THE GREEN DIARY : May Bank Holiday 2021


Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –         

   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;         

   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush         

Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring         

The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;

   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush         

   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush         

With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.         

What is all this juice and all this joy?         

   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning

In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,         

   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,         

Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,         

   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.    

When I lived in Dolphin Square years ago I had a flat that overlooked the extensive courtyard garden complete with water feature and an avenue of trees. It felt very hemmed in there; after all, the building is at least twelve stories high, a sort of luxurious fortress. 

How they got there I do not know, but two Mallard appeared in the pond of a  Spring morning and went through the rituals of courtship. I have heard that female Mallard are serially raped each season but that once a choice has been made, the final couple, if I can call them that, remain steadfast. I have heard it said that this is so among many waterfowl and other animals.

Be that as it may, Mr & Mrs Mallard of Dolphin Square hung around for a few weeks surviving on grubs in the water and the odd crumb thrown into their pond by sentimental, passing residents. The time came for her to lay – but where? The pond was too small and there was not enough privacy for nesting so they had to head out and this is where we all wondered what would happen. How would they become VTOL certified? 

Mr Mallard went on an exploration round the courtyard and finally encouraged Mrs M to follow him; with breath-taking aeronautical skill their formation of two-in-line circled the courtyard, gaining height. Round and round they went, higher and higher they climbed until they finally, after five minutes, cleared the roof of Dolphin Square to disappear into the blue, across the Embankment and onto the Thames.

Several weeks later they re-appeared and stayed for the rest of the summer very happily in the pond disappearing one day in the Autumn, we thought never to be seen again – like the Snow Goose.

But they reappeared the following year; at least I assume they were the same pair; I like to think so at any rate, and the whole cycle was repeated.

Mistley Swannery

Our own nesting Blackbirds here in Mistley two seasons ago reminded me of Mr & Mrs Mallard of Dolphin Square SW1 : they had three chicks and infinite difficulty encouraging their babies firstly to get out of the nest, secondly flap bravely about on the ground while being exhorted to use they flying gear and learn to fly and thirdly, get enough lift to clear the Wisteria and back gate to the big, new world awaiting them. In the end I had to open the gate as the poor little mites didn’t have the featherage to cope. I think the parents were grateful and I remember thinking of my Mallard in Dolphin Square who had to teach their young to swim and fly.

Stour Riverside at Manningtree – an exceptionally high, Spring-tide.

It is a miraculous time of year and nature is in full swing as we have seen on our many walks.

I’ve tried to keep a mini diary and if I don’t write for about 4 days I have no idea what I did. It’s quite scary how there are so few memories and nothing to trigger the few that I have. When will this all be over…….?

So writes one of you, Friends; in fact we seem to be sharing similar experiences.

The past year has been a time for much navel-gazing, I guess. Not a bad thing I suppose, a bit of contemplation might be a good idea though often it can lead to bleaker, darker thoughts. There are certainly longer silences in the company we keep and its been generally agreed that because of the lockdown and the complete domination of Covid, there really is little to talk about beyond pleasantries. There is no news where once no news was considered good news! Now it make one wonder whether we are losing our sociability, forgetting how to engage, getting out of practice with our talents to amuse! The road map is blurring and disappearing.

No amount of zooming and streaming and webinars and binge-watching can make up for actual rather than virtual contact though I find that my anxiety levels go up when I move out of my pandemic-routine comfort zone! 

En route across the rapeseed fields from Stonely to Little Staughton

The May Bank Holiday weekend has come and gone; our duo-bubble duly vaxed to the nines, went up to Stonely-Kimbolton to see the grandchildren also max-vaxed, care-managers and all. Our bubble floated across the fields of Cambridgeshire in on/off weather, racking up the footsteps on our androids and freezing outdoors in local pubs. The Costa-del-Sol it is not! But how lovely to see family again and they were all there to celebrate son Zac’s 49thBirthday. Astonishing that Tony has a son who’s now in his fiftieth year. I just cannot get my head around this! Where has it all gone?

Sobering thought indeed….

The weather? Well, April has been odd. Here on The Green its been a sunny month largely but a cold one. Any thoughts of martini’s and fizzy outside on the lawn in glorious sunshine are discouraged by the pneumonia-inducing northerly breezes off the North Sea and from Siberia!

To London then on Bank Holiday Monday for Medical Maintenance – dentists, audiologists, bloods; pinched nerves, scans and tests; teas, lunches and dinners in back gardens and on freezing patios in West London with some of you, Friends. How lovely it all is despite the situation, to see familiar faces once again not through the zoom-glass darkly. Roll on June for full life support and the actual, physical touch.

This afternoon we will be told which countries are to be given green-light status in the Covid Roadmap to travel-bliss; which orange, which red. Its so exciting as the digital eVouchers clunk into the electronic travel folders as any plans bite the dust. It turns out not many are green lighted and there is this anomaly – visit New Zealand for instance as that has a green light, and family & friends, but you’d still have to stopover for two weeks in a government sponsored isolation hotel at vast expense, for two weeks. Who wants that? Staycationing and what the Germans call “Balcony Holidays” are IT!

Cwytching is a new word I learned, a Welsh word, in Wales it means “an affectionate hug”. They are doing it there already; we will have to wait until June to clutch to our hearts content.

And of course the elections yesterday. What to say? Bojo and his Shudder of Clowns have been buoyed up by substantial gains in England while the Nations indicate their distrust and loathing of his mad rule. Will there be a United Kingdom and longer? Will we have a little, mini war with France over Fishing Rights?  I shall have to ask Friend Roger who lives on Guernsey, what his views are and whether he is suffering power cuts!

I haven’t the faintest idea, Friends! Onward to the sunny uplands of Summer and a season in the sun.

Bon Chance, Non Voyage!

15 Replies to “THE GREEN DIARY : May Bank Holiday 2021”

  1. Fabulous as ever. We in SA will not be on any green lists for now, so we wait for our vaccines and watch the uptick in infection numbers with apprehension. And its turned to winter very suddenly in the last week. So glad you could celebrate Zac’s birthday with him and the family. As ever yours till death!

  2. Lovely chatting as always interspersed with sobering thoughts…India 😢
    Although, we too have been plagued by the wind we’ve also days of gorgeous sun, really warming in sheltered spots like my bedroom patio where legal lunches have been held ….warmed by the blazing brazier as the cold increases.
    The Silver Ball is open (outside) from 16.00-20.00 where locals have gathered to imbibe and rather repetitive chats…..!!
    Fortunately, I’ve had both jabs without any side effects so looking forward to increasing freedom.
    Cornwall is already booked up with horrible stories of greed and gazzumping…. I’m so looking forward to eating out again….
    Please know that you are both more than welcome to come and stay…. I’d so love to see you. Meanwhile keep looking forward and enjoy your summer xxxxxx

  3. Hello Peter and Tony ,
    Lovely to hear your news , I like the ducks story .
    2 years ago , when we still used to have theatre guests staying , a robin made a nest in our porch , in an old plant pot on a high shelf .
    It was amazing to see them raise 4 healthy fledglings that stayed around sitting in the hanging baskets for a little while.
    We had to turn off the security light that was lighting up the nest and the steps !! Making it tricky for our guests arriving home late after the theatre .
    We all survived, including the birds 😊

  4. Can I assume It is your spirited self who has penned that lustrous poem?
    Keats crossed with Manley Hopkins.

  5. Thanks – glad you guys are well! Staycationing is it here too! I chat to Allan about once a week. He seems well but also has a sense of the Covid beigeness!

  6. Thank you Peter. Charming account. My maternal grandparents used to sail from Buenos Aires to spend a month or two at Dolphin Square every summer. A

    nd when she was widowed, granny wld stop at the Milton Court Hotel on Cromwell Road, as in Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont! Old Mr Toms of Derry and Toms came out in his dressing gown and slippers and stood behind my granny and mother and said mildly,
    “Is the bath free?” My mother was sent off to get Antonio who led him away gently.

  7. Love The Mallards of Dolphin Square! You should sell the film rights to Netflix!

    Hope you’ve both been keeping well and it would be great to see you when everything unlocks!

  8. Thank you for such a good interruption to my quiet Sunday evening.
    Will be so very good to see you both one day!
    Love and hugs, sadly virtual ones

  9. No power cuts here in Guernsey. Yet. We can generate our own but buy cheaper EDF power that comes via undersea cable from France.
    We are not in the UK or the EU but rely on UK for defense.

    The Brexit deal allowed French boats to fish here with a license for which they needed records of previous activity. The smaller boats were unable to complete the paperwork so did not get a license. They blockaded the port and the French Maritime Minister, the daughter of a Brittany fisherman, threatened to cut the power supply.
    Cue the deployment of naval power by both sides. (NB. Both sides. The French are a law unto themselves …. fictitious boats applied for licenses). Public bravado. Because of the new red tape, the French have not allowed Channel Island fisherman to land their catch in French ports this year whilst their factory ships continue to mechanically harvest the local sea bed without thought for the carbon detriment or conservation. On top of that it is Liberation Day in the Channel Islands today – from the Germans in 1945 – so the blockade and power supply threat has not gone down well.

    This could all have been settled the usual way ( a long lunch and lots of red wine between local regulators who have fished together in shared waters for years) but EU/UK political points need to be scored and no doubt more fun and games lie ahead.

    The good news is that there are plenty of scallops in the local restaurants.

    1. The Jersey blockade has had a knock-on result here in bonny Scotland. At the local farm shop yesterday we purchased a kilo of Jersey Royals, to my horror I discovered that they were in short supply (organic ones) and therefore the current price was £9.50 per Kg !!!!!! WTF?!!! was told it was because of the blockade in the Channel Islands. Didn’t belive it for a nanosecond. Went home to google it. Sure enough ‘Potato Growers’ Weekly’ confirmed that some stocks of JRs have been caught up in the brouhaha. You couldn’t make it up! Bloody Brexit.

  10. Gosh I remember Mr Mallard “taking advantage” of the Mrs all too well.
    I must say I couldn’t agree with you more with all you say regarding the general situation. I find there is too much time to spend in ones head. It was my late Mom’s birthday last week and then Mother’s Day here and I found myself in a very dark place.
    That quote by the Indian Doctor applies to SA as well.
    Glad you had an enjoyable weekend with the Family and Happy Birthday to Zach – 49 – can you believe it.
    Cwytching sound very similar to griping/moaning in Yiddish.
    Thanks so much for remembering my birthday
    Lots of love, P xxx

  11. Dear Pete

    Articulate and warm as ever. Memories of Dolphin Square! Do you remember it snowed there once in May!


    Griselda x

  12. Excellent as always Petrus.
    That comment by the doctor in India so true.
    If your mallards are like ours, they do return. We have a pond just behind our house which only shows up after heavy winter rains. Our Mr and Mrs Mallard have turned up every year and then after a few weeks disappear.
    We are still confined to barracks here in BC, not that Victoria is a bad spot. But still no travel outside the city. Who knows when that might change.

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