More Chinese butterflies

A real sugared almond of a T shirt – both in overall colour and embroidery threads – it’s almost a surprise how much little girls like to receive one of these – either for their birthday or for the season which I still feel should not yet be mentioned (even though it has been much on my mind as every spare minute I’ve had in the last 5 months has been devoted to embroidering presents to be given away on the relevant day.)

Sugar almond pink T shirt with Chinese butterflies

I feel I’m in the home strait now with my time in London down to perhaps another month. Daughter No 1 is doing her thing at the COP 26 conference right now and trying not to further damage her Achilles tendon in the process. When she returns home we shall attempt to strap her to a comfy chair or sofa and force her to devote herself completely to recovery.  I shall offer to be around for some of that time to ensure she’s not rushing up and down stairs for those elusive somethings which, for her, would take a mammoth effort of stair climbing to reach but which those of us more able bodied could do in a jiffy (well jiffy-ish!)  Enforcing rest may not be easy but I think intimations of mortality the injury has brought have made reassessing and reprogramming a reality – albeit in the short term.

Detail of sugar almond pink T shirt with Chinese butterflies

I have come to enjoy my train journeys to and from London. There’s something especially warm and cuddly about arriving at Paddington for the 19.28 to Worcester (Cheltenham is two stops from the end of the line) on a Friday night. As it’s the first train of the evening people with certain rail cards and cheaper tickets can take, it tends to be full of people off for pleasure – country weekends with friends or family and, in the warmer months, little knots of friends off for weddings in the depths of somewhere they’ve never been before (and might never get to judging by their desire to start drinking the wine on offer from the trolley that goes up and down the carriages). As I never sit in the quiet carriage, these can be rather noisy and interesting journeys, with much to consider about the human condition as people chat with their friends, dissect the foibles of other friends, places of work and family members soon to be encountered for the first time. My son-in-law usually leaves me a copy of The Spectator and I find this – with the odd diversion from my fellow travellers – is the perfect length for my 2 hour journey.

Detail of sugar almond pink T shirt with Chinese butterflies


A fast train to Swindon, we whizz by my old station of Goring and Streetley in little more than half an hour, the station sign illegible and once familiar landmarks just a haze of might be. After Swindon, now an hour into my journey, the train goes much slower, tucks its electric arms back into itself and becomes something of a rural stopping train. Now the weekenders start tumbling off the train into the arms of friends and relatives very obviously pleased the train is on time as they seem dressed for the car rather than outdoors on an October evening the weekend the clocks go back. Kemble’s pretty stone station always brings to mind TV’s Kembleford  in the Father Brown adaptations, even though filming takes place miles away at the other end of the Cotswolds and the stone is the wrong colour. Although Stroud as a town is not so pretty, the train station has a certain charm enhanced by its backdrop of a large four square former mill building now residential and illuminated as  well as any city landmark. It’s also a  particularly jolly meeting place as the station car park opens directly on to the platform and you can have fun trying to match up travelling companions with those stomping their feet and hugging their clothes to them before bundling family and guests into a car and set off homewards.

Detail of sugar almond pink T shirt with Chinese butterflies

By the time I get to Gloucester, I’m ready for home, now just seven minutes down the line. Slight frustration as seven minutes extends to 17 minutes for we now have a 10 minute wait while the driver changes ends of the train (quite literally you see him pass by the window walking down the platform from one end to the other end). Now we leave Gloucester the way we came in, clicking on to the Cheltenham line as the points change. Really ready to be home, I tend to get up and collect my suitcase far too early and spend the rest of the journey looking out into a blackness relieved only by the lights of the M5 which, surprisingly for such a short journey, we cross not once but twice! Weary from doing nothing for 2 hours I’m relieved to see my husband is there to meet me for by this time on a Friday night heaving my suitcase up steps or even up a rather steep ramp looms like an Herculean task.. Fortunately taxis are plentiful and within five minutes we are home, warm and happy and ready to begin our weekend life.

Sugar almond pink T shirt with Chinese butterflies

The doctor delivering my booster jab early Friday morning suggested if I’d had a reaction after my first AstraZeneca jab I was likely to have one after this dose of Pfizer. She was right and twelve hours later I had all the symptoms of  flu. This flattened me for about 36 hours and thankfully  I recovered just in time to make this week’s trip to London – particularly important this week as my son-in-law is on his own once Paige who helps with the children leaves in the evening. What a good job I didn’t persuade the vaccination centre to jab me last Monday. Fate moves in mysterious ways and all that.

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  1. Posted November 1, 2021 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    How lovely to share your journey home. I’m so glad your husband retrieves you at the station – at the end of a weary week one can sometimes feel a little like a waif and stray, and it’s good to see a loving smile greeting you!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 3, 2021 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Thank you, Rachel and you’re so right about being in waif and stray mode and so very glad of a even just the sight of a well loved figure, let alone a welcoming one who kindly carries your case.

  2. ceci
    Posted November 2, 2021 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    I am a bit behind but do want to say that the unicorn shirt is really one of my all time favorites (not to snub the butterflies). And I so enjoyed the story of the trip to the art gallery; I used to volunteer to go along on school field trips to the big gallery in our city and invariably the teacher would say to me “I have put you with a group of lively little boys” – always including my son – and sometimes it was quite a challenge. There was usually a skillful volunteer docent that took us to see particular pictures that were sometimes chosen with what seemed to me to be odd themes, and I never had a chance to try to postcard trick, although I did once end up taking my group out to play in some sprinklers because their energy level was really not working inside. I’m sure the teacher wanted to send me to the principal’s office. Thank you also for sharing your train journey; its hard to travel by train here but you make it sound idyllic compared to flying or driving.


    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 3, 2021 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      It’s always interesting to hear your experiences Ceci and I can’t help feeling for you trying to shepherd a group of even averagely excitable boys round an art gallery – not at all ideal observers when grouped together; now individually, on their own, that’s quite a different scenario. Your foray into sprinklers entirely understandable! There are times when you have to make executive decisions in the interest of containment rather than education, so well done for being brave.
      I do admire the American system of trained docents. We don’t have the same thing here and though there are some incredibly knowledgeable volunteers, it’s more a matter of luck whether or not you bump into those.

  3. Mary
    Posted November 3, 2021 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I never fail to admire your beautiful craftwork. Should comment on them more frequently. Imagine the receiver of this top will be well pleased.

    Having just made the (early morning) train rides from London to Glasgow and back again last week (thankfully, not this week), I could easily imagine your train journey. Love looking out on the countryside and going past the various stations–some busy–some bare. Always try to include a train journey when I come to the UK. Fond childhood memories of the Flying Scotsman and other train journeys (back in the days of steam engines).

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 4, 2021 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

      Lovely to hear from you again, Mary. We love train journeys and though I tend to read my newspaper on the journey to London and The Spectator on my way back, I do look up and out of the window a lot. Britain has such varied landscape and such different underlying geology, it’s easy to go just a few miles and find the scenery has changed considerably – not as dramatically as in other parts of the world but enough to make journeys unfailingly interesting. I remember the time when trains were only powered by steam and the Flying Scotsman used to go along a line just a few minutes away from my childhood home – they were, however, incredibly dirty to be around – before we get too nostalgic!

  4. Bev S.
    Posted November 3, 2021 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    Lovely description of your train ride to home!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted November 3, 2021 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, Bev.

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