Cuckoo in the Nest

Cuckoo in the Nest

I met Emma Yates-Badley in the first year of my MA, and got to know her better during a run of writing retreats, first at Lumb Bank and then Moniack Mhor. A week of sharing workshops, writing time and readings-aloud at an Arvon centre is a bonding process, and I’m massively excited to see Emma taking the bold step which she talks about here in  Not the Guardian Family Section: “If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book   When I was a little girl, my image of life was pretty simplistic:  school was something to be endured and Adulthood would be the prize for surviving adolescence (I have just reread my teenage diaries and, yes, I really was that dramatic).  One day I’d be all...

The Good Life (or How to Make a Home)

The Good Life (or How to Make a Home)

Today, in Not the Guardian Family Section, writer Kate Lord Brown muses on loss, the skeletons in family closets, and how to create a home in an uncertain world. ‘If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton you may as well make it dance’ George Bernard Shaw We live in uncertain times. Protests in the West, uprisings in the East, even Brand is baiting Paxo with calls for revolution. A recent article in The Telegraph claimed that we’ll never have it so good again. It was a thought that struck me over the summer, packing up one, two, three, houses – dismantling three remarkable family lives. They are the kind of homes I would love my children to grow up in – with apple orchards, and attics crammed with nonsense, junk and forgotten treasures. My grandmother, in...

Blackberries in the Freezer

Blackberries in the Freezer

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love free stuff. LOVE it. So blackberries are one of my favourite things. But they’re more than that. They are one of the more essential markers for my year, and a continuing link to everyone I’ve ever been. And I can promise that, when I’m an old lady, wherever I end up, I’ll still be out there filling my plastic boxes and getting my fingertips stained purple. I grew up in a little village in Wiltshire. It was the village where my mother and my grandfather had been born. When I was a child, back in the Seventies, it was still the sort of village where everyone knew everybody, all very Laurie Lee. The same things happened every year: the carnival; the sponsored walk to raise money for the village hall; the candlelit...