In May and June at Manorbier the woody dells are a pastural and culinary paradise redolent with the powerful smell of mater-watering wild garlic, calling to mind alfresco suppers on Greek islands and Tuscan trattorias. I harvested bouquets of it that have dainty wispy white flowers and made salads, soufflés, polenta, baked hake with layers of garlic leaves and even several pots of wild garlic pesto. There are whole banks of watercress growing beside the stream that flows down to the beach, a more conservative and quintessentially British ingredient for the standard watercress soup. Why all these chefs and foodies haven not caught onto wild garlic is a mystery. Anyway it is gratifying, foraging for wild food for free, especially as I am not green fingered although I have grown some beans and potatoes.
The castle has been much enlivened by smoky Jo's Sunday jazz concerts and children's cryptic quizzes introduced by Dame Emily; like what shape was King Arthur's table? And how many dwarves were there in Snow White? Not what did John of Gaunt never leave home without? His own travelling set of windows, since glass was such a valuable commodity then.
Back in London I am learning that from reading John Lanchester's book 'what people talk about when they are on the Underground' is that it was the underground that shaped the spread and growth of London, that before the tube stations were put in place many places were, mere settlements, and it yet it is a euphemism that to say London is a collection of villages linked together; rather suburbs . In truth the city has become a series of high streets, which for the most part have all the same franchised shops. Yes shopping has become an unedifying experience, deadly dull and depressingly, the main British pastime it seems.
In my manor it has been a morbid month. In a dead space, literally the de-consecrated Dissenters Chapel at Kensal Green cemetery art entrepreneur Art Hobhouse mounted a show by the war photographer Sean Smith in the catacombs.
The exhibition and fat catalogue is as an harrowing and succinct document of the wars; casualties not just of war in the middle east, but also those from hard core drugs within our shores that one can see that Smith's photos are more truthful , powerful, and informative than any amount of news coverage and comment.
A gravestone's throw away from the cemetery at the Queens Park book shop (the New Queens gate) at a book party, grave tales were exchanged to launch 'How to Read A Graveyard' written by Peter Stanford, unearthing the mystique surrounding graveyard culture.
When Charlotte Faber, an artist and an outrageous tricot knitwear designer of 'Diseased Arrans' ( was paralysed all the way down the right side of her body, she simply learnt to draw with her left hand, proving herself to be a great draughts-woman. The results of her ambidexterity, was an exhibition entitled 'Stroke of Genius': pen and inks and vibrant landscapes. This is art therapy at its best and that a true artist's spirit is seldom broken; see Frida Kahlo, Van Gogh et al.
Why cannot the nobility adopt the same rule of succession as the Royal family, ie, the first born daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be able to inherit the crown.?
I fully support the cause not least because the upper house is the saner of the two and then to have some more women in the house of lords...... and ladies will most likely make a better government, than the lower house. It will make the upper house seem less arcane and more for the pro bono pubilico.
We need far more of the fairer sex in politics anyway. Though they are trying to oust hereditary peers from the upper house, but with the possible inclusion of women taking up their seats, this may give the house of Lords a new lease of life, as they have been browbeaten in recent years and the female peerage will serve as a tempering agent in the UK government which is mostly of comprised of utilitarian technophiles of the worst sort, who are more likely to be found defending the strong and attacking the weak. So yes sex equality for all those ennobled and who should have the right to inherit, and certainly to inherit those titles that have died out because of no male issue, and that they should be reinstated. In my family alone, in the last 50 years, a dukedom and a Viscountcy have died out because of this anachronistic rule of succession and why should we not follow the example of the Royal family? What is good for the royal goose is good for the noble gander.
Go to http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/ & type in: ' To end discrimination against women in the peerage '
I am applying to the College of Heraldry to design my escutcheon with Miu Miu mules, rampant and the motto 'relinquo homines coques dum gubernant' ( leave the men to cook while we govern'), with a mezzaluna as my crest. I can never seem to find this culinary device anywhere.
It is a real tragedy pop music culture just aint what it used to be. When I took my goddaughter to see the David Bowie exhibition at the V and A, she said ruefully "when you and mum were young you had the best music". She knew all the Bowie hit songs almost off by heart but she had never even heard of Bowie himself or seen him for that matter, so it was a real revelation for her to see all the art work that went into L.P covers, (she has never encountered records,) and when I suggested she buy a c.d of Bowie's, she said that all her music was downloaded, and she doesn't like it much, as it is all so digital and electronic. It is a sad sad state of affairs that pop music has come to an all time low.
Going round the Bowie, I relived my teens in utter rapture, remembering how I would rush out every week with my pocket money to get the latest 45 disc. Bowie is a chameleon of many ingenious guises, a magpie who can absorb, as if by osmosis all kinds of cultures, literature, poetry and art movements, in order to re invent himself, time and time again. The exhibition shows all his maverick genius to great effect, with videos, sound tracks, mise en scene dispays of his childhood suburban bedroom and all his costumes . Bowie was a product of art schools, (he was alumni of St Martins) which were great pools of creativity back in the 1970's. Further more the dole gave youth , albeit impoverished 'space' and freedom to experiment, spawning great bands especially from the North. But back to Bowie and his mercurial ways and androgynous beauty.
AS a teenager and avid follower of Bowie I went to all his concerts in Earls Court by way of slipping through the backstage door just before he came on stage. Security then was pretty lax.
Then many years later I when I was the art editor on Tatler, I went to interview him about his art collection, and his own art, and was astonished to see how small he was, lithe and ebullient, it just shows what a tremendous stage presence he has. One commentator described his dancing on stage as being like a tiger covered in Vaseline.
At the other end of town in Kew gardens is a show of Britain's best Botanical painter, so delicate the fauna that He, Rory McEwen used a surgeons magnifying glass to paint in the minutiae. McEwen's flowers recall those lines from 'Songs of Innocence' by William Blake
"When you can see the world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower "
Vanity such as it is, I have been gratified that friends have been commenting on my less haggard appearance. This I attribute to No7 Youthful eye serum, and on a second visit to the Harley street skin clinic where infra red photographs were taken of my face, which looked spooky, like a death mask, revealing that my crows feet had diminished considerably. Coupled with a miracle roll on Sampar Prodigal pen that makes spots and blemishes visibly vanish, has resulted in a cue de jeunesse.
So I am all set for summer , I shall start leg waxing now; however the only invitations that have been issued to me are to war zones, such as Beirut in the baking heat and I do not relish the risk of languishing in a cell with bearded men chanting the Koran, and being kept captive for god knows how long, not even for one of my dearest friends, Ana Corbero's exhibition there. And I was to go on a jolly to North Korea for Keith Coventry's exhibition, but, well that's not feasible with that bellicose, very young dictator at the helm . So I guess its back to Manorbier for another staycation because it costs too much, either by sea or air to get the family off this damp little island groaning under the weight too many people