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China Girl blog 8th May 2020

Life at Cothay carries on in much the same quiet way, the only difference being the lack of visitors who kept me well fed in the tea room. My friend and companion Big Billy has lost weight as the people from the North Wing take him for long walks daily. It is not really my thing, all those long walks, and it’s not as if I would be able to make much headway chasing rabbits – although he does tell me about the occasional egg he finds and which he gobbles up.

Our refugees from London are making good use of their idleness. Mathew treats mother to delicious suppers every night, seemingly delighting showing off his culinary skills, whilst his friend Saskia carries on her trade by offering on-line yoga sessions, and when not bent double touching her toes, soldiers on in the garden helping mother with the weeding. The visitors may not be here, however that is no reason not to keep the place looking as sharp as ever. Mathew tackled the potting shed and for he first time in three decades, winnowed all the rubbish accumulated over the years. I confess it is looking good, although my piles of comfortable leaves are no longer in their corners for me to rustle into and fall into a glorious post-prandial slumber, chasing Billy’s imaginary rabbits and squirrels.

When I joined mother on the terrace, the tree peonies were flowering in all their splendid glory. A huge double blousy-pink one, reminiscent of an overblown barmaid; a pure white one like an ice maiden, a charming pale pink one like shot-silk, and the small wild yellow form, the colour of buttercups with small delicate flowers half the size of the voluptuous hybrids.

The tulips were all battered and broken after the squall earlier this week, and now we are waiting for the Nepeta to shine through with its blanket of beautiful blue flowers. Saskia and I snapped all of toehold headless tulip stalks which allows the goodness to drain back into the bulbs, ever hopeful like us, that we will see another spring.

All of us are champing at the bit for the lockdown to ease, to be able to leave the compound without feeling as if we are being mischievous, and for the visitors to return. Although there are fewer plants for sale this year, the tea room offers all of the things I most like, flapjacks and chocolate cake being my favourites. Ah! Will things return to normal, or will we have to mend our old ways? Only time will tell….