Five Things on a Friday

Paula at Book Jotter has recently written about her intention to start a series of posts entitled Three Things…   I’m adapting her idea slightly.  There are so many categories I could choose, depending on what’s been going on.  I don’t plan to have something for every category every time; neither do I plan on posting something on a regular schedule.  But when the mood takes me I might have three things (on a Tuesday or Thursday maybe); four or five things (on a Friday); six or seven things (on a Saturday or Sunday – I’ll have to be really carried away for that).  Apologies for the alliteration; I have no defence, it just keeps me amused.  Here are the categories I might choose from.  Subject to alteration, elimination and augmentation on a whim!

  • Reading
  • Looking
  • Thinking
  • Doing
  • Listening
  • Savouring
  • Appreciating

For this first effort it’s going to be:

Five things on a Friday

Reading               The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolverdownload

After all the fuss and furore, I’ve started it.

It’s early days yet, but there’s every indication that I’m hooked.



Looking                Roses 

I’d never been keen on roses, but several were established in the garden when we moved here and I’ve added a few more since.  My late-blooming love affair with the rose is now in full flow.  From tightly curled buds, to intricate perfection, to the final few days when blowsy blooms prepare to scatter their fading petals, roses are the queens of the garden in June.

But he that dares not grasp the thorn. Should never crave the rose.

Anne Bronte

Savouring            the word HELIOTROPE

This week we visited the strangest little nursery.  I bought two heliotropes on a whim, mostly because I was so attracted by the sound of the word.

slide-10-of-24-four-weddings-and-a-funeral-1994-simon-callow__986322_Doesn’t it sound grand; doesn’t it sound delightful?  Doesn’t it roll off the tongue?  It makes me think of 1930s garden parties and sunny days and Simon Callow in an expansive waistcoat.  Simon Callow knows how to truly savour a word.

Heliotropes are plants of course and now I know that they are toxic to animals.  If I intend to keep my little heliotropes, I must find a location where the cats can’t reach them.  Said location must also grant the plants their full span of sunshine: helio meaning sun and trope meaning turning.  Finding this safe and sunny spot is likely to be difficult.  I may have to rehome my heliotropes.

While I contemplate this challenge, I’ll savour the colour: the deep velvety purple that is called heliotrope, which I have also discovered was one of the ‘half-mourning’ colours permitted to Victorian ladies in the last stage of mourning

A-Is-for-Azure-Heliotrope-Trio-And I’ll savour the scent, which is said to resemble cherry pie.  I’m not smelling cherry pie myself but it’s certainly intense.  For such a humble little plant, heliotropes pack a punch.

Heliotropium_peruvianum(I’ll also ponder on the mineral heliotrope – which is not in the least pink or purple but instead is green with red or yellow spots and is otherwise known as bloodstone, and almost certainly does not turn its face towards the sun.)

Thinking              about Aethelflaed

Lady of the Mercians, who died on 12th June 918 and has been celebrated this week in Gloucester, where she is buried.

_101876777_ethel_blnotcleared2Daughter of King Alfred the Great, wife of Aethelred, mother of Aelfwynn.  A forerunner of Elizabeth 1 in many ways: she ruled alone on the death of her husband, and uniquely, on her own death, succession passed, without opposition, from the mother to her daughter.  She was written out of the west-saxon version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle by her brother but fortunately she was commemorated in other texts.

I want to know more of her.  And I think of all the other people – ordinary and extraordinary who are lost to history unless others make the effort to remember.

Appreciating      My father, as Father’s Day in the UK approaches

His love for his family has been constant.  His resilience and humility are less apparent to the casual observer but no less a mark of the man, and no less appreciated by his daughters.


59 thoughts on “Five Things on a Friday”

  1. Enjoyable diversity in this post, Sandra. What an interesting quote from Anne Bronte. Love the information about the Heliotrope – stunning colour. I recall a children’s book I read as a child featuring Heliotrope – I think the book was titled”The Little White Horse”, with the horse being a unicorn. Must look it up. Thanks for the memory jog. Lovely tribute to your father.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Well, on the back of your post I Googled “The Little White Horse” (by Elizabeth Goudge) and see that the governess character is named Miss Heliotrope. I also see that J.K. Rowling says that “The Little White Horse” was her favourite book as a child, and it even had an influence on her Harry Potter books! I have just found the book on a bookshelf – the book opens with the newly orphaned heroine, Maria Merryweather, wearing a ribbon and a bunch of violets in the purple colour of the bereaved …

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Isn’t it amazing when that happens! You have me looking up The Little White Horse too; it looks charming. I’ve struggled with Elizabeth Goudge’s adult books but I’m intrigued by this one, especially with all these connections. I enjoy reading children’s classics, which are both a restful change from more adult fare and frequently a delight in their own right, as I suspect this one will be. A used copy is in my basket already 🙂 I almost included in the original post a reference to a book of short stories by a very-well regarded sci-fi writer named Justina Robson which is called Heliotrope. I’d not heard of her but I rarely read that genre. It seems that however I look at it, most things lead me back to books 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I am delighted that you have found a copy of The Little White Horse. I find that I still have a battered old copy and I am thinking of rereading it. Will make a restful and charming change. I also don’t often read sci-fi, but the title Heliotrope is enticing …

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Now that was a truly lovely post, Sandra. Lots of thoughtful topics, and I love the idea too of choosing to write on any given day that takes our whim, choosing from categories that mean something to us. What a lovely way of learning more about each other, and possible new things.

    Heliotrope. It really is a great word.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love the word Heliotrope, I’ve never grown any. Aethelflaed – had to keep scrolling back to check how to spell ( imagine the teacher trying to remember how to spell if you called your child that! ) – what a lady she must have been and I had never heard of her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve written it enough now to be able to spell Aethelflaed without checking back, Jan, but it took a while. And of course, I ought really to combine those ‘a’s and ‘e’s! And yes, she was a woman of courage, intelligence, compassion and foresight. Remarkable to think she is so little known to us now.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This is a lovely post. My suggestion is for Many things on Mondays! I’ve never heard of heliotropes and had no idea what they might be until you explained. Appreciating is a great choice of category.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. See how I just expanded my vocabulary by reading? Heliotrope – as my teacher used to say, use it in a sentence. I had no idea Heliotrope could be dangerous to animals. 🙂 I’ve heard a lot about The Poisonwood Bible, let me know what you think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I shall certainly post my thoughts on The Posionwood Bible, Shell. It’s featured a lot here recently 😁 And a heliotrope quote for your teacher, courtesy of Google and Elizabeth Barrett Browning 😉

      “You take a pink, You dig about its roots and water it, And so improve it to a garden-pink, But will not change it to a heliotrope.”

      (I feel that I’m missing something with that one!)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think this is a great idea, Sandra – I may have a go sometime if the whim takes me 🙂

    As you know I love The Poisonwood Bible, so I hope you do become hooked. I saw the word ‘heliotrope’ and my mind interpreted it as ‘hellebore’, one of my favourite plants and I was alarmed to see that they are toxic to animals – then I realised – so glad my hellebores won’t hurt my cat (and she’s lived with them safely for years anyway!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was fun to put together, Margaret; I hope that whim encourages you to try it some time 🙂

      I love hellebores too; I would hate to lose them. I was disappointed to learn how toxic heliotropes are. The cats are totally uninterested in them but I feel uncomfortable about taking the risk now I know about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely post, Sandra, and cleverly adapted. It’s a delightful jumble of topics. I hope your dad is able to read your piece and see how much he’s appreciated. I was surprised to see that you’re reading The Poisonwood Bible – I know you weren’t keen. Your daughter obviously brought you round to her way of thinking. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was fun to do, Paula, and it may be a way of covering things that I want to include on the blog but never quite around to posting properly about. A good example would have been the Fowey Festival. Circumstances meant I only saw a little but still, it deserved a mention.

      As for my daughter and TPB – noooo, she isn’t aware yet! It’s fellow bloggers that have brought me round. And thus far, I’m very happy that they have. But it’s a long book – still a way to go!

      (Thanks for the pingback – hopefully I linked to your post properly? I’m never confident with pingbacks. Let me know if not 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So glad it’s something you enjoy doing. I have partially completed my first Three Things… but I seem to be meeting myself coming back at the mo. We’re rushing off to Manchester Airport shortly to collect some friends. We’ve been doggy-sitting George, their very lively Doberman since returning from Hay and it’s been an experience. In fact, some of his escapades may well make it into my forthcoming post under a new heading of Stressing! 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I think all of us who pushed for TPB are on pins and needles now, hoping you continue to like it!! Your post was great, Sandra–sometimes I get weary of this sort of post but yours seemed fresh and inviting. Maybe it comes from the intriguing trigger words you chose from or maybe it’s just that I like your way of thinking and writing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m feeling the pressure, Kerry! 😁 Glad you enjoyed the post. It’s something of a departure for me but it was fun and it could be a way of covering things that I’d like to blog about but wouldn’t get around to otherwise. We shall see.


  9. Loved the random variety Sandra- maybe not so random with Poisonwood and heliotrope together !
    I hadn’t realised heliotrope was toxic- I have it in pots for the first time this summer, but may have to reconsider as it’s easily available for nibbling by my cats. Thanks for the

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Being loathe to destroy my two plants, Pat, I have hit upon the idea of keeping them indoors on the cloakroom windowsill – the cats never go there. I know heliotropes can be kept as houseplants so it’s worth a try. What a coincidence that you’re trying them too this year. They are such an old-fashioned plant which seem to be making a ‘come-back’. And talking of coincidences… it never occured to me that of course there is a connection with the plant and the book! How did I not notice! Our minds work in mysterious ways! 😁 xx


    1. Helen, thank you so much for this link. Such a fascinating glimpse into the past – and also an event which happened this month, so many centuries ago: ideal for this post. I had come across the novel written by the author of this post, Annie Whitehead, when I did my initial brief reading about Aethelflaed; I’d wondered about buying a copy. I am now convinced that I should!


      1. You’re welcome. I think Aethelflaed is fascinating. I wonder if there were more strong women than we’re led to believe from the history books?

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m sure that there must be. But even more strong women who would never have made the history books because their lives were ‘ordinary’. People are so fascinating!

          Liked by 1 person

  10. A great post as usual. I make no comment about the Kingsolver. I’m sure you will in due course. I’m no rose fan. That is, I love them, but not in my garden. They spend too long being apparently dead. Other people have to grow them, scrambling up old walls and over interesting pergolas, situated so I can see and smell them perfectly well. I enjoyed meeting Aethelflaed too. So glad you seem to have got your blogging mojo well and truly back Sandra!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “They spend too long being apparently dead.” Cue splutters of merriment (just as well I’d already finished my cup of tea!)

      The blogging mojo has been polished up nicely again, it seems, though I am aware of a dearth of cornish posts this year. Really must address that!



  11. Nice idea! I love rose buds and newly opened roses, but I’m afraid the blowsy late stages don’t do it for me. There’s a new book out about Aethelflaed which I was contemplating trying – by Tim Clarkson, a “proper” historian, I believe, though I know nothing about him. You could read it first and let me know if it’s good…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The romantic in me has learned to embrace the blowsy stage. Besides – it’s such a great word. (Ranking up alongside heliotrope I suspect.)

      Thank you for the Clarkson link – that’s a new one for me to pursue and would make a strong companion for the book by Annie Whitehead. I can see a further post on the Lady of the Mercians at some future point.

      The idea behind this current post – which I failed to explain properly in my intro – was in part to capture what’s going on in my world at this moment and thus at least have a brief record of things which invariably I want to include but never get around to. Thus far, this single post has thrown up four new books (and counting) and therefore will be reducing time to pen posts even further. And it wasn’t supposed to be a book post at all! Everything leads back to the written word it seems. I’m not complaining 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hello Sandra – I too enjoyed your theme and your interpretation. I read somewhere recently – if it was the Waitrose magazine I apologise that it wasn’t more literary – but they advocated writing down three things every day that ‘one’ was pleased had happened during the day – this is the alternative to a ‘to do’ list that never gets completed. I thought I might try that!! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kate! But I’ve only managed one post on this theme – I haven’t gotten into a routine like you have so that’s something for me to aim at! 🙂


  13. I spent yesterday morning at work helping to finish installing the new bee friendly garden for Manchester’s Bee in the City trail, and have been thinking about blue and purple flowered plants a lot. My garden has lavender, buddleia and ceanothus to attract the bees. I’m now going to add penstemon and some purple flowering sage, maybe a new-to-me mint that looks like buddleia and is called buddleia mint. Heliotropes are a no-no for our garden, too, as there’s nowhere to put them that’s out of reach of our cat. I liked your reference to half mourning and would like to recommend Simon Garfield’s book Mauve, about the discovery of aniline dyes by William Henry Perkin. We have his archive on loan at the museum and it’s an incredible story of curiosity and serendipity leading to a discovery that changed the world in lots of ways.
    As to roses, I’m glad they’ve won you over. My parents loved roses. My dad bought my mum a black rose (her favourite perfume was Goya’s Black Rose) and when we sold the family house we weren’t able to save it from the garden. It was too old. When I bought my first house, my dad bought me a Queen Elizabeth rose, which is my favourite. That has travelled with me to each of the subsequent houses I’ve lived in. It’s now had ashes from both my parents scattered onto its soil. I’m going to look for a black rose to join it, I think.
    This is such a lovely, thought provoking post, Sandra, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the things that has surprised me about the response to this post, Jan, has been all the many and varied leads and ideas I’ve acquired as a result. I have Simon Garfield’s Timekeepers waiting to be read but I hadn’t heard of Mauve until now. He writes such a wonderfully eclectic range of books!

      We are intending to replant a sunny border in our garden and the plants you’ve just added to your bee garden would be ideal. I have added them to the list.

      I never knew that a black rose existed. Our ‘family’ rose is Blue Moon – not a personal favourite of mine in regards to colour, scent etc., but one that has been purchased to mark many occasions and passings. I too, have plants that have travelled with me and intend to get a couple more from my parents’ garden. Such a lovely idea to include your parents’ ashes around such special plants. Memories, cycles and beauty – all there whenever the roses bloom.


      1. It’s a lovely, thoughtful post, Sandra – it certainly prompted lots of different thoughts for me, and I enjoyed reading everyone else’s replies.
        I know Blue Moon. It’s a sort of dusty pale mauve (!), isn’t it? Mum and dad’s rose was Black Beauty. I remember it being hit and miss in terms of blooming, but when it did the flowers were a very deep red with black edges. I was very young when he bought it. I haven’t looked yet, but I wonder if it’s still sold or whether it proved too difficult to maintain.
        Mauve is the only book by Garfield that I’ve read. I’ll look out some of his others now.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, Blue Moon is a dusty mauve (!) It hasn’t that much going for it really, but the family connection makes it special for me. I shall hunt around for Black Beauty: it sounds quite spectacular!


  14. I’ve just looked out of the window to see my big old clump of catmint alive with big fat bees. So- the perfect plant- loved by bees and cats, and purple too!xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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