Saturday, February 25, 2012

Making up for lost time

High time I got writing my notebook again, since I will be going to Norway again in a couple of weeks, and I see that my last post was about going there last April. Rather chaotic, and needs editing . . . 

Leo's sire Haddeo Snipe 
2011 was a hectic year for Hardyment nuptials, with three nephews, all sons of Peter, tying the knot: Tom and Camilla in Bibury, Richard and Katherine in Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, and Christopher and Maria in Syon House, near Kew. And in June 2012, John and Emma’s daughter Aelf will be married from their new Waverley Farm, Miserden.

I had a week tramping in the Dolomites in June, then a lovely dawdly summer, only working on my new book (for Frances Lincoln) about Arthur Ransome, which will appear in Autumn 2012, and getting to know my new puppy, Leo, one of 12 puppies fathered by a Shooting Times cover dog, was born 23 May and came to Nutwood at the end of July 2011

Leo's dam Rillo

Leo (on the left) is related to Angus

I made lots of Ransome related expeditions, and acquired a fine Vintage Mirror dinghy for the growing crews of grandchildren. She has only been launched into the garden so far, and is now in the boatshed, as we can proudly call the garage these days, awaiting a new coat of varnish on her topsides to equal the bright red hull. Hopefully we will launch her on the Thames in the coming summer.

The garden provided plenty of amusement, and we now have a suitably dangerous campfire site next to the Baba Yaga house. Looking out at it in the last days of February, it is hard to believe that it will be as green and bushy as this before long.

In September my leisurely work life came to the end, when I took on the challenge of writing the book for the British Library summer 2012 exhibition Writing Britain: Wastelands and Wonderlands, and found myself working morning noon and night - not my normal habit.
 But the best news of the year was the birth on 5th October of Leonard (Lenny) Billings, son of Susie and Joe. Having them living just a ten minute pram-push away means that I can see him wonderfully often. In fact, with Ellie, Jamie, Sam and Olivia living opposite Susie, Joe and Lenny, life often feels rather like a soap, as we meet each other in the co-op or Homebase.
Lenny is growing fast, and is quite a water baby - he loves his bath and has already had a session in the swimming pool. I'll have him punting in no time.

In December I went for what is becoming an annual pilgrimage to Surfside, a little dune-edge shack at the far north end of St Ives Bay. Wonderful weather and water effects, and one again I timed my visit to coincide with the full moon. Leo revelled in the beach and the waves; hopefully he'll be as good a sailing dog as Angus before long.
Gillian and Phil came again for Christmas, which was a wonderful family affair, and stretched the full twelve days, one way and another. IT was made the better because by then I had delivered both books. The last few weeks have involved a lot of mopping up of loose ends for their respective publishers, but the future spreads wide and hopeful ahead