Photo by Candia Dixon-Stuart
Antarctica, Argentina, Billy Connolly, Blairgowrie, Border Terrier, Buckingham Palace, Buenos Aires, Canongate, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, coffee, fritillaria, gardens, Holy Fools, honey, Jenny Geddes, Kate Winslet, Lion Rampant, manukah, Mount of Olives, Neil Oliver, Perth, piper, post office, Prince Philip, Princess Alice of Greece, Robert Falcon Scott, Saltire, Scotland, Suttonford, Waterworlds, William Speirs Bruce
Stickily oppressive. No rain, but grey and the first signs of hay fever appear. Probably the effects of mould spores from rotting vegetation.
Visited my friend’s professionally landscaped garden which was established at the start of the summer. Yellowing box edging is probably dying from early drought, excessive waterlogging later on, or simply from the peeing habits of a new Border Terrier.
Our garden is suffering from mordant animals which gnaw every bulb that one plants. Altruistic bird feeders may encourage rodents. Seventy six snakes head fritillaria that I bought from The Telegraph failed to materialise, so I won’t be able to recreate the floral watercolours of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, not that I have the skills, anyway, but that is not the point.
Went to Costamuchamullah for a very skinny latte and noticed honey for sale from Perth. It reminded me of a joke told by Billy Connolly – but he might have pinched it from Chick Murray – about how he had stayed at a B&B in the Highlands and the proprietor had served him a breakfast tray with an individual pot of heather honey on it. He had remarked, I see you keep a bee.
It took me a moment to work out that it was probably Australian honey. Is it Manukah? I wondered.
When I returned home, I simply had to check the facts on Wikipedia. Oh yes, you do find it in Perth, Oz, and it is produced by apis mellifera and, to be called manukah, it has to have a 70% pollen count from tea tree Leptospermium scoparium.
The disappointing part was that it also said that: “alongside other antibacterial products, [it} does not reduce the risk of infections following treatment for ingrown toenails.”
So, probably not a best-selling product for Aquanibble then. Might be fun to say to one of the four optimistically termed assistants in Costamuchamullah, I’ll have a pot of your honey. Oh, by the way, only if it reduces the risk of infection from my ingrown toenails.
They would probably just ignore me in the way that they usually do when they are too busy wiping a perfectly clean surface while a serpentine queue builds up and spirals out of the door into the street. Perhaps I will have to stop wearing my invisibility cloak- you know, the one that envelops females after the age of fifty.
Apparently there are honey outlets in Perth, Scotland too: Heather Hills Farm and Scarletts in Blairgowrie produce masses, in spite of the predatory nature of a single honey buzzard that seems to have been circling since 2010.
Scientists have confirmed that there are planets out in the far beyond called Waterworlds, but they are not huge theme parks. In fact they are composed of hot ice.
Ice was a theme this evening with a Neil Oliver repeat of his journey to the Weddell Sea and South Atlantic. After he had left The Falkland Islands, it took him four days until he reached the first icebergs.
I thought he might stand, lashed to the prow of the boat, and let his hair flow behind him, but he sensibly stayed in the cabin. I don’t think he would fancy Kate Winslet, but I haven’t asked him. Maybe a nautical Jenny Geddes might be more up his Canongate. Anyway, he very commendably seemed resistant to seasickness. You wouldn’t want his macho Celtic image to be undermined by a shot of him leaning over the side, or taking Quells.
Of course, the whole point of the expotition seems to have been to draw attention to the Scot, William Speirs Bruce, who had discovered many firsts, rather than that Sassenach Scott, who might have had the correct name, but wasn’t related, at least by surname, to Robert the. Scott had an interesting middle name, though – Falcon. Another Pointless question to which I shouldn’t know the answer.
Anyway, Bruce had filmed penguin colonies and measured ice and been a thorough scientific Scot – self-conscious flick of the hair. He hadn’t been as shocked as Levick, a scientist on Scott’s team who witnessed the sexually delinquent behaviour of the Adelies.
I’m sure Neil just loved the opportunity to transmit old photos of a piper in full Highland regalia, playing the bagpipes, surrounded by Saltires and Lions Rampant on huge ice floes.
The irony is that if Bruce hadn’t been so stereotypically parsimonious, then he might have bought his fuel nearer to the South Atlantic base, instead of trying to save a bawbee by sailing up the coast to Buenos Aires, where he took on board some Argentinian scientists and cut-price provisions. The Argies set up a post office with a franking machine and this influences territorial rights to this day.
Meanwhile Scott and even his stoker were awarded polar medals and Bruce didn’t even get a packet of Fox’s Glacier Mints.
Explorer Bruce went to his ice hoose
To get his poor husky a bone,
But when he got there
The cupboard was bare.
He found a wee note
Saying, “Taken your boat
And your seal blubber lamps,
But have left you some stamps.
We don’t want to seem mean
But our franking machine
Proves this land is for Argies,
So no argy-bargies.
And we’ll claim the minerals, Bruce.”
The other brilliant programme was about Princess Alice of Greece. She served as a nurse in the Balkan wars, but when her faith became too difficult for the rest of the family they had her detained and irradiated by early experimental psychiatrists and psychologists.
When she was released she protected a Jewish family in her own apartment and used her deafness to advantage in deflecting soldiers’ questions.
I loved the image of her being re-united with her son and roaming the corridors of Buckingham Palace in her nun’s habits, smoking Woodbines. She only owned three dressing gowns at the end of her life, but had used her jewels and other assets to help the poor. She is buried on the Mount of Olives. If this be madness, then she is in the tradition of The Holy Fools and it makes me question who is sane and who is mad. Prince Philip should be incredibly proud of her, as he very likely is.
© Candia Dixon Stuart and Candiacomesclean.wordpress.com, 2012