Monday, March 29, 2010

Christmas tree seeds, bread pudding and rain on washing day.

I had some very sad news yesterday -- the gardens and interiors writer Elspeth Thompson has taken her life in a bout of severe depression. She wrote a blog about converting two railway carriages into a home, and her words and pictures gave a lot of pleasure. I own several of her books, and I take them down often for inspiration, or just to enjoy them.

Elspeth was incredibly kind and supportive to 3BT -- she mentioned it in her The Wonderful Weekend Book, and I still get messages from people saying they found 3BT there.

We never met, although we emailed, and talked blogging on the phone once. I felt incredibly special to think that such an accomplished writer would take notice of me. Our emails from the early part of last summer are full of half-hatched plans to meet, and I so wish we had.

This isn't the sort of thing you come here to read, but I know that a few links to 3BT come in from dark places, so I'm going to say it. If you are suffering from depression, please, please get help. Depression is an illness (like measles or a broken leg) and it can be treated. Talk about how you are feeling to those who care about you. Talk to your GP. Talk to a suicide hotline (the Samaritans here in the UK, or The Befrienders elsewhere in the world). Open your mouth and talk.

1. We were given a bag of elephant poo compost and some Christmas tree seeds for a wedding gift. A green shoot has pushed its bowed shoulders through the surface.

2. I like the contrast between grimly wholesome brown bread pudding and the dried fruit (plump orange apricots and crimson cranberries and sharp citrus peel).

3. To see the first drops of rain, and to run outside, laughing, to get the washing in. To pull the great crisp white sheet off the line and stuff it into the washing basket.

And the podcast is up.


  1. This is very sad news about Elspeth and I echo your thoughts about seeking help when depression sets in. I remember your post about Elspeth awhile back and have checked in on blog from time to time. So sad.

  2. I was SHOCKED to read Elspeth's husband's announcement of her death...and now am yet more saddened to read of the HOW of it. It takes my breath away.

  3. My reaction was the same -- the post from her husband was so sudden and out of the blue. Then later I read the last lines of the Telegraph obit, and my heart lurched.

    I hold 3BT to myself like a talisman -- noticing beautiful things is meant to protect me.

    But seeing this happening to someone like Elspeth, who so loved the world, and surrounded herself with such beauty, has shaken my faith.

  4. Don't let it shake your faith. You do wonderful things when you show us how to find the small happinesses in life. I'm happy every day that I found 3BT. And Elspeth's site too.

    -merope, from one of the dark places

  5. Finding beauty in the mundane every day WILL protect you Clare. Shaking up of ANYTHING, even one's faith isn't necessarily a bad thing either, after all don't we shake out our linens and rugs and throws and things to free them from the dust and dirt accumulated over time. Hold fast to your ability to uncover and rejoice in beautiful things and you will find the path through the dark places.

  6. I read the obituary in The Telegraph also. So sad. It puts minor day to day irritations into perspective.
    When I struggle to find 3BT in my days, which I am just now, it shows that the smallest, thing like seeing my 2 cats snuggled up together (which is a rare occurence) seem beautiful.

  7. Such sad news, but good advice Clare and also needles. When things are dark in our lives we need to think of the small beautiful things even more. x

  8. I 'met' Elspeth when she commented on my post about her book and contacted you about my 3BT journals. Like you I was so touched that she showed me such kindness and by her generosity of spirit. I was so shocked and saddened to read her husbands post last night and to learn more about what happened today. I consider her WW book and 3BT to be life savers for me at a very dark point in my life and have been evangelical about their benefits to my friends and family. It seems so awful that someone who spread such happiness and beauty in her life should end it in this way. I think she would hate for it to shake our faith in 3BT though and feel that it has strengthened my desire to see the good things and enjoy each moment for itself. Although her life was tragically short it was full to the brim with wonderful moments and touched so many people. I hope that people can say the same about me when I am no longer here.

  9. Always well said, and extra well said.

  10. I am stunned to read of Elspeth's tragic death on your blog, I so enjoyed dropping by to find out what she was up to and was in awe of the railway carriages transformation.


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