Tuesday 16 November 2021


"Open it! Open it!" commanded the twins, when they spied a parcel on our dining room table. "But Shaista is still asleep. I can't open her parcel," said my mother, diplomatically, knowing I would be unamused at not being able to open MY parcel. I am no different to the twins in this matter. 

So the next day, when I was awake at a reasonable hour, I obeyed the repeated command. To tell the truth, I did know what was inside, and also suspected the children would instantly lose attention. And they did. Inside was a garden of herbs packed gracefully and extremely economically by my student, Sister Linh Bao. Tucked away in the French retreat of Village des Prunièrs, the nuns use a panoply of herbs not only in their cooking, but also in their tea, and most importantly for their health and well-being.

The two Vietnamese nuns I practise English with every week never skimp on their love and concern for Pops, who is now about to embark on an exciting tea diary adventure. Once again, in keeping with truthfulness, Dad found the scent and flavour a little... shall we say, subtle? He has decided his taste buds need to get used to the light hints. No milk or honey or jaggery here, only a meditation on warmth and nature. 

Speaking of gifts and nature, the mice were happier with another tinier parcel I received from Liz, owner of Sammy, the little cockapoo I have begun dog sitting. Oh, have I not told you about Sammy? I think he deserves his own post, so I shall hold off on further exposition for now, but here is the sweet treat Liz gave me to thank me for minding her dog while she attended her brother's wedding...

I wonder what the mice will make of my third parcel of the week (yes, it's Christmas already in the Tayabali household! My clever and inspiring friend Kate sent me a book I've been eyeing ever since it was published, from an author (Robert MacFarlane) and illustrator (Jackie Morris) who are equally clever and inspiring...