A Prune By Any Other Name

I am returned from holiday. I assume that you noticed my absence? if not then I am glad as it means that you have all been terribly busy doing important things other than reading this blog……..

It was a blissful time during which we did the following: slept late, went fly fishing (but caught nothing – evidence left (i)), swam early in the morning (ii), lay around on beaches, wandered through gardens, danced (iii), boated, sailed (iv), played billiards, lay on more beaches, climbed a hill, walked down the other side, got bitten by a midge, ate langoustines, crabs &stuffed squid, stayed up late, lay on another beach, sat on a rock, collected shells (v), ate slightly sandy salad, bounced on heather, cut down a tree, went surfing before breakfast (vi) and other sundry activities.

For more details about Colonsay go and look at this: also if any of you would like to exchange an off season holiday for a couple of days gardening on the island then please tell me.

I also managed to read one and a half books which may not sound very much but you will realise from the above list that things were quite hectic most of the time. One book was called Blood Knots by Luke Jennings and is rather a fine memoir mostly about fishing with interwoven bits of family history and schools in the 1960s (vii). Fishing is not a subject with which I have ever shown huge interest – nor success (viii) – but this is a good book even for the non-fisherman. He was taught the finer points of fishing by Robert Nairac who was later assassinated by the IRA..

The other half book is by Anthony Woodward and was sent to me by the ever delicious Camilla Swift. It is entitled The Garden In The Clouds and is the story of his building a garden up a Welsh mountain. His aim is to get into the Yellow Book, I have not got to the point where we find out whether or not he does but I suspect a happy ending. At the moment (page 94) he is dragging a railway carriage up the side of said mountain. I read an interesting review of this book in the Spectator written by grumpy Welsh person Byron Rogers. He spent the first part of the review pointing out that a very basic mistake had been made. Mr Woodward chuntles on about his house being called Tair Ffynnon which means ‘Four wells’ in Welsh. Except it doesn’t: it means Three Wells. Mr Rogers then rants a bit about English disrespect before admitting that it is actually rather a well written and amusing book. Which it is.

There now, you weren’t expecting literary criticism were you? (ix)

Thank you to all of you who wished me Happy Birthday via blog comment, Twitter or text. I spent the actual day driving so there was not a lot of time for raucous celebrations. I did have a small cake while on the ferry.

A few days before we went away we, as in Three Men Went To Mow, pootled off to Essex to play around in the Gibberd Garden. This eccentric garden full of sculptures and odd structures built out of concrete was made by Sir Frederick Gibberd, designer behind Harlow New Town in the late forties. Some people might not, with hindsight, think this a good wheeze but at the time it was thrusting and forward looking. The garden is interesting although one of the first things I did on arrival was to step soundly into the ordure of an as yet unspecified species. Cleve filmed it for your entertainment but I have decided that that is probably a step too far (pun intended, ha.ha!)

Instead here is picture of Cleve and Joe inappropriately touching a perkily buttocked statue.

We had a fine and fabulous day as you can see for yourselves very soon. Just need to enlist my elder son Archie to do a bit of fine tuning in the editing department so the finished film should be with you next week.

I am listening to Secret Love by Doris Day.

There is a guest blog of mine at the excellent Rochelle Greayer’s Studio G Blog here.

The picture is of  the lime walk at the Gibberd Garden. (x)

  1. You might notice my rather fetching headgear. This is a Basque beret that can be worn in a number of different ways. Without exception every style is more than a little foolish and causes a raising of the eyebrows from my family. But, if you can’t wear a silly hat on holiday, when can you wear one?.
  2. By “early in the morning” I mean about 8:30. We were on holiday so any earlier would have been silly. Especially as the Atlantic is damn cold. Also by “swim” I mean run into the sea, gasp, dive through a wave, gasp again, swear loudly, run out of the sea, stand shivering under an inadequately sized towel, watch one’s fingers drain of colour and swear never to be so foolish ever again.
  3. Some of you will remember my writing about the Highland Scottische last year. This year I was taught how to dance it by the very lovely Jill. I will not pretend to be an expert but I got round without falling over of treading on Jill’s toes. Or maybe I did and she is just too polite to tell me. I do know that it is a very exhausting dance and I was left panting like a wheezy mountain goat half way up an alp. This is it being danced, oddly, by some Russians.
  4. Including doing that thing where you stand on the side of the boat suspended by a harness above the briny deep. It is very exciting once you get over the scary ‘oh shit,I am going to drown’ bit.
  5. I did not get to build a sandcastle: one of the great regrets of my children getting older is that they do not greet this activity with as much enthusiasm as they did when they were six. I used to go on holiday with a proper spade so that we could build extravagantly moated constructions. Alas, they now prefer to loaf about or go off on more exotic holidays of their own.
  6. By ‘surfing’ I do not mean standing up and whizzing through the tunnels of thirty foot waves with the breeze rattling my extravagantly patterned boardshorts. I mean bodyboarding while wearing a sensibly thick wetsuit. This latter is generally a much more satisfying activity as one is less likely to get bruised or battered and it can be done in the company of smaller children.
  7. These were days when children were encouraged to do things like climb enormously high trees before such things were reconfigured as “dangerous” rather than “character building”. We were allowed to hang on to the back of a tractor when I was at school, it was a great treat and an added frisson was that we were inches above the viciously rotating blades of a mower. Nobody ever fell off.
  8. In my life I have caught (as far as I can remember): three trout, twelve pollack, seven mackerel, seventeen very small perch, one eel, one muddy carp and assorted shrimp, mussels and crayfish. I was also given a fish by a well meaning fellow fisherman which I then took home and claimed that I had caught it myself.
  9. And you did not get any really, just me saying “How lovely”. For the real thing try Cornflower Books. A person who also like footnotes so being (ix) might afford her some mild satisfaction. Although not as much as being number 2 on the Top Literarature Blogs list.
  10. I tried to get more words into the footnotes than the actual body of the post but felt that any more than this would be a bit forced. It may be that even this particular footnote is in itself forced but as very few of you will actually read this far it probably doesn’t really matter that much.