Sunday, 5 December 2010


On 15th July, 2010 unto James and Lisa a little boy was born!

Not so little. Over nine pounds and already into clothes fit for a one year old at four months!

He is the apple of everyone's eye and even Aziz is slightly charmed I think.

Can't wait to get him on horseback. Must get myself together and get Knickers broken in time for his first ride.


I am on my own for the first time at the farm AC having just returned to London and the snow. Gatwick airport has been closed for the past two days and England is struggling amidst the chaos caused by a very early icy blast from the North Pole!

Even Cornwall is covered in a couple of feet of snow and it seems all the schools have been closed for a week now.

In Italy we have had rain but only a dusting of snow high on the hills.

AC and I flew back to Italy from London together and stayed in Florence for a couple of nights for the first time since we bought the farm. Roger Jupe had told us about a wonderful exhibition of Bronzino paintings at Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi and suggested we stay at The Loggia Senite, Piaza SS Annunciata. Loved the exhibition, not too mad about the hotel!

We had just seen the Gauguin exhibition in London at Tate Modern which I had not enjoyed one bit, but Bronzino knocked my socks off! Full of surprises including a painting of a dwarf almost full-size, nude except for a fig leaf from the front and painted again from the back or behind. Very strange. He had a owl on one shoulder and a jay on the other.

I must read the book we bought about the exhibition to discover who this chap was and why he keeps the company of these two particular birds.

Saw Piero and Maria Anna Beldonni-Boni in Firenze. They have a flat just around the corner from the hotel and they took us to two wonderful meals. The first restaurant is just near to the station and typically Tuscan. No frills but fantastic food. Will find the card and put in the info for anyone interested.

Found it:

Trattoria Sostanza Troia s.a.s.
Via del Porcellana, 25r
50123. Firenze
Tel. 055. 212691.

The second was lunch at Bella Donne, (sounds poisonous), close to the exhibition and the Arno. Doubt if I could find it again but will try.

We walked our feet off and AC saw Michelangelo's David for the first time in the Accademia. Funnily enough the Accademia turned out to be directly behind our hotel and that we could see it from our bedroom window! I had been trying for an hour to find it on our tiny map of Florence, and there it was all the time within touching distance.

Aziz came up to me laughing as we mingled with the crowds gazing up at David. He whispered that he had heard two Americans asking what David was holding in his left hand and slung over his shoulder. Well, I didn't know either. It just looked like a piece of material and I had never given it a second thought.

Of course, AC being that much more intelligent than me said, "Well, it is the sling he used to throw the stone that killed Goliath!"

Oh, it's that David, is it!!!!!

We walked around the seven days a week market and over the Ponte Vecchio. Fabulous jewelery at fabulous prices!

Finally saw inside the Duomo as well. Quite a let down compared to the majesty of the outside. One enormous empty space with the builders in! AC suggested we climb to the top and look out over the city. I hate heights so suggested I meet him afterwards in the bar next door.

I took pictures of the amazing frescoed dome, AC took photographs of the builder's paraphanelia in one corner. I asked him why and he said he thought it was a more interesting photograph!!!!

Had a drink in a little bar opposite and talked to a charming man from Rome who had come up for the day on his own. He designed IT sites and came from somewhere in the Caribbean.

Suddenly a posse of Chinese arrived in my eyeline in front of the bar with the Duomo behind. I took their picture and then they all took mine. Then one by one they came into the bar to have their picture taken with us. Lots of laughter and they were insistent that we knew they came from China.

Where else would they have come from looking like that?!!!


Took some pictures which I will post later.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


AC and I had our first day 'together' in London today and chose to spend it on a trip down Father Thames to Tate Modern to see the Gauguin exhibition, and something that moved me far more, the Sunflower Seeds.

Here are some photographs just to jog our memories in years to come.

I am going to use my blog more as a diary for Little Jude than saying anything of earth-shattering importance!

Tate Modern is such a stark and imposing building that one is immediately put in the mind-set to enjoy whatever they throw at you.

Well, not Gauguin for me. We both took one of those audio machines for explanation but I had to agree with a lady who was leaving the final room who said that if she hadn't had to fight to understand where she was and what the machine was telling her then she might have enjoyed the pictures more.

I did have a fight with the machine but more of a disagreement with Gaughin. I just think he was mad and that Van Gogh and he should have cut each others' ears off, smacked each other over the head with their respective chairs, caught syphillus and died much sooner than they did.

Dreary, dark, brooding, badly painted pictures of dark ladies and even worse pictures of horses carrying him off across the river to oblivion.

Loved his ceramics! Has anyone ever heard of Gauguin's ceramics? They are mad but brilliant.

Bit like the Sunflower Seeds.

Mr. Wei Wei Whatever, made twenty thousand million single ceramic sunflower seeds, employed a whole town of thousands to work on this one work of art, shipped them to London to be laid as a carpet for people to walk on and make patterns, pick them up in handfuls, suck them, put them in their pockets as a lasting memory of his art-piece, and guess what?

Health and Safety has forbidden anyone to go near them because of the danger of dust!!!!!!!!

Poor Mr. Wei Wei. Buggered by beurocracy! Still a strangely moving mountain of Chinese porcelaine.


Friday, 12 November 2010



A sad visit to London to attend our friend Pat Amy Tudor's Memorial service at Chelsea Old Church. 17th March 1942 - 10th July 2010. Wednesday, 10th November, 2010.

After days of rain the sun came out and we were treated to the most beautiful weather for Pat's farewell. Lunched with Gina and Tommy Sopwith at Frantoio and then sobbed throughout a beautiful service.

I think singing All Things Bright and Beautiful and looking at photographs in the service sheet of Pat suddenly brought home how close we all are to death. Tears welled and after running down my cheeks, dripped off my chin. I had to summon every fibre of my body not to climb over the back of my pew and escape such emotion.

An old friend of Pats' and pianist John Lill played Chopin's Nocturne in C Minor, Op 48/1 and Alexander Scriabin's Study in D Sharp Minor Op 8/12 and a wonderful young man Roberto Abate, sang Franz Schubert's Ave Maria which brought the house down!

Met up with a lot of our old, (and I mean old!), friends at the reception following the service and caught up with Pat's sister Barbara and brother in law, Jim Higgins. They had both spoken tributes during the ceremony in memory of Pat and although full of grief, somehow held on to their dignity and Jim even spoke for ten minutes without a note in his hand!

I still think that William Blake's, "Jerusalem", is one of the best hymns ever written and one of the most moving.

We walked home down the King's Road and the rain started. It hasn't stopped for three days now! Even the heaven's are sad at the loss of such a dear friend.

Yesterday AC took me to an exhibition at The Barbican. Thirty years of Japanese Fashion.
A beautifully executed history of designs by Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto.

On our way home we walked down Conduit Street and dropped into Issey Miyake's beautiful shop. His designs are still ground-breaking and I long to own one of his overcoats.

Lunch at a fabulous Italian (!!!!!) restaurant in Soho, Boca de Lupo. Why on earth can't all Italian restaurants provide such a menu? Unusual recipes and hardly any of the rubbish that our local restaurants in Tuscany serve for the tourists. Must learn how to make Espresso Zabaglione!!! Bang went the diet but we did walk home in the rain!!!!

Today I have my Little Boy for the day. James and Lisa are dropping Jude off to his Nona and Babu for a little hard earned R and R. I expect they will just go home and sleep as they both sound totally worn out.

Tomorrow lunch for the family and for AC's parents. Better go have my bath and then to Waitrose! How life goes on.


Tuesday, 15 June 2010


Today I died in a ditch with a six foot tall dark stranger.

He had wandered down from the olive terraces after weeks of suffering from a large tumor on his face.

His owner had not been able to face the prospect of putting him down when the original prognosis had been made so put him out to grass in our olive trees.

He was together with three other of his elderly friends and before the weather had changed from freezing cold to warm and now blasted hot, he was happy wandering the olive groves and grazing on the wild grasses and herbs.

Aramis and his friends had a stream running through their grazing and if I could wish any horse a happier last few weeks, months, years, I can think of no better place to rest out their last.

Aramis arrived at my door this morning, all six feet of beautiful bay coat stretched over arched bones, frothing from the mouth, gasping for breath, covered in flies, and swaying on tall and elegant legs. He was a beautiful beast with a tumor measuring two feet in either direction from his lower nostril up to his eyes. He could hardly breathe and was unable to drink.

Why would nature kill such a fantastic animal so slowly?

He had come down to find someone to die with.

I left him to call his owners and when I returned I found him collapsed in the small stream bed below the house. After several attempts to right himself he collapsed under the shade of a quince tree which is where I joined him with a cold, wet bath towel.

I covered his head and asked my gardener to bring a hose to cool him down and to rid him of the ever present stinging flies we have in Tuscany.

Once his head was covered and he was cool and the flies had stopped biting, he lay for half an hour just relaxing.

The vet had been called, his owners were on their way but after three really heavy sighs and lots of tears, he died and went somewhere where horses are not bitten or kicked but appreciated for their diligence and subservience and unquestioning love.

He has taught me a lesson never to be forgotten.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


Queen Elizabethand I have both suffered from bad years. This last year beats all for me but luckily I have tucked myself away in the depths of Tuscany to lick my wounds and so not many have noticed.

I really cannot remember how the year 2009 began but I do know that I was enjoying my vegetable garden and my greenhouse in the early months. Planting early veg and flower seeds and then in April taking my usual ride at Paolo's stables on my wonderful Salty, then suddenly one day I lay in the open riding school eating gravel on the floor with Lamu curled beside me licking my face but otherwise unable to get help.

This must have been the first time I paid attention to detail in my life!! I think I have always thought every day was a rehearsal for what I would do when I grew up!! That day was the first day I felt I was facing my own mortality.

I have never felt the necessity to read any instruction manual for a new piece of electronic equipment or something necessitating construction, I always knew how to work it out for myself. I suppose this is how I have also viewed life, I could always work it out for myself.

That day, I have no recollection of how I landed up on the floor eating dirt, or why my dog was whimpering by my side, or why Salty was looking down on me, reins dangling, I just knew I hurt and life had opened the door marked "Looser" which had for 66 years read "Survivor".

Childhood problems I had none but from the age of 21 when I married a highly intelligent, successful actor, my life took on a drama that would be worthy of any stage in the land.

I intend to write this when I can no longer race cars, (early), throw myself off horses (recent) or garden.