Now I Have A Heavy Cold

All I managed to do today was to watch the Women’s Six Nations rugby match between France and Italy. I slept through some of it. Flo gave me eggy bread for lunch, and bunch of grapes later.

I dank a lot of water, but didn’t partake of Dinner with the others.

It will be touch and go whether I am fit for the eye surgery in a week’s time.

Light Sensitive

This morning, Jackie drove me to Bolton, a suburb of Poole, for my cataract surgery assessment from

SpaMedica, a private hospital contracted to NHS.

After a thorough review, involving repeats of some tests and scans undergone at Boots opticians two days ago, including further drops to dilate the pupils, and measurements of the lenses, I was booked in for surgery next Sunday, 21st.

I remained light sensitive for three or four hours, which did not prevent me watching the Women’s Six Nations rugby matches between England and Scotland, and between Wales and Ireland.

This evening we all dined on crispy fishcakes; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; piquant cauliflower cheese; and tangy ratatouille, with which I drank Lazy Pig, a light hoppy ale.

Warm Spring Sunshine

I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with David of Mistletoe Cottage in the garden this morning where we discussed his plans for Aaron to replace our shared fence. It was good to extend our talk as we remained among our plants for a while.

Crab apple and Amanogawa cherry blossoms have survived the recent gales.

David will continue to enjoy these camellias and the Vulcan magnolia from his side of the fence.

Yellow-flowered euphorbia and more delicate comfrey are now prolific.

Ferget-me-nots and bluebells are now casting carpets and

attracting bees,

as are the lamiums.

Ferns unfold fiddles.


also attracts flying insects such as the constantly flittering yellow brimstone butterflies.

Muscari and pieris are blooming well.

Is the autumn sculpture’s heart bleeding for the dicentra?

The orange marigolds in a hanging basket can be seen from the Gazebo Path.

Later I received a telephone call from SpaMedica contracted to NHS offering me an assessment interview for an anticipated cataract operation. This is at Poole tomorrow morning. I received a 12 page e-mail I was required to print out, complete various forms, and take with me tomorrow.

I then read more of Kristin Lavransdatter.

This appears to have been published prematurely. I have updated it and now add that this evening we will dine on second helpings of yesterday’s Chinese meal.

The Garland

Jackie and I both had eye tests at Boots opticians this morning. After two years Mrs Knight required no change of prescription. I was given solution in my eyes to confirm the need for a cataract operation discovered two years ago, but declined on referral to NHS because it was not considered ripe enough. We will see if it is well enough matured this time. In the meantime it was a while before I could see with unblurred vision. However I eventually opened my current book.

Having reached the end of the first part of “Kristin Lavransdatter” by Sigrid Undset, I now realise that this lengthy tome is in fact a trilogy first published between 1920 and 1922, of which the first is translated in this edition as “The Garland”.

Kristin Lavransdatter is a trilogy of historical novels written by Sigrid Undset. The individual novels are Kransen (The Wreath), first published in 1920, Husfrue (The Wife), published in 1921, and Korset (The Cross), published in 1922. Kransen and Husfrue were translated from the original Norwegian as The Bridal Wreath and The Mistress of Husaby, respectively, in the first English translation by Charles Archer and J. S. Scott.

This work formed the basis of Undset receiving the 1928 Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded to her “principally for her powerful descriptions of Northern life during the Middle Ages”.[1] Her work is much admired for its historical and ethnological accuracy.” (Wikipedia)

I will therefore review each part in turn as I read them and bring it all together in a closing post.

Here we follow our leading lady from her childhood to her youthful marriage.

Undset has the gift of excellent prose in which to describe the essence of medieval Norway’s lands, terrain, weather, peoples and places. We learn how the characters of the family saga feel, think, dress, and struggle with conscience in an essentially Catholic country. The author follows the protagonists’ conflict between the laws of religion and the urges of the body and its emotions. She has deep insight into the minds of both men and women. This work was written at the time of her own conversion to the faith that forms such an important factor in it.

The action sequences are prolific and detailed, flowing along at a very fast pace.

“Light, fluted clouds were floating over the high, pale-blue heavens, and the sun was glittering on the dancing ripples of the water. It was quite spring-like along the shores; the fields lay almost bare of snow, and over the leaf-tree thickets the light had a yellow shimmer and the shadows ere blue. But in the pine-forests up on the high ridges, which framed in the settled lands of Akersbygd, there were glimpses of snow, and in the far blue fells to the westward, beyond the fjord, there still showed many flashes of white,” is just one of the many engaging paragraphs that keep us turning pages rich in metaphor and in simile like “at the words of the prayer, it was as if her longing widened out and faded little by little like rings on a pool”. She incorporates all the senses into sounds, smells, sights, touch, and taste. Her poetic imagery must have been very challenging for the translators.

There are many editions of this work, in individual parts or in the whole. It will be apparent that I would recommend it to my readers, but not in the edition I have, simply because almost 1,000 pages has,

necessarily, been so tightly bound as to need a very strong grip to prise apart the centres of the pages determined to conceal their edges. The leaves pictured here describe the burning of the church, the significance of the timing of which should become apparent without my suggesting it to readers wishing to follow the saga.

The book contains a few drawings in the helpful notes, one of which is of the Norwegian stave-church.

This evening we all dined from King’s House excellent Chinese takeaway with which I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône.

I Couldn’t Be Bothered

Whilst I enjoyed a Chiropractic session this morning another day’s relentless lashing rain set in.

Before splashing off to Sears Barbers in Milford on Sea, watching windscreen wipers swishing back and forth, I kept well ahead of my targeted daily tally of Kristin Lavransdatter pages.

Raindrops slid down the window obscuring Ellie’s Hey Duggee! bubble machine. I really couldn’t be bothered to photograph any more rain. Jackie, on the other hand, whilst waiting for me outside the

barbers’, noticed the irony of this sign in the window of the gift shop opposite, and bothered to

depict the wet streets and

a pair of sopping crows seeking shelter beneath a dripping bench.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s curry meals with all the extras that we enjoyed last night, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône.

Generations Reading

Longer term readers may recall that we, as children, had comics like

The Dandy and The Beano delivered weekly to our home. These were eagerly awaited, but Chris and I had to wait until Mum had read them before we could get our hands on them.

Here, at Old Post House the situation has been turned around. It is Ellie who opens Jackie’s monthly Gardeners’ World and will have read it several times before Great Granny has her turn.

First Ellie inspects the inserts, then the magazine, then she shows it to Granny. Before she did this today she had sat on the floor reading it to

herself, as she did later with one of her books. Notice how gentle she is with the pages. She can identify each animal in this one.

I made considerable progress on “Kristin Lavransdatter”, well exceeding my 50 pages per day target.

The 60+ m.p.h. winds that had roared throughout the night did not subside until early evening.

Our good friend David Firth sent me a couple of e-mails of damaged fencing between our gardens.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken jalfrezi with a milder version including boiled eggs for Flo and Ellie; boiled rice with turmeric; fried paneer cheese and plain parathas, with which the Culinary Queen, Dillon, and I drank Kingfisher beer.

No Pressure

I spent much of the day making further inroads into

Including a few pages of notes this small print browned almost 1,000 pages paperback has laid on my shelves for 50 years because I found it daunting to begin.

How wrong I was. Two days ago I opened it in earnest. Racing through it today I realised that if I averaged 50 leaves a day it would take 20 days uninterrupted reading to reach the end. I have now reached p119, so I will aim for this. I won’t regard it as a deadline because I don’t need the pressure. The book will carry me along and I will only pause when it tells me I need a break. Let us see how it goes.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s lemon chicken, savoury rice, and tender green beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank M&S Côtes du Rhône Villages 2022.

Riding Along Charles’s Lane

Encouraged by Klausbernd of Fab Four Blog, I began to read Sigrid Undset’s novel “Kristin Lavransdatter”. I am already grateful to him for his recommendation. Later this morning Jackie and I took a forest drive before lunch.

Butter-golden gorse had benefitted from the recent days of rains and occasional sunshine.

Although today was rain-free strong winds rippled across reflecting pools along the roadsides, the fields, and the moors.

When Jackie pulled to the side of Braggers Lane opposite the third string of pools in the gallery above in order to enable an oncoming vehicle to pass she didn’t notice this pothole, but left her tyre tracks as we bounced out of it.

This grey pony’s legs have taken on the tinge of the wet terrain of Wilverley Road.

When this cyclist had scaled the hill against a strong wind, I gave him a thumbs up and congratulated him.

these two held up the car in front of us until the road leaving Burley was clear enough for him to pass and we were able to follow.

Others enjoyed foraging in the woodland alongside Charles’s Lane,

where I enjoyed pleasant conversations with equestriennes I had heard clopping along to the tune of bright birdsong.

The reason Jackie had parked beside this lane was to send me back along the road to photograph Fungus she had spotted in passing. I had misunderstood, thinking it was on the verge rather than on the tree. While I was searching she came along and pointed it out to me. Concentrating on the longer shots of the broken tree I had not realised that I had unwittingly already photographed my target.

This evening we all dined on pork spare ribs marinaded in hoisin sauce on a bed of Jackie’s colourful vegetable rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

A Passage To India

Today I completed my reading of

This beautifully written novel, although first published in 1924, depicts the attitudes of the British governing classes, their relationships among themselves and with the Indians, themselves representing different cultures and beliefs. The barely concealed tensions and resentments between the various groups ready to explode as they eventually do during a court case inevitably exposing deep seated prejudices, not just between governors and the subjugated, but also among the different faiths within the sub-continent.

The truths of the pivotal accusation are dependent upon individual perceptions depending upon individual attitudes and fixed convictions.

With the benefit of his insightful characterisation Forster gives a profound, complex, picture of his protagonists with sensitive narrative. He has a mastery of dialogue. The prose flows along like the Ganges, and is full of examples of his descriptive skills, making good use of similes such as “three ladies…suddenly shot out of the summer-horselike exquisitely coloured swallows” , metaphors, adjectives and adverbs. Perhaps this paragraph is an extended metaphor in itself: “Going to hang up her cloak, she found that the tip of the peg was occupied by a small wasp. She had known this wasp or his relatives by day; they were not as English wasps, but had long yellow legs which hung down behind when they flew. Perhaps he mistook the peg for a branch – no Indian animal has any sense of an interior. Bats, rats, birds, insects will as soon nest inside a house as out; it is to them a normal growth of the eternal jungle, which alternately produces trees, houses, trees. There he clung, asleep while the jackals in the plain bayed their desires and mingled with the percussion of drums.” The descriptions of the significant Marabar caves are equally polished, as is that of the sensitive depiction of the punkah-wallah keeping the fan turning in the courtroom. This was a man of considerable beauty of the lowest caste performing a routine task with no understanding of what was going.

The book contains predictions that India will become a nation free from British rule; its own indigenous people will become one of equality was not considered.

Michael Holroyd’s informative introduction puts this classic in the context of the author’s time, his childhood, and his other work.

The bustling illustrations of Ian Ribbons requiring close study for interpretation perfectly reflect the book and its subject. The Header picture shows the boards and spine of the Folio Society’s production.

This evening we all dined on meaty sausages, creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy carrots, firm cauliflower, and tender broccoli stems, with which I drank more of the Malbec.

A Fast Learner

This afternoon, along with Danni, Ella, and Jack, we all visited Elizabeth for another Easter Egg Hunt. With a few contributions from Jackie, my sister had excelled herself in the plentiful sandwiches, snacks, fresh salad, gingerbread men, cakes, biscuits, and soft drinks with red and white wines which we consumed before letting the children loose to seek out what the Easter Bunny had hidden round the garden.

Ella, now 5, was really the expert finder, yet was very generous in distributing her trophies among the younger children. Mind you, as can be seen from this gallery, Ellie was no slouch in finding her own. In the few days since Easter Sunday she has twigged what to do with her finds. Never mind the bag, rip the paper off, stick that into a waiting adult’s hand, cram the egg into her mouth, and eye up the next one.

It is clear she is a fast learner.

Jackie says she might want a snack later, but I will need nothing more this evening.