I started the Pedro-on-the-Green blog in 2020 during the height of the pandemic primarily to keep in touch with you my Friends, all over the world.
It has been phenomenal. It means a great deal to me that so many of us remain in touch at a time when great distances and circumstances separate us all.
It would be useless to sweep global affairs under the carpet; to pretend that all is now well in the world, for it is not so. The troubles that confront many, many millions of us are mainly man-made: it is human stupidity and human choice that have the appalling results we experience today. You all know what they are and I won’t have a little rant here about them. It is bad for the blood pressure!
But this is why I persevere with Pedro-on-the-Green :
To keep in touch.
It also serves as a useful diary for myself. Are you finding, Friends, that as we move forward to the “sunny uplands” of age, that detail and memory fade a little?
I get a little frantic when I can’t recall something and when I think of how many years have quicksilvered tantalisingly away – how many mixed metaphors is one allowed?.
Before Christmas we managed to catch up with friends not seen for a long while and how refreshing and wonderful that has been. I want to mention some of you by name because it has been a special privilege to be back in touch. I hope you won’t mind? I’ll not mention any data – mainly because I have none!
Joy and David Willers were in London from Wales: thank you for a great visit; and Cathie & Richard Griffin in fine fettle, also from Wales. Food glorious food, “Gin was mother’s milk to us all!” Thank you friends, thank you. Next time it’s our turn to head west which we long to do; to Dolwyddelan and Menai Bridge, with a look-in at Glaslyn, Llanwrthwyl and Stretton Sugwas (you know who you are!).
Then to Scotland on the Caledonian Sleeper to visit Jo & Alistair Michie on the coldest of winter days, icy roads and rail strikes notwithstanding, picking up a rental in Edinburgh to meet them at their harbour-side home in Pittenweem in Fife.How lovely to make contact after so many years – it’s the pandemic you know, that’s what did it! Thank you for the walks, the talks, the food, the drink and the under-floor heating in your guest cottage! Wow, it was cold – but sunny: blue, blue skies and limitless horizons.
- Balcarres House, birthplace of Lady Anne Barnard (née Lindsay) Scottish travel writer, artist and socialite. Famous in Cape Town circa 1800 after which the romantic “bath” in Kirstenbosch Gardens is named though there are doubts she ever availed herself of it cool waters!
Train strikes meant that we had to hang onto the rental instead of returning it at Waverley Station. We drove straight through to Durham Cathedral to meet our guide and comforter, Cathy W.
Terrible driving conditions. Clear blue skies; icy roads; the sun in the south and dazzling windscreen reflections; gritty slush splashed across glass and, suddenly no wash in the windscreen reservoir; smudged mess and no vision – just as we approached the Queensferry bridge.
Frightening. Couldn’t see a thing. Towering container lorries gushing muck.
We managed to get off the road and find a service station where we discovered the Kia rental had a reservoir about the size of a thimble! This needed topping up all the way via Durham, Thirsk and York, to London over two whole days while wretched headlights and glaring instrumentation meant night vision was almost nil. In the end we had to put a jumper over the dashboard so that we could see the way! Very poor design.
I do not exaggerate this when I say it was one of the worst road journeys we have ever had – and I can assure you we have travelled some!
But we got to Durham, to Cathy who guided us round this beautiful, and rare example of a pure, Norman Cathedral. In fact we were there at the beginning of 2022 but with no guide so this was special.
Cathy guides at the York Minster too so we tailed her to Thirsk for the night and then drove the next day down to York for a very different architectural experience.
To London. In the dark. With poor headlights and muffled instrumentation, handing the car back at Sixt under St. Pancras Station. We think we saw the flash of a speed camera in the icy fog on the Firth of Fourth. Will there be a fine eventually?
Pre-Christmas lunch at Fortnum’s. We’ve never been to 45 Jermyn St. before. It used to be a tea room years ago connected to the main building. Adam Faith used to hold office there. Now you go in off Jermyn Street. Laura and Tony had truffles. Real truffles. What a wonderful bouquet as the waitron (correct usage?) lifted the silver lid and gently shaved the food of the gods onto their risotto! I made do with Aynhoe Park Venison and Woodland Mushroom Ragout.
A few steps to the Royal Academy for William Kentridge – just in time as it closed the next day. The largest exhibition of his work here to date. billed as “an experimental voyage through the last 40 years of his extraordinary career.” And so it proved. We saw his Thick Time at the Whitechapel Gallery six years ago, an altogether smaller though fascinating exhibition. If I had any criticism of the Royal Academy presentation it is that there was too much! We were overpowered by the film clips, the drawings, paintings, sculptures and installations displayed through twelve rooms and spilling out into public spaces. Eclectic. Overwhelming – but ultimately fascinating, clever and energetic. We took a grandson and his girlfriend to see it and they were impressed. (Nice to see them too. Tyger is at Imperial and Zoë at Bristol. Physics and Medicine.)
Family – in the guise of a son and grandsons – talked us into going to Derren Brown’s show at the Shaftesbury Apollo in the run up to Christmas.
What a surprise! We’ve never seen him live and only glimpsed his TV shows dismissing it all as a load of hocus-pocus. Well, we spent two and half hours utterly transfixed by his clever illusions and, even, moved by the personal aspects of his presentation. Tony and I must have been the oldest people in the theatre: it is definitely for thirty-somethings this show! In his choice of participants he cleverly excludes anyone over fifty. We think it’s because we are tired old sceptics! But the fact is, we were utterly mesmerised – and moved – by his whole show. How he achieves the things he does beats me.
The grandchildren all went on about how he distracts you, and guides your thinking, yatta-yatta-yatta. That all may be so but in the end we had a truly wonderful evening in the theatre and came away with light hearts and good feelings. A nice pre-Christmas state of affairs in crisis raddled Britain.
The same effect too at the revival of Matthew Bourne’s classic Sleeping Beauty at Sadler’s Wells the next day. A wonderful re-imagining of an age-old nursery story; and who cannot get on with that brilliant music? How many times have we seen it? Countless – and it is always as fresh as ever.
A plethora of dinners and lunches towards Christmas & New Year:
Thanks Gina & Andreas – great lunch at Hereford Road,
And Sue, Dave and Sarah at The Chelsea Arts Club,
Jo & Sacha at No. 12 The Green,
Jenny and Richard at Lawford House ,
Joy, Jorgè and Kate at The Sun in Dedham,
Kathy & Trevor – well met at No. 11 The Green,
The Finks at The Stable by Lawford Hall – the most amazing Bastila, my favourite– and for the movies too!
How wonderful to see you all in this post pandemic year,
Thank you, thank you all.
To all of you, dear Friends, all over the world, I wish you only the best for this New Year 2023. Thank you for keeping in touch. I wish I could embrace you all.
There will be multiple-choice questions only in the exams to follow and you will be able to complete all the tests on line! No black pens or pencils required! No discursive essays, parsings or provings. You will not even have to drop a perpendicular or use your geometry set. There will be no Algorithms!