Order, Order…

The last week or so has been rather frenetic. We plunged from splendid covid isolation to a week with visitors staying every night, and for the first half of the week, different ones every day. I was a veritable Mrs Tiggiwinkle, scuttling to and fro with bundles of laundry between arrivals and departures. Our first guests were old friends from London days, now living in Devon and boldly driving in their Morgan from Devon to the Isle of Harris and Lewis. Given my experiences in Edna on short trips to the pub, I should think they will be stone deaf and sitting on rubber rings when they get home… It was lovely to catch up and just be sociable again! Next up was Ray, a garden photographer who had come to see if he could find a weed free/dumpy bag free angle for an article on our garden coming up in next week’s Scotland on Sunday. (I was rather dubious that this would be possible, but having seen the selection he has sent to the editor it seems that balancing on one leg up a step ladder and careful use of the focus lens might be the answer…). Emboldened by the previous night’s excitement of having had a proper dinner party with people we don’t speak to every day, which had rather gone to our heads, poor Ray (who stopped over to catch the early morning light) was subjected to the full Fountain family “pick a side and argue the hell out of it” school of dinner table debate. Thank god we stuck to politics, if it had moved on to potato varieties cudgels could have been drawn. As Ray departed, Barry arrived. And hooray for Barry – who had come to paint the library which has been in limbo for the best part of a year and a half – of which more anon. We took Barry to the pub, which we thought would have a civilising influence on us. Last, but not least, came the Hogmanay Guests. David and Karen always come for Hogmanay and last year Covid maliciously intervened. So, like Christmas in June, we had Hogmanay and New Year celebrations in October. The salmon cured in December was defrosted, oysters were shucked, the butcher dug out the three bird roast he was keeping for us (no room in the freezer here!) and Keith brought down the venerable Christmas pudding from the top pantry shelf. We partied on…. By Sunday, when everyone was waved off, I passionately craved solitude and a diet of water and green veg.

Now I might, at this stage, have simply deflated and retreated to the sofa with herbal tea to recuperate but (for reasons I now no longer remember) it was declared imperative that the newly painted library shelves be restocked by this Friday. I have, therefore, spent the last couple of days lugging boxes out of the attic and attempting to impose order on the chaos that is our book collection. Non-fiction and fiction have been firmly segregated. Non-fiction is grouping by theme – we seem to be developing a communist corner, which I am balancing with regal biographies. Germaine Greer is tentatively sharing a shelf with John Stewart Mill – though if I can find enough feminists he will just have to find another home. Fiction is going strictly alphabetical, which is leading to some very odd shelf combinations (Jilly Cooper and Albert Camus….). “B” and “M” were the early leaders in shelf space, but on unearthing the London playroom boxes “T”, “W” and, surprisingly “Z” have rocketed past “B” on the inside rails meaning there has been much running up and down the step ladder moving letter groups from shelf to shelf. Thus far I have weeded out half a box of “doubles” where Keith had I have bought the same book at various times and topped it up with books I’m not minded to read twice. With four boxes to go there’s not a whole lot of space left and I am thinking that some of the children’s books might need to be boxed up. As both are in their 20s this should hopefully not be too controversial. Maybe I’ll keep a shelf of the favourites just in case..

When not engaged in manic librarianship I have been processing plums. The yellow plum tree is prolific, and, rather in the manner of Himalayan Balsam, throws its fruit all around in one fell swoop. There is no tree picking required, you just scoop them up. The ground round the tree is completely covered with small yellow eggs and invariably you stand on half a dozen on your way to gather a few. I am two pickings in and we have six jars of bottled plums in the pasteuriser and five huge bags in the freezer pending jam making weather. The grass is still covered and, with the slightly warm and damp weather, there is a whiff of fermentation in the air. Before too long hanging up the washing will entail running the gamut of drunken wasps. This does not bode well for Mrs Tiggiwinkle as we have another party of visitors in a few weeks.

In other news, the dahlias and asters are lovely (definitely growing more next year), I have finished my blue cable jumper and am now looking for a large fair isle pig motif (special request from Ishbel rather than mere knitted abuse).

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