Autumn Garden

The trees surrounding our house have not forgotten what time of year it is, even if the weather hasn’t yet caught up. The sky-reaching line of horse-chestnuts takes pride of place in heralding the turning season; I love to sit next by the lovely draughty leaded windows in our sitting room, and watch Autumn arrive. Each year the colour moves in the same way; the orange embers begin to smoulder at the furthest tree and creep quietly along the row, catching the odd leaf in turn with a spark which will slowly gather fuel from the starry nights and morning chills, until the entire row becomes a loud blaze of orange Autumn joy.

This colour is echoed across the garden at this time of year. The abundant clusters of holly berries which hang low over the path like party decorations for the Autumn solstice are currently the same beautiful orange en route to their Winter scarlet. My new patch of Chinese Lanterns (Physallis) reflect the same hue in their waxy pumpkin-shapes, having their own private celebration amongst the rapidly fading roses.

Even the last stragglers on my tomato plants have conformed to the seasonal dress code, bright orange against their browning leaves. A robin hops around the border, his rusty breast bridging the gap between Autumn’s orange and the deep reds which emerge as this season progresses.

The apple tree is utterly magnificent this year, though struggling to stand proud with its heavy harvest. An enormous spider, which has kindly taken it upon himself to keep our kitchen free of flies, grows fatter by the day. One last flower decorates my trusty Clematis Montana, whilst the white Cosmos flowers glow against the darker mornings.

Yorkshire Life – August 2019

So delighted to buy a copy of Yorkshire Life and see my feature inside! I had such a lovely time researching it with brilliant photographer (and ace walking companion) Tony Bartholomew ( and then writing it in my little study, whilst watching the baby magpie and its devoted parents who have made their home in our garden hedge. A thoroughly enjoyable episode!

Home Sweet Home #1

I woke up naturally this morning to the sound of birdsong and nothing else. I could probably count on one hand the number of times this has happened in the past fifteen years since motherhood began for me. Child number 3 (no fan of nightwear) has a habit of sliding her naked cherubic bottom dangerously close to my sleeping face as she climbs into bed to be the jam in the sandwich between my husband and I. Literally, a rude awakening! The reason for this morning’s delicious lie-in was a romantic night away at a lovely country house hotel in Goathland. Husband maintains we do this regularly but I’m not sure every three years exactly counts as regular.


The last time we had this rare treat, it snowed whilst we were playing cards in a cosy bar by a roaring fire whilst supping a delicious pint or two of Black Sheep. This is my idea of absolute heaven. I didn’t dare dream that this would happen again, so, whilst we had a lovely walk down a tree-lined avenue towards the village, I contented myself with the fact that the sweet air was utterly freezing, so we would still need to find a roaring fire to sit beside despite no snow.


Later that evening, as we were tucked up in a corner of the hotel bar, playing cards on a quirky Mouseman table, we saw ourselves reflected in a much older couple, also playing cards and laughing together. Whilst I was admiring the elderly lady’s chic country elegance, her husband pointed her gaze through to the hotel foyer windows, saying, ‘Blizzard!’ I tried to look nonchalant as I walked/ran through to the front door and out into the whirling snowflakes, illuminated for a split second each as they were caught in turn by the hotel’s lights. It was perfect! I so wished the children could have been here to see it.


I didn’t wake up naturally the following morning. A bare cherubic bottom came within raspberry-blowing distance of my face. Maybe once every three years is enough. Home sweet home.

My Cat is Trying to Kill Me

My cat is trying to kill me –

He dissects small mammals with laboratory precision, leaving carefully chosen organs in easy sight as a morning warning to me…

My cat is trying to kill me –

He feigns curled-up contentment, then streaks to where my foot is justabouttofall

(if the shock doesn’t get her, the tumble will…)


My cat is trying to kill me –

He jumps onto the forbidden table as I pass, to add his germs to my next meal.


My cat is trying to kill me –

He weaves a snug figure of eight to manacle my busy-cooking ankles.


My cat is trying to kill me –

He stalks me on the stairs,

Waiting for a slip-up…


My cat is trying to kill me –

He enters my cosy room, deliberately leaving the door ajar

(the icy draught will slowly swallow her)


My cat is trying to kill me.


Or maybe it’s love.

© Charlotte Oliver 2017

Thurs 11th Feb

Active procrastination jobs completed: trimmed straggly hedge, hoovered under a several pieces of furniture, cleaned inside washing machine (new depths, I know).

Today’s crushing remark by one of my children:

Me: How do you fancy being my chief cuddler while daddy’s away?

Child: Okay, if you pay me a pound for each cuddle.

A Fresh Start

It’s been seven and a half years since my last blog.

This realisation came as quite a shock. What an impressive feat of procrastination! Or it would have been, had I spent the time wantonly indulging myself in worthless pursuits and my natural inclination to nap. Rather I have in this time produced child number three, who, alongside child one and child two, I have managed to feed and water more or less regularly, as well as sustain in accordance with accepted levels of hygiene and fun. There has also been a house move, a PhD (his, not mine), a Masters (mine, not his), a drive to eliminate unnecessary chemicals from the home, landscaping of the garden, attempted loft clearance, countless deliveries to the charity shop/dump, adventurous recipes involving dried pulses, craft projects embarked upon and musical instruments learned.

So, in the terms used by experts in the art of putting things off (they do exist!), it has at least been ‘active procrastination’, which makes me feel a bit better.

Sadly, though, the shock of discovering quite how long ‘tomorrow’ has not arrived for has clearly not been enough to stop me dawdling. In fact, since first starting work on my triumphant return to the blogosphere this morning, I have done every last bit of laundry, made soup, made bread, sent emails, made several phone calls, napped and caught up on a television programme. It would appear my ability to procrastinate is still in the rudest health and I look forward to seeing what personal and home improvements I will achieve over the course of this blog.

It’s good to be back (and to have an empty laundry basket!).

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