Long sleeved T shirt with sweet pea embroidery

Sweet Pea embroidered T shirt for a 4 year old (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

One busy week of lots of sitting and sewing passed into another equally busy week though this time it was more physically active with no time for sewing and little more than a twitch of the knitting needles.

Once up in the morning Daughter No 1 settles into position on the kitchen sofa with the surgically upholstered offending limb resting on a kitchen chair. It all looks uncomfortable in the extreme but there is work to be done and she gets on with doing it come what may – whether the occasional curious cat, friendly though overly physical children or your mother asking where the cheese grater/colander/vase for the latest delivery of flowers might be. “It’s all right, I’m on mute” is sweet to the ears as saucepan lids clatter on the the cooker from the too full shelf above. With this injury any attempt to walk is difficult and stressful and though she manages coming down stairs with 2 crutches well enough, albeit noisily as the crutches catch the part of the stair without carpet, getting upstairs is a completely different matter and usually done on the bottom. It’s unnerving to see her coming into the kitchen backwards with a bottom shuffle until she hits the sofa when she can haul herself up – usually with a sigh and a very weary look. Fortunately she has top class pelvic floor muscles and doesn’t have to rush to the loo every five minutes. To help our invalid, I do what any mother would do and feed her with as much deliciousness as I can source.

Embroidered sweet pea on a T shirt for a 4 year old (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

I think it was just after the dear daughter had just said how glad she was that I was there that I was overcome by a surge of unaccustomed zeal and decided to clean and sort out the open shelves above the kitchen cupboards. I’d previously given the semi recumbent invalid the little set of Ikea steps as a handy table, so rather than take them away from her I drew up a kitchen chair and hoicked myself up on to that, noting to myself how it wasn’t an altogether sensible thing to do. Up and down I went several times. A brief interlude for more newspaper reading followed. The Lloyd Loom chair by the window was comfortable and I could enjoy the plants in the little front garden. White and blue hydrangeas are flowering side by side. The blue hydrangea fills a giant terracotta pot and is Daughter No I’s peak gardening achievement. For years she’s been treating the earth in the pot with a soil acidifier to lower its ph and this year it’s been a success. People who pass, comment on its loveliness. Suddenly realising it was time to leave to pick up my grandson from school I made a move to get up … but found myself immobile and with a sharp pain in my lower back whichever way I tried to move. It soon became apparent I was not going to be fetching anyone from school and possibly not going anywhere in the near future.

Embroidered sweet pea (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Daughter No 1 looked worried. I looked worried. Somehow I made it to my bedroom, rubbed in Ibuprofen gel and managed to get into a comfortable position. I slept. At some point the son-in-law appeared with a mug of hot milk and collagen (as directed by Daughter No 1) and then at some other point I managed to way lay him to switch off the light. Miraculously I awoke the next morning much improved – still rickety and with a niggly pain but nothing too dreadful. Phew. I think we were all contemplating the utter impossibility of a summer with two invalids and no discernible backup. Having told my husband he’d have to come to London to take me back to Cheltenham (for two days of frequent back massage) I was so happy to cancel the first part of that instruction and to be able to take up my own suitcase and walk – well, take the train home. I shall return on Monday. Blissfully, I’d booked my seat and as GWR only permits one person in every two seats, the journey home was relaxing and, wonderful to relate, the day remained light for the whole journey. From the train the countryside was resplendent in sharp green shot through and lace edged with silver and white  – Ox eye daisies, frothy Queen Anne’s Lace, white campion and elder flower flowers. I wanted to read but the lure of the view from the window was too great.

Ipsden altar frontal: sweet pea (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)


 Here is Daughter No 1’s take on last week as it appeared in the Evening Standard’s Diary for Friday
Allegra Stratton: Elephants in Green Park, technology to catch cows’ burps and the trials of wearing a Roboboot
Today is a big day, my mum arrives to help. It’s now just over 2 weeks since I snapped my Achilles playing tennis – it’s too high up and close to muscle for surgery so instead it’s just (what my son calls) my Roboboot, gravity and 3 months of rest that’s going to heal it. It’s meant to immobilise you and it works. Alok Sharma  (COP26 president designate and one of the nicest guys in politics) has said my boot is the COP unit ‘mascot’. God I hope not. I hope it’s off by November. Lots of my meetings at the moment focus on the Government’s push to end deforestation by 2030. Zac Goldsmith is one of the ministers driving this and last week Gilly, his rescue jackdaw, hopped on his shoulder during the Zoom.
I dial into the PM’s office meeting from my kitchen chair while the PM whistles through things he wants sorting. Since the accident, I’ve only been into No 10 twice. The first time, fresh from hospital on Boot Day 1, I was caught by the phalanx of cameras outside No 10 as there’s no way to reach my desk other than through the black door. Since that ordeal, the PM’s office lets me use his lift and even in the twistier upper reaches of Downing Street, kindly custodians appear from nowhere to press buttons elevating platforms.
In my kitchen, most meetings are check-ins on Alok’s determined bid to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees – remember the phrase “keep 1.5 alive”, you’re going to hear it from us a lot ahead of COP in November – probably the most important post-war summit Britain has ever held. Right now he’s in G20 countries trying to cajole them to reduce carbon emissions. (I was going to be filming him until the leg went bang.) Mid-morning sees a presentation on how the world may have warmed even more than we thought. The afternoon brings joy: the idea we transport the beautiful life-sized wooden elephants in Green Park to Glasgow. Have been timing how long it takes to get to the loo and today there’s a personal best: three minutes and 15 seconds.
To shower while protecting the boot, I have to hoick on a waterproof sock which even the manufacturers call a ‘condom’. On Tuesday night, we rip it – ending the shower. The next day, dishevelled, I keep the camera off for my first Zoom with a distinguished and polished colonel about an idea for the world leaders’ summit at COP. Afterwards, mum washes my hair in the sink, allowing me to turn the camera on for the next Zoom  – a chat with the committee on climate change about reaching net zero by 2050. On her return from nursery, my 4-year old daughter decides to sit on my shoulders and turn the mute button on and off. Deftly, mum retrieves her.
A check in with Nigel Topping who always cheers me up: he’s trying to get private finance to fund clean energy for 150 million sub-Saharans who currently rely on kerosene lamps. The next meeting with No 10 touches on methane emissions from cows. My favourite government pilot gets a mention : technology that catches cows’ burps. I read some emails while doing arm dumb bells and learn there may be some progress on finding our elephants a Glasgow home. So much for never working with children and animals.
Allegra Stratton is COP26’s spokeswoman

The smallest person wearing her sweet pea T shirt (with pyjama bottoms – as you do when granny wants a photograph!)

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  1. Posted June 27, 2021 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    Oh my, the adventures you have! I do hope the back recovers soon. I’ve had back problems, so I know how incapacitating it can be!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted June 27, 2021 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Rachel – quite miraculously my back is much better. What a relief.

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