Recent events – and a grumpy gull

We’ve just said goodbye to our two English grandchildren, who came for their first visit in over a year. We hadn’t seen them since last August, so it was lovely to be together again. Lockdown restrictions eased recently, meaning we could start meeting other people indoors again. The weather was finally summery, and we were able to go to the beach. Mrs TD and the kids’ mum, who came for the final two days, went for a swim, joined by the 12-year-old granddaughter, but the water was a bit too cold for me.

Last week we paid our first social visit since before Christmas. Our friends who live nearby, the owners of those fine cats Iggy and Phoebe (they’ve featured a few times in the blog), invited us for coffee and cake. It was such a relief to mix with other people indoors, relax and enjoy stimulating conversation.

We admired their artworks, in particular a strange, vividly coloured crucifixion scene. They told us the artist was a Scot, Craigie Aitchison (1926-2009). They explained that the little dog looking up at the Christ figure, who returned its gaze, was the artist’s much loved Bedlington terrier. He features in many of his works, they told us.

Craigie Aitchison mural treeWe took the grandchildren to Truro cathedral during the week to seek out the four Aitchison murals our friends told us were to be seen there. The style is very distinctive, with vibrant bands of colour and stark, strangely mystical images of the crucifixion scene.

This first one appears to be a tree, perhaps the one that provided the timber for the cross on which the crucifixion took place.

To its left is the first of the scenes depicting Christ on the cross. The same vivid bands of colour form the basis of the image. At the foot of Craigie Aitchison mural cross and dogthe cross, instead of the usual human figures (mourners, soldiers), the little dog walks up to it, perky ears raised. The Christ figure appears to hang from one limp arm on the crossbeam, head bowed.

Next to this is the first image of the Christ figure looking straight out at the viewer. The dog now looks lovingly up at him. A star shines brightly in the sky above, and streaks of light or energy emanate from the figure on the cross. A blue bird – presumably symbolising the holy spirit, perches companionably next to the figure’s left hand.

Craigie Aitchison mural crucifixion

The mural on the far left of the four panels is a sort of mirror image of the first. This time the Christ figure’s right arm hangs over the crossbeam. The dog is no longer present.

Craigie Aitchison mural far leftI’m not sure how to read all the imagery, but each picture glows with a quiet energy. Despite the painful iconography, the simplicity and…I don’t know…charm of the scenes leaves me with a sense of happiness and hope. I’m not a Christian, but I can respond to the serenity of these images.

Grumpy gull FalmouthAfter our trip to the beach, we took the children to Falmouth docks, where we hoped to see the Estonian cruise ship that’s to be the floating hotel for some of the hundreds of extra police officers being brought in to police the area for the G7 conference. This takes place next week in Carbis Bay, near St Ives. The ship wasn’t there, but I liked the grumpy expression of this seagull perched on the railings above the docks.

Buttercup fieldWhen the children had left for home with our daughter yesterday we went for one of our local walks. Here to end this post is a view of the horses’ field that’s featured in previous posts, now a mass of shimmering yellow buttercups, with pink clover among them. A circling buzzard overhead isn’t discernible in my picture, but it’s good to know it was there, keeping an eye on things below. Despite the rather hazy focus, I hope it’s still possible to see the beauty of nature.

Back to books next time (probably).

 

 

 

Buttercups, jackdaws and Zoom

I’ve had some positive reactions to these recent posts on my lockdown rambles and experiences, so will keep them coming. As Jacqui said in a comment on the previous post, nature is a balm to the soul at the best of times – even more so now.

I get a huge amount of pleasure when out on my daily walks with Mrs TD in the countryside near our house to hear the birdsong, which echoes in the valleys and under the canopy of the trees as if we were in an avian cathedral. Today, after spring showers, the path through the trees was redolent of damp earth and young leaves. Cow parsley has started to flower, and copses have a low mist of bluebells.

ButtercupsOn both sides of the path – which is the route of an old mineral railway or tram route to the old docks on the river by the city centre, now long gone – the meadows were vivid green with grass, and shot through with golden yellow – a host of buttercups. My picture can’t do more than hint at the colour. Last time we walked this path, a buzzard stood sentry on a post in this field.

Last night we had the first in what will be a regular Saturday-night family quiz on Zoom. Our daughter was question-master, resplendent in a pink boa and paper bow tie made by her daughter. She looked like Judge Rinder channelling Ru Paul.

Her questions were stretching. Who knew that vanilla came from orchid seedpods? I didn’t.

I found some old seed packets (herbs and salad leaves) in the cellar (sell-by date 2011) and sowed them in a trough. After a week I’d given up on them, but after the recent rain they’ve started sprouting. I’m thrilled. The ones in pots by the kitchen window are still refusing to budge, though – but they were seeds from dried chillis from a local Cornish chilli farm, so I suppose it was a long shot.

I had my weekly Zoom exercise personal training session yesterday in the dining room, with the door open for coolness. A raucous horde of jackdaws gathered on my neighbour’s roof to watch and cackle derisively at my efforts. Mockingbirds. Surely not a sin to kill them.

I regularly stop in our local convenience store for a paper, eggs, or today, beer. The young woman serving there told me that the old man she often talks to outside is a daily visitor. He’s afraid to go inside, fearing infection (odd that he stands so close to her and other people outside), so she brings him out what he needs and chats. He’s obviously lonely; this is his only daily contact with living people.

Some days ago she told me he came inside for once and said he’d got some photos to show her: himself as a young man, in blue suede shoes. “I’m sorry,” she told him, “it’s busy at the moment. Pop outside and I’ll come and look at them when these customers have gone.”

She continued serving – and forgot about him for an hour. “I felt awful,” she told me. “A customer came in and told me there was an old chap outside who looked a bit lost. I went out to him and told him I was so sorry to have kept him waiting. He said not to worry, and showed me his pictures. He was lovely.”

Some people are being selfish and callous during this lockdown, but most, I like to think, are like this kind young woman, taking time out from her busy job to make a lonely old man’s day.