • Michael Wood talking about the book based on his ‘Story of England’ television series from last year
  • Lucy Worsley in a fascinating talk about the book based on her If Walls Could Talk (history of the home) television series
  • Michael Wright being endearingly nervous but not terribly funny, talking about his C’est la Folie books

Between the busy, bustling, buzzing festival site and the sometimes sleepy peaceful town, I spent a glorious week of drinking cappuccino, reading, listening, thinking and (far too much) shopping in the lovely bookshops of Hay.

Booth's Books

My friend Barbara and I also went to a wonderful free talk about Welsh blankets, given by Athene English in the garden of her shop, The Great English Outdoors.

Athene and her blankets

The garden hidden behind The Great English Outdoors

If you haven’t been to the festival before, I can’t recommend it highly enough. But if you want to go in 2012, book your accommodation now. It goes quickly!