Friday, January 28, 2011

A salon affair

Today we had the first Gortavrulla Literary Salon. This was not simply an excuse for a good lunch and a bottle of Sancerre. There was serious literary talk (honestly) and not very much scandal at all.

There is an honourable history for the literary salon. The concept first appeared in 15th century Venice when an elite group of women began gathering informally to discuss art, literature, politics and science. A century later and it had become very fashionable in France, where the gatherings were so informal they would frequently be held in the bedroom. The hostess would recline in her bed while her friends gathered around.

A chaise longue would be the perfect thing here. One each, preferable, for recovering from the lunch while continuing the erudite conversation.

This was only the beginning of a cultural weekend. Joe and I are going to London tomorrow til Monday - my treat for his birthday. A play at the Almeida Theatre - we're going to see Becky Shaw, a play by Gina Gionfriddo that is, so it says, a biting American comedy. It got four stars off the Guardian so we hope it will be good. There are other plans afoot including a couple of restaurants which I can't write about yet because they are a surprise for Joe and there is still time for him to read this blog before we go. Also an exhibition of modern British sculpture at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly.

I'd better go to bed. We have an early(ish) flight and a long day ahead.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pony invasion

We've had ponies in the field opposite the house for the last week. We arrived back from a trip in the van to ice and snow (an hour to get the van up the hill of the last hundred metres or so) and saw hoofprints and neat piles of horse droppings up the track. I thought it was someone out for a hack but no. The next morning the dogs went roaring out barking. When the small one does this I don't always take notice unless it's the bark that says there really really is someone there. When it's this type of bark and the big one joins in I go and see.  Three ponies were looking startled, stopped in their tracks, surprised at the reception. 'Where did you come from?' they seemed to say, then turned and trotted away across the flat bridge.

I thought that would be the last of them, that they were escaped from somewhere, but they were back. The dogs got used to them and they became proficient at breaking into our neighbour's field across from the house. Making themselves at home. Relaxing in the sunshine.

None of this is particularly remarkable - stray cattle are a fairly regular occurrence, though we haven't had ponies before. But it's made me think. Our neighbour came up and chased the ponies away. They came back, got into his field again, ate the grass he would be wanting for his cattle. He chased them away and closed the gate across the track outside our house. They came back, flicked their heads at any notion of ownership, broke through his electric fence (not turned on) and sunbathed on the precious bit of new grass.

So why did we do nothing? I only feel part guilty, and I shouldn't feel guilty at all. This is the neighbour who fell out with Joe - and therefore me - over the cutting of an ash tree, and who objected when we had someone he didn't like renting out our converted barn. The gate he closed was the one he put there in the hope of inconveniencing us. So to see those ponies eating his grass, to see him chasing them away again and again. Well I won't say it gave me pleasure, but...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Out of the Christmas Fug

Well of course the parents got here for the Christmas, though it was touch and go til the last minute - Shannon Airport had run out of de-icer according to Michael O'Leary on the radio - unusually not in rant mode - so we were in bits thinking that meant planes wouldn't fly into the airport. Then there was fog when we got there. But in I went to wait among three flights' worth of happy relatives and friends it said on the board that the Liverpool one was landed. What relief.

Now we're about to go off in the van for a few days. Possibly foolish given the weather forecast. But we have to go and check the boat and it seems the best way to do it. Or at least I thought that was the case until five minutes ago when Joe said, having just heard the weather forecast for the north, 'I was thinking we might go and visit Rob the Bones'. Rob is an old friend from years back who now lives in Cork. The bones bit is not as macabre as it sounds. He was (and is) a wizard playing bones of the percussive kind. Reset the mind time.

Along with me will come my new smart phone. I haven't been so frustrated by a device since the early days of computers when an axe was the instrument you were looking for. It isn't an iPhone (so intuitive! so exactly like my Mac!) but an LG with Android fittings. This is much better for my use (pre-paid), so much cheaper and uses Open Source software which is A Good Thing. But I couldn't get it to produce words properly. Or change between numbers and letters. Or delete photos. Or or or.....

However, I am beginning to enjoy it. The other day we went to Coole Park to see if the wild swans were still there. A beautiful flight of them rose from the lake and disappeared. And didn't come back. I managed to take a photo, but not of the swans. I think I took three videos of water not moving. Then my battery was flat.

Have to go and pack the van. Wonder where we're going. How exciting (I do like sudden changes of plan, I do I do).