Monday 26 July 2021

A Weekend of Gardens

We had a beautiful weekend, with the sunny weather actually typical of east coast Scotland in the summer although everyone forgets this as soon as it rains.

On Saturday Benedict Ambrose and I took advantage of the combination of sun and my day off work to go to a National Trust for Scotland property featuring a huge, tiered garden with a pond, fields, and a curious horse hanging his head over a stone wall. Dogs are not permitted off the lead, and so dog-walkers don't seem to go there very often which is---I am sorry to say, for I like dogs--a blessing. It is thus a quiet place; an almost secret paradise. 

As the sun poured down, we switched from bench to bench to suit our comfort as we read our books. Around noon we moved to a large, sheltering gazebo. An hour later I volunteered to go to the nearest grocery store for lunch and came back with pork pies, a sandwich, water and crisps. B.A. continued reading David M. Levy's Scrolling Forward, and I continued Maryanne Wolf's Proust and the Squid. The latter is about the invention and implications of reading.  This reminded me of language acquisition in general, and I texted Polish Pretend Son to find out what words my year-and-a-half-old godling uses. It's clearly as summery in Poland as here, for her small store includes the first syllables of "mosquito" and "housefly."

One of the joys of Scotland is that we don't have mosquitos and, thank heavens, midges don't usually thrive this far south. The Highlands must be alive with midgies, though,  and this is why I never go there from May to October. They bite hard.

We stayed in this beautiful garden until 5 PM or so, went to the grocery store together, and came home. B.A. set up chairs under our apple tree, which abounds in small "cider babies," as B.A. calls them, with copies of the Spectator. Our next-door-downstairs neighbour came padding into our garden barefoot with a half-bottle of white wine he though we might like, and talked tipsily of apple cider making and illegal stills he has known. 

On Sunday after Mass--and our TLM still thrives, thank heavens--B.A. and I went to a birthday party held in one of Edinburgh's many private gardens. These gated gardens appear in the middle of Georgian or Victorian streets or squares and are the collective property of the residents who subscribe to their upkeep. If we ever live in the West End or the New Town, we will certainly pay the subscription and become happy key holders ourselves. (Perhaps I could keep my veggie trug on the roof.)

The gated garden in which we sat and ate Coronation Chicken sandwiches and raspberry Bakewell tart and drank sparking wine is at least a city-block long and lined with shrubs and trees. It has weathered grey curved wooden benches here and there. It is large enough to have several (music free) parties without them impinging on others. We watched with amusement as a party of small children whacked away at a piƱata, and two small children turned and stared as B.A. and another birthday guest broke into a Gilbert and Sullivan patter song. 

This time the benches moved with us as we sought partial shade from the overly generous sun. B.A. and I sat and chatted (and B.A. occasionally sang) in this park from about 2 PM until 9:30 PM. Thus, it was very much an open air day and a very good use of the (east coast) Scottish summer weather 

One of our conversation threads wove around the recent Motu Proprio and the allegations launched at people who love the Traditional Latin Mass. Our host, who stands at the church door on Sundays with a clipboard in obedience to the archdiocesan COVID-19 procedures, revealed that not just cradle Catholics and convert Catholics but potential future Catholics come to our Mass. Because of B.A.'s illness and other difficulties of the past four years (e.g. COVID-19), I haven't been much of a parish social butterfly, but I dimly recalled hearing reports that some of the students who appear at Mass aren't Catholics or even yet Christians. Some of them have been baptised, and others haven't yet been received. I believer these converts and inquirers first come because enthusiastic Catholic university students bring them.   

As we trundled down Princes Street on the bus, I noticed crowds of people outside fancy bistros and bars. It seemed busy for a Sunday night--or perhaps it only seemed that way after a year and a half of lockdowns. 

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