I’m writing on Sunday evening, at the Old Parsonage. It’s completely still and quiet. Perhaps the stillness is exemplified by the departure, earlier, of my friends Tom & Masie and their two beautiful little children Moss and Vera. All I can say is… I don’t know how parents manage. I love it when my friends with children come to stay. There’s a dimension – a richness and unpredictability that is simultaneously, curiously, combined with a total simplicity, that’s entirely missing in the rest of my life. But… wow… I’ve got respect for everyone who’s got to carry on looking after their little guys… ALL THE TIME. I’m not sure I could manage. I’ll be honest. I don’t know how you do it. It’s 9.45 in the evening, and I’m in bed already.
The landscape is resting, pausing, on the brink of autumn. Suddenly it was dark so early this evening. Have you noticed? The garden’s gone crazy. It’s either dead or wild, producing like mad, like some hectic civilisation that’s watching the clock and knows the show is nearly over. I went for a run last night – the hedgerows are mental too, bursting with thousands of blackberry brambles, on the brink of ripening. I love the place like this. There’s really no point in tidying up. That expression… ‘going to seed’… well, I guess, we know where it comes from and precisely what it means… but hasn’t it come to suggest something negative? Whereas there’s an exuberance just now that’s irresistible, something so poignant about this moment that I relish it.
I’m off on holiday next week. To Valentina’s house in Italy. I can’t wait. Every pore of my body is longing for that first moment stepping off the plane at Pisa when the heat, smell, light of Tuscany hits you. The drive towards Siena… the country getting softer and more familiar the closer we get to the place that I realise has been like a home from home for perhaps 12, perhaps 13, years now. I hope you’ll understand if I say the blog might be going on a little holiday too. After my dummy run of no laptop, no phone and no email for a couple of days in Norfolk – I’ve realised again the deeply relaxing power of really switching off. We’ll see. There’s a side of me that wonders if I’ll get a little twitchy?! But a side of me that knows even better that things are going to be gently taken care of while I’m away.
And then down to Rome, which I’m pretty excited about too, dusty late-August Rome, when I know it’s not at all done or seen to be there, but I’m very happy. And then – back to London, in September, my favourite moment of the year: new notebook time. Start of term. There’s a LOT of exciting news that will be coming your way from Ben P Ltd in September. One way and another…I think there might be quite a bit happening. Which is all the more reason, just for now, to savour the quiet time – the moment of balance… as the year turns.
I should add. One of the very exciting things that’s happening is a bit of a re-build of our rather creaking website. The blog has become more popular than I could ever have imagined, and the system isn’t coping so well. The shop site has been getting a bit in need of life support too. Bridie and I have been doing a lot of thinking about how to make improvements. We’re thrilled to have on board Colin Ozanne, who joined this month, who’s rather a genius, it turns out, at sweetly letting us know that, in website terms… we’ll, it’s a bit like being told you’ve been walking around for the last couple of years with your underpants on the outside of your trousers, or something.
I’d absolutely LOVE to get your feedback – good and bad – on what you like or dislike about the website design, the way things work, or don’t work. For instance, I know that a lot of people have stopped getting a little email when I post a blog. For me, I’ve got to be honest, that’d be a complete relief, but we’ve had a few emails asking ‘whats happened’? That’s just one of the things which has been going a bit wrong recently.
If you could let us know your thoughts – send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or just leave a comment here – I’d be so grateful. Is there something you want to see on the shop pages that doesn’t exist? Are you driven mad by the way the shipping works, are there things you find confusing or which don’t work? It would be really great to have your feedback on these sorts of questions, or anything else that comes to mind. Thank you – very much indeed.