In A Widow’s Words I wrote about the several significant places where I scattered some of my dear John’s hair – for example at Hever Castle, and in St Moritz. There was one more place I wanted to do it, and I finally addressed this the other day.
It’s a place we loved at Wakehurst Place, a clearing in the woods where birds come to feed. I saw that it’s really called the Himalayan Glade, but we called it Nuthatch Grove.
So I went and did it, managed to spend some time there alone (though it was quite busy with people despite being quite isolated). I took ‘Little John’ and got some photos. All very sad and sentimental.
Amazingly, I really did get several sightings of a nuthatch, so it’s a pretty reliable place to see them. It’s a tiny bird that flits about so quickly and never seems to rest long in one place, so even if I’d had a proper camera it would have been difficult to get a good shot – below is the best I got on my phone camera.
I don’t know if I’ll ever go there again… too painful. Very beautiful though.
I don’t really hold it against the poor woman, but yesterday I came across the worst insensitivity I’ve experienced in three and a half years, with respect to my position.
I was walking around Arundel Castle and Gardens all day alone, and at the end, heading for the exit, chatted to an older lady who was also (so I thought) on her own. But then she announced, “My husband’s round here somewhere. If he doesn’t turn up – if he’s fallen off the ramparts or something – I’ll be going home a widow!”
You’d think it might have crossed her mind that the woman on her own she was talking to might ACTUALLY be a widow!
It really made me flinch.
I just don’t think, even if I hadn’t had the experience myself, that I would ever make a remark like that to another woman on her own – just in case. I would have been aware of the possibility and been sensitive.
The castle is wonderful, by the way. Gorgeous views of the countryside and the sea from the keep. The narrowest spiral staircase I’ve ever experienced. Sumptuous and historically interesting rooms and corridors, especially the great hall and the library and the bedrooms.
And the gardens are so unexpected, so varied and unusual and pretty. Beautiful pathways, features and fountains. Beautiful lawns and colourful flowers, all with the backdrop of the Cathedral beyond the wall.
A delightful attraction I would definitely recommend, and a lovely day out in the sunshine.
John and I collected the whole series of small bird toys that sing when you press them, which you sometimes see in toyshops and giftshops, like the Richmond Park gift shop where I’ve just been.
I recently packed them all away, and there is already a poignancy because gradually, they stop singing, and this makes me sad that they are all gradually going quiet – you can’t replace the battery.
When we went to the US we also bought the whole US set, so it’s quite a big collection, and is very much in the ‘sensitive’ category for me, because it was a joint thing.
I quite often, when I see the collection in shops now, review what they have and assure myself I’ve got all the options already. Today for the first time in years, I’ve found one we didn’t have, which must presumably be relatively new, or we just missed it. It’s quite orangey coloured and is the ‘Nightingale’. Of course I bought it, but it’s so difficult to handle wanting to come home and say to John, look, guess what, I found a new one we haven’t got! He’s not here to know or care any more.
Similarly I wanted to say to him the other day, hey you know how many times we’ve passed through Brixton by car, or when you used to get off the tube and catch a bus home – did you know there was a Brixton market? Indoor arcades with quirky shops and lots of eating places – I discovered it the other day, I’m sure he wouldn’t have known it was there.
I went in a French bistro and ate escargots. (He will never know, about my escargots!)
The gravestone/memorial has been put in place now, and I was shocked when I first saw it because I hadn’t anticipated the fact that the black granite slab reflects the sky and the clouds (as well as the wording on the stone) like a mirror.
I didn’t like the reflection at first but now sometimes, when you watch the clouds moving in it, it’s like it is drawing the sky and ‘heaven’ down into the grave. Quite a nice idea, maybe.
(The blue flowers are because we had blue cornflowers in my multi-coloured wedding bouquet.) (So John will understand why I’ve chosen them.)