Good taste at The Dragon

Still no photos but honestly I will get to that soon.  Meanwhile I have to say The Dragon pub in Nottingham is just the best place ever.  I sold purses – we had to negotiate a little bit on the prices but in the end I raised them to the amount Carly suggested.  I think she’s my ideal customer.    

And how about this – long delay on the tram into town because of a hazardous building – lightening strikes on Radford Road.  There was damn nearly a riot at Wilkinson Street and sorry not in service was the only phrase in town.


False start

Tricky one this.  I was going to work on this today but then I realised it’s strike day so I set up a picket line outside my shed and refused to cross it.  However, I am going out soon for a birthday drink and if anyone wants to buy a purse off me I will let them.  I am not a public sector worker so I think this is ok just about.  See you once I’ve sorted my camera out.

Bailing out the pond

Well that’s it folks, or not, as you choose.  I’m back, have been for a few days, but being back and realising it are not the same.  I’m still hearing sheep bells when I go to sleep and I keep waking up not too sure about where I’ll sleep tonight.  The best thing about coming home was family, as you’d expect, and, thanks to Babel fish, a banner in Itlian outside my house.  Balloons and cheesecake.  Even the tomatoes aren’t dead.

  I still think I was a generation late coming to Italy and La Foulia, in that the people I met who remember, say, basket weaving for a living, no longer do it, but they do still remember and if I’d had a week with each one of them, I’d have at least got an idea of where my ignorance really lay.  (All over the place in an ungainly heap)If I’d come even twenty years ago, I”d have found them still at work.    But I was wrong as well.  There are still people doing the same things, still people living almost the same way they did a couple of hundred years ago so maybe there is time after all.  And I did learn stuff.  The other day I managed to split some hazel for basketry and I’ve dyed some sheep’s wool using ash bark – not much but it’s something.  And I’m trying to use a bit of wild boar skin from Italy to make patterns as learned in Churchill which is pretty interesting if not actually pretty. 

Did I mention Bannocks at all?  That’s the thing about connections.  Bannocks from the Dene people around Churchill, in fact, from all over Manitoba if not the whole of Canada? Kind of flat bread stuff – and the fact that I know of bannocks from the Orkneys, remembering the baker saying they were’ fairly fresh’ meaning hot from the oven, and me thinking he meant they were not that fresh really.  Anyway, it turns out that there’s a lot of Orkadian genes in Manitoba and Nunavut and who knows who had the bannock first.  So Betty Bearskin or whatever her name was, teaching the ladies in Churchill how to decorate clothes with reindeer fur and me, picking up a bit of wild boar and trying the same techniques in Nottingham, well, it all makes sense. 

Anyway,I’m back and I’ve emptied the pond.  It was emptying itself anyway- I just bailed out the final hundred or so bucket loads.  I seived them until it got rediculous but I did save about 97 dragon fly larvae and 12 newt tadpoles along with a whole lot of snails, shrimps and those tiny creatures we had in biology when I was 14.  I’ve taken out wheelbarrow loads of mud, much of it like soup.  So now I have to find the holes in the liner, mend them, level out the edges and put the water back.  Meanwhile, I need to find the addresses of 8 people I’d like the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to thank for helping me with my fellowship, and finally, finally, find out how to add photos in some kind of order to this thing and to send to them.  But obviously, my first thanks has to go to the trust.  And there aint not such thing as thanks big enough for that.  I won’t even try.  life changing isn’t in it. 

 I’m going to carry on with this nonesense as sporadically as ever, I willcarry on.  I’ll be on radio Nottingham on Thursday at 2.00 so if you want to listen, now you can.   So good bye and hello and, if you have been, thanks for reading.once upon a time there were things living in this

Rino’s chickens

So yesterday I met Rino, who lives high up on his alp with this goats, his chickens, his cows and his dogs.  His house was struck by lightning last winter and he reached it in time to save a few of his belongings and part of one room and now he lives in a single roomed house made with dry stone walls that let in the wind but shelter him  from the worst.  He sleeps on a mattress in the hay byre and his goats mostly sleep on rock shelves in a comfortable overhang out of the wind.  But there are dangers for his goats and a kid was taken not long ago either by wild dogs or by the wolves they re-introduced into the area not so long ago.  It seems hard for people like Rino, to lose a kid like that.  But the goats are beautiful and deeply interested in things.  They congregate and jostle in their efforts to get a look in – high horned creatures of smooth dark brown. 

One of the cows, a young one, was ridiculously beautiful, like a cow from an advert.  It took us quite a while to reach Rino’s place – no roads and realistically speaking, not much in the way of footpaths, and I had sweated a lot, rendering my hands pleasantly salty.  So she licked me hard and long and covered my hand with cow slime until one of the dogs disciplined her and licked it off for me.  Rino is a narrow man, grey bearded and very thin but with muscles you don’t argue with.  He needs to be strong up here where cows can fall off hills and only the goats avoid breaking their legs.  He talks a lot, and appears fascinated and animated by pretty much most things.  He spoke to Luka for a long time, and Luka, from time to time, translated, often on Rino’s instruction, so I felt more included than usual and had more to think about.  Meanwhile, as we sat at his table, eating his cheese and the delicious food bought up for him by the man from the Deli, a chicken wandered in and out again as though checking up on some detail, and Luka’s dog, Tip, thumped his tail on the floor. 

I liked him a lot and would love to see him again.  I asked him how he got his chickens down from the hill – Luka has told me that unlike many people, he waits until the snow before he moves, sometimes he waits until the snow is covering the hills.  He told me he carries the chickens down on his back.  Now that is something I’d like to see. 

One of the things about Rino is that, to an extent, he’s chosen this life of his.  He has a pension and for many people round here, that signls the end of work but, as Luka said, it’s hard to stop sometimes, even when you are tired.  So Rino makes his cheese, milks his sixty goats and his handful of cows, collects eggs from rocky ledges and cooks for himself on the  tiny woodburning stove he rescued from the fire.  He wants to know what I write about him but is content to wait until I’ve learned his patois and can translate my words myself.  He is patient man, which is fortunate because it will be a long long time, maybe several life times, until I manage it. 

So the old life really does continue, people still live without roads or electricity.  Oh, and to charge his mobile, he has to descend from his alp to visit a farm which does have it.

Nothing – but I am online again

Today it’s hot again, the mountains are back and the buzzards are mewing.  The people I met yesterday were called Gambo – there are many of them in the Angrogna area which I suppose includes here.  If I climbed up hill as far as it goes, I can follow a hill path that goes back down the other side and winds up, after a few hours walking, close to where I was yesterday.  Or, with a car, I can be there in twenty minutes.  So, up to a few years ago, there were no roads and people living a few minutes brisk crow flight away developed different patois and still don’t properly understand each other.  Mind you, I’ve noticed that the ravens here don’t have the same accents as they do in Ireland – even the crows sound different.

I am thinking a lot and not terribly soundly and my battery is almost dead and I am a long way from a power point.  I’d better collect my stuff together and make my way down to La Foulia where, I just remembered, I said I’d help with the last bit of road building – which is needed so that my host Jean can have wood delivered.  Winter is any day now.  Not this day.  This day is hot to burning and full of crickets.

Cold coming, but not just yet

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London to Torre Pellice

Sorry for the delay people,  I’ve been struggling t Continue reading