My Shangri-La

Woods behind my house

You know when you are in a Yoga or Pilates or Meditation session and they ask you to go your ‘special place’. Well this is mine and I am there everything morning with Izzi the dog at around 6.30 am. And it is incredibly beautiful and serene. You wouldn’t think when you are there that the world around us is falling apart.

I hadn’t realised that this was my Shangri-La until recently. And having this wonderful place on my doorstep has and continues to be my saving grace. It is also where I have put a beautiful green wrought iron bench in memory of Tod – but mindful of the Corona virus I no longer sit on it.

Where does this wonderful word Shangri-La come from? It is probably one of the most enduring myths of a lost paradise. I think right now we are all drawn to a fantasy of a paradise, safe from the ravages of this horrible virus where we could all live in harmony with nature, and where the wisdom of the planet is saved from destructive elements.

I am feeling quite brave today for last night I had to deal with the things that I usually leave to my son. I rescued a Queen Bee that was stuck in a cobweb — I know I will get to the cobwebs soon — So, unable to open the bedroom windows, and armed with a piece of cardboard and a glass I managed to capture the bee and take her into the garden. And just an hour later, while watching Boris, Mo my cat trots through the cat flap with a little brown mouse, still wriggling. Feeling confident by the bee success I proceeded to use the same method and freed the trembling little thing from the clutches of Mo’s mouth.
She was not amused and refused to look at me for the rest of the evening. I have yet to face my very worst fear ‘the spider’.

So here is one of my spider stories. A few years ago when I was on a Safari Holiday with Tod in Southern Africa I had a really scary encounter with a giant spider. Bleary eyed, I fell out of bed at 5 am and reached for my clothes. And there, sitting on top of my shorts, was a huge –  and I mean gigantic –  no even larger than that –  as big as a house – hairy Spider. I kid you not, it was bigger than my dinner plates.  Now I am no coward: I have faced snakes, scorpions, elephants, and bears but big hairy spiders, well that just feeds my arachnophobia big time.

So, what did I do? Obviously. I screamed, ran into the toilet, and told Tod that our thirty-year marriage was on the line if he didn’t deal with it immediately. As I cowered in the toilet, door firmly locked with towel covering the crack under the door, I heard banging, swearing and the clank of the patio door.

“It’s gone,” he shouted. “Are you sure,” I whimpered cowardly. I won’t report the expletives that came forth. For the rest of the day I just kept looking at him with a renewed admiration. My hero.

Our Game Reserve Driver was not amused. “You should never kill a spider,” he said adding, “ they are just water spiders and are easy to coax outside.”

“Your marriage was not on the line,” explained Tod. Actually it was part of our marriage contract that he would deal with the spiders. But once again it is going to have to be big girl time.

Note to myself: Buy long handled spider catcher from Amazon.

I did start my cleaning today. The internet was down and well what is a gal supposed to do. So I took my first ever selfie. My cousin Barbara said “DO NOT POST THIS PICTURE ROMA”. You know what Barbara its ok I don’t mind people seeing me how I am at the moment. Staying alive seems to be top of my agenda. I have been in slochy clothes ( I think slochy is a word but you know what I mean) for over a week. And very soon my hair is going to start resembling my age!!! And that is going to make me very sad. Anyway because I don’t know how to import the images from the media section on this site and no-one so far has come to my aid, the pic is so small that you won’t get to see all the wrinkles and premature aging that has occurred over the past few weeks. Just wanted to show you that I have started on my ‘to do’ list.

In hindsight she’s probably right I do look a sight. I will just have to go to my ‘special place’ for a bit of TLC.


Silver Lining

I have been racking my brain trying to think of a silver lining to all of this. My good friend Gloria always used to say when stuff happened, “what do you think the reason for this is?” It used to bug me big time. Well Gloria what do you think the reason is?

My brother, who was a new age hippy and who died 11 years ago yesterday, would say it is divine retribution because we have ignored important life lessons. He was always banging on about how we would all reap the consequences of destroying the earth. Of course, he was probably right. But I want to lighten this up so below are a few of my silver linings:

  1. I am going to have the cleanest house ever. Everything in sight is going to dusted and polished. All cupboards organised and wardrobes colour coded. Drawers that are stuffed with, “I don’t know where to put this” will be sorted and jettisoned. Windows will be cleaned and gleaming so that the next time my cowboy window cleaners arrive and say “it is the dirt inside madam” after they have skimmed the surfaces, left after 10 mins and asked for £25, I can assure them they are mistaken. My office ‘in’ tray will be emptied and my filing cabinet sorted and …. well there are just so many things. And I haven’t even mentioned the attic and the basement which still have belongings of au pairs who left 20 years ago, and stuff packed away in boxes that belonged to my dead parents and brother. Anyone want some Capodimonte figurines?

2. I will start reading the endless shelves of books dotted around my house: Starting with Sapiens which I read last year but have now forgotten. Gore Vidal United States, Malcolm Gladwell’s books, Evelyn Waugh Decline and Fall, Barack Obama, (where is he when we need him most?) The Audacity of Hope, Homeo Deus Yuval Harari but only after I finish Sapiens and of course a load of novels sitting on my Kindle. Please please do send me your suggestions.

3. I will endeavour to try – yet again – to master the art of meditation. Heaven knows I need it now.

4. I will iron – yes this will be a first – all the sheets and bed linen and every piece of clothing in the wardrobes just in case I ever get the chance to wear any of them again.

5. Eliminate every single weed in my garden which is mammoth as it is 150 foot long! And start growing vegetables, which, of course I will have to order online as I am self isolating.

IMG_1866 (1)

A question for Word press blog experts – how do I import pics from the media section of the blog into the main copy? For someone who is not a technophile I have already come a long way but there is a heap more to learn. Another addition to my list.

And of course just think girls how much money we are saving on make up, the hairdresser, manicure and pedicures, clothes and the general upkeep necessary to make us all look presentable. See I knew there were some silver linings.

Wild Garlic Soup

I think my dog is depressed. She can’t understand why she is stuck with me all day. I have tried to explain but I don’t think I am getting it through to her.

So why the title Wild Garlic Soup? Well as we are all out walking – what else is there to do? You might have noticed that there is an abundance of wild garlic. My son Jake, who was until last week a chef at St John’s, sent me his recipe for wild garlic soup, which he says is delicious.

2 x medium white onions thinly sliced, 2 x large potatoes washed and diced to fingernail size. Bay leaf and thyme if available. Glass of white wine. 1 Vegetable stock cube. 4 large handfuls of Wild Garlic. Washed half a lemon.

Sweat the onions with little olive oil, low and slow and season well with salt. When starting to get translucent add bay leaf and thyme. Caramelise the onions to a latte-ish colour, then add the potatoes with more salt. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Blanch the wild garlic leaves, a handful at a time for about 15 seconds, moving them around so they cook evenly. When out of the water cool them quickly in icy water or under cold running water. Set aside

When the potatoes have started to soften crumble in the stock cube and wine. Reduce by half, add litre of water and cook on gentle heat for 20 mins until potatoes are soft.

Blend the blanched leaves, the onion/potato mix and stock until a velvety vibrant mix. Return to pan add squeeze of lemon and heavy crack of black pepper. Serve with lots of toasted buttery bread,

Jake’s Wild Garlic Soup

I threw a bit of a wobbly late last night when I suddenly felt incredibly alone and the reality of my new norm hit me. But I have recovered. Until the next one!

My my partner of 35 years died 18 months ago and I thought, “this is the biggest challenge in my life,” little did I know what was ahead. During my late night post whisky meltdown I wondered what it would be like if Tod was still here. He was good in a crisis. After all he had been a paratrooper, so he was used to facing danger. I know that for the first few weeks he would have kept me amused and been very upbeat and practical but how would it have been after a few months?

I am sure that the outbreak of COVID-19 will be a real pressure test on partnerships and when this is all over we might be seeing the emergence of “coronavirus divorce courts. ” Apparently there has already been a spike in divorce applications in Xi’an in China because couples have been forced in quarantine in close quarters.

The peak times for divorce are after Christmas and the summer holidays when couples spend longer periods together – one can only imagine what it might be like after families are forced into isolation because of this virus.

But back to the dog any suggestions of how I might lift her mood. I googled depressed dogs. And it says dogs get depression similar to humans. And that one sign might be avoiding friends and family members – well there aren’t any here to avoid. Might just make some chicken soup tonight – it’s good for the soul.

Care Package

If yesterday’s highlight was organising the online shopping today’s highlight is receiving the food, making up care packages and driving (yay I got out) to deliver the food to one coronavirus sick son (well he thinks it might be the virus but as there is no way of testing he isn’t sure). And another son who is luxuriating in an air b & b penthouse flat with his girl friend. No slumming it there. Make the most of it son because you will be back here isolating with mum in a month.

So the message is stay at home and limit social contact – well that’s not working. I drove to Highbury Corner in Islington (trendy area for those unfamiliar with London) down the Archway Road to deliver my care package and it was buzzing with people clearly the message is not being taken seriously. So what is it going to take for people to realise that this is serious?

Apparently one way to do this is by example and if we see other people isolating themselves, we will then start to think that we should be doing it too, and start thinking less well of people who aren’t following the same approach. Well yes I do feel less well of all those people milling around on the Archway Road.

Although I promised myself that I wouldn’t watch tv until after 6pm I lapsed a bit today and sat down with a cuppa and discovered daytime tv. OMG Have you any idea what is out there? Love After Lock Up, 90 Day Fiance before the 90 days, Sister Wives, Curly Bride Boutique, Unexpected – “I am expecting my second baby and I am only 18” – My Big Fat Fab Life and Toddlers and Tiaras to name but just a few. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the Toddlers and Tiaras but I became transfixed. Here are a bunch of 2 and 4 year olds competing in beauty pageants. One mum explains why she is taking her 2 year old for a spray tan; “I think the paler toddlers get judged lower.” Another mum who was trying to fix false eye lashes on her screaming 3 year old said, “normally she just loves all the make up.” Must be her time of the month – oops can’t be that she is only 3!

Yesterday I wrote about my new virtual norm and today I read about a new trend of virtual barmitzvas. – I don’t know why I didn’t think of this – it could have saved me thousands of pounds and a lot of hassle.

As I have never blogged before I am just getting to grips with the technolgy so please excuse any formatting or editing faux pas.

Please do send me your stories of what you are doing in this new norm way of life.

Home Alone

The dog is looking at me in a strange way. “Something funny is going on,” she says. Well she doesn’t say but that is what her face tells me. “Where are all the people,” and “Why is Roma cleaning the house.” Now I would hate you to think that I was a dirty little minx — whatever that is — but I do tend to put housework near the bottom of my agenda. That is until now – and by midday today I had already done 2 washes of bed linen (from the boys who vacated a few days ago) vacuumed the house, washed the floor, walked the dog, completed an online Pilates session, and put in an online food order.

Actually, the food order was by far the highlight of the day. Working out what I wanted to eat – for one – and checking cake recipes for ingredients. Sadly, Tesco doesn’t have any yeast, so it is going to have to be Soda Bread. Note to self: You have no money to buy any more clothes so lay off the sugar.

Any takers for a virtual Bake Off? I am already in a virtual bridge game, a virtual book club and virtual scrabble. I might just become so virtual that by June I won’t be able to return to the real world. Shades of The Truman Show. I have always had a sneaky suspicion that maybe we are just one big Truman Show and none of this is real. Backed up by an article I saw about a technology company who was making virtual reality products and planning for a time when actual life and virtual reality are indistinguishable. Which of course, depending on how long we need to isolate, just might be the new norm.

So we are no longer a time poor nation. I remember reading a poll of 2000 people which said that almost three quarters wished they had more time to relax, 54% said they needed more time in the day with the average adult saying they needed an extra 3 hours a day to get everything done. Would be interesting to see how these people used their leisure time post coronavirus. I also yearned for more time when I was juggling children, work and parents. I used to recite the poem Leisure by William Henry Davies, and long to be able to ‘stare as long as sheep or cows’. So be careful what you wish for!

There is a silver lining to all this though: Trump is about to combustulate (not sure if that is a word – or just a malapropism) and hopefully the Americans will realise that he really is just full of hot air. Greeta Thunberg has finally got what she wants. And there is some great humour going around.


Please do send me your comments and tell me what you are doing to keep yourself amused/busy/stimulated.

Home Alone

Baptism by Fire


Hi and welcome to my very first ever blog. Well a girl has to do something when she is in self-isolation for 3 months!!! I am in my sixties – and have never felt old until the government started to bandy around the term ‘elderly’ and ‘at risk’. I have 3 grown up sons and was married to an American for 35 years before he sadly died 18 months ago from a Glioblastoma. And am now Home Alone for the very first time in my life. And it really does feel like Baptism by Fire

The Dalai Lama advises everybody to spend a little time alone each day. Time to reflect and chase away the negative thoughts such as anger, resentment, jealousy, and tiredness. Try to replace those with positive emotions such as optimism, gratitude, love, and peace.

So, I am trying, and I emphasise ‘trying’ to internalise these wise words as
I begin my coronavirus self-isolation.  But I am struggling, and it is just Day 1.  I have never lived on my own.  I know that’s a bit sad.  Travelled extensively on my own yes but never actually lived entirely on my own – until now.
Until yesterday two of my sons and girl friend were living with me but
they have vacated the home because I am considered at risk from Coronavirus; I
have Bronchiectasis.

And suddenly this large 6-bedroom house which is usually bustling with noise
is suddenly very very quiet and it is just me and my dog and my cat.  And the government is saying that I need to do this for 3 months!!! WTF I will go stir crazy. Get a grip – I am a big girl I can do this, can’t I? Note to myself – routine. Do not start watching Netflix until at least 6 pm.  

But how will I cope if I encounter a spider, or the cat brings in a mouse, or
rat or half dead bird. If I need something from the attic, or a fuse goes, or
the heating stops working.  Bloody hell I sound a complete wuss – what happened to the intrepid Roma, the one who hitchhiked across Europe aged 18 on her own, who braved the swamps of the Okavango, who
drove from the east to the west coast of America through the blizzards of Nebraska, escaped from a Moonie commune in San Francisco, worked with very disturbed boys in  California, got mugged in South Africa during the Soweto  uprising to name just a few adventures. And survived relatively unscathed.  So yes, it is really time to be a big girl.

So, this is a somewhat self-indulgent blog which is to help me get through the next 3 months and out the other side mentally intact and disease free. This is the next big challenge in my life. And I know I am not alone – there are millions of you across the universe doing exactly the same thing so please do send me your stories, advice, books to read and films to watch. They will all be very much appreciated