Hold your treasures tightly

black and white doodle

I don’t mean possessions, I’m not at all materialistic. I find money and things get in the way of the real stuff.

What I mean is the people you love, the habits you’ve formed together. The smiles you share and the games you play.

The odds and ends of life always turn out to be the best bits.

Alex and me have a thing for curling up on the sofa to watch some TV at the end of a long day – and busy evenings with the kids and their friends and everything else going on after work – we don’t usually get there until 10pm. If we’re not watching something together (and at the moment it’s The Handmaid’s Tale – which is another blog post entirely), Alex is so patient and will watch any sort of thing I choose, though he draws the line at hospital emergencies, and so I have to watch them from behind a cushion. Or sometimes I’ll draw and doodle while some film is going on. I’m very annoying – I ask too many questions about the plot, so that’s why I doodle instead.

I usually just draw whatever I can see; all the tiny, familiar but worthless objects that make a world cosy.

It’s nice. It’s boring. It’s love. It’s home.

Hold onto it tightly, and let all the rubbish fall away.


Box Hill

IMG_4239When I was ill recently, and couldn’t walk, it was hard to imagine that I’d ever be back to normal. And indeed, it has taken all this time – months! – for my leg to properly heal, and for my foot and ankle, which were the worst affected with the deepest infection, to get any feeling back.


I cried a lot one day, over Box Hill. Perhaps it was the all the medication talking, but I was inconsolable, and convinced that climbing up Box Hill of a Summer’s afternoon would never again be possible.


Well, lots of things are possible, of course, given time and determination. (Even getting three teenagers out of bed before noon in half term and into their walking shoes).


Alex had a day off today, so we planned it all out. The skies were blue and the weather was hot, and sort of brewing for a storm in that English Summer way. My poor beautiful foot was fine. It got me all the way up to the top where the views were as amazing as ever, (though I omitted to take any photos!) and then back down the long way along the gently meandering River Mole, where we stopped in the meadows for a picnic.


There were cows in the meadows, and one was feeding her calf, so I went over and told her what a good Mother she was, and how lovely were her eyelashes. I like to think we had a moment – woman and beast in one connected universe – but the kids pointed out that it was ruined slightly by me eating a roast beef sandwich at the same time.


That’s what it was like, today. Lots of laughing and walking and catching up with each other, and the kids exploring and running ahead and back again, and asking over and over can we get a dog?*


And the best bit was, I did it, all those miles and miles, and the future looks bright.



PS: No drawings, ’cause this is a day off. 🙂 I just couldn’t resist sharing it with you.


See you Monday. xx

Broken pieces

How I feel about you: Angela

How I feel about you: Angela


It’s been quite a week, since Saturday, and it’s only Wednesday. Today is the first day I feel even vaguely like myself.

I’m typing this in hospital on my phone with one finger of my left hand, as my right arm is receiving elephant strength intravenous antibiotics for a weird infection that came on suddenly late on Saturday night.

What a drama! I won’t bore you with the details,  but make sure that if you romp around the park and have a tiny cut on the back of your ankle, you stay away from nasty germs that might get in, call some friends and start having a party deep in your leg’s skin tissue.

The result: a hot, swollen, nauseous, confused and feverish mess – getting worse by the hour – the primary stages of a quite scary situation that without these drugs can easily escalate.

Thank the Lord for being able to rush to the hospital.

It’s been pretty full on – a bit chaotic and unusual. And I don’t like needles AT ALL and there have been plenty.

The worst, most distressing thing for me though has been feeling so dis-abled. My Mum had 3 diseases the calibre of which you’d be unlucky to encounter once in your life, never mind in triplicate. She was very disabled and it broke my heart to watch. So many stories, but hearts so broken into pieces must be carefully handled and I haven’t got my white gloves to hand right now so I can’t tell you them.  I’ll just say that not being able to move, being in such pain, feeling so out of control… it opened up the vault where I keep those broken bits of my heart and in shock, I was forced to look in. They still beat, and the sad song they sing is still the same.

Still, the door to that vault is closing a little bit more each day as the infection in my leg is receding. I’ll be glad when it’s finally tight shut again. I don’t know any other way to go through this life. I can walk past that vault but I can’t go in. I know it will never go away. Just having it there is enough.

I’d rather move on, and romp around the park in the Spring sunshine. Or maybe not! Is there really danger everywhere?!

Be careful.

PS: if you read my cheery Facebook update it was the drugs talking! And thank you to everyone who has looked after me so well. What would I do without you?

PPS: today I have crutches! Bring your snails round. I will race them.

A fine young man

Portrait of young man by Trudi Murray

I’m not usually given to showing off, and we all know that there’s a certain someone loudly claiming all the bragadocious energy in the Universe at the moment. But I heard Barack Obama say recently that if your parents aren’t bragging on you, then you’re in trouble.

I was taken with this idea, and am going to seize the opportunity, since my boy Felix has been impressing me of late.

He’s a delight. About to take A levels, and with designs of going on to University to invent the next gadget you didn’t know you needed but which will change your life, and probably the whole world, and hopefully the climate, he can also do laundry.

He’s kind. He’s funny. He loves hot chocolate. He lives for music and isn’t afraid to perform an electronic DJ set of his own writing/devising wearing a snapback* and a shabby oversized jumper, wreathed in dry ice and effortlessly cool, in front of an audience of bewildered la-di-da parents at the school concert.

He’s an outer London kid, used to trains and tubes and buses and connections, and getting used to Camden market, late nights, beer and the way of girls.

What a fine young man. I’m prepared to believe the cigarettes weren’t his.

*snapback: a peaked hat. There is literally no difference between a snapback and a baseball cap. Discuss. (Believe me, we have.)

Happy Birthday

Burger heaven on a plate

It was a birthday in our family this weekend – and we went out for burgers to celebrate. It was a good choice of restaurant from the birthday girl – fun, relaxed, friendly and fast. The burgers were fat, juicy and delicious. Only one of us really likes gherkins, so he got all 5.

We had such a good time we had pudding too (as if we needed it!), and then we staggered home and watched TV together.

A perfect evening, in my book. Happy Birthday!

Finding Treasure

It’s been a good Summer. It was so busy at the end of term, and I felt so exhausted and rattled by it, that I came down with some vague illness, and had to keep taking to my bed like a pale Victorian housewife. I’m sure it was just plain good old fashioned tiredness. My kind neighbour told me I must rest, and slow down. A holiday was maybe what I needed the most.


This cat kept me company. He always knows when someone needs a cuddle.

It was a great prospect – 2 weeks in the Mediterranean sun, but it’s not an easy thing, organising a family holiday, and perhaps that was contributing to my brain scramble! Eventually we set off. Books, electronics, sketching pencils and swimming costumes were all carefully packed, and looking like quite the English family going on a Summer holiday, pale and cheerful and shivering slightly in the chilly UK morning, we walked into the packed early morning airport. It always amazes me how you can just get on a plane and go somewhere – anywhere! I rarely fly, so I’m always out of practice and get flustered at the security gates, drop everything in a panic, think I’ve lost the passports, leave my hat behind, can’t remember the flight time… We made it through eventually, and it dawned on me in an awful moment of quiet horror that I would now have to go on an aeroplane.


Once I’m in the air, it’s better. Look what’s up there! The fear of it is usually worse than the reality (and that’s a truth I apply daily to lots of things). I usually try to pretend to myself that the plane is a train. I go on trains often, and they do look similar. So tricking myself helps. And I try to have fun. I did lots of drawing to pass the time…


The view down the cabin

And eventually, after planes and ferries and taxis… this.


Is it worth all the preparation, the travelling, and the nervousness? YES, always!

I was very excited this year about the beaches, because a wonderful illustrator I know online, Lisa Berkshire, has been showing some great photos of decorated stones she has left at the beach for people to find. She sells them too, and you should definitely go and have a look at her gorgeous work (link to her website at the end). I was very enamoured with this lovely idea, and so I asked her if I might do some stone decorating too, in my own way. She very kindly said yes, go for it (I always think it’s good to ask first in these situations, there is nothing worse than copying – ugh).  So I was looking forward to whiling away some time with my feet in the ocean and a pen in my hand. What could be better?

I decorated and left one or two stones at each beach we went to. The first ones were patterns and flowers, and then I found a thinner pen, so I could manage mermaids and smaller details too. I debated at length about whether to add my contact details, as I really didn’t want to be making ‘adverts’ – that wasn’t the plan at all, but I did so want to know if anyone found my treasure, so in the end it had to go on.

I hid some of the stones really quite well, and others I left more prominent, usually as we left the beach. It was fun! But by the end of the holiday, I was ‘hiding’ stones while we were there, and then watching from behind my book to see if people found them. One day, I watched a little boy find one, then turn over lots more, searching for another. His family left the beach, and my stone went with him, in his hand. It really made me smile. He made my day. Maybe I made his. We’ll probably never know, and I love that.

In the following weeks, I’ve had several excited messages via email and Facebook, from people who had found a stone and were kind enough to get in touch. It’s been a real joy! Thank you if you sent me a message. You were part of my holiday, and it was such a good one.

Please go and have a peek at Lisa Berkshire’s lovely shop on Folksy.com, and all her fabulous illustrated treasures:





How I Feel About you: Angela


Painting of woman by Trudi Murray
Since I stopped you
coming round,
effectively banned you
from walking up the path,
ghostly vapour trailing
a cobweb on the grass
I don’t feel you
at all.
I can’t hear you clattering the cake tins
or whirring softly from room to room
or peglegging along the landing
and for that I’m glad.
Those days are over.
It was nice having you
for a while,
hanging around,
telling me what to do
and how,
advice from the other side
a crystal ball of crazy
so readily available
but don’t you think
it’s time
let me grow up?
I’ve put everything about you
in a box
and taped it up.
Everything with your writing on,
that A3 jiffy bag
we sent back and forth from university
a million times
with sweets in.
I loved choosing for you.
It’s in the box,
all of it.
Well, not everything.
Your china head
and your best scarf,
your 60s skirt
and your sewing kit
I still use regularly.
Your hands in my hands
and your laugh in my laugh
and your eyes in my eyes
and your playfulness
so deeply rooted inside me
and bubbling out
I cannot get rid of.
Trudi Murray June 29th 2016
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