Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It’s kind of fun, picking dandelions, once you get into the swing of it. It was the last thing my husband said, as I left on Monday: that I must bring them back so that he could see them.

I had a good time. The year was – is – poised at the absolutely magical moment, and the sun shone. I got my seeds in, except for some space left for successional sowings and the shrinking violets (runner beans, courgettes) which have to go in after the danger of frost. There is no such moment in the Strathardle year, so I wait until mid-May, and put the seeds in under cloches made of sawn-off water bottles. Sometimes we don’t have a frost in June, and it works. The season and the sunshine and the fact of being on one’s knees with one’s hands in one’s own soil, combine to create a state of inexpressible happiness.

I stopped at Sainsbury’s on my way out of Edinburgh, to get some things to eat. Who can doubt the operation of a benevolent providence, when English asparagus and Jersey Royal potatoes come into the supermarket on the same day? I bought both, and after a hard afternoon’s work, steamed them and grilled a lamb chop and supped like Lucullus. Then I walked out in the early evening, and tried to take a picture of happiness. It can’t be done.

Those hooded crows are still hanging around the chimney. And there was, mysteriously, a dead one in the yard. I disposed of it warily. (“Bird Flu Victim Was Perthshire Pensioner”)

This is a picture of blossom on our damson tree. We put it in five years ago, along with two apples. One of the apples, a Keswick Codling by name, has proved a sensational success. The other clings to life. And the damson has grown mightily, it’s really too big for its position – but has never, until now, had a single flower. So that was exciting.

I didn’t get any knitting done at all. I didn’t even take it out of the drawer. I worked in the garden, I ate, I slept. While I ate, I read The Constant Gardener.

There is currently an odd piece of news, about elderly shareholders in SmithKlineBeecham getting letters from animal rights activists threatening to put their details on the Internet if they don’t sell their shares. I was terribly disappointed to get back and find that we hadn’t had one. Maybe it will come today. I can’t imagine any shareholders more suitable than us, and it all fits in rather well with the theme of The Constant Gardener.

The May issue of “Knitting” finally arrived. It’s not very good.


Sue, thank you for that tip about right-clicking and adding words to the spelling-checker dictionary. I thought there must be a way to do it – I could add words to spelling-checkers 20 years ago. But I tend to overlook right-clicking. I’ve added “Strathardle” this morning.

Anne, your remark about Pelion and Ossa and Hamlet sounds not only plausible but half-familiar, but I can’t find it in the passage you mention, “Speak the speech, I pray you,….trippingly on the tongue.” (Interestingly, the spelling-checker accepts “Pelion” and queries “Ossa”.)


We are completely and utterly baffled by the cover of the current, May 8, issue of the New Yorker. Can anyone explain?

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