On either side of the of the path there was a wilderness
of nettles and blackberry thorns and long brown grass.
An enormous oak tree stood overshadowing the cottage.
Its massive spreading branches seemed to be enfolding
and embracing the tiny building,
and perhaps hiding it as well from the rest of the world.
Miss Honey, with one hand on the gate which she had not yet opened,
turned to Matilda and said, "A poet called Dylan Thomas once wrote some lines
that I think of every time I walk up this path."
Matilda waited, and Miss Honey,
in a rather wonderful slow voice, began reciting the poem:
"Never and never, my girl riding far and near
In the land of the hearthstone tales, and spelled
There was a moment of silence, and Matilda,
who had never before heard great romantic poetry spoken aloud,
was profoundly moved.
"It's like music," she whispered.
"It is music," Miss Honey said.
And then, as though embarrassed at having revealed such a secret part of herself,
she quickly pushed open the gate and walked up the path.
Matilda hung back. She was a bit frightened of this place now.
It seemed so unreal and remote and fantastic and so totally away from this earth.
It was like and illustration in Grimm or Hans Andersen.
It was the house where the poor woodcutter lived with Hansel and Gretel
and where Red Riding Hood's grandmother lived
and it was also the house of The Seven Dwarfs
and The Three Bears and all the rest of them.
It was straight out of a fairy-tale.
"Come along, my dear," Miss Honey called back,
and Matilda followed her up the path.
excerpt from "Matilda" by Roald Dahl
all photos by none other than Tim Walker
Sunday is birthday party day.
I'll be with so much family and friends
that I shall surely spend the day
laughing and twirling myself into exhaustion.
I can't wait!