Sunday 21 June 2020

Fields of Wonder

Apparently roaming about Scotland without a sufficient cause can still lead to a fine or a ticking off by police officers. This surprised me, when I saw an article about it on line, for I thought that particular jig was up, thanks to all kinds of mass demonstrations throughout the UK the various governments are too frightened to stop.

What I can say about yesterday was that I had sufficient cause to take a train, and when I got on the train I saw that everyone except the conductor and me was wearing a mask. This alarmed me, for I was unsure when the mandatory-masks-on-public-transit begins. It begins tomorrow, actually.  Benedict Ambrose and I will have to remember to take with us the nice denim masks Aged P made us  on future journeys. 

There are fields a three days' walk from here upon which the Romans once built (and rebuilt) a mighty fort. The ditches and places where walls once stood are still discernible in aerial photographs of the site. For me the fields, now filled with green grain, are also filled with wonder. The fort is an important setting in one of my favourite books, and the heroes of the book climb over the "heathery shoulder" of a nearby hill. In place of heather, there are now trees on the shoulder.

The river valley the fort once looked down upon is spectacularly beautiful.  

When the Romans were gone for good, the fort was robbed of its red sandstone by the locals, and much of it, we believe, went to the building of an abbey. This too has been robbed of much of its sandstone in turn, thanks to the iconoclasm of the Protestant Revolt. Unlike the fort, there is still something left of the abbey, and it glows red in the midsummer sun. 

There is an ice-cream shop in a town by the abbey which re-opened yesterday. Business has been steady but, to the relief of the servers, not overwhelming. 

Benedict Ambrose and I went for a walk today for exercise and to get ice-cream from our local Italian-founded gelateria, which reopened a few weeks ago. On our way, we saw that another local Italian restaurant has reopened, if only for take-out and delivery. The white-haired proprietor was standing in the doorway, looking cheerful, so I called out "Tanti auguri!" and he bowed and said "Grazie!"

I then worked out in my head the Italian for "Had I known that we would meet il Signor [Locally Famous Restauranteur], I would have put on matching socks." For the record, this sentiment takes the Congiuntivo Trapassato and the Condizionale Passato. Also for the record, my socks almost match. They are both grey, but one has a red band around the top and the other a purple.

It rained before we got to the ice cream parlour. Luckily, we were in a park near a bandstand when the  rain came pelting down. We stood in the bandstand, which is painted blue and yellow, with a small family and a few bicyclists. It seems to be a hybrid bandstand: the ironwork looks Victorian but the floor is most definitely concrete.

I had an Italian class over the phone today, and my tutor told me that he was sure il Signor [LFR] wasn't offended by my socks. While I was telling him about Benedict Ambrose having made 16 litres of elderflower champagne, B.A. came into the dining room to give me a glass of it. It isn't very alcoholic yet, but it is good.  

I have decided that one of the the things in life I enjoy unabashedly is Italian class. Throughout my life I have had a struggle determining what I  like and enjoy and what I don't really like and enjoy but always think I do until it's too late. I am compiling a list. So far it includes going for country walks with B.A. in good weather, Italian class, and seeing vegetables germinate. Of course there are more, but I am compiling this list slowly, as the enjoyable activities happen.  

Gardening News: Today cut the tops off my broad bean plants to discourage the arrival of bugs. We will eat the tops with supper. I also harvested 18 broad beans, which we will also eat for supper.  I planted peas this week, but they have not yet raised their little green heads. The aphids (which BA, being Scottish, calls "greenfly") have been chomping fiercely on the leaves of my runner beans, so I will certainly try the cucumber-on-aluminium trick. I transplanted a pot of parsley from the dining room windowsill to the herb half-barrel outside this week. It is doing well, although not as well as the parsley I transplanted last year. This is flourishing wildly, throwing out large delicious leaves in every direction.  The thyme is starting to flower, so I cut off a few branches and have tied them to the dining room window frame with thread to dry out. The slugs have not been visible in the past three mornings--possibly word has got out that I squash them on sight. Meanwhile, I am thinking about planting sticks from black currant bushes under the apple tree, and I want to see if the stick method works with wild raspberries, too.   


  1. Two of my favorite bloggers happen to be Canadian. The other one, Karen at The Art of Doing Stuff, has a post on slug elimination:

  2. Thank you! I will have a look. Death to slugs!

  3. So how do you say that complex Italian phrase? I never figured out Italian conditional sentences.