Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Granny is in a damp windy London, along with some not every enthusiastic daffodils. It's called a late Spring. She spent yesterday trudging round equally unenthusiastic estate agents; given the price she's prepared to pay. They disguise this lack of enthusiasm by saying, very brightly. 'Would you be interested in ex-council property?" Actually Granny would be interested in just about anything. But even the above appear to be lacking; and if not lacking, expensive.

Meanwhile back on her island? Last thing before she left Beloved said: "I'll have a surprise for you when you come back."

This is OMINOUS.

The surprise last time was the donkey shed. What surprise this time? A camel house? Or worse still: a donkey in the donkey house?

Surprise from lovely son for Mother's Day (which her granddaughters insist on calling 'Mothering Sunday' - they go to a church primary school wouldn't you know....) was an enormous bunch of flowers which she is now sitting looking at. This surprise was welcome at least. Very.

Even being back in wet and windy London - no this is not an "I'm in love with London' post, has its advantages.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Animal behaviour

One day Granny and Beloved owned five brown hens. Next day the five hens had turned, mysteriously into six brown hens. Neighbours have been quizzed... 'te falta una gallina morena?' -have you lost a brown hen? All deny it. The sixth brown hen remains. But since the other brown hens despise and reject her the way females of all species know how, she has had to be put in with Daisy, the speckledy hen, and her fearsome black spouse Damien-Daphne, him of the previously uncertain gender (no longer.) Judging by the marks on new brown hen's neck Damien-Daphne is enjoying his extra wife.

Is that enough for D-D? No, of course not. One day he was shut in his quarters, the next he was to be found in the brown hen's quarters along with their spouse the white cockerel, Colin. The fight between them was not seen. But where one day there were two fine unbloodied, unwounded cockerels down in the separate chicken runs, the next day both were in the same run, covered in blood, their combs somewhat raggedy. Hard to know which came off best/worst. The white cock looked the bloodier but then he would; the blood showed more on him. 'They could have killed each other,' said Mr Handsome in a delighted voice. 'Cocks do kill each other, you know.' Granny and Beloved did know. But this time these cocks didn't. They do continue trying to out-crow each other. That's something cockerels do too.

The walls/fences between the pair have now been reinforced. The hens continue to lay eggs, and the police have not yet been round; they will be round. Because of bird flu they are checking everyone. In due course, probably, the chickens will no longer be allowed to roam the land, terrorising the Tiresome Terrier. (Though the TT has never been known to be frightened of anything, Granny is delighted to see she gives both cockerels a very wide berth. They are the first animals ever to have her measure. GOOD) When the chickens are no longer able to forage for themselves, the stove in Granny's kitchen will be still fuller of large saucepans with mysterious and strange smelling contents; a process known by Beloved as 'generating chicken food.' (If this is such an effort, God knows how he thinks he's going to feed a donkey.)

At least, on that one, Granny now has a male botanist on her side. (And a female, but that's not quite the same when it comes to Mr Handsome.) The horticulturalist said to her last week. 'You' ve got some interesting stuff on your land. You should protect it. Goats/donkeys wouldn't be good for it. Driving a truck on it degrades it fast....' Mr Handsome can't call the horticulturalist 'soft' - the way he did Granny when she remonstrated about the truck. The horticulturalist's a man isn't he..? It's his job isn't it...? He and Beloved both have to take notice of him. Granny is quite happy to get off her feminist high horse on this one, and just be grateful.

She meantime has finished her Spanish course. Can she speak fluent Spanish now? Can she understand every word said to her? Don't ask. Spanish to her is still like sailing in a boat over a sea under which at times she can dimly define shapes of rocks, a bed of sand; sometimes - occasionally -what's down there beneath that sea of language is almost clear. Still more occasionally a whole rock leaps up out of the sea, it's like her own language at last. Then it vanishes. She can't see anything at all; continues to float in an opaque sea of total incomprehension, total silence. No linguist she.

Beloved claims to have had a student once who went off every summer vacation to another country to learn another language; and after two months came back speaking it. LUCKY HIM.

Both her cats are now neutered. (Spanish is quite brutal and open about it: 'castration' is the word used. ) One continues to sneeze. As for Granny herself on Sunday she has to go back to London for a week. Someone, in theory, is trying to buy her London flat. Most likely by the time she gets there the someone will no longer be trying to buy her London flat. That's what selling houses/flats in England is like; cock fights can't generate more blood, more wounds. The most seemingly nice, honourable people turn into fiends of unreliability, slipperiness, venality; claws, beaks showing. A veritable cock pit. Ouch.
(She should have waited to buy her ticket till the matter was certain? Of course. But at this time of year getting off/on the island is more difficult than extracting yourself from Wormwood Scrubs. She had to take her chance of tickets and grab them. On the spot.)

And talking of beasts. Here is one currently disporting himself in Beloved's kitchen rockpool, being fed on green seaweed. For some reason it has to be green. But at least Beloved doesn't feel obliged to cook that.

Meet Mr - or Mrs - or even possibly Mr AND Mrs - Sea Hare.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Post hoc and St Patrick

Here we go again. Granny creeps to this school no less unwillingly than any schoolboy… but she KNOWS she’ll be glad when she’d done it.

The unwillingness is partly exhaustion.

Let’s itemise…

Number of dinners cooked for 13/14 people: 7
Number of punters staying in this house (as opposed to the one in the Casa Rural down the road) so needing breakfast: 5
Number of people over 60: 11
Number of broken limbs: 1 (a wrist belonging to youngest of group; of course; female.)
Humber of trips to clinic on other side of island resulting from above: 2
Number of abusive calls to Granny from above clinic when patient departed before bills etc fully sorted: 2 (sharks all, the private clinics; woman, contrary to instruction, hadn't brought her E111 - so handier, efficient -and free - local hospital no good.)
Number of suggestions from above pair that maybe, since it was dinnertime, Granny's high activity time, they should use a local taxi for these expeditions: 0
Number of falls not leading to broken limbs: 3-4-5-6....uncountable
Number of real enthusiasts for National History (the point of all this): 0
Number of broken pumps for water tank: (ie no water): 1 (enough. Paying guests don't altogether take to being provided with buckets of water with which to flush their loos. Granny can't blame them.)
Number of broken down dishwashers: 1
Number of car problems: 2 (brakes and yet another tyre; the one Mr Handsome announced with pride that he had got cheap..Granny suspected no good would come of this. She was right. She, of course, was the one got dumped by side of road.)
Number of clean underpants worn by Beloved: full complement.... (under threat of Granny emptying his drawers etc, Beloved did it himself, if not quite willingly.)
Number of bottles of wine drunk: Granny lost count but knows it made a good part of the profit. Good.
Number of donkeys acquired: 0 (except human ones.)
This is the outline merely....you can guess.

One part of the guests - 3 irreverent Ulsterwo/men - 2 female, 1 male - dubbed the other part - four of them from the gardening club of an Oxfordshire village - 'the quality.' Much to Granny's delight. They also consumed a lot of the most expensive wine ('we like it before, during and after dinner'..) Good.

All four of 'the Quality' - 3 female, 1 male - 'splendid old buffers' you might say, so long as you don't say the same of Granny - you DARE - were walking-sticked and somewhat unstable, but indefatigable nonetheless; insisting on doing the awkward clamber over the rocks, plus walking sticks, to get to the rock-pools, watched with much anxiety by the horticulturist who was the main teacher, by Beloved, and by Granny tagging along in case of trouble. All got back unscathed, if somewhat querulous about difficulty. (Of which they were warned; but were too indefatigable to take note....) The younger woman who did damage herself fell on a flat safe path. Wouldn't you know it.

The weather fortunately was spectacularly good. Despite complaints about difficult paths, about having to stay elsewhere, ('they don't have mirrors/shelves in the showers, etc...) about the awfulness of the charter flight out (can't help that; Granny and Beloved know the awfulness all too well) a good time seems to have been had by all.

So now you know. That's it. Granny will spare you such details as the nightly menus. She hopes you are grateful.

Oh and by the way; Granny emerging from her Spanish class yesterday, down in the main resort, was confronted by large numbers of not very obviously Irish tourists wearing green scarves, green t-shirts, orange wigs with green caps above, etc, etc. ''What...??" 'St Patrick's Day', said one of her fellow pupils. Not quite like her own dear 'Quality' - all 'awfully jolly' and 'thanks for my din dins' (really) whom she cannot quite imagine agreeing to fake orange wigs and lurid green anything. Though she'd love to try.

It's called island life. Really.

Monday, March 06, 2006


Granny shouldn't be sitting here. She should be at her Spanish class. Unfortunately, on her way there this morning, the sun came out as she was driving up a narrow rural road blinding her totally; despite creeping along she collided with a wall - much like the one behind the manger a post or two back. She was fine, one wheel wasn't and the passenger door isn't feeling itself: in fact it's missing large bits of itself. Granny could do with missing the odd shaken up bit of herself too; but no such luck. Beloved and Mr Handsome are now sorting it out and she is calming her nerves with strong coffee. No class today.

She is however, exhausted. Guests arrive Thursday and meantime it's like moving house. She and Beloved migrate to the office, leaving their bedroom and Beloved's workroom clear. In theory. Granny puts all her clothes in suitcases etc and lugs them downstairs; Beloved is less willing.

"Have you cleared your drawers for the guests?"

"I've done two drawers. Surely that's enough. Noone needs more than two drawers.'

'Beloved, those are small drawers. And there are two people.'

'I'll do four drawers then.'

'Beloved, people are paying good money to learn about natural history; this does not mean intimate knowledge of your underwear. You've got to clear the lot.'

'I've got nowhere else to put them. Do you want me to wear dirty clothes for a week?'

Etc. Granny sighs. She'll have to do what she did last time, namely clear the drawers when he's out and put his suitcase alongside hers in the office. She will also ensure that he does change his underpants daily, despite the threat. Men! Or at least this man...maybe not quite the same thing..

Anyway; what with one thing and another it's all too much - too much cooking, too much washing, too much cleaning. Too much Spanish. Till the guests have gone on Thursday week she'd going to have to take a blog break.

But not without acknowledging with much sadness the death of dear friend Bob's wife. (Four kids mom'n dad on blog roll. Sorry she hasn't time to put in the link.) Life's a bugger. She weeps with and for him. He's a lovely man, it's a lovely family and they don't deserve it.

On the other hand; over at dear friend Ovagirl, the long hoped-for baby has started to move. (Legs up and laughing. Ditto.) Life goes on, in its cruel but extraordinary way. Here it's blowing a gale of sorrow and joy both. Granny, crying and rejoicing simultaneously, is as tired of the sound of wind as she is of domestic chores and hopes it will stop soon. Very soon.

Love to you all meantime. See you the weekend after next.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Granny advances on the tag given her by Pat. With difficulty.

Seven things to do before she dies. (In no particular order.)

1. Go to the Gobi Desert (some hope.)
2. Go to Southern India (a little more likely)
3. Go to Sicily and Southern Italy. (Quite probably.)
4. See grandchildren grow up. (Inshallah.)
5. Speak Spanish fluently
6. Read Don Quixote to the very end; in either language.
7. Write another published and REALLY good book.

7 things she can't do

1. eat oysters
2. organise her blog
3. speak Spanish - or any other language - fluently (except her own.)
4. Do the triathlon.
5. write poetry
6 turn cartwheels
7 scuba dive

7 things that attract her to her Beloved
1. His weird and wonderful mind
2 His cooking - and watching the concentration with which he does it.
3. his outrageous hair (what's left of it.)
4. His making her coffee every morning
5. the tenderness with which he medicates her cats, even though he prefers dogs,
6 his back view as he walks lopsidedly away
7. His capacity to be quite MADDENING. (Afterwards,)

7 things she says often.

1. Shit!
2. Where are/is/I've lost my purse/sunglasses/keys/book
3. COME HERE/SIT DOWN (to the dog)
4. You never listen! (To her Beloved)
5. What a beautiful cat (to either kitten)
6. No donkey!
7. This book is fantastic. Read it!

7 films she loves

1. The enigma of Kaspar Hause
2. Regle du Jeu
3. The Marquise von O
4. Pather Panchali
5. Tokyo Story
6. Fargo

7 books she loves

1. Middlemarch
2. Heart of Darkness
3. Moby Dick
4. The Exploits of Moominpapa
5. The Tale of Samuel Whiskers
6. Being Dead (Jim Crace)
7. Sabbath's Theatre (Philip Roth)

7 bloggers to tag. Oh dear. Most of her blogging friends have been done already - or are in no position to be asked. Can she think about this and get back? Alternatively: any volunteers??

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