Jonathan: A family came to the door yesterday to buy eggs, lemon curd, chutney and other things besides. It was a glorious afternoon, and they were glowing with the joy of it! An unfamilar accent? – they were from the state of Idaho. So different to here! A thousand miles from the sea, winters bitter cold in the high mountains and forests, blue summer skies over wide fertile plains, great lakes and wide rivers – so few people, so widely scattered! Yet what Idaho first brings to mind – I can’t shake it from my head! – is Nerina Pallot‘s wonderful song ‘Idaho’: I have packed everything that I own in a bag, and I’m driving, I’m driving to Idaho … ‘Cos I hear it’s mighty pretty … I can’t keep on dreaming that I’m free, dreaming that I’m free … My hands are on the wheel, so I’m driving, I’m driving to Idaho. Find it, play it, listen – and yearn to be driving too, four thousand miles from east coast clostrophobia – to the open roads of Idaho!
Denise had a visit from the Comhairle’s (council’s) environmental health officer – a complaint about the geese again. They’ve been ‘camping’ overnight outside someones gate and leaving a bit of a mess! Strictly the geese are doing what they are entitled to do, but it doesn’t make for good neighbourly relations. I’ve been on the phone to the council and to my neighbour about this, and we’ve agreed that he should show ‘calculated aggression’ towards the geese to make them feel it is not a nice place to be (not something I can do myself – the geese would never come near me again!) and I shall do what I can – once I’m home for good – to ‘re-educate’ the geese. It’s a fine line to be drawn between holding out for my rights, and also accommodating my neighbours, even when these are in conflict. Not easy! But this is the stuff of making life as a community work.
Denise: A complaint today from a neighbour about the mess the geese leave. The sillies get it in to their head to have favourite places to camp. For a few days – or even weeks – it will be on a certain hillock. And then it will be down in a little gully by the sea. And then for a while it might be right outside someone’s gate. Now they are perfectly within their rights to graze wherever they want on croft land, and I’m within my rights to let them: but let’s face it who wants to have to pick their way across a carpet of goose mess (it’s little more than pulped grass, but for all that the brain still registers Ughh!) between car and front door. But the problem in the end is not actually the geese themselves, but the creeping ‘urbanisation’ of rural life.
Denise: I don’t know that it actually takes (as in needs), but in any event there certainly are all sorts! Working in the garden today, a dog suddenly came woffling up to me – but it wasn’t Tilly. A couple had come into the garden – my garden! our garden! – not only with their dog, and without asking, but without having it under any control. They didn’t seem at all concerned when I pointed out that my own labrador was about in the garden, and was on heat. I’d have felt less annoyed if they had apologized and got their dog under control, but not a bit of it – I had to take Tilly indoors. How presumptious and inconsiderate can folk be! It’s lovely having people to come into the garden to buy vegetables and so on, certainly when they seem to appreciate what we do, and I don’t mind spending some time talking, but some folk just make me want to replace the gates in the wall with a drawbridge and watch tower, and put out a sign saying – bugger off! But then you just need one nice person to come along and it all seems worthwhile again.
Jonathan: Motorhome, Welwyn Garden City. Bank Holiday weekend – Sunday. Dark outside now, curtains drawn, listening to Canadian band Blue Rodeo – Five Days in July: great stuff. Introduced to this seriously great band by my colleague Tia Nagi. Tia’s a Sikh, from Kenya, now living in Hemel Hempstead, but brought up in Calgary, Canada. The only Sanskrit-speaking cowgirl I’ve ever come across! Thanks to Tia I’ve developed a real curiosity about Canada. Thanks to Google Earth and street view I’ve driven from Calgary along the Trans-Canada Highway to Banff, looked round the shops and explored the back streets. I’ve even turned off the main road at random and nosied around small settlements, looking for houses for sale! Yes, lots of time to kill, here In Exile: Yet so many jobs back home left undone and unfinished.