An overall pale gunmetal grey cloud curtain remained closed throughout the day, although threatened drizzle desisted.

For the last few stormbound days we have been thwarted in our bid for a joint tour of the garden in which Jackie could point out her recent plantings. We aimed to manage it this morning, but most of the new flowers had lost their petals and almost all had received a battering.

Here are some examples from our more established flowers.

In the event Jackie carried out trimming and planting, while I, in the company of a few intrepid little tweeters trying their Twitter accounts, cleared floral invaders from one of the minor walkways through the Rose Garden beds.

Probably to the liking of woodlice and other wrigglers slithering to safety, the path was far too clarty to sweep clean.

This afternoon I scanned Nigel Lambourne’s illustration ‘Natalie was standing in the same posture … ‘ to Anton Chekhov’s story “The Wife”, which I finished reading yesterday evening.

I have to say I found this tale, of a couple locked in a marriage relationship in which they could neither communicate with each other nor completely escape, grim and unrewarding. We have the author’s fluid, penetrative, writing which holds the interest, but, without revealing too much, I find the accommodating conclusion less than hopeful. I concur with translator Elisaveta Fen’s observation that ‘Isorin’s transformation may not be entirely convincing psychologically’ – indeed I don’t think it is at all – ‘but his inner insecurity and the gradual crumbling away of his ‘defences’ are subtly observed.’

I was left thinking that this story would have worked very well as the pivot of a longer novel, but that is, of course, not the author’s chosen genre.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie with extra fried potato topping and fresh vegetables. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon


  1. Your poor flowers certainly took a beating. I hope there will be a few days of rejuvenating sunshire to revive them. I was particuarly interested in your comments about Chekhov’s “The Wife.” It sounds like the sort of story I would write. Yikes . . .

  2. I usually find that a cottage/Shepard’s pie tastes better the second day – your opinion?
    We have been very overcast for many days now, so it has kept the temp down enough for me to do some catch-up gardening. I have no doubt that Jackie’s plants will revive splendidly!

  3. Strangely, our ephemeral poppies seemed to do better yesterday than they usually do. A day of rain left half a dozen still standing where a rainless day would see all the petals fallen by noon. Hard y understand. I hope things pick up for you, it must be a dis-spiriting time for gardening.

  4. Too bad about the battering, but I’m sure your garden will recover. How nice to have the Twitter tweeters to provide a soundtrack for you. Clarty is a great word. ?
    I think I’ll pass on the Chekhov story.

  5. I’m so sorry about your south England storms, they missed us completely, even the rain up here was hardly worth the effort.

  6. Battering storms in any season are often very localised, I’m sure your flowering plants will survive and create even more magic when summer returns.

  7. I feel like I once read “The Wife” – must have been in college. That illustration of the husband looking through the doorway is a dark statement. I’m glad I was feeling cheered by the lost petals you showed, because they still look pretty on the stone walk.

  8. You have transferred the overcast mood with just one sentence. There is clearly no dearth of maintenance work in the garden, to which you two happily apply yourselves to. I brooded over the translator’s as well as your observation about the story, and remembered there have been many instances when I had expected a different course of proceedings in Russian stories. Perhaps the reticence, or the abruptness, is a cultural nuance.

  9. I trust the battered plants will grow new flowers with loving care and a better story with a more hopeful ending will come along soon.

  10. Short stories make up an interesting genre – good ones leave the reader to pull together what has been implied along the way. How to end a short story is a puzzle too: leave the reader wondering; provide a twist that leaves the reader gasping or laughing; take the reader by surprise by apparently stopping short … I enjoy reading short stories yet admit that Chekhov can be hard work! Your description of the aftermath of the stormy weather and the photograph of the poppy petals on the path would make a good starting point for a story 🙂

  11. I always enjoy reading your book/story reviews!
    Aw on the battered flowers. 🙁 A tough part of their life. I hope when the sun shines the petals that survived will perk up and floof out!
    I liked hearing about your twitterers and tweeters! 🙂
    (((HUGS))) 🙂
    “The rain to the wind said, ‘You push and I’ll pelt.’
    They so smote the garden bed that the flowers actually knelt,
    And lay lodged…though not dead. I know how the flowers felt.”
    – Robert Frost

  12. I’ve just heard about the heavy rain from my dad. We’ve only had light and sporadic rain here, so I was shocked – especially now seeing the damage to your flowers. I hope the blooms will recover soon.

  13. sorry about the battered plants but knowing how well rooted they are, they’ll bounce back beautifully. i’m sure! 🙂

  14. Oh, gosh! Hope the flowers were battered too much. I know I hate a driving rain. I like a nice, long rain that falls gently. Don’t get that very often. 😉 Good observation about how the novel might have given Chekhov more time for character development. That, I think, is the central challenge of the short story form. How to make character transformation believable?

  15. Hi Derrick-oh dear. Your poor flowers and garden. I completely understand. We have typhoons here that destroy everything that isn’t nailed down. I do hope your garden isn’t too damaged. I love the photos as I’m sure everyone else here does.

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