Monday, January 15, 2018

I’ve still done no knitting to speak of, since we got back: but I think perhaps I feel slightly better today. I watched the programme last night, with great pleasure, in which the Queen talked about her coronation . There was mention of burying the Crown Jewels in a biscuit tin somewhere in the grounds of Windsor Castle. And I wondered – I am pretty sure I have mentioned the thought here before – about where they were planning to hide the Princesses, when the invasion happened.

That winter of 40-41, when invasion was expected with every full moon, must have had an extra measure of anxiety for families – like that of the King and Queen – who had adolescent daughters. Churchill (let alone the King and Queen) was very thorough in his planning. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know what he had in mind. I wonder if the Queen knows.  It could have been somewhere close to Kirkmichael, which is close-ish to Balmoral. What you need is a village united in not talking to Germans (we’d have been great for that), and a big house (but not too big) where an extra English girl with her auntie – I think the sisters would have had to be separated – wouldn’t have attracted too much notice.

Palermo: we’re now finished with the Gattopardo, at least for the time being. The next day, Friday, was one of the best. We embarked on mosaics, and by good luck rather than good management, saw them in the right order. We started with the Church of the Martorana that day, well-attended but not what you would call crowded, beautiful, interesting.

Then we went on to the market we had visited the day before with the Duchess.

On Saturday, we started with the Catacombe dei Cappuccini. Archie is something of a connoisseur of horror, so I thought he really ought to see that. Well-off Palermitani used to leave themselves to the Cappuchins to be mummified and then dressed in their Sunday best and suspended from the walls. There they still are. It was a bit on the depressing side, but not quite as bad as you might expect.

I learned afterwards that Giuseppe di Lampedusa is buried there –not, thank God a suspended mummy, but in the adjacent cemetery. I am sorry not to have seen his grave, but profoundly glad not to have walked past his skeleton.


  1. What a good sport you are, to take ARchie to the Catacombes. Not something I've read of before, suspended mummies in their Sunday best...

  2. Anonymous10:15 PM

    Isn't this exactly how UFO's happen?

    You have projects you love and fully expect to finish. Then something happens - in this case, a marvelous trip to Palermo - that requires setting them aside. But you still need something to knit, so you pick up a little project - maybe a sock. By the time you finish the socks, there is something else seducing you away.

    Hello, closet full of UFO'S!

    I hope you do get back to the shawl and the Soutache, soon.

    Beverly in NJ

  3. Beverly, sounds about right. On my latest trip down to FL I brought along only UFOs (two sweaters, two shawls) thinking that eight hours of driving plus several days of hospital/hotel sitting around would be a great time to get stuff done.
    Sadly, I failed to take into account that a) I was the one driving most of the time, and b) all the books on my Kindle I hadn't read were far more seductive than my UFOs. Still haven't knit a stitch on any of 'em...

  4. To heck with the knitting!! I'd do more traveling with Archie while he's single & available. It sounds like you enjoy each other very much. You can always knit later.

  5. I agree with Sharon. Take advantage of a young and able, (and such a loving) young man and travel! Knit while at home and planning all of those luscious trips!

  6. =Tamar1:56 PM

    Travels With Archie - could be a book title.
    I've read of catacombs but never the part about mummies in their Sunday Best - just piles of bones, usually. Sheesh. I wonder when that started - maybe during the first period of Egyptomania?

  7. Anonymous2:07 PM

    Vigorous dittos to Sharon and Julie but having a little sock knitting or similar up your sleeve for long airport waits, etc. doesnt hurt either:-). Chloe