Counting Butterflies – A Day Off

A longer weekend. We have rain after what seems to have been weeks of heat. In fact, it’s only been three, or was it four. I wonder if the grass will grow again, will it be green and long. No hose pipe bans here as yet. I remember the summer of ’95 and syphoning off bath water to feed the greenhouse then.

We grew all kinds of fruits in that little space. Cucumbers, loved by us and the slugs that found their way in. Peppers and tomatoes, turning from green to yellow and red, like traffic lights. An aubergine plant, a melon plant which broke through to the outside, reaching for the sky – no fruit though.

I grow nothing right now. But hope to again. Instead I go in search of good fruit. The local grocer has a decent variety as do the market stalls. The difference between a large lemon with  thick skin and a puny think-skinned one is all about aroma, flavour, longevity.

Aldi offers decent avocados, in a relaxing, meditative green that you’d want to dive in to. Piccolo tomatoes which smell as if they are straight from the soil. Clusters of beets, radishes, carrots, all bundled.

Shopping around pays, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth either.

I have gotten through a fair amount of writing in recent weeks and achieved quite a bit. There is now a brief hiatus as I wait for autumn to bring fresh results. September tends to bring change for me year on year.

As I go walkabout, it is more and more apparent to me what my life *should* be hereon in.

In the meantime, I have reading. Ivo Andric’s Bosnian Chronicle, Collected Fictions – Jorge Luis Borge and to finish Pullman’s latest La Belle Sauvage, which is delightful. Three more shorter novels on the side thereafter with cuisine themes, and a reserve at the library waits for me – George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo.

Someone once said all you need is a library and a garden and life’s just fine. Okay. I may have finally come to accept that. Except one needs yarns too.

Starting today for the next three weeks, Butterfly Conservation are asking us to count butterflies. Visit their website, download the app or chart. Spend 15 mins at a time counting. This can be done as often as you like over the next three weeks. I’ve noticed many butterflies recently in this hot summer, and bees. Just lovely, absolutely lovely.

Europe, anywhere…

I can’t deny that I feel disenchanted and disappointed by political events of our time. That Europe drifts further away from me when I want it closer than ever before. I think I’m turning in to a lover of Italy to begin with – I have spent a good few months reading Italian novels, history, learning the language, watching films. I can feel the sunshine and warmth sometimes. Italy is close to my heritage in many ways and has been here throughout my life, influencing, quietly.

Then there’s Greece. My local library is being kept busy as my reserves keep coming. I have learnt that the books I want tend to be kept at two other libraries in the riding. That’s quite interesting to note.

On availability of books and films, you would think access wasn’t an issue, but sadly I am finding it more and more difficult to get hold of many non-English language films and even harder to get hold of books. There is a distinct change in the air in our cultural world. But I will be keeping the doors open to my mind and will not be swayed by populism and the  global companies who keep our archives and catalogues narrow. There is a counter-productive element to globalisation  – more sometimes means less.

Oh, I forgot Ireland – definitely deserving of a literary visit!

I live in a part of the UK where diversity is significant to its history and its existence. We are here for a reason, embedded and new. The time when people wanted to send everyone ‘back’ has been here before, a time when some were seen as undesirable, too successful.

Keep the doors open, keep your mind open and above all, don’t let your heart shrivel up. There’s plenty of good stuff to be reading as the world evolves this way and that.

To thine own self be true.



Summer reading – Ferrante

I think I have found my summer reading as long as the library can supply me with the books.

Just finished the first Napoli novel My Brilliant Friend. I enjoyed Ferrante’s storytelling style through the eyes of Lenu, her passages of narrative interspersed with just enough conversation. I now know the neighbourhood, the characters. The friendship with Lila is familiar as is the community way of being.

It is beautifully translated. Not a single blip! On to the next one soon. The collection is very popular and reservation numbers are high as we all jostle for the books.

I believe an adaptation for screen is coming.