Posted in Family, Personal life, Travel

The Silver and the Gold

In the wake of our national preoccupation with platinum, my thoughts have turned to silver and gold.

When I was eight years old, my family moved to the USA for a year to be with my father in his new job. I boarded the plane with Tiny Tears and Teddy in my arms, ready to embrace my new home and school with enthusiasm and an open mind.

While my older brother and sister refused to take part in the classroom flag salute with which every school day began, I got stuck in, hand on heart:

I pledge allegiance to the flag, and the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

A strange substitute for our comfortable daily religious assembly back home, sandwiching a quick prayer between two familiar hymns, but I wanted to fit in.

Before long, I’d made my Girl Scout Promise: “On my honor (sic), I will try to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people at all times, and to obey the Girl Scout laws.” Although I had to recite it only once, I remember the words far better, maybe because they chimed better with the gentle, apolitical hymns I was used to in assembly. Our school birthday hymn ended, “We hope you will be healthy and strong all the way; Strong to do right, slow to do wrong; and helpful to others all the day long.”

Another thing I learned as a Girl Scout was to sing this simple song in a round:

Make new friends, but keep the old;
One is silver and the other gold.

I rated my Girl Scout friends as silver, while my classmates back in England, at the school I rejoined a year later, were very much gold.

Six years later, we moved for four years to Germany, where I attended the Frankfurt International School with students from over sixty countries. It was time again to make silver friends. I kept in touch with the golden ones at home via numerous twenty-page letters handwritten on lurid stationery. Well, this was the 1970s.

In those days, long-distance friendships relied on such old-fashioned methods of communication. As we progressed through life, it was too easy to lose touch. Then along came the internet. Whatever else you think of social media, it’s a great means of tracing old friends. Thanks to Facebook, around the time of the Platinum Jubilee, I was able to welcome to my home here in the Cotswolds my old Canadian friend Debra, a classmate from Frankfurt International School.

We hadn’t seen each other in real life since the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.

photo of Debbie and Debby
With Debra Esau, friends reunited this summer after 45 years

What the Girl Scout song neglects to mention is that the alchemy of time eventually transforms silver friends into gold, and that meanwhile your hair may turn silver. But that’s a price I’m happy to have paid.

This post was originally written for the July/August edition of the Tetbury Advertiser.

Posted in Personal life

The Lure of the Garden

A post about following my instincts when they told me to spend the day in the garden instead of at my desk

On the day I should have been writing an article for a national website, an invisible force lured me into the garden and made me potter about there instead. This is what I did.

Bunting in my garden
Hung out the flags to celebrate summer
Troughs full of plants
Weeded the troughs to show off my new colour-changing solar lamps
Table and chairs on patio
Tidied the old patio and brought the sewing machine table and chairs back in from the lawn to create a nice seating area for morning coffee


Two money trees outside the back door
Gave some houseplants a summer holiday


row of cuttings in pots
Brought out the cuttings I’ve taken to give them some sunshine


My foot on the floor
Accidentally took a photo of my foot


Scented geraniums in troughs
Tried to teach some scented geraniums to climb


Tub of mint, geranium and flags
Hacked back the eau-de-cologne mint and added some patriotic planting in front
Honeysuckle in my garden
Admired the honeysuckle. Bliss.
Mug shaped like a pair of jeans, photographed in the garden
Thought about my lovely friend Aaren, whose birthday it was that day, and photographed the gift she gave me for my 16th birthday to put on Facebook with my birthday message to her
Butterfly or moth on statue of a hare
Discovered a mysterious and beautiful butterfly which my friend Clare later identified as a day-flying moth. Who knew?! The statue is a moon-gazing hare, by the way, an ancient fertility symbol. Maybe the butterfly/moth has family plans.
Table and chairs on patio
Tidied another bit of patio (in front of old pigsty) and its pots of herbs, which I then designated the summer lunch room


I refused to feel guilty for having such a blissfully fulfilling day in the sunshine, which I’m sure restored my spirits and equilibrium, as well as the garden.

Instead I got up at 6am the next day to write my by then overdue article, and I’m sure the article was so much better for my day in the garden. If you’re interested, you can read the finished article here on the Writers and Artists website.