I’ve just returned from a weekend in the North, introducing Cate to my family, where Gruff enjoyed the zoo and raspberry-picking and a maize maze. It was a lovely trip, though getting back was nightmarish in the heatwave with two under-5s to wrangle on my own – Gruff ashen with travel-sickness on the fully booked train; Cate screaming thirstily on a sun-soaked bus back from Euston…
Still, home now, with all the windows open, and the garden is in its glory. My sweet peas have surpassed themselves this year and smell delicious and I have managed to grow black-eyed Susans for the first time (they look like cartoons of flowers). It is humming with bees, and white butterflies flit past every couple of minutes.
Much of the month has been the same blend of gruelling and idyllic, which I suppose all new parents go through. There have been upsets and vaccinations and endless nights, but also lots of bright spots. Gruff drew his first recognisable pictures (mainly narwhals and jellyfish). Cate is smiling gooey-ly and trying to chatter. She’s also been good at sleeping peacefully in her pram – I pushed her around the Georgia O’Keefe exhibition and new Louise Bourgeois room at the expanded Tate Modern. We took a family trip to Mason & Company, the bar Richard has designed with his company Fleet Architects by the wildflower strewn canal in Hackney Wick, and ate amazing Italian American food by Capish- steak sandwiches with bone marrow, courgette fries and meatballs for Gruff. (As a proud wife I should also link to this review in Wallpaper). My mum also babysat one night, and we went up Frank’s Bar for views of London and a negroni, and stumbled on an mirrored art/poetry installation by Sam Rivière and Sophie Collins.
Oh and there was Ledbury. Always a pleasure, with a great audience for our Ovid show in the theatre, and lots of friendly faces in the crowd including Jill Abram event managing. I took Cate with me though (a volunteer, Molly, bravely babysat during the show) so afterwards I had to miss the curry and return to our hotel with pasta salad and gin-in-a-tin.
At least I had the new Ledbury 20th anniversary anthology Hwaet! to read as I got Cate to sleep, in which I’m pleased to have a poem. There’s some great work in there (Sarah Howe’s ‘On a line by Xu Lizhi’ is particularly amazing) alongside memories of the festival. I’d enjoyed bumping into Alan Lloyd earlier in the green room, and was startled to find his section in the introduction ends:
After-hours performances could be memorable: Jack Mapanje and Yang Lian crooning in dialects learnt at their mother’s knees, while the macho players in the salsa band didn’t know where to look as an innocent-looking Clare Pollard recited rude poems. It was fun.
It was a very long time ago and I recall a great evening, but had clean forgotten that last bit! (made my gin-in-a-tin seem that bit more melancholy though).