A Bookish Birthday

Reading time 5 minutes

You might well assume that I’d had enough of being busy doing nothing over the Christmas holidays. That’s certainly not the case. Over the last year I have embraced ‘down time’ like never before. Perhaps it’s my age, or The Beau’s positive influence; maybe it’s simply having the time to entertain periods of relaxation instead of being constantly on the go. Whilst I still feel a degree of guilt about taking time out, I do find it comes a lot more easily these days.

Max and Millie are completely bewildered because they are normally left to their own devices during the day. My attempts to make a fuss of them during their ‘down time’ are seemingly not appreciated. Hence we have all claimed our spot on the sofa and are quietly pretending that we are not bothered about the company, when really we are loving every moment. Such small pleasures are to be cherished under the circumstances.

Like many people over the last ten months I am celebrating my birthday during lockdown. As a treat to myself I have taken the day off and plan to spend most of it on the sofa with Max and Millie, a stack of books and copious cups of tea. Delius will provide musical entertainment. All of this jollity will be followed by a generous quantity of champagne this evening, once The Beau comes home to join me. ‘Chilling’ (surely a polite word for being lazy?) is not something I do very often, so this is a genuine treat. Had the weather been fine first thing I would have considered weeding the allotment. I am telling myself that it would be bad for the earth to have me trampling all over it in the wet. The weeds can wait until the weekend.

Not enjoying this AT ALL daddy!

First of all I want to finish reading Beverley Nichols’ ‘Gardens Open Tomorrow’, then I shall complete ‘Gardens In The Royal Park at Windsor’ by Lanning Roper, recommended within the pages of that first book. Published in 1959, ‘Gardens In The Royal Park at Windsor’ was purchased on eBay shortly after Christmas. It arrived at The Watch House in wonderful condition, still impregnated with the metallic scent of ink and packed with glorious plates, both in colour and black and white. The type on each thick, textured page is large and fabulously easy to read. For sixty three shillings, just over three pounds Sterling back then, you could acquire this handsome tome. Nowadays that would hardly buy you a tacky magazine. It’s been a few years since I last visited the Savill and Valley Gardens so I look forward to returning with my eyes widened by Mr Roper.

Having rediscovered the joys of eBay – alas rather a one way street for Yours Truly – I purchased another book on a whim: ‘Setting The Scene’ by George Carter and Marianne Majerus. I’ve only skimmed through it thus far. I look forward to delving further into the story of Humphrey Repton and his influence on contemporary garden design. I have always found Repton a lot more interesting than Capability Brown: his red books with their charming little illustrated flaps and overlays bring out a child-like fascination in me.

So, enough of this writing, I should be reading and snuggling …. but not before making a very decadent crab sandwich for my lunch. Small pleasures, as I say. TFG.

Categories: Book Reviews, Musings

Posted by The Frustrated Gardener

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24 comments On "A Bookish Birthday"

  1. Poached some salmon last night Dan, so salmon sandwiches for me. Wish I had celebrated may birthday in such style – in the original lockdown – so enjoy. Love the socks!

  2. Happy Birthday!!! Mine was yesterday and I spent it at work so I’m quite envious of how you are spending yours! Enjoy!!! Thanks, as always, for such wonderful content- your site is always one of my favorites!

  3. Enjoy the day and best wishes on your birthday – I suggest the champagne would go well with the crab sandwich and you can always open another bottle this evening. Be kind to yourself!

    It’s a dull, misty day here – the morning has been spent placing the online grocery order and baking a batch of scones. Books await me for the afternoon – Dan Hinkley’s Windcliff – very enjoyable.

    I enjoyed Setting the Scene very much: https://anirishgardener.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/a-masterclass-from-two-masters/

  4. Enjoy your special day Dan. Read, relax, cuddle with the dogs and J when he comes home, have a cup or more of your favourite tea. Happy birthday once more 🙂

  5. Happy Birthday! Enjoy your day, ‘chilling’ is a really worthwhile pursuit and, as you say, not that easy for a busy person! Lovely books you’re spending your time with…and crab sandwich for lunch! Yum! Mr M and I both approve!

    Loved your description of the dogs’ reaction 🙂 My Collies find it difficult to chill…

  6. Happy Birthday! Setting the Scene looks very interesting. I may have to purchase if you recommend. Side note….. I have that same gateleg table. Inherited it from my British great grandma! Have 2 glasses of champagne!

  7. I am glad to see that you are enjoying your birthday. I would enjoy those books too no doubt. I read a little about Repton. I would love to see one of his red books in person. I have read that there are some still around. He was an interesting designer. He didn’t exactly follow the leaders of the day, he was a leader.

    1. I have only seen one original red book at Endsleigh in Devon (now the dreamiest hotel you can imagine) and it did not disappoint. I kept sneaking downstairs to take another look. Would love to go back again some day soon.

  8. Thanks for sharing some book ideas. I have found that Abe Books is brilliant for out of print books, some of them very inexpensive. They will often have several copies of titles I can’t find on eBay or Amazon.

  9. Sounds like you have had a fab day Dan, and I too admire your socks and your bravery for posting a photo of them! Wishing you all the best for the year ahead 🥰

    1. Oh goodness! They are part of a set of five pairs so there’s more where they came from. The socks are made from bamboo fibre and are super soft and comfy. I love them.

      All the best to you too! Dan

  10. Belated birthday wishes from North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Your special days sounds like it was wonderful. I love your blog and look forward to each new post. Wishing you all the very best, Barb

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