A Knight’s Tale (130: Bridgetown Part 1)

One morning I walked the ten miles from our hotel to Bridgetown along what passed for a main road.  Whenever I checked directions I was told I should be on a bus.  Not that there appeared to be many bus stops.  If you wanted a ride you leapt into the road and gesticulated.  It may have been marginally safer to have been riding on one of these ramshackle vehicles which went careering along the winding roads than to have spent my time jumping into bushes to avoid them.  I am not sure.  If there was a speed limit no-one adhered to it.  Actually I did ride back and the journey was remarkably comfortable.  Unfortunately I had wasted valuable time standing in the wrong queue.  A certain amount of local knowledge was required to station oneself correctly.

Chattel houses003
Chattel houses002
Chattel houses001

Along these roads people lived in chattel houses.  These are portable homes, stout, and some very old. Although people didn’t seem to worry about outside maintenance, the insides looked spotless and the adults and schoolchildren who emerged from them were beautifully turned out; womens’ dresses and children’s uniforms vying with the display of the ubiquitous

bougainvillea, frangipani, and hibiscus. 

This street scene shows the sign for a roadside bar; a well cared-for church, and typical chattel houses,

Corrugated iron wall

one with some kind of lean-to constructed of weathered corrugated iron, which was a common roofing material.

Chattel House and car bits 1
Chattel House and Car Bits 2

The gardens of some of these houses contained car wrecks.

Gardens

Other occupants preferred shrubs,

Bougainvillea around doorway

such as this bougainvillea trained around a porch behind a little picket fence.

Bus stop

and along which rampant buses tore.

The children who emerged from these simply constructed homes were clad in crisp, clean, uniforms and certainly were not ‘creeping like snail, unwillingly to school’ (William Shakespeare).

On The Brink Of May

Before watching the Women’s Six Nations rugby decider between England and France this afternoon I wandered around the garden to look at the flowers.

Blossom cascades from two crab apple trees at the front, where pink climbing roses

pink climbing roses cling to the trellis opposite the smiling pansies against the garage door.

Libertia and bluebells are both now ubiquitous,

As are these poppies which start the day in bloom and end it stripped of petals. My job is to dead head them so they will come again tomorrow.

White erigeron and pink honesty are also found everywhere, as in the Cryptomeria Bed, shared with

osteospermum.

We have a number of clematis Montanas, one of which shares the limbs of this lilac.

Various wallflowers are cropping up.

This wisteria has flowered for the first time, while the weathered camellia is showing it age.

Rhododendrons are in their prime.

Camassia and ajuga are more examples of small blue flowers.

We inherited this white blooming shrub from our predecessors. Can anyone identify it? Thanks to Carolyn (doesitevenmatter 3) for Snowmound or Spirea Nipponica

Finally, a few days ago this gravel would have harboured forget-me-nots and other little flowers which will settle anywhere. Now, it has been just one area in which Flo has undertaken strenuous weeding.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegarden, I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon, Flo drank Kombucha Raspberry and lemon, and Becky abstained.

A Better Perspective

Just before lunch I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2022/04/29/a-knights-tale-129-waiting-on-barbados-part-two/

After lunch we took the Barnes Lane route to Milford on Sea pharmacy where ferns unfurled by the roadside.

Afterwards we continued into the forest

On Lymore Lane Jackie parked beside this field of golden oilseed rape flanked by dandelions and cow parsley. Once I had produced my images, in search of a better perspective, she climbed onto a concrete post designed to prevent infiltrating vehicles, and produced the final entry into this gallery, with its strip of housing, trees, and telegraph wires.

Many of our centuries old lanes have high banked verges gouged out over many years. Those beside Lower Sandy Down are no exceptions. Here ferns and bluebells scale the slopes and settle in fields and woodland beyond.

Just outside Brockenhurst a bovine trio basked in the warming sunshine casting long shadows.

For dinner this evening Becky produced another sitting of Jackie’s sausages in red wine, with her own creamy mashed potato, and fresh firm broccoli. This was followed by apple pie and cream. My wife drank Hoegaarden, I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon, and our daughter drank Diet Coke. Our granddaughter abstained.

A Knight’s Tale (129: Waiting On Barbados Part Two)

Here is a selection from a swimming trip in the waters of Port St Charles harbour:

Turtle swimming 1
Turtle swimming 2
Louisa swimming with turtles 1
Louisa swimming with turtles 2
Louisa swimming with turtles 3

Louisa just had to join the turtles, like pebbles washed by tidal waters, the colours of their carapaces brightly contrasting with their natural element which reflected the skies above.

Louisa swimming with turtles 4

In this last picture, Jessica’s toes curl at top left.

On my ramblings around Barbados in May 2004, some of the local people, who called me ‘the white man who walks’, thought I wasn’t quite right in the head, especially as I had a tendency to set off around mid-day.

On one occasion this proved to be quite happy for the photographer in me when I was able to watch the sugar cane being harvested.

Sugar cane on lorry 5.04 1

It was the approach of this loaded lorry that alerted me to what was going on.

Sugar cane field 5.04

Here was the cane to be cut before collecting;

Sugar cane in containers 5.04

and, further on, containers loaded beside stripped fields.

Sugar cane harvest loading 5.04 1
Sugar cane harvest loading 5.04 2

Tractors were employed to load the vehicles;

Couple harvesting sugar cane 5.04

after which, were this elderly couple engaged in gleaning? I must say I felt for them labouring under the overhead sun.

Jean-François_Millet_-_Gleaners_-_Google_Art_Project_2

They put me in mind of Jean-Francois Millet’s painting ‘The Gleaners’, which caused such a stir at the Paris Salon in 1857.

Across The Stream

On this overcast, somewhat warmer afternoon Jackie drove me to Puttles Bridge and back.

From the carpark I crunched among the dropped pine cones and dried autumn leaves; thudded along the beaten track; slalomed around fallen, decaying, branches and tree trunks; and gingerly stepped over exposed, sometimes mossy, interwoven roots, alongside the still, silent, reflecting Ober Water.

I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a friendly couple across the stream. They had been visiting their son at Southampton University.

Now the cattle, having been overwintering in their shelters, are free to introduce their calves to the moorland. These occupied the environs of Sway Road.

Later, I booked my Spring booster Covid vaccination.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes with nutmeg; crunchy carrots; and tender broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, with which she finished the Rosé and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Death Is Now My Neighbour

I spent much of the day preparing and posting https://derrickjknight.com/2022/04/27/a-knights-tale-128-waiting-on-barbados-part-1/

The rest of my time was spent on reading the final 240 pages of. ‘Death is now my Neighbour’ by Colin Dexter. An Inspector Morse novel – one of those that spawned the long running BBC television Morse series starring John Thaw – this is a consummately crafted work worthy of such success.

Particularly on screen, the essence of a good series depends upon the chemistry of the relationship between the main protagonists such as the Chief Inspector and his Sergeant Lewis, expertly presented by the learned Dexter who remains down to earth in his characterisation. Carefully detailed and progressing to a flawless conclusion this keeps us guessing to the end.

This evening we dined on tender roast lamb; crisp Yorkshire pudding; boiled potatoes; and perfect carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2020.

A Knight’s Tale (128: Waiting On Barbados, Part 1)

During the few days waiting for Sam to arrive in Port St Charles, Barbados, and afterwards, I took the opportunity to roam the Island with my camera.

Jessica, Louisa, and I began our stay in an hotel on the southern tip of the island, some miles from the finishing point, but soon transferred to join Chris, Frances, and Fiona in one in the luxurious developing holiday playground.

Coconut seller 5.04

This area presented a stark contrast to how the rest of the inhabitants of Barbados lived. Our hotel was surrounded by a compound patrolled by armed guards to keep out people like a coconut seller seated on the wall outside. His produce looked unappetising and he charged fairly optimistic prices.

Young woman against spray  5.04 002
Youn woman against spray 5.04 003
Young woman against spray 5.04 001

Some distance away, a young woman, seated on a rugged outcrop gazing out to sea, was persuaded to rise to her feet.

map-barbados-360x270-cb1434489582

Port St Charles (Speightstown on the map) lies on the Caribbean Sea to the north west of the Island. To the east storms the Atlantic ocean. The two bodies of water meet at the northern tip of the Island. Rowers need to navigate this point with precision. Too wide and the current would would carry them to Cuba, too near and they would be smashed on these rocks. The competitors rowed in pairs or solo. One of the pairs hit the rocks, and had to be rescued.

Caribbean Sea 5.04 002
Caribbean Sea 5.04 005
Caribbean 5.04 006
Caribbean 5.04 009

These seascapes are of the more gentle Caribbean.

Much less inviting was the dark, violent, Atlantic that, on the last couple of days, swept my son so fast towards his final destination that he dropped his anchor to slow himself down in order to arrive in daylight. Not for him, Cuba or the rocks.

Meanwhile, I traversed the island.

Flowering cacti

Cacti flowered profusely;

Unknown plant

I learned later that this is a calotropis;

Hibiscus

this is an hibiscus;

Bougainvillea

bougainvillea grows everywhere on the island;

Breadfruit

as do coconuts.

Stork

A lone stork stands out from the long grass by the sea,

Homes on coastline

on the coast of which expensive holiday homes contrast with

Chattel houses

the traditional wooden chattel houses.

Horse

I was surprised to see a horse lurking in the hedgerow, but have since learned that racing is a popular pastime, dating from the colonial years.

Grackle

This is possibly a grackle, or a Barbadian Black Bird.

Zenaida dove 5.04 02

The iridescent blue tinge on the neck of the Zenaida dove is intriguing.

Rusty drum

I expect there were plans for this rusting drum.

Succulent graffiti 1
Succulent graffiti 2
Succulent graffiti 3

I have seen graffiti in many forms, but only on Barbados has it been carved into succulents.

Slaking Its Thirst

On another bright-sunny-cool afternoon I took a tour of the garden

In the front crab apple blossom, and clematis Montana, the first accompanied by budding pink climbing roses, the second by hybrid bluebells.

I made a number of images from upstairs,

The views from the stable door and from the kitchen path towards the greenhouse were taken at ground level, as were

new rhododendrons and tulip.

Afterwards, Jackie drove me into the forest.

Golden gorse glows alongside Pound Lane where it reflects in a roadside pool.

The ancient bank with its mossy roots at the junction of Bennett’s Lane and Bisterne Close was striated by lengthy shadows.

A solitary pony slaked its thirst in a pool beside Wilverley Road,

on either side of which others cropped the dry grass.

For this evening’s dinner Becky added some chicken pieces to her perfect pork casserole and served it with more of her delicious savoury rice, and green beans, with which she and Jackie drank more of the Rosé, and I drank more of the red Ponce de León. Flo’s beverage was Kombucha Ginger and Lemon.

A True Tale Of Love In Tonga

Last night I read ‘A True Tale of Love in Tonga’ by Robert Gibbings, and spent some time today scanning

the dust jacket, the front and back boards;

the Foreword;

and the pages, which speak for themselves.

Between bouts of scanning Jackie drove me into the forest, where

I wandered among the gleaming golden gorse around Crockford Clump.

Ponies cropped the verges of St Leonard’s Road, while donkeys

tore at more prickly provisions,

and a pheasant tried camouflage in the long grass of a field.

This evening we dined on Becky’s delicious pork casserole; creamy mashed potato with nutmeg; and firm broccoli, with which Jackie and I each drank more of the Rosé and Rouge respectively.

Translation

I have previously stressed the importance of the translator in a book rendered into English, or any other language for that matter. None more so than The Forest Giant by Adrien le Corbeau.

Adrien le Corbeau is one of the pen-names of the Romanian born writer, Rudolf Bernhardt (1886-1932), who, writing in French entitled his work ‘Le Gigantesque’. The translator was T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia), who used the name J. H. Ross.

Because the prose in my 1935 edition was not as fluent as, for example, in Reginald Merton’s translation of ‘A Hero of Our Time’ featured in https://derrickjknight.com/2022/04/21/predestination/ I researched the internet for the original French version, which I assumed not to be the first language of Bernhardt, in order to obtain some idea of the quality of the author’s prose. It seems that the novel has lapsed into obscurity and the nearest I could find was the Castle Hill Press 2004 edition which presents parallel French and English texts at prices which tested my desire to investigate further.

Le Corbeau’s work is described as a novel that, through the story of a fictional sequoia from conception to death and beyond, discusses the histories of all forms of life.

I found this a philosophical exploration of life and death, not with great literary merit, but presented in a fascinating manner. The opening sections, following the journey of the seed to germination are those most smoothly flowing, but all does become more cumbersome further on. I can forgive the author for doubling the life expectation of the giant sequoia and for testing the vocabulary of his translator, but I am no wiser concerning the ultimate style I have read.

It seems that Lawrence (Ross), although he had apparently asked for the commission to translate it, did not like the book at all. While working on the translation, completed in 1923, he wrote: ‘At last this foul work: complete. Please have [it] typed and send [it] down that I may get it off my suffering chest before I burst. Damn Adrien le Corbeau and his rhetoric. The book is a magnificent idea, ruined by jejune bombast. My version is better than his: but dishonest here and there: but my stomach turned. Couldn’t help it.’

To my mind ‘jejune bombast’ is itself simply pompous.

Preferring the earlier, more sinuous, Art Nouveau, this Art Deco period of illustration is not my favourite, but the exquisite wood engravings of Agnes Miller Parker are very skilled examples.

This afternoon Becky, now somewhat recovered, came back for a few days. She had arranged for Jacob, a neighbour, to deliver a replacement mattress for Flo’s bed, which he did later.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s pasta Bolognese and runner beans, with which she and Becky drank Bordeaux Rosé 2020 and I drank Ponce de León 2020.