Saturday, 12 May 2012

The smell of rain on a cornfield

I'm in Totteridge and Whetstone; a peculiar place which feels unlike anywhere else in London. It smells rural; the sweet aroma of rain on a dusty cornfield, blended with the subtle whiff of marijuana! This truly is the place where London collides with the green belt.

The sun has been shining all day and has obviously encouraged the plants to grow, shed seeds, burst into flower and release all the smells and pollens that the rain has been cheerfully suppressing. I've actually become a little sniffly and itchy for the first time this year. Hay fever ahoy!

We've just had a charming dinner with our friends Jem and Ian. Wonderful company, lots of laughter and some fabulous food; the perfect pick-me-up following an exhausting day spent deep within the Dies Irae from my requiem. The combination of a 7/8 time signature and a shed load of quavers means I'm forced to comb through the music with almost forensic precision.

Pepys went to Hampton Court Palace for a day trip 350 years ago. He travelled there by boat with his wife and an unnamed group of ladies. They were lucky enough to be treated to a tour of the palace which included a sneaky peek at the chambers which had been set up for the Portuguese Queen-to-be. There were gifts from royals from across Europe; a looking-glass from the Queen Mother in France, a spectacular bed from someone in Holland and many brave paintings. Ever the nosy Parker, Pepys was in his element.

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