Sunday 10 May 2020

Adventure and a Brown Bin

Hundreds of uprooted dandelions in a capacious Brown Bin.
Yesterday Benedict Ambrose and I gave into our whims and marched part of the way to what may be the nearest farm shop. It was a glorious sunny day, possibly the warmest day in our part of Scotland so far this year. I wore my French Scouting hat, and hatless B.A. got sunburnt.

I have often said that Edinburgh is so beautiful that, on a warm and sunny day, I never want to be anywhere else. The same can be said for me in the nearby countryside. We passed canola fields the bright colour of American mustard and a ruined 16th century castle that glowed ruddily in the sun. The grain fields were a luscious green, and trees were heavy with blossoms in all shades of yellow, pink and purple. The woods were carpeted with blue florets.

We cut through a noble estate, admiring the flocks of sheep and alpaca, the strutting hens and the water fowl sunning themselves on the grassy shores of an ornamental lake or swimming about. The smallest ducklings seemed to be racing each other on the water; they put on startling bursts of speed, like tiny speedboats. The aristocratic dwelling, elegant Georgian with fantastic Victorian additions, made me wonder if Potsdam, though worth seeing, was worth going to see. (B.A. protested against this architectural heresy, but all the same, if confined to the UK from now on, I would not run out of palaces to see on weekends.)

The farm shop was open, and we joined a short, politely spaced queue, as only three customers were permitted in the shop at once. Once in, B.A. went straight to the meat counter for some pork, and when I went in, I put a bottle of lemonade in his basket. We also chose an onion, a fennel bulb, a courgette, a slice of chocolate tiffin, and 500 g of ground beef. This all cost £20, which did not seem like a lot for a Saturday exercise.

Afterwards we went back through the noble estate and briefly rested from all this healthy exercise on a bench, watching the ducklings and answering the greetings of other athletes walking through the park. One of the geese made a terrible semi-mechanical crackling noise, and we saw two murderous herons swooping overhead. I worried about the ducklings, and B.A. said he would like duck with spring onions and garlic from a Chinese takeaway for supper.

One of the herons landed on an island that was so overgrown we couldn't see what it was doing although from all the avian shouting and swearing we could guess. We saw the other sail through the air and land on the opposite bank. I got a few photographs, which my computer won't allow me to import from my phone. Perhaps a computer-savvy relation, real or pretend, can advise me. (And yes, I did finally update my phone.)

We had nothing to fear from the herons, but we found our traditional way out of the estate blocked by a herd of cows, a closed gate, and a sign saying "Beware of bull." And, lo, at a distance from this sign  was a big, square, black ox. Thus we made a sharp right and walked along the Firth of Forth and found other means of getting home.

Upon reaching home I fetched an old green sofa throw, my Scottish vegetable-gardening book, two magazines and a brimming glass of Berocca and stretched out on the lawn under the 6 PM sun. I have never lounged on our lawn before, and I couldn't resist. However, this idyll was broken first by my remembering my promise to call our favourite Chinese takeaway  and then by my neighbour telling me she had pulled the Brown Bins off the street.

Here is an opportunity to record two interesting details of lockdown life in our part of Scotland.

First, there have been reports that the digital delivery services have been gouging the nation's takeout shops. The last time we wanted Chinese takeaway I was disappointed to see how few shops were, according to the online service, still available. However, after pondering the gouging accusations, I realised that the missing shops might have just reverted to their old delivery schemes. So I called up our fave, and the American-accented girl who answered assured me that they did deliver but that they were so busy, our order wouldn't arrive for two hours. Also, their card machine was "not working," so we would have to pay cash on delivery. Clever, clever shop.  I agreed to both of these conditions and to B.A.'s glum promise to get some cash from the nearest ATM.

Second, while I was lounging about reading about the Cucumber Family's fortunes in Scotland, the lady downstairs came out and said that the Council had finally emptied the Brown Bins. The Brown Bins are large brown plastic containers of about 4 feet in height, standing on wheels. They are the same size as the Green Bins, which are used for sacks of refuse bound for "landfill," i.e. Pachamama's tummy. The Brown Bins are used for excess vegetation.

Normally our street is very obedient about bin collection. We put out our bins the night before or very early in the morning of collection. Then we pull them back in off the pavement within 12 hours of them being emptied. Petty crime and violent assaults are not unknown in our humble road, but at least we are tidy.

We are also mad keen gardeners, so the suspension of Brown Bin collections was a problem and led to some garden bonfires, about which the Council was not happy. It also led to people hopefully putting out their Brown Bins on the normal day and waiting three days to see what might happen. However, some other people are better at reading the local news, and thus a rumour went around that the Council was going to collect the Brown Bins momentarily, and so an enormous chorus of Brown Bins appeared on the street and stayed there for a week. In the fullness of time, e.g. yesterday, the Council's bin lorry came along and emptied the bins.

Upon discovering that our Brown Bins had been seen to at last, our neighbour pulled her nearest neighbours' bins to our communal path. Unfortunately, someone had taken our relatively clean and  new one, which had no number written on it, and so I had to take a dirty, battered one with a plastic compost bag left at the bottom. Such is life, but I cleaned the lid with kitchen spray.

We also have a plastic Blue Box for paper and cardboard allegedly to be recycle and a plastic Green Box for metal, plastic, and glass also  allegedly to be recycled. We keep the collection of containers in front of our shed doors, a slight deterrent to tool thieves.

As a matter of fact, I was a little sad about the Brown Bins emptying because I might have used the contents for compost, as the Council has been telling us. However, I was concerned about the wild rose and dandelion seeds that were in there, too. Our wild roses keep poking stems through the lawn; they are absolutely rapacious.

That said, they are blossoming again, so they are earning their considerable keep.

Another note about the lockdown in Scotland: the Scots are very athletic indeed. It's a good thing we are permitted exercise because I don't think there are enough police officers to fine the entire country for our bouts of athleticism, especially on sunny days. I feel less worried about this now that I have researched Professor Lockdown's past pandemic predictions and discovered his reluctance to allow other scientists to examine the workings of his famous 15-year-old modelling technique. Also, almost every household we see outside are keeping to the two-metre distancing rule. The others are teenage boys on bicycles.

UPDATE: Happy Mother's Day to Aged P! Mother's Day in Britain is on Mothering Sunday (i.e. Laetare Sunday), so there are no advertising cues to remind me. Happy Mother's Day, too, to all nulliparous women like me. Hopefully someone somewhere is honouring your spiritual motherhood. One of the most beautiful things St JP2 ever taught is that all women are called to be mothers. If any woman tells you she thinks that is a terrible idea, ask her if she would object to being a Tribal Elder.  My guess is no, and the difference is that westerners are taught by our quislings to admire the roles of the elderly in eastern and indigenous cultures while despising the traditional roles of our own.

GARDEN UPDATE: Repotted courgette. Stem slightly bent, so now staked. Frost warning tonight, so cloches on new parsley, and newspaper and cardboard screens for vegetables. Strawberry planter in the bathtub for the night.

No comments:

Post a Comment