Wednesday, 12 December 2007


It's always nice to arrive home except I don't know where HOME is anymore!

Our flat in London and my robinia tree looked just the same. Always the last to lose its' leaves and last to sprout in the spring. I arrived to fall back into a life of no cats, no dogs, no ponies, no watering of plants, no opening and closing of glass houses, etc. Just parking meter attendants, rubbish on the streets, no smiles and no interest from one's fellow men.

I did have a few interesting chats with taxi drivers but they are usually so depressing and anti everything that the only one I can remember is a guy who is planning a holiday near Venice with his wife, his mother-in-law and his six children, under canvas!!! He is driving there in his taxi with his eldest son because everyone else has said they couldn't stand being in an enclosed space listening to him trash Ken Livingstone for 48 hours!!!!

He did ask me if I would like to keep a toy boy!!! I didn't know whether to be flattered or shocked. Was he offering? He said definitely as his wife had let herself go and had not cooked the family a fresh meal in twenty-five years!!! Every day she goes to Marks and Spencer or McDonalds and buys take-aways for eight people. How much must she spend on food a week?

Sadly, he was not a Robert Redford lookalike so I offered to give his wife some cooking lessons instead!!

So they are flying ahead to put up the tents and he is following at taxi speed. I wonder if he turns on his clock? It would be interesting to see how much it would cost to take a taxi to Venice from central London!

Our local church, St. Peter's Eaton Square.

BUT, after about four days of wondering where my shadow in the shape of Lamu had gone, I began to worry about how the animals felt having suddenly had their team leader disappear into thin air. I missed my ping pong ponies so much I dreamed about them and I knew there were a million things I should be doing in the garden.

I made up for this by buying lots of gardening journals and then ordering everything necessary for a successful springtime in Tuscany!!!!

The bulbs will have flowered and the trees sprouted by the time they arrive here in Casa Loreto. What a shame. It really did feel like an addict being taken away from its root (!) source.

London looked much as I remembered it but wetter. Noah could have floated his Ark down the Thames and into surrounding flatlands to his hearts content. If they don't build a better Thames Barrier fairly shortly I really believe that the Houses of Parliament, the Palace, and what is more important, OUR FLAT, will be flooded within the next ten years. They were warning the east coast that the tides were at their highest, a strong wind was forecast NE/SW and that a lot of the coastal properties would be flooded. The barrier on the Thames was closed and many families were calling their insurance companies.

I wish I had taken a photograph of my bedroom ceiling. God knows I had the time. I could show you what I really did in London! Three days at the beginning of my stay out and about, ten days in bed and then three days at the end did not do justice to my plans for retail therapy and happy hours gossiping with my friends. I must have saved a lot of money though and that makes me happy. I can now buy some more animals!!!!

Maybe a few sheep. A house cow or two. Jerseys of course. I am reading an autobiography by my heroin Iris Origa and she mentions that her grand-parents at Westbrook, their house on Long Island always kept a small herd of Jerseys in 1909!!! The local cattle are not quite as dainty:

Our good friends the Rosenquists gave us a welcoming dinner party with all the Usual Suspects which was great fun. Old friends are the best because everything comes naturally. We all talk the same talk and don't have to fill in the blanks! Lazy I suppose.

I hardly saw any of my other friends, but did fit in a few good meals at Marks Club with the Lewintons, and Le Gavroche with David McAlpine and Angharad.

We had lunch with Christopher and Elaine Plummber at Zafferano. I gave an 86 birthday party for Norman Webb, Sally James, my son James and his girlfriend Lisa but missed dozens of others I had really planned to meet.

Feeling rotten I took the Gatwick Express to the airport and a private jet to Firenze!!! There can't have been more than ten people on the flight. Had just missed my train to Camucia so sat in the restaurant at Florence and was immediately surrounded by two women who announced they had slept the night on one of the platforms and didn't have any money to buy lunch! Of course I left lighter in pocket and wondering why they looked so neat and trim and WASHED. I saw them loading their trays with three courses and a bottle of wine as I made my escape.

My best private time on this trip is on the train from Florence to my local station. A half bottle of red wine, a baguette bought at Gatwick, watching the passing rivers and learning what to grow in my garden from observing the local back yards of the Italians. It is magic and the journey is always too short. I could take a private car from the airport to home but just think what I would miss.


And wondering how I am going to sell 800 bottles of superb olive oil.