Oi! You! Get off my houseleeks!

Uuuuuh…. say what again…?

I don’t know what it is about this pot of sempervivums, but every bird and squirrel in the vicinity seems to think it can poke around in there for grubs and seeds, use it as a toilet, or simply take its leisure on what I have to say is a pretty spiky and probably quite uncomfortable surface. You give them an inch….

Anyway. Storm Cristoph has been swirling around us for most of the day and has kept me confined to barracks again, and this is one of just two vaguely focused images I managed, through the kitchen window, while I was making tea midway through the morning. The weather and lack of photo opportunities didn’t matter at all in the scheme of things though, because today was all about the inauguration of Joe Biden as America’s 46th President.

I’m not an especially sentimental person, except perhaps where animals are concerned, and I’m not impressed by pageantry, but from the moment the VIP guests began to walk through the Capitol and out onto the west front where the swearing-in ceremony was to take place, I began to tear up; and by the time Kamala Harris and her husband appeared I was leaking like a broken tap. After taking the oath of office Biden gave what I thought was an excellent speech, and it suddenly felt as though the world had taken a big step back towards safety and normality. R and I drank fizz, and raised a toast to the new regime.

My favourite part of the ceremony was a stunning performance by the young poet Amanda Gorman, who absolutely glowed in her yellow coat, with her youth and beauty and talent and really quite outrageous level of poise, and filled me with the joy of possibility:

“We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

The full text is here.