Before I start, thank you to all of you who contacted me in various ways to sympathise with me about my brother Guy. It means a great deal to know I have so many supportive friends. One sent me a David Austin voucher, and my (last remaining) brother and I each now have a rose called Summer Song, very vibrant, that will remind us of Guy whenever it blooms. To quote the Bible (!), we are born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. That certainly applied to Guy. As there are said to be only two sure things, death and taxes, I feel I should now balance things by giving you a lecture on the history of the British tax system. I did this once for my MBA and I’m sure I could find my notes, given an hour or so. Nah, let’s get back to my trivial rubbish instead.
Going to Guy’s funeral, we stayed in a hotel (one of a chain which shall remain nameless) for one night on our way up to Scotland. All I can say is, buy shares now in the plastics industry. Everything at breakfast was single use: pots of chopped fruit, of Bircher muesli, of yoghurt, single sachets of sauces, small bottles of milk, all pastries and bread slices wrapped singly. Thankfully, we were given real cutlery and crockery (apart from takeaway coffee cups). However, we stayed in a smaller one, The Kirkstyle Hotel, for the funeral itself. We did have to order breakfast the night before and give a time when we thought we’d be hungry and awake, but apart from that it was really friendly and they could not do enough for us. If you find yourself in Biggar then give it a go. https://www.kirkstylehotel.com/
I don’t know about elsewhere, but in Scotland currently (or maybe no longer current by the time you read this) you can have no more than 20 people at a funeral. When you get to that number, they close the doors and anyone else has to stand outside. (This was a cremation, burials may be different). There were only 16 of us so no problem. Whereas previously you would all be inside awaiting the arrival of the coffin, now you wait outside so that the staff can arrange the coffin then disappear, a bit like the tooth fairy, so that you don’t see them (risk contaminating them, they are very busy with lots of strangers arriving every hour). We were dotted around the funeral parlour in twos. We seem to have instituted a family tradition of having the Tardis on the coffin and playing the noise (can’t call it music, maybe the sound effect) of the Tardis when the curtains start to close. If you look at Post 89 of April 22nd you’ll see the Funeral Tardis sitting on top of my Tardis freezer.
Looking for photos of Guy over the years to display at the wake afterwards, I realise I could do a blog post of ‘jumpers I have knitted over the years’. So many. What will you pay me not to? I found a car I’d missed in Post 99 of July 15th, my Saab. I love Saabs, I’ve had a few over the years, but now they no longer are made. As well, here in the picture is my first dog (as a grown up, not the family dog), Fudge.
After the funeral, 14 of us had the wake, then 12 of us went out for the evening, in a private room in the pub. It was all very confusing being in Scotland, which does not have the same rules/guidelines as England where most of us travelled from. If we did break the law it was in a very specific and limited way. I think that is allowed nowadays. All I know is that, now we have the Rule of Six (thought up by the Gang of Four?) we’d not be able to do this.
On the way home we called into Newcastle and brought John’s mam down with us for a week or so in the Somerset sun. It has been very sunny, almost too hot some days. We generally took it easy but had an afternoon at the gardens of Hauser and Wirth, followed by tea and cake at the Roth Bar.
We also went to The Newt, which opened just before we left for the sailing holiday but which we’d not been to. It is amazing. https://thenewtinsomerset.com/. We only saw a tiny part of it, due to the day being too hot to walk very far. The staff very kindly gave us a ride in their golf buggy back to the car. I’m sure I’ll tell you more about it another time.
At the weekend I made a mocktail for her: I’m calling it “lemon grenaflower”, a splash of elderflower cordial with a splash of grenadine, topped up with San Pellegrino limonata and finished off with a sprig of mint. For our version I added Bacardi and used St Germain elderflower liqueur. Rather delicious. Maybe I’ll make them up more often instead of amending a recipe.
It’s very gratifying that so many of our friends want to come and stay now they lockdown has eased. Obviously, JD and I are great company with scintillating conversation. But enough about us, back to the cocktails… The last cocktail involved Cynar so we must be into D. Oops, no Drambuie, no Dubonnet. Doombar? No, I cannot visualise a beer cocktail. Onto E: elderflower liqueur, St Germain. I’ve used this as a supplementary ingredient (see above in fact!) but today it’s the main ingredient. Which cocktail to make? There are some good sounding names: Paris When it Sizzles, Amatitan Monk, Monarch, Mr 404. I made the most boring sounding one, Mr 404. I have no idea who he is or was but I think this is our favourite so far (have I said that before?). Take 20 ml St Germain Elderflower liqueur and add 45 ml vodka, 15 ml Aperol, 20 ml lemon juice and 15 ml syrup.
Also this week, George came back to Somerset, bringing Yangtze, his girlfriend, with him. They met on the Qingdao boat during leg 4 (Cape Town to Fremantle). You can see her cheering with the rest of the crew in Post 65 of 15th December 2019. I am now the only one without a car as he bought an estate car the other day. Sorry, I have been corrected: it is not an estate but a BMW 5 Series Touring. Either way, it’s for carrying all the sailing gear they have. I looked at a ‘Beemer’ for my second company car: they didn’t come with a radio, for which you had to pay extra. On such small facts are lifelong antipathies based.
That’s it for today, another Post will be coming along shortly as I’m brimming with thoughts and photos.