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Time for the woolly socks and cosy dressing gowns! It’s cold, it’s been raining and the house is toasty because we have the fire going.

I had to go out and get a barrow of wood, so I just flung on any clothes I could find. The result was this:

like I just crawled out of the Salvation Army donations bin.

I cut some more autumn roses while I was out there – no sense keeping them on the bush, the rain will ruin them.

‘Glamis Castle’ towards the back, ‘Iceberg’ at the front and the lovely deep pink ‘Othello’. The paler, dusty pink is a hybrid tea I inherited from the original owners. It’s called ‘Plum Crazy’.

‘Glamis Castle’ is a David Austin rose, grafted onto a standard. There are three of them in the large garden bed near the terrace. I don’t like them. They get black spot and they grow long, ungainly and thorny stems and then lose their leaves in summer. But it is my own snobbery that put them there. I should have put in the dependable ‘Iceberg’, which would be flourishing after all this time. But no, I couldn’t grow standard ‘Icebergs’, common as muck, you see them everywhere….

Well, you do and they look great. And my ‘Glamis Castle’s look awful.

I have been listening to:

Bonnie Prince Billy ‘Lie Down In The Light‘. If you know Will Oldham, you will know how his songs, which seem so innocuous, sneak up on you. His voice is frail and sort of whispery and his lyrics are quite dark usually.

This is one of my favourite “cold weather” books:

‘Miss Smilla’s Feeling For Snow’ by Peter Hoek. Another genre book, they often seem to be my favourites; crime this time. It is a compelling description of life and death in Greenland and Denmark. Miss Smilla herself is a wonderful character, dark, moody and so strong, the sum of her mixed heritage.

And this painting has been haunting my imagination:

It is called ‘Muldoon’ and was painted in 1968 by James Dixon. The book is ‘Portal Painters- A Survey Of British Idiosyncratic Artists’, a collection of paintings by self taught artists from the British Isles, published in the early eighties, I think. Portal Gallery in London specialises in these painters. The freshness and liveliness of the paintings really appeal to me. James Dixon lived on Tory Island all his life, which is off the coast of Ireland and apparently a harsh and stormy place where fishing is the main occupation. He only began painting towards the end of his eighty-five years. This painting is so evocative of the ferocious sea and the struggles of fishermen and their monstrous prey. And I think it is quite beautiful.

I am enjoying Kate Atkinson’s ‘Human Croquet’– trying to pace myself and read slowly for a change. So I’m off for a cup of tea and a bit of reading in bed.

Goodnight everyone.