Archive for May, 2004


Friday, May 28th, 2004

Today our little ecosystem has received a severe blow; the departure of the Geordie Embassy to a run-down farm in the environs of New Pitsligo (there is only one thing to be said about New Pitsligo. Don’t go there.) This is the final result of the old quarrel with Barnyards which has been blogged on […]

The sum of human happiness

Friday, May 21st, 2004

As quite a number of people have cause to know, I cook not wisely, but too well — I can make, for example, brioches, real puff pastry, paper dosas, meringue cuite, French butter-cream, barfi, and moo-shee pancakes, all of which are enjoyed — but it struck me that I seem seldom to have given as […]

Chinese Wallpaper

Thursday, May 20th, 2004

One of the minor surprises of life is that things you thought were in some sense or another objects represented according to visual conventions turn out to be quite real. I remember feeling that when I first actually saw some Tuscan castelli, which I had seen so often in North European paintings, with their fishtail […]

Palladio for Beginners

Thursday, May 20th, 2004

Further home improvements have been under way. It was the turn of the woodshed this time. A dreary little structure of corrugated iron which once & long ago was painted red, and now dissolved into streaks of faded pink and rust. But no more. The Geordie Ambassador sided it properly – i.e. not just boards […]

The Earthly Paradise

Sunday, May 16th, 2004

We have tamed another bit of garden: a dolorous little drying green hedged on two sides with straggling cotoneasters which formed the view from the dining room. This is thanks in great part to the Geordie Ambassador, who observed that if we fenced the third side this would all look very much better, since we […]

More Forgotten Curiosities

Sunday, May 16th, 2004

You are all warned that I have had another birthday (a day passed blamelessly planting fruit trees and setting up an armilliary sundial) so I will from now on grow ever more praeterite and retrospective.
But, having recorded the fine anti-managerial improvisiation of the anonymous operatic chorus, there come to mind some verses against the Dean […]

An Operatic Contrafaction

Friday, May 14th, 2004

I have just returned from a tour of the north of England impersonating the late Judge Jeffries (or Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, choose your own cultural referents, feel free)in various universities. I may post some highlights in the course of the weekend, including a full description of Dr Biswell’s and my visit to the museum at […]


Friday, May 14th, 2004

It has been a great day for animals. Once again, sheep are entering our lives: in the diminutive forms, at present, of five week old lambs. The Geordie Ambassador’s niece is bottle-feeding these appealing creatures, which have cheeky little black faces, silky coats, and little nubbins of horns. There are eight of them, ranging from […]

Tact and Diplomacy

Sunday, May 9th, 2004

Rumours have been flying; or so I am told. It is widely reported in the bars of Turriff that the wife of one of the various quiet, decent working men who have done this-and-that about the house and garden in the last two or three years has been putting it about. She is, in fact, […]

Northern Summer

Friday, May 7th, 2004

It’s summer. It’s official, at least, up here. One of the year’s crucial gestures has just been made: taking down the thick, heavy winter curtains in the sitting room (they are woolen patchwork, made out of old Welsh blankets), taking the carpet up, leaving only the rag rugs, moving the sofa from cosily in front […]

Say it With Shit

Thursday, May 6th, 2004

The animals are behaving very bizarrely. Last night there was the curious incident of Miss Dog in the night time. She does not read herself to sleep with the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, alas, and there was an outbreak of frenzied barking, growling, and hysterics; she was obviously thoroughly frightened, but by what, we couldn’t […]

fleur de lys

Tuesday, May 4th, 2004

My Florentine Iris has come out. I bought it last year from an iris specialist –– I love iris, and have dozens of the things, reticulata for Spring, black, blue, bronze and white bearded iris germanica, half a dozen different sibiricas, English iris, common yellow flag, iris ensata, variegated iris pallida, and goodness knows all […]

Imaginary zoology

Monday, May 3rd, 2004

Another very odd thing we found in Tromsø was just passing through –– an exhibition by Eric Langert, in the local art museum (the one with the statue of the Tromsø palm),called ‘min dyriske park’ –– I haven’t a Swedish dictionary to hand but I assume this means ‘my zoological garden’. I hadn’t come across […]

70° N

Sunday, May 2nd, 2004

One of the most exciting things we did in the far North was to engage in a mighty circular excursion out of Tromsø: this was achieved by taking the regular bus to Alta (the Arctic Circle Special, it toils along the E6, up and down the sides of the fjords, along the coast, all the […]


Sunday, May 2nd, 2004

This is a town of wharves and painted wooden buildings, displaying the usual stunning Scandinavian sense of colour –– the paint is mustard yellow, iron-oxide red, verditer, grey, pale yellow, black, grey-blue, Brunswick green, in any and all combinations: the houses climbing the hill are truly a pretty sight. Human life is essentially a ribbon […]