Blackberry Way

image I do so love Autumn, but we are not quite there yet , but it is however blackberry time of year. There is something deeply satisfying about walking along the cycle track 5 minutes from our home and returning one hour later with a container full of legitimately obtained brambles. I also found sloes which will be plunged into gin for a few months.

As I have already frozen quite a lot of berries this year,  I decided that today was bramble and apple crumble day. I had been kindly given a lot of apples from a tree in the garden of The Old Church guest house we stayed at near Berwick earlier in the week So here are my foragers’ crumbles, all ready to be eaten, frozen or passed on to my children . My sister says that blackberry vodka is rather yummy . . .  best get back to Blackberry Way !



imageThey sit before a football match and discuss what should happen, how it should be done, who should do it and what the result of that action should be. Then once the match is over they discuss who did what, how they did it, how they should have done it, what should have happened and how it should be done next time. A group of people getting paid a lot of money to discuss something that they have no control over and can’t alter.


And this week sees the emergence of the new pundits. The Brexit pundits. They sit in groups, in public places , discussing what happened, why it happened, whose fault it was and what should happen now. They include a rider  however, and that is, that it is no one’s business but their own as to who they agree with, but then continue to pontificate very loudly, leaving everyone within the building  in no doubt as to who they agree with.

They no longer have any influence as to what happens now, who will do it, when it will happen or how, but they still bang on.

Save me from these arrogantly loud opinions of people who insist their opinion is the only one that counts.


imageThere is something about Edinburgh that causes my heart to beat faster. It calls me from along the train track as it gets closer and closer. The first glimpses through the carriage window are so bewitching that the moment the train arrives at the station I rush to wrap my self up in the incredibly old but beautiful buildings.

The old town whispers to me as I wander it’s alleys and along it’s  cobbles. I can hear deacon Brodie’s sly words, Dr Jekyll’s rising panic and Mr Hyde’s deception alongside the echoing voices of hundreds of generations of life.

The tartan carpeted pubs open their arms to embrace me and introduce a million magical whiskies to me. The haggis and Cullen skink dance across my taste buds. The people who call Edinburgh home , share it so happily with me  as the handsome kilted men stride around to the sound track of the fiddle and bodhran.

As soon as I leave I long to return.

St Laurent vs Chanel


A few weeks ago I visited the Yves St Laurent exhibition at Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle in Co Durham. An unexpected treat as this is way up in a market town in the far north of England and the only place to hold this exhibition in Britain.

It was fab. Videos of catwalk shows featuring dresses we would see in the galleries, an area set up like his work room with swatches of embroidered fabric and mock ups of outfits and hats. Vast amounts of information was placed on the walls which had people gathered around reading and discussing  with their friends. More videos of his partner chatting and old footage of Yves himself talking. There were even the original paper cut out dolls he made paper outfits for when he was young.

Ok so the majority of the visitors were of retirement age (we felt very young!) and the discussions around weren’t relating to the artistic style, but there was an audible buzz. Friends were discussing their preferences, admiring the intricate needlework and at times reminiscing of dresses they owned that had obviously been inspired by his designs. The displays of outfits were stunning and one or two curators stood near the doors to answer any questions or enjoy the comments. People were standing admiring and gasping, laughing or even tutting. It was alive.


A month later I visited what I anticipated being a very similar exhibition, but this time on the Kings Road in London at the Saatchi Gallery. Chanel.

Again, there were little videos to watch, wall mounted articles of information, rooms created to look like her work room and stunning examples of her work. So far so good. But I left with an overwhelming sense of disappointment and despair. Everywhere I turned I got in the way of someone’s photograph, either on their phone or Ipad. At first I tried to avoid looking at the exhibits without stepping in front of someone but soon enough decided that wasn’t going to work so just got on with it.

The average age of the visitors was much younger than the previous exhibition but here no one was really talking. Few people were discussing her incredible work or the intricate detail, they were too busy taking photos. The information snippets on the walls were photographed then turned from. Nothing much was looked at other than through a lens or on a screen. The silences was deafening and the flashing cameras blinding.

The beautiful outfits here were “guarded” by bouncers/security guards. One or two curators stood at the doorways, but mainly bouncers in dark suits and headsets calling at us to “step away” or “keep back” so we didn’t set off the sensor alarms that ran across the plinths. My enjoyment was ruined.

My son , who works in marketing in London summed it up for me. “Mum, people’s attitude these days is if you haven’t got a photo of it out there on social media, then you weren’t there and it didn’t happen.”

I was there.

I didn’t photograph it. I walked around, looked, enjoyed and chatted. But give me pensioners in their best dresses discussing the delights of couture any day.

Nothing new under the sun


Back in the 70s, a Saturday morning down the town, looking at rollerball lip glosses, or sparkly eye shadows, or widely flared loons would inevitably end up with us all pouring ourselves into a photo booth for the souvenir of our adventure . . . The selfie.
It wasn’t called that then, it was simply a photo booth strip of photos that would be shared out.
Black and white, no chance to delete and start again but great fun.
My sisters and I have quite a selection. They are a great record of our hairstyles and cheap jewellery and early attempts at make up. We even have some from our family holidays with the 7 or 8 friends we made all squeezed in like sardines. Heads all over and, of course, a few with contorting faces.
With today’s selfie you can angle the camera for your best side, delete and retake if your face looks fat, quickly take one when you happen upon someone famous and only show people the ones you think make you look gorgeous.
Not the photo booth ! The wait for those pictures to drop, groaning if you look dreadful but your friend looks wonderful, taking them home and cutting them up so you can share them, then finding them 30/ 40 years later and marvelling at really how pretty you look ( I never saw that back then) and what did I do with that choker as I really like it!
Next time you bump into that celebrity and want to prove to your unbelieving friends that you actually met them, put your phone away and ask them to walk to the nearest photo booth with you. Can’t get more retro than that.

The man in the sky

As children we were told he could see us. He was everywhere and was watching us all the time to make sure we were being good. Some people ( much frowned on) didn’t bother telling their children the lie and found that it didn’t take anything away from their delight in life.
This man couldn’t be seen although many people claimed to have seen him and many said they were his representatives. As his representatives they claimed to have the powerful man’s ear and therefore knew what he wanted from us.
We had to believe in him. If we didn’t then we were somehow a lesser person who wouldn’t receive the delights that this powerful man had lined up for us. All the lovely treats and happiness would be ours if we believed, but denied us if we didn’t. But denying his existence wasn’t an option to the believers, so those who rejected this wonderful man were frequently told that they were destined for a life of sorrow and emptiness. After all how could we not put our faith in someone so caring, but who had the power to punish us if we didn’t believe?