Hazel McHaffie



Did you guess what the exciting occasion was that I referred to last time?

Centenary ChelseaYes, the Chelsea Flower Show. This was both my first visit, and Chelsea’s centenary, so very thrilling and special on all levels.

I can’t possibly do justice to something so spectacular with a few homespun photos – even a week of extensive coverage on TV hasn’t been able to do that.  Everything is on such a grand scale and has to be experienced to do it full justice.

But it will (at least hopefully) give you a sense of what I was up to strolling through the stunning show gardens, looking as if they’ve been matured for a hundred years instead of created in a matter of weeks …

Show Garden

Show gardenShow gardenThe sight of someone surreptitiously sweeping the paths with a dustpan and brush on Day 4 summed up the fine attention to detail …

Sweeping to perfectionSome of the smaller gardens, though, were every bit as beautiful …

Japanese gardenSmall gardenand I looked enviously at the notice inviting viewers to apply to the staff if they wanted that exact garden magically transported to their own home … I wish!

The floral art exhibits just blew me away, although, as with books, likes and dislikes are partially subjective, and I didn’t always share the judges’ preferences …

Floral art

Floral artFloral art

The trade stalls were works of art in themselves. Some artefacts, of course, have a kind of universal appeal …Statues

Decorative featuresbut I had no idea advertisements for plants could be quite so stunning …

Trade stallTrade stallor inviting …

Trade stallOr that other goods (like fruit and veg or furniture) could be similarly made to look so appealing …

Trade stallTrade stallHorticultural specialists filled The Great Pavilion with a riot of colour, showcasing their best collectively …

Flower displaysas well as individually …

OrchidAnd you literary folk will be amused to see that even here at a flower show, books featured!

Books includedAll in all a magical experience which comes highly recommended.

I returned to the weekend of the Edinburgh Marathon – another first, as I was cheering on my son and son-in-law (their first time competing too.) Both finished the course, so hearty congratulations all round. I am so impressed by the sheer stamina and dedication of all the 29,000 people who trained quietly and painfully, pushing themselves to their limit on the day, and gave so much to good causes.

Marathon medal

All this excellence puts my little world very much into perspective.

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Enough to warm the cockles

Back to work this week and finding plenty to warm the cockles of the heart. A quick share of the most pertinent before I get back to the big edit.

This handwritten sign appeared in a list of 21 pictures ‘to restore your faith in humanity‘:

During business hours the books on this porch are 50 cents. When the store is closed, please feel free to borrow them or keep them and pay me later. ANYTIME: IF YOU DON’T HAVE MONEY TO BUY BOOKS AND NEED OR WANT TO READ HELP YOURSELF. Donations accepted. 

Brilliant, huh?

And then there was the news that for the first time ever women have won all five Costa Book Awards.

And the statistics that show that people are buying more books in total thanks to aggressive marketing and the rise of e-books. All very salient points for me in my current deliberations.

Then there’s the tantalising pile of books I acquired myself this Christmas. IMG_8620

Who needs resolutions to feel positive at the start of 2013?

So, after a good wholesome break and lots of socialising, I’ve  returned to the isolation of my study, and to the current novel, with renewed enthusiasm and commitment. And a fresh eye. Exactly what was needed. The red pen is in overdrive.

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