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On various ways of catching up



Ben

I’ve had the quietest weekend you can imagine.

Valentina called from New York yesterday, for a catch up; and other than that phone call (p.s, Val’s mum, just in case you read my blog more often than you check out her Many Kitchens website, yes, she has updated it, and YES IT NOW WORKS AMAZINGLY BETTER, and yes, best you don’t tell her again that you hadn’t noticed anything new)… well, other than that call, and a quick chat with the supermarket checkout guy (…Q: “hows your day been?”  A: “quiet”), I didn’t really speak to anyone all day long.

As those who know me well know, its, how can I put it? – rare – for me not to speak for that long.

And today too. Another silent day, until tea time. I just pottered around in the garden, alone with my thoughts.

From time to time I crave being alone down here in Dorset. I literally start dreaming about it, counting down the days. In fact on those happy weekends when the house is full of people and that strange form of laughter that only really can come with good friends, when someone starts laughing for no reason and five minutes later you are all just pissing yourselves, speechless, unable to breathe (that sort of laughter)… well, secretly, if you’re staying one of those weekends, there will doubtless be a moment when I’m outside looking at the garden thinking ‘okay, okay… when I’m down here alone next weekend I can get all that lot done, and I’m really looking forward to it too’.

The funny thing is when I am alone, you can end up feeling quite lonely. I’ve got to admit – the house felt pretty quiet last night while I ate my chilled supermarket meal for one (only kidding, that part… sort of).

But from time to time, for me, I find it’s a vital thing to be alone.

I did a lot of catching up. Fake catching up constitutes making a vague, if futile, attempt to clear ‘red flags’ out of my emails (what’ I’d really like to have is a white flag to hold up, which says: “I surrender, I am NEVER EVER GOING TO GET THROUGH ALL THESE F**KING EMAILS”).

But I did, properly, catch up with things..  I tackled a few little jobs in the house that had been waiting a while, and then, in the glorious soft sunshine of midsummer, I gardened.

When I’m in the garden, I really do get lost, alone in my thoughts. You need to stay intent on the task at hand but there’s just enough space to have your mind in other places too. I sowed a lot of seeds and I planted a LOT of dahlia tubers. Each hour is marked by the bells of the church clock next door and the slow rotation of the shadow of the great copper beech tree around the garden.

There’s nothing as satisfying as catching up in a garden. We all know that – that rare feeling of feeling, well, sort of ahead.

But mainly, I suppose, I was catching up with myself. I won’t say there were  a lot of conclusions to these thoughts – there never are. There’s a lot on my mind at the moment – we’re doing a bit of what I believe (if we were standing in front of a flip charts in a ‘conference facility’) is called ‘strategic planning’. I’d rather be digging. I think you get through a bit more strategy that way.

Well, I’ve been a bit of a recluse. In fact, complete reclusive. I think all part of not wanting to speak this weekend. Vows of silence are a serious business. Luckily, this afternoon, my neighbour Christine called to ask me over for a cup of tea. Perfect. And can I promote the second foodie website of the day in 5 minutes? Christine’s new website is up and running too, and very good I think her blogs are going to be too.

And then this evening I drove over to Powerstock, for a real catch up, with Jane and Johnny.  The journey, as ever, was breathtaking, but all the better for being viewed through the screen of a Morris Minor.

How’s it possible that your best friends live 15 minutes away and we somehow haven’t seen each other all year? I blame the longest, coldest winter: summer has taken us all by surprise. So we chatted about this and that, and I bounced around some of my plans, and we talked through some of theirs, and ate supper and the dusk fell, and before I knew it I was driving back in the little Morris Minor, stopping the car briefly to take a snap of the stunningly beautiful sunset over Eggardon Hill,

And that was the best form of catching up of all.

 

 

As a postscript – could I thank a lot of people who read this blog for the fascinating, thoughtful and useful comments on the previous post. I think I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by so many responses.  Thank you. I’ll try and answer the questions soon.

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