Five men named John
13 September Sunday
Lambert’s garage has four floral displays on show. The plants are each hanging out of a tyre. The tyres have been painted different colours. At intervals across the building the tyres are white, red, yellow and blue. The paint does not work too well on the yellow one, but the idea is there.
12 September Saturday
There is stuff to collect. Apples have been disappointing. I thought it was just our own trees, but I understand there are problems all around, even over at the Apple Farm. Some varieties just fell off the trees early and unripe. Others have ripened but lack flavour and texture. Our figs are doing remarkably well considering this is not really a fig-growing climate. I have to squeeze and test them at the end of the afternoon as the wasps are all over them in the daytime and birds get them in the early morning. I do not like to compete with the wasps. I gather most of the figs a little unripe and let them ripen inside the house. The blotcheens are coming ripe but they are not plentiful. Most plums have had a bad year. The wild damsons sort of shriveled on the branches before they ripened. I marked three different puffballs with sticks in the ground and kept checking them every day. They have shriveled up into nothing. Raspberries and blackberries are rampant. I pick masses of them daily. And the Cavolo Nero, which is a glorious shade of green, just goes on and on.
10 September Thursday
The elderly lady at The Cross keeps an eye on the road. I rarely see her. I do not think she goes out often. I saw her at the ceremony to install a commemorative stone for five local men named John who all fought and died in WWI. She was sitting in the front of the two short rows of chairs which had been set up for older people. She was pleased to greet me. She commented immediately that since we now drove only one car rather than two, it was easier for her to keep track of our movements. I next saw her at her brother-in-law’s funeral. She asked me why I do not wave to her as I pass the house. She said that most people salute or sound their horn as they pass. Now I wave each time I pass the house. I do not know which window is the room where she sits. Simon and I have decided that her room is the end room on the front of the house so I slow down and wave directly at that window no matter which direction I am coming from. If it is late, we sometimes say to each other that she must have gone to bed so we need not wave. We cannot see anyone through the window so I have no idea if she is waving back or if she is sitting there at all. There is a fair chance that I am be waving at the wrong window. I just do not want to be reprimanded again.
9 September Wednesday
Someone is camping near the edge of the road as we drive through Marlfield. A brown and orange tent is set up just outside the big field on a small mown corner of grass. The tent is tidy and self-contained. I have been noticing it for two or three weeks. Today the man who lives in the tent was sitting on a lawn chair in the drizzle with a large umbrella. He was facing out toward the hill. Last week I saw him in the chair under the umbrella but that day he was facing the road. When the man is not sitting in the chair the chair is put away inside the tent. There is not any of the stuff of camping visible. There is neither a fire place nor a cooking stove. Nor is there a lot of passing traffic to watch. There are no cattle in the field right now either. The field was part of a big plan to turn the area around Marlfield House into a fancy golf course a few years ago. The project ran out of money before it was finished. Now all of the fields around the big house are back to being used for grazing cattle and for growing hay. It is an odd place to set up camp. It is an empty and slightly lonely spot but it is not a very private spot.