Borage is straggling all over the allotment now and its blue flowers are some consolation for losing all the peas to badgers. I've been writing and gardening - the two activities complement each other perfectly and I can see why so many writers I know do both enthusiastically. I've also been clearing out books to create space out of the clutter and dust that seem to have gathered since the winter. July's gone in a flash but has provided some poems and August will offer more, I know. It's good to have the focus of working with Jane Fordham at Chesworth - what a place that is for quiet and pursuing the thoughts that so often escape unnoticed. I want to be surprised. I've just finished a quirky novel by Elizabeth Jane Howard, After Julius. Written in a different time, with a totally different perspective on life, like the book Living in the Country I took to Chesworth with me that was all about self-sufficiency and first published in 1939. Both books seem strangely appropriate to this era we're in now, when I feel we're on the brink of terrible social division again - joblessness, poverty, prejudice and schisms - and it's being ushered in so enthusiastically by those with an interest in stopping any debate about just why so many individuals in this country are earning so much, even in retirement.