WHAT a joy it was to read the letter from the (rightly) anonymous 71 year-old contributor enjoying a passionate private life in their autumnal years (May 17).

I am approaching 50 and have found a little piece of heaven on this troubled planet. For what it's worth, here is the recipe.

Start by chucking out the rubbish of your life. Items such as ambition, TVs, cars, pointless bits of plastic, unnecessary shopping, narrow mindedness, selfishness and greed. Substitute with art, literature, passion, a world perspective, music, conversation, quality time with friends and family and a bicycle.

Method. Learn to sit quietly and receive art, literature and music. Go with the flow, expand your mind, don't be afraid to take risks with your heart, cultivate good fellowship, discourse with the wise and reason with fools.

Have compassion for those less fortunate. These are not so obvious but here are some examples: the rich, the superficial, the ignorant, the bigot and the oil-junkie.

Source your food from local suppliers and take an interest in it and the planet that provided it. Blend in the most important ingredient (Helen Mead, take note): your partner and children.

Understand that you can't have it all and, finally, be prepared to give it up when the time comes and die with dignity and good grace as my parents did leaving behind pleasant memories.

This recipe doesn't lead to total contentment because there is no such thing but it's as close as you'll get this side of eternity.

Graham Horne,

Beech Avenue,



...HELEN Mead's column and readers' letters in the Evening Press have addressed sex - including frolics in the garden.

At first this sounds a lovely, romantic idea, conjuring up visions of nymphs, shepherds, Titania, Oberon, cowslip bells and bees.

In reality the police and paramedics could become involved.

I have puzzled for a long time on this, over essential pints of builders' tea, wondering how sex in the garden would be possible.

Some of us have communal gardens which wouldn't suit everyone.

People in urban areas often have a walled backyard, which sounds ideal.

This may be awash with junk or fountains and potted pelargoniums. Either way - even with the wall and a mat down - neighbours may be shocked when inadvertently reaching for a comb on their dressing table upstairs.

If you have a large, secluded, garden this still doesn't prevent that flying gardener - gorgeous Chris Beardshaw - from whizzing overhead in his helicopter. Even masses of dense shrubbery could cause a nasty injury.

Just have a glass of wine in the garden then totter indoors.

Margaret Lawson,

Aldborough House,

The Groves, York.

Updated: 10:23 Tuesday, May 20, 2003