Wednesday, February 28, 2007


We visited Son #2 at the week-end for his birthday. Only one grandchild is still at home so the cats reign supreme. The two elder ones George and Joe have now got two pains in the neck to cope with; young Zoot and Syd. The young ones are totally bonkers and hurl themselves from pillar to post with great élan. It is important to remember their names Рnot that they take a blind bit of notice but it pleases the human parents.

Zoot is black as soot, George is ginger, and Joe is black and white and lusts after me as only a cat can, for a non lover of cats. Syd thinks he’s James Bond and expects you to genuflect when he stalks in the room. We left them after lunch to visit Salisbury. We only saw the beautiful cathedral from the distance as shopping was top priority after a long, very strong coffee. I always forget to tell them I only drink decaff so was buzzing for the rest of the week-end.

My goal was to buy Holtz’s Planet Suite for the birthday boy, new rechargeable batteries for my camera and Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ recommended by Zinnia Cyclamen (see side bar). I got the book and the batteries (I hope that is what the problem is with my digital) but not the CD. In one store I asked a pretty young thing for help and she clacked away on her computer and looked blank.

‘It’s Classical’ I volunteered.

Clack clack clack!

‘Holtz’s Planet Suite – spelt H O L T Z!’

More clacking. More blank looks and then she called over a male colleague. He told her it was SUITE not SWEET and there was more clacking and I repeated the whole thing whereupon he corrected the spelling of Holtz to Holts. They will probably be getting it some time soon but not I suspect in my lifetime. That was only going to be part of S 2’s present so he had to put up with a cheque instead. I was longing for her to say “The computer says ‘No!’”

On the way back we called in to see the new baby girl – my son’s step grand-daughter. She was delightful and was good as gold as she was handed round and cooed over and after about an hour she let rip with a pair of very healthy lungs which to me is always a good sign. I was so entranced with her I scarcely noticed the parrot whose name was Monkey.

By the time we got back, there was barely time to change before dinner at an Indian – so we didn’t, although my elegant black and white ensemble was now a Harris Tweed, courtesy of four cats. We were warmly greeted at the restaurant and we all ate too much and were given a birthday digestif.

Sunday was special because I got to have a walk on Salisbury Plain – just the Birthday boy and I. I was treated to a bootleg tape of Paul Kossoff, in the car – recorded in 1969. S 2 raved about his vibrato and it was impressive. Paul was a classically trained guitarist and then he heard Eric Clapton and changed his life. He joined the ‘Free’ band – remember ‘Alright Now’, and got into drugs? When the band broke up his life was shattered. He fought a long battle with drugs with the help of a loving family (his father was the actor David Kossoff) and died of a heart attack at the age of 26. Jimi Hendrix was also greatly influenced by Clapton Hendrix died of a drug overdose and Clapton came close but has survived and done much to help rehabilitate drug victims, this in spite of losing his baby son when he fell out of a fourth storey window in New York.

On Salisbury Plain we walked up a gentle incline for a mile or two until we reached a grassy air strip. Son 2 asks me if I could hear the larks.

‘How can you tell they are larks?’

‘Dad and I used to try to photograph them in Ashdown Forest with a long lens. We’d get closer and closer and one of us would put a foot in a deep hole filled with water that covered your gum-boots. That’s a lark trap!’

We came to a viewing point and Son 2 said it was about halfway. We saw flock of starlings near ground level and then they swarmed up in the sky. I now know this is
a murmuration. If you want to estimate the number – count the wings and divide by two. We talked as one adult to another and I was able to ask him things I couldn’t when talking as a parent. A parental note crept in later – but from him - when he made me promise to take care, running up and down stairs. Yes Dad!

Suddenly we were lashed by a vicious rain storm. There was nowhere to hide so we continued – silent now – two hoodies bent double against the wind and rain. We had changed direction and I was disorientated but could see a hill rising from a deep dip. We hadn’t walked down a hill so I dared to wonder if the road, where we had left the car, was hiding in the dip. It was – oh frabjous day - the sun came out and with the strong wind helped to dry our clothes.

It was a wonderful exhilarating walk- made more difficult with flooded paths and slithery, squelchy mud. It will be some time before I tackle my boots. Back just in time for a roast lunch, another baby cuddle and then an easy drive home. The happy ending is the young parents are getting married in July and we are invited. My son has been asked by his step-son to be best man; two years ago he was asked by his step-daughter to give her away at her wedding. He must have been doing something right!


guyana-gyal said...

That should make you proud, your son doing it right with his [step] children :-)

Funny, only yesterday my mother and I were counting off the famous ones who died of overdose.

Oh Pat, how I wish I can get my mother to start walking again! Everytime she goes to the US, she says she walks...but when she comes back here, she stops. sigh.

PI said...

GG : Please tell your Mum from me that the best thing she can do is keep walking especially for good health and peace of mind. It keeps everything ticking over and think what it would be like to lose your mobility. Use it or lose it. I lost it temporarily when I had three fractures - one after the other. It was hell.
You know it makes sense - just DO IT! Here endeth the lesson.

R. Sherman said...

Lovely story, dear.

If you want to walk in the US, you're welcome to join us in May when we'll be hiking here and the north rim here for a couple of weeks.

Now, I must gird my loins and charge off to this Blog Battle of which you speak.


PI said...

Thanks Randall: those arches look amazing. Would that I could but I imagine your daily mileage would be far greater than mine and the only thing worse than a whining child is a whining Gran.

Larraine said...

Oh please tell me she did eventually look up Holst!!!!! It should still have been close enough in the alphabet to find in the inventory.

Sounds like a WONDERFUL weekend, Pat.

Yay, commenting now works wonderful-like on new-blogger.. (well, I'll find out when I push publish)

PI said...

Larraine:OMG! I invented the Z! And it isn't even an alternative! There's egg all over my face! How nice of you not to mention it! I still think it should be an optional Z! That is definitely my last exclamation mark.
The on thing I'm not keen on with NB is I can't publish from Word.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

"We talked as one adult to another and I was able to ask him things I couldn’t when talking as a parent."

That's a wonderful thing to be able to do. Some parents never manage it. My parents can do it but I have friends who lament that theirs won't or just can't.

Sounds like a top weekend, Pat. I want to go to Salisbury Plain one day.

PI said...

sam: it is a most rewarding experience. You shall go to Salisbury Plain! If you are a good girl.
Wouldn't you have thought that a Gustav had a z in his surname rather then an s. I'm covered in honte

Anonymous said...

Young shop assistants + computer = zero! Don't-cha-know?

I once asked at the local library if they had a book about growing "hollyocks" (it's a tall exotic flower, for those who don't know. Google it). The young girl clacked away on her computer for several minutes and said "No, sorry, nothing at all". I asked "Are you sure?". "Yes" she replied "I've looked all through the 'O's and there is nothing about ollyoaks". What the.....!


PI said...

Keith: that's funny! But I'm ashamed I misspelt Holst. I still prefer it with a z!

grant said...

You bring up kids the best way you can. Does seem like you did a good job.
Question. At what age do you start to appreciate long countryside walks?

Michele sent me.

PI said...

Grant: it's difficult to say. Our kids used to grumble but have all done the same - walked with their kids. I think when you realise your mobility could be threatened is when you truly relish a good long walk.

Carolyn said...

Sounds like, cats aside, your day was pretty nice and "catastrophe" free, lol!

Here from Micheles

PI said...

Hi Carolyn! Yes it was a geat week-end!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a lovely full and interesting weekend---Cats and all! (lol).
Your son sounds like a very wonderful man---to have his step children want him to be such a big part of their weddings...Bravo to you!
Michele sent me today, Pat!

PI said...

o lady of the hills: I am quite proud of him>

CG said...

I enjoyed visiting your blog. Michele sent me :)

Terri said...

Sounds like this was a great visit. I've visited the Salisbury Plain and it was lovely.
(I voted for you in the Battle of the of luck to you.)
Michele sent me here........

PI said...

Hi CG and welcome!

Hi Terri! Thanks for the vote and O hope the post brought back happy memories.

rashbre said...

I hope Gustav is now playing alongside Free in the car or on the stereo. That was quite an expansive post, but with Salisbury Plain in it, I suppose it should be.

That tip for counting the number of starlings sounds useful, but I find I can only count one wing at a time.

Here, this sunny day, via Michele's!


PI said...

Nice comment rashbre - made me smile!

rashbre said...

I forgot to mention the joy in your post of the return home to a nice roast lunch. The stuff of fabulous Sundays.

And here this time via Michele's!


PI said...

Rashbre: especially as i didn't cook it!