So it rumbles on. Mid November, return to lockdown for some areas here, and all over the world. Tantalising glimpses of vaccines, stories of very bad behaviour in the corridors of power, and meanwhile the winter avian visitors have arrived.
Pictures from our week in Northumberland.
For some years now some of our family have been discussing the mystery of The Sicilian, a female ancestor about whom very little was known. Thanks to some new research, she has been identified as Elizabetta Calabro. She and her spouse, Andrew Walker, had a daughter named Mary, in 1815. Mary was born in Gosport, and was referred to as English. Mary is our direct ancestor.
Andrew Walker was “of this parish” in Towie, Aberdeenshire, so the birth was recorded at his church. Family legend has it that Elizabetta was a contessina, and eloped with Andrew when he was en route home. Maybe they were on their way north when the baby was born?
Andrew was recorded a a wine merchant, which could explain why he visited Sicily in the first place.
Ban the Wasp was originally set up to share family history; it’s good to know that there is still an interest. For anyone brave enough to ask, I now have a family tree printout – it’s three metres wide….
Loch Ore on Sunday, this superb local amenity features a circular walk through a variety of ecosystems, including a beach, reed beds, meadow, fields of geese and woodlands. Built on the land reclaimed from coal mining, it’s used for water sports and is the meeting place for the Newfoundland dog group. Wee frog here the size of a thumbnail. The children’s playpark acknowledges the industrial heritage.
From my walk today, some wild, some planted. The poppies are at the end of the Dunfermline Road out of Limekins, an infamous junction where there is no place to linger.
Today I was listening to my current podcast of choice, The Moth, thank you Fiona for the shout, walking along, when I became aware of a moth in my specs. Of course I behaved like a grown up and made sure it was settled safely in a nearby hedge, but I must confess that my first thoughts involved ocular ingestion.
Apolgies for the numbering, WordPress and iPad do not make easy bedfellows.
Finding myself on the Lakeland page and seriously considering an egg coddler, I remembered that it is possible to use this interweb thingy to post as well as to shop.
I’m surprised that I haven’t been keeping a lockdown diary. To be fair, 100+ entries of “got up, didn’t go out, tried to sort my hair, went to bed” would eventually pall, but it might have been an interesting experiment to document the change of attitude as the days stretch on. But, as I have no refreshingly cool or mordantly witty statement to make on the whole pandemic and the various reactions of countries to this, I haven’t really thought of much to write. If best selling authors are only raising their heads above the parapet to show their latest jigsaws, then I don’t feel too guilty.
I think most of us are experiencing sleep issues during lockdown. For me, it’s a mix of wakefulness, wild dreams, dozing instead of non REM, sensitivity to the early dawn, and so on. One aspect is that I wake up, frequently, singing. Many tunes wash through my cerebral cortex, I would love to say that each one is a celestial aria, worthy of the greats, but in fact they are usually monotonous three note riffs which would not occasion any loss of sleep for a Novello nominee. You may experience something similar.
However, I defy anyone to tell me that they also sprang to wakefulness today at 03:15, singing “Hey, hey! I’m a bicuspid!” * Takes that dream about all your teeth falling out to a whole new level.
I was laughing so hard I had to decant to the spare room.
*tune available on request.
Occasionally my wanderings on the internet surprise even me. Today I found out that James Dick, a successful business man who was born in Kilmarnock and moved to Glasgow, developed the school gym shoe known by various names over the UK. He and his brother had experimented with using Gutta-percha to cover the soles of existing shoes. This extremely useful form of latex, brought over from Malaysia, was responsible for the central Scotland name of gutties, or plimsolls if you were being posh. I know that when Elspeth went to teach in Gloucestershire, she found out that they were called daps. My research suggests that the shoes were developed by several manufacturers but our man became a wealthy philanthropist, while an institute in his home town bears his brother’s name.
In other news, the magnificent Elbow continue to release a new live track every Friday at 12 noon, this week it’s Lippy Kids with the backing proved by alumni of Manchester’s Halle Youth Chorus. The Halle Orchestra is the band’s first choice for string accompaniment etc. Rosemary recalls going to their concerts when she lived in Longton.
Elbow’s frontman and lyricist Guy Garvey is amongst other things a keen ornithologist, and he would doubtless be the first to spot the link here, which is in Passerines, or perching birds. Although the birds referred to in Lippy Kids are crows, I feel sure that sparrows are just at the edge of the picture here.
The terms “passerine” and “Passeriformes” are derived from the scientific name of the house sparrow, Passer domesticus, and ultimately from the Latin passer, which refers to sparrows and similar small birds.
….and if you think all that is convoluted, wait until you hear about last night’s dreams. Here’s a nice osprey to make everything better.
Lastly, welcome to the family Leo Thomson, a wee brother for Ellie.
My liking for train travel is well documented, I have been reminded of this during lockdown by two separate emails, both from subscriber lists.
The National Railway Museum in York is a fascinating destination for normal times, I have mentioned before the thrill of sharing the same space as these leviathans of steam power. I am always delighted to see large reproductions of the classic rail travel posters, deliberately evocative and romantic. Whilst neither term would describe train travel just now, I was none the less intrigued to see a re-imagination of these artworks, on the Museum’s website. Sample below gives a flavour of this.
From Waterstone’s bookshop (other bookshops are available) came news of a new train travel opus, which looks like a grand way to escape the current everyday for a few hours. Review here – no prizes for originality in the article title, but oh, how different it must be from the 07:09 to Edinburgh Waverley.
Yesterday we had a zoom call with family for Mum’s 100th. We raised a glass, and had cake. Elspeth made pancakes. The commemorative whisky which was my father’s, from the Russian Consulate, was finally broached. It being the 75th anniversary of VE Day, it was deemed appropriate.
Some of the whisky will be decanted into the Arctic Convoy hip flask, and shared with family once this lockdown business is resolved.