The birds, bees and flowers

“We opened the Tea Garden… We get tourist lunches, old folk from Britain once a week which is great fun and they love coming here – last time a snake obliged by nearly climbing onto the veranda from the bougainvillea! and the sun birds are a treat, not to mention the hoopoes nesting in the corner of the roof (instead of a tree!)”

“Now in South of India, tropical flowers, spices and rain. We are in Hill Station of Ooty and we have a fire.”

[The James Iredell House, North Carolina] “Wish you were here to see the wonderful gardens – magnolia plantation had 900 species of azaleas and a wealth of other flowers… We spent 3 days in Charleston.”

“This has been an interesting day-tour into the rain-forest. There have also been beautiful blue and red parrots and birds called whip birds because of their call. They made me think of you.” [I wonder why???!]

“First time I have seen this tree. It is a frassino tree and grows only in Sicily or Calabria. The manna is used in the trade as a laxative and also for other medical purposes???”

“Wow! I have just seen an enormous wasp type thing about 1.5 inches – HUGE. We got attacked by monkeys yesterday! I was holding a banana – I suddenly became surrounded by monkeys. They looked as if they would climb all over me – so I hid the banana down my top and they went away!” [Lucky the monkeys weren’t too determined…]

whiskery fish
whiskery fish

“The garden was all palms and wild orchids and lovely plants with green and pink leaves! And a demented cockerel and a bunch of scatty hens… We went snorkelling about 5 times. We saw amazing blue starfish – their fingers were all sausage-fat and bright blue. And angel-fish and other stripey ones and an amazing thing called a half-beak – almost transparent from the side except for its eye which is halfway along its 2-3 foot body. When you looked down on them they were coloured though. We didn’t see many shoals of fish, which made the one of about 300 we saw on the last day all the more surprising! They were white and whiskery with a yellow streak down the side.”

“X related how they’d had a real gorilla in her youth in S. Africa – its mother had been shot – and they looked after the baby and played with it – until one day her sister teased it and it bit her – it was huge by then, about 5 – and their father said it had to go to the zoo. When they left it, it had tears running down its cheeks – as they all had, including her father – sad.”

“The countryside is so beautiful and all the orange cacci [persimmon] on the trees everywhere. They look like primitive paintings.”

Tact – or not

“I say what I think without wrapping it up into acceptable phrases – or make facetious jokes without making it obvious I don’t mean it. I’ve got so fed up with being misunderstood I’ve practically opted out of chat situations with the feeling of ‘What the hell’! Would you believe it the first such I remember goes back to when I was at school which means I was 7, and it still rankles. All the same I’ve made a New Year resolution I won’t ‘let off’ without at least a fleeting think before I say!!”

“His teacher was impressed with his very interesting questions (she doesn’t have to listen to him asking a friend why he has bushy eyebrows and grey in his beard!!)”

“They are going to X’s… I hope things go well there as they are already sounding apprehensive. Apparently after inviting them X rang and said it was a good time to come because they’d all be working! Then rang again and said a friend had offered their house which he recommended their taking as it would save lots. Shock – they were expecting to stay for free with them.”

“I wrote you a card but lost it in X’s flat – just vanished! I only hope I didn’t put anything too awful on it. Maybe it will turn up… Am pretty drained after a week of X but it was all very worthwhile.”

“…This led to a long discussion between us and the young, in which I pressed them to at least do the civil thing in respect of presents etc. [from their grandparents]. I hear that X managed an apparently acceptable letter, but Y wrote a really aggressive effort – beginning ‘Dear Mr. & Mrs. X’ and going downhill from there. Oh dear, oh dear.”

“I’ve started the five Monday afternoon painting sessions with X. Last week she’d just said we must never try and paint something that didn’t appeal to us and then set up daisies with shaggy leaves stuffed into a square glass jar, with two radishes in front and a check cloth draped behind them. I actually surprised myself by not pointing out I couldn’t think of anything I’d less like to paint!”

Smug & mean
Smug & mean

“So sensible having no photographs or reception line – how I wish we hadn’t, and kept the in-laws under wraps!! COW.”

“X can be trying too, the way she takes over my friends and then tells me ‘all the news’.”

“It seems that my reply said all the wrong things but it didn’t really matter because she didn’t really read it anyway… I can’t really be bothered with any ‘guiding’ letters. They upset me when I receive them and I feel like I have to defend myself every time I read them, which makes me annoyed and I feel down – so I would rather not receive them.”

 

 

 

 

The attraction of camels

“Our camel safari was great – a long way down to fall. Felt very precarious. The worst was when the camel lurched to its feet – or knelt to go down. We had our camel man and a guide – they put up our tent and cooked us breakfast and dinner. Lunch was cold. We needed it after all morning in the saddle under the hot sun. Pushkar Fair and Hindu Festival was marvellous.”

[Morocco] “Surprise, we are here in N. Africa. Decided to come for two weeks of sunshine. All the grey was getting depressing! We are enjoying the different way of life – having to bargain for everything. Of course we have had a camel ride!”

“We are in Broome. It is quite a fascinating place. Our hotel is on the ‘waterfront’, where we can observe the 9 metre tides – quite astounding the difference between high and low. It is still a pearl producing centre and we have visited the town’s jewellers. X worked out that if she sold her house, car and the cat she would be able to afford two of the strands of pearls we saw… We have both bought pearl shell buttons… I am able to report that I have been on an hour’s camel ride, first along the beach at dusk, then into sand dunes under a starry sky. Magic. I think I could easily sit on a camel for several days on a trek, but I will have to win a lottery. The early days here were very rough and ready, I understand, and quite dangerous. There is a Japanese cemetery where 909 Japanese (mostly divers) were buried.”

Plural realities

“X is into another burst of divining – for both water and electromagnetic waves. While my scientific methods were not exactly rigorous, she did seem able to tell the difference between when the TV was plugged in and unplugged in the next room. All very bogey! However it does mean they get all the exercise they need moving their furniture round to miss underground flowing water and electro-tidal-waves!”

“One of the people is a real character. I am told that when she re-married in the mid sixties, her wedding was at 8 in the morning. They had to knock up the jeweller because they had forgotten to collect the rings and then after the service the couple were toasted in toast!”

“He wanted to share with me ‘one of the most significant statements he has ever heard’ (he has a new one each time he comes). This was at the end of the programme about acupuncture last week and was to the effect that ‘the stars were the acupuncture pressure points (or whatever they call them) of the macrocosm’. He seemed to think it was important to know which stars you were being influenced by when you were treated by acupuncture (which he is being at present, though I don’t know what for). I said I thought that was an interesting idea, as long as you could work out where the macrocosm’s head and feet were, to which he replied, ‘There are ways’. He had also told the doctor who does the alternative medicine around here that he thought acupuncture could do you more good in a couple of sessions than six months of psychoanalysis, but I gather she was a bit reserved in her agreement. He put this down to her lack of psychiatric training – but it could of course be something to do with the fact that he had called on her after lunch on Sunday. He certainly is an odd specimen, however likeable.”

Characters
Characters

“Mad [friend] – the latest craze is the effect fillings in teeth are having on people, and the number who have made wonderful recoveries once they were removed. For once X [partner] said, ‘No, I won’t do it at my age.’ But a few days ago X had an awful time dropping down unconscious, some peculiar thing in the spine had curled??? Anyway he managed one tooth out on this, to no avail, so X went to a service for the laying on of hands, and has been fine ever since.”

“I enquired after the husband [who she said had manic depression] and gather that his high had quickly passed this time. It must be difficult to live with. He is in the habit of communicating with his maker before breakfast. She also gave me a graphic description about his wandering about the house in the middle of the night being a train, and saying ‘[Junction]: I think I’ll have a sandwich’ every time he came to the kitchen.”

Men! Some are ‘not wanted on the voyage’

“You may remember I met X… So – he finally arrived here but no big romance: in fact I was bored and came to the conclusion that I should disregard men entirely. I obviously expect too much or am too romantic or something… He was sweet and generous and kind but I just was not interested… Hopes there will be a future together for us – he will have to be disappointed.”

“I went to X to the Romance Writers Conference… All the romance writers were full-on into romance. I did feel a bit of a fraud as I’m not at all romantic (perhaps I just never met the right person?)”

“I never was enslaved – I was always liberated and enjoyed my life as best I could without harming other people.”

Wonderful well for the state we’re in

“…independent for shopping etc. if I have to give up the car – I can’t really quite decide if I ought to stop because of eyes but in the meantime go on.”

Two years ago I slipped and broke both bones in an ankle and was in a wheelchair and incapacitated for almost a year. Though I recovered completely in the physical sense I think that I have not entirely recovered in the psychological sense!”

“So glad to hear that your eyes were ‘better’ with the different man – it is a completely hit and miss game as far as I understand it and one just has to trust them.”

She does have to have radiotherapy… and I am trying to say that the reaction won’t be nearly as bad as it used to be in my day when we centred the beam in a very haphazard way compared to modern techniques.”

“I cured myself eventually by announcing to the consultant that his precious blood pressure pills were killing me and I was getting lower and lower in spirits – so had tried without them on my own and found myself feeling better. So we abandoned them and I revived at once and am now full of beans – still short of puff but that is now put down to smoking all my life, until a year ago, instead of ‘heart’ which it was first thought to be… The greatest joy is to feel alive instead of permanently half dead and blacking out at the thought of doing anything! …thank goodness this nice consultant is amenable to being told that I don’t want too many of his pills – still having 3 different things to take each day despite knocking the worst one off: what would Maggie [Thatcher] think? I am sure they all cost the earth, and being ancient I get them for free.”

“Did I tell you that the eye-man had another go at me? I think with some improvement. This time he did it under a local anaesthetic. I must say it is not natural to allow someone to poke a needle into your eyeball!”

New arrivals

“I will tell you my news. I’m expecting another baby… The [others] are mostly pleased i.e. X wants a boy if it has to be anything and X wants a girl and X twin girls! X thinks it’ll disturb his homework and be a waste of money! Rotten little so-and-so… I’ve been feeling really tired and fat recently. I shouldn’t have put on weight yet as I’m only 2 months but I have and can only fit 2 pairs of trousers both with the front seam unstitched!”

[re a new baby in the family] “I have to say when I saw him, and in his photos, he reminds me of a beach ball. It is such an unkind thing to say, but he is a little round thing… No doubt he will be a dear little thing, just round.”

Baby
Baby

“…our daughter gave birth. A big boy… The baby came 14 days too late, but finely [sic] he is born in a hospital. Probably, he was very content in the womb, because there was plenty of amniotic fluid to swim in, like a tropical swim-paradise…”

“I had another boy…The hospital’s absolutely full so one night I slept in the doctor’s office.”

“… born in August. I did see him when he was a few days old, and he did look a dear little thing. He was a very stretched out, laid back sort of baby, who seemed quite casual about the whole thing. Usually they are sort of scrunched up and anxious looking at that age, I think (not really having had that much experience).”